How well do you know your community?
A powerful understanding of your community will allow you to peer into the needs and wants of your potential customers. Generally, this understanding comes from your initial research within your niche and industry, and then evolves, over time, after you begin to gain a rapport with individuals interacting with your brand.
The problem that most affiliate marketers face is the fact that they don’t fully understand their community because they’re relying on their own perception of said community; work is crafted to reach a figurative individual all-the-while completely missing the mark with the real people coming to your site.
To overcome the pitfall that is talking to the wrong audience – you should consider utilizing community surveys to craft the perfect strategy for your marketing efforts.
Here’s how it’s done …
Step 1: Find the right tools
There are many survey tools, programs, and apps available for websites on the usual marketplaces and sources but let’s keep it simple.
1. Go over to Drive.Google.com
2. Sign in (or sign up) for an account
3. Go to Create -> Form
4. Title your form
5. Choose a template
6. Click OK
The form you just created can be easily used for a community survey; responses are compiled in a spreadsheet accessible in your Google Drive account.
The editor makes it extremely easy to create a survey (which has recently been updated) so you shouldn’t have trouble navigating the interface and adding the types of responses you need whether it’s a short text field, multiple choice, checkboxes, and others.
Step 2: Know the right questions
The questions you ask will greatly depend on what you hope to achieve.
- Buying habits
- Desired content
- Product suggestions
- Customer service improvements
An affiliate may want to focus on three main outcomes for the survey:
- Creating a better image of the customer “avatar”
- Understanding what content people want (and are willing to share)
- Product ideas (or improvement on an existing offer)
These questions may include:
- Have you ever bought an information product?
- What’s the one thing you love (or hate) about my website?
- What would you like to read on my site?
- What other websites do you frequent?
Use your imagination for these questions but keep it to no more than 5 – 10 responses because you’ll lose their interest if it gets too involved.
Step 3: Initiate the dialog
Like anything worth promoting, start building a dialog with your community:
- Share it on the most frequented social networks
- Released to an email list
- Embedded on your website
Don’t expect to get full cooperation from your community because a good majority do not have the time nor do they care entirely; this is a good thing because those that do respond to your survey will be far more vocal and opinionated which means greater feedback.
Step 4: Compile the data
The data will be collected, automatically, in a spreadsheet if you use a form from Google Drive but it’s your duty to compile and understand the data.
Divide out each response and create a checklist for each response, which may include:
- What is my perception of this individual?
- How active are they within my community?
- What result would happen if I took their suggestion?
- What negative outcome would happen if I took their suggestion?
- Does the response have valid ideas for content my whole community would enjoy?
The point of the exercise is to understand what’s going on in the minds of those that have answered your survey. Their answers will reveal a great deal about their perception of your brand but you will find psychological (meta) elements which go far beyond their actual response – you’ll begin to understand them on an emotional level.
Step 5: Conduct a follow up
Here’s where things get really good – if you take the time to do so.
Conduct a follow up to those that have responded to your survey.
They’re already in the “mood” to answer questions about your website and will almost always be willing to add to the conversation if you get in touch.
Follow up questions could pry into the deeper reasoning behind their responses and reveal a whole new level of information that wasn’t found when you compiled the survey data.
Consider giving them something for taking the time to respond to your additional inquiries to create a great rapport with the individual.
Step 6: Re-align your efforts
Take the data you’ve compiled and additional responses you’ve gained, and begin to re-align your affiliate efforts to include the community suggestions.
Start with the easy matters which could be knocked down in the afternoon and begin planning on rolling out the larger projects based on the feedback.
One word of warning, however: take every response with a grain of salt.
Your most vocal community members are the ones most likely to respond to your survey but they may not be the ones to purchase your products/services or click through your affiliate offers – they enjoy the free information but they could be penny pinchers.
Go with your gut feeling on what to implement and keep in mind that you still need to reach a larger community of fresh individuals landing on your site so you’ll want to constantly re-align throughout the duration of your business (all-the-while avoiding alienating the ‘core’ community).
All-in-all, community surveys are a wonderful way to cull additional information from individuals visiting your website. You’ll gain a better understanding of who they are and what they want. The information you gained can be applied to your projects or become the foundation for an entirely new venture. Just take an hour and get the survey together because it will be one of your best investments toward a long-term gain.