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How to Create Content your Audience REALLY Wants

by Steve Scott | Join Him On Facebook

We all understand the importance of providing quality content.   It doesn’t matter if you’re an affiliate marketer, eBook author, or blogger; your job is to create information that changes people’s lives.  This is especially true for the massive value articles (or reports) you offer.

The question is “How do I know what my audience wants?”

It’s simple.

You ask them!

Instead of struggling with content ideas, it’s better to ask your audience.  Do this by setting up a simple poll that asks people what they’d want to learn.

An Example of How to Poll your Audience

Last week I decided to create another lead magnet for my primary affiliate site.

I wanted to make sure this free report was what they wanted.  So I narrowed things down to 4 ideas.  Then I set up a simple survey using the free WP-Polls plugin asking my audience to pick one of the four options.  Plus I included a follow-up question on what type of format they preferred: PDF, audio or video.

Finally I sent the following email to my email list.  This asked my subscribers to answer two simple questions.   (I blacked out the areas which identifies my pen name and affiliate niche.)

Copy of Email Survey

As you can see below, I had over 500 people reply to this survey.  But I didn’t expect there would be a tie.  So now I’ll have to send another poll and ask people to choose one of these two options.

Results from Polling Survey #1

Another thing I learned is that most of my audience prefers a PDF version over audio and video.  This goes against what I originally thought.  Most Internet marketers say that people prefer a multimedia format.  Yet an overwhelming amount of my subscribers like PDFs.

Results from Polling Survey #2

Finally there was a nice side benefit to this survey.  I had 112 people respond in the box below the poll. The majority of these comments were from people clarifying their answer and telling me exactly what they want.

112 Comments on the Survey

So I don’t have to guess at the content of my free report.  Instead all I have to do is create content that answers all these questions.  The comments from my subscribers will help me create the kind of information that people want!

How to Apply the Polling Technique to your Internet Business

This technique can be used with any type of Internet business.  My recommendation is to create a page (not a post) on your blog and run a simple poll. Take the top four obstacles/problems in your niche and ask your audience what they want to learn.

You can then use this information to create things like:

  • Blog articles
  • Linkbait ideas
  • Special reports
  • Lead magnet ideas
  • YouTube videos
  • Paid information products

The important thing is to create a piece of content that’s incredibly useful to your audience.

So start a poll today.

Your audience holds the key to perfect content creation.  All you have to do is ask what they want!

Take Action. Get Results.




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{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Christina Crowe

Hi Steve,

I love your suggestions. I often ask my readers a specific question, and then post their answers in a separate post and feature their responses.

However, I haven’t tried your tactic to gather post or product ideas, though it has been something that I’ve thought about doing in the past. It’s great to see examples though! This definitely is encouraging.

On a side note, I much prefer PDFs myself. ;)

Christina

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Steve Scott

Christina,
I like your idea of interaction. all interaction with your readers tend to be good ones. Every so often I answer e-mail questions I get in a post (after clearing it with the people who asked the question.

I too am personally a fan of PDFs, but I always hear a lot of bloggers thing differently about what is popular, so does surprise me a little bit. It may be more of a perceived value over what people actually want.

thanks a comment, have a great day!

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Sheila Atwood

Steve,

Your survey is very impressive. First of all you had a lot of participants. This shows you have already been interested in delivering what is needed and wanted by your list. Then your desire to keep delivering is huge.

It is easy to assume that we know what our readers want. Asking them, does make it so that your know!

I made a big mistake in a wedding rental business. I assumed I knew what my customers wanted and invested a lot of money. What surprised me was that they chose items that were more of he norm and not the new look I thought they would like.

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Steve Scott

Ouch, I better her to pay real money and have your market be a little different from what expected. Another reason I hate real life products. Sometimes your market is so fickle.

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mark@niche idea

Hi Steve,

This is a great idea, and something that I have never done. I think your idea for using a page and not a post is a good one as you can change the poll and link to that poll from posts.

The fact that your audience prefers PDFs surprises me too. I wonder if that will change over time. That is, I am wondering if the reason is that people are just used to PDFs now.

Depending on how you intend to use this, and for how long, it may be worth your while to create videos for them anyway as you can convert them easily to audio only & have someone type what you say to make a PDF from.

Anyway, my two cents. Thanks for showing this and have a great day!

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Steve Scott

The PDF thing surprised me… since you hear so often that people want DVD and video for their products for increased, “value”.

It may be that I cause this myself. Many of the products I offer and give a way that niche I’ve been in written form. To date I haven’t done a lot of video an audio.
Some people on that list of been there for three or four years, so over time I may have “gotten rid” of a large group of people who would’ve liked more video and audio files, simply due to the fact I didn’t offer it and they disenrolled or begin to ignore my e-mails.

I don’t know that’s what happened… But I guess it makes sense while still keeping with the traditional wisdom that a lot of people prefer video and audio.

In that niche I sometimes do what you say in reverse. I write a product and then have somebody with a more professional, “voice” read it (for an audio file) and just add the audio to clipped stills for a video.

Maybe I am back asswards, though. Your way sounds a lot easier.

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Murray Lunn@Start an Online Business

Gah, why didn’t I read this before pushing out my latest post haha. Not to be promotional (since it ties into this) but I went over my strategy for the upcoming year or two in terms of business. I wanted to make it very important that my community share their feedback to see if it makes sense that I go down these paths with my overall strategy because, after all, if no one wants it than I could save myself a TON of time not chasing a pipedream.

I’m also going to be using polling to help out with the PLR site I have running now because I want to be sure that I’m writing the articles people actually want to buy rather than guessing.

It’s all about the efficiency of your work. If you can find out EXACTLY what people want than you don’t waste time. You naturally take the most valuable action today.

Awesome work man, always keeping it on the real. Gotta love stats; the numbers don’t lie :P

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Steve@Internet Lifestyle

Murray, I know…I read the post!

LOL, j/k … it is fine by me to be a little promotional every know and then.

The good things is that you can also poll again and again as you approach specific topics. So it is not like you “missed your chance”. I have gotten a few “results of of polls for SSS. In fact the one I am finishing now was once a poll winner. (see the inserted promotion… always building anticipation …. or was that A always B be C closing)

Yeah, polls for PLR is particularly good. Particularly since quality PLR can fit so well into peoples autoresponder etc. (where the idea of duplicate content penalties are nil) So seeing what will at least have a few sales “out of the gate” could be a big benefit.

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Joe@Yachtcharter Holland

yeah.. well, content is still the king, especially now after the google farmer/panda update… and it’s a good opportunity to write even better content now, since some sites like ezine, associatecontent and others had to suffer from this updates… now there are more free spots on google’s first page:D you technique is great… I usually try to write going with the trends:D maybe I should change my strategy, although it’s still doing good.. I get a lot of traffic from trend searches, although it’s just temporarily

Reply

Steve Scott

Joe, thanks for the comment. you make a great point. Even though I took somewhat of a hit, since I have a lot of ezine articles, the whole panda thing really does offer a lot of opportunity also.

thanks for the comment… have a great day

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Marcus Sheridan-The Sales Lion

Steve, this case study you showed was very, very cool man. Gotta say, I’m impressed that you took it to your strong community like this and also amazed with the number of replies…..And the fact that you’re showing them you ‘listen’ means a ton.

Excellent idea and awesome job building community Steve.

Marcus

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Steve@Internet Lifestyle

I was certainly happen with the level of responses. Particularly since my ONLY form of contact in that niche is through the email. (just squeeze pages and products…no interactive website or blogs)

Of course it is a big list (about 75K) so you could expect a certain amount of interaction, but it is nice to see real people and not just adsence sales for that niche. those responses are really going to help me target and focus there.

Something that I have been lax about in the last year since i have been working over here a lot more.

Thanks for the awesome comment, Marcus… As always.

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Lye Kuek Hin

Hi Steve,

You have shown a very good example of valuing your subscribers. Targeting what they want is a great way to stick them with you forever. This is the perfect way of building a list. By asking, you show that you care and really focus on providing the best for your readers.

Thanks for sharing your secrets.

Lye

Reply

Steve Scott

Lye,

It certainly doesn’t hurt to actually ask! It really does give you a way to ensure that you’re able to please your audience. Always a good thing. Thanks for the comment, I hope you have a great weekend.

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Ryan Biddulph

Hi Steve,

Money advice here. To find out what to offer your audience, ask them. Sounds simple but few do it.

I’m partial to PDFs, myself. I understand how engaging multimedia can be but there’s nothing like good ole Adobe Reader.

Thanks for sharing!

RB

Reply

Steve Scott

Yup,

A very on both liking PDFs personally and the simplicity and hopefully power of simply asking your audience what they want!

Have a great weekend!

Reply

paul wolfe

Hey Steve

Firstly I agree wholeheartedly with you that you need to provide info that your audience needs. And I love the post – well written as always (and you KNOW I like good writing ;) ).

There’s a BUT though.

Depending on your market there’s a chance that survey results won’t be that informative. Here’s what I mean – if you’re ‘teaching’ something, your potential audience may not actually be aware what they need to progress in that activity.

The process I use with my bass guitar website is to pick a person who I think is reasonably representative of the demographic I want to target and ask them if I can chat with them on Skype for 30 mins or so. In the course of that chat I try and drill down to where they’re at, what they’re looking for, etc etc.

I record those chats – and then I try and come up with three or four potential product ideas from the chat. And THEN I email 10 or 15 people who’ve bought things from me in the past and ask which of those products THEY’D like to see.

It works reasonably well.

Also my numbers on that list are much smaller than yours, so I’d be concerned that the survey results aren’t necessarily typical.

Lastly – was intrigued by the PDF preference. You see everywhere people proclaiming that ‘audio and video have more value’ – so much in fact that perhaps we don’t question it. When we should. That paragraph was worth the price of admission on its own…(yep, I know it’s free, but you know what I mean!).

Have a cool day.

Paul

Reply

Steve Scott

Paul,

I like buts (and sometimes even butts..at least on women)

First of all, I like your method to target the demographic you desire for your Guitar site.

I do see your point. And I generally try to “sort of” address that in any long autoresponder sequence. There is a definite progression as people come from knowing “nothing” to wanting more advanced information.

It really can be a good idea to segment the groups and target some for both. I do like your system, it is a good way to get a nice market demographic.
_____

As for the PDF… my thoughts are in line with yours. I have to wonder if it is specific to “my” list or if many of the guru’s who constantly say video and audio are essential to value (or at least perceived value) are full of it.

It could be I have sculpted a list that would respond that way by my own actions. I have had some people on that list for up to 4 years. Nearly everything I give away has been in PDF over that time. Perhaps the ones who want video/audio have simply left that list.

It is definitely soemthing that has me curious. Maybe someday I will contact a few guys I know with big lists and have them ask their lists. If it repeats on 3-4 large lists…there may be something there.

anyway…thanks for the great comment, you did get me thinking…

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Robert Dempsey@Internet Marketing Strategies

I’m a huge fan of using surveys Steve and have them running on all of my sites. Using a survey I found out that my audience on my freelance site was 100% different than I though, so I did a major change of direction. Also the insight they give you into either an existing audience or people you get to your site using PPC (one method I use) is awesome. You can literally take what they are telling you and use their words in your sales copy. That’s ninja, and makes it much easier to make a sale later on.

I had to move my survey provider from PollDaddy to Survey Gizmo as I was getting 404 errors on the redirects. Survey Gizmo works like a charm for it.

Reply

Steve Scott

I like your “ninja” method. certinaly seems like a great way to generate some ideas for PPC. Maybe tricks like that is why you are good at PPC while my results have always been lukewarm at best.

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jane from unusual floral arrangements.com

I like the idea of surveys, but what sort of percentage response did you get? My list is still pretty small and I find I can ask questions as much as I like, I don’t really get much of a response. How big does a list have to be before you can use these techniques?

Reply

Steve Scott

Jane,

The way I see it how responsive your list is directly related to how much interaction you have with them on a day-to-day basis. Like I would expect on this site I would get a nice 20-30% response from my list (there are always going to be people who never respond to anything)

But in that niche it was one of the first times I really “interacted” with them, usually I have “broadcast” stuff..very 1 way….

So I had about 1% of my list respond. Though the number of people was nice the percentage was low.

Even with a small list I think asking people things like this shows you care and can help people on the list stay “loyal” so to pull a number out of thin air.. it might be worth it on a list of around 200 people, where you might expect 10-20 responses. Those 10-20 would be the people most likely to stick around and buy anyhow, so are the ones you should cater to a bit…

at least that is what *I think*

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Sheila Atwood

Steve,

I read this article and put it into action on my thank you page. You example was very helpful. This will be a fun test.

I am impressed by the number of people that answered. That goes to show that you already show them that you are interested in them.

Reply

Steve Scott

A thank you page is probably a really good place for a poll! :) Already a “semi” captive audience.

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Alex

Hello Steve,

You are right, it’s funny how many people have forgot how to understand their audience with the simplest methods available, just ask!

The best way to keep above the competition is to have satisfied customers, readers, visitors and this can only be done by knowing their preferences.

What is cool is that this methods can be applied for anything from trying to make a new design, new business model or new content ideas…

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Jimi Jones

Great way to get to exactly what your readers want. It’s so simplistic that it’s often overlooked. :-) Another telling point is the fact that you had so many respondents, meaning that there is a really engaged audience. Super!

I like Sheila’s idea of placing a poll on a thank you page. That’s good stuff.

Reply

Steve Scott

Jimi,

Thanks, I agree…it is a wonderful way to peer into the mind of your readers…and I also agree that Sheilas idea was awesome!! A nice little ruffle and a way to collect a good bit of data for a long time to come

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Janet @ The Natural Networker

Steve, aloha. Though it makes sense to ask, far too often we think “this must be what they want” and so that’s what they give them. Because you asked, you will be creating a product that they want, they know you care about them/listen to them and thus they will be more receptive to and appreciative of your offering–even if it wasn’t their vote.

Very interesting on the pdf. Like you, I always hear that people prefer multi-media. If I have a choice, I always prefer to receive info in pdf.

Thx for more of your common sense approach. Best wishes for a terrific weekend. Aloha. Janet

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Steve Scott

Janet, Aloha!

It is certainly far better to be able to really see into the minds of the people who are your readers. Just thinking you know something can often go wrong. I have often been surprised after split tests and the like with results that I really did not suspect.

Sometimes even conventional wisdom may be wrong…like the PDF over video…though I am not ruling that out …the sampling was too small and it cold be tainted because many of these people have been on my list for ages and I almost exclusively go PDF

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Fran Aslam From Onlinewriter

Hi Steve

One of the very important post, to create a network community of your own, where everyone will be committed to listen and follow. As you have been following them just the way they wanted it by telling you what is their point of view and what do they want. Your examples are awesome. Liked reading it.
Thanks

Fran A

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Adam Toporek@Small Business Consulting

Great work! Surveys can be a great tool to get a sense of what your clients are thinking. If you take the steps to research your clients needs and wants, it can really help you focus your efforts. I agree that the PDF information is very helpful. I attribute the results to time saving on the part of the reader. Unlike video or audio, you can scan a PDF quickly to see if it has relevant information.

Reply

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