One month you're killin' it, and the next month is a big 'ole stinking bomb.
Or, maybe it's the latter more often than not...
Well, today marks a whole new era for your blog.
Today, you're done with guessing what the heck your audience wants.
Because as much as you want to write about what you want to write about, you also want to earn enough money to simply continue being a solopreneur.
Okay, and profiting within the first couple years would be wonderful, too.
But here's the deal:
If you're not blogging for your audience's needs and desires, you're not going to get far—if anywhere at all.
Yet, there's hope on the horizon.
(The horizon being Google Analytics, that is.)
If you're looking to nail down what the heck your current blog audience wants, needs, and desires—so you can start moving forward—then this post is for you.
Read on to get my step-by-step strategy to creating profitable and audience-desired content week after week, after week, after... Okay, you get it.
Get every detail on what I did to earn 1213.56% growth in less than 6 months + continual growth strategies grow + maintain your business. [ It's FREE. ]
Where To Start
Google Analytics will be our main resource for this post.
However, there are numerous other places you can find info from, regardless of where you are with your blog right now.
Maybe you're brand new or are researching a new strategy to come in strong and purpose-filled.
Or, maybe you're just curious about how a little story-telling, imagination, and analytics dissecting can up your content game.
Regardless, check out my Content Planning Workshop to really nail down your plan and audience.
Also, there's a fantastic post from the follow-worthy Kristi Hines on the Social Media Examiner regarding Google Analytics basics. I'll call a "must read" for the new or growing blogger.
But, for the purpose of this post, let's do a basic overview of the sections we'll use in Google Analytics:
What They All Mean
Although we'll be focusing on a few subsections of the Audience, Acquisition, and Behavior areas under the "Reporting" tab of Google Analytics, I do want to give you a brief rundown of what each one of the sidebar areas mean.
Because, frankly, I wish I knew what the heck they all meant when I began learning how to grow Goff Creative from my analytics reports.
So, let's just dive in on some [semi] brief descriptions of what all that sidebar mumbo-jumbo means. Plus what you can take from each:
DEMOGRAPHICS » divides your audience by age and gender. You can find what your highest converting into email subscribers (be sure to set up your Goal for that) and paying customers to nail down who it is you want to reach.
INTERESTS » reveals the different topics of interest populated from your visitors (A.K.A. Users) tracked and visited via YouTube and Google through search phrases and terms, etc.
Although it's mainly used for advertising (like for Google AdWords and retargeting), interests can tell you what you should be talking about in regard to examples or stories used in your content, or simply tells you what your current audience enjoys.
GEO » shows the location and language (programmed from the visitor's browser).
BEHAVIOR » the percentage of new versus returning visitors, plus the frequency of the returning and how long they spend on your web pages.
This is important to see what your audience is enjoying and using—and what they're not. You know, so you can ditch the latter.
TECHNOLOGY » what type of device is your visitor going to your site on? This is really important for app developers and those who still don't have responsive sites.
But, if 80% of your paying customers visit via desktop, what's the point in catering to mobile? (I'd still do it, but still...)
MOBILE » what browser and operating system (OS) are your visitors visiting your site on? Another important feature for app developers, however, this knowledge can also negate what you talk about in your content.
For example, if your visitors predominantly use Mac/Apple products yet you want to come up with an Android app or share your "top tips for Android users", your words will mean little to the people already engaging with your site.
BENCHMARKING » how your website compares against others in your set industry.
A Sturdy Foundation
To properly utilize your Google Analytics research, you should answer a few questions to lay the foundation for your results.
- How expensive is your product or service? Does your client or customer need to earn a certain income to be able to afford your product or service?
- What is your market target? Business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-customer (B2C)?
- Is your product or service specific to men or women? (Primarily.)
- Does your business function predominantly online or off? Do you need to ship products? Meet in person? What's the target location of your customers or clients?
You get the gist of it.
If you haven't laid out a business plan yet, be sure to have that in effect before tackling this research, too.
For more foundation laying questions to better dissect your target client, I have a free chapter of my Goal Planning Action E-Book available, as well as a Content Planning Workshop that covers target audience in-depth among other planning necessities.
First. Set Your Time Frame In Google Analytics
Depending on how established your blog is, you'll want to focus on a 3 to 6 months span on Google Analytics.
So, the very first thing to do is adjust your timespan to make sure you don't record outdated information. Or, not enough info depending on how consistent you are with your blog.
For the main example of this post, we'll use the previous month of my analytics report to show you, step-by-step, how to create a "picture" of your current, target reader with an existing website.
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Second. Record Your Audience Demographics
What are the primary age ranges?
Is your current audience predominantly male or female?
This gives you an idea of who and what to gear your site towards. Like for the design and copy (text on your site).
Although my site averages 80% female, I've always preferred "darker colors" and, what some have called a more "aggressive" writing style.
Keep your personal preferences in mind when you're designing or redesigning your site somewhere down the line:
Just because your audience is predominantly female, doesn't mean you need to clump them into stereotyped colors, design, and copy.
I tried a light-theme before—used only feminine frill and "pretty pictures" to my site.
It didn't work out...
Back on topic: We're going to take the simple "my reader is female and between the ages of 25 and 34" and take it a leap further.
Under the Demographics tab on your Google Analytics sidebar, select "Age" (you'll do the same for "Gender", too).
Then, scroll down to the chart.
To get specific here, you can see exactly which age range is converting into email subscribers and (if your eCommerce is connected) into paying customers.
The top age range for email and customer conversions is where you want to center your content, website, and marketing with.
But, although all this is a fantastic way to figure out who you should gear your content to and why, there's no better way of finding out your profitable direction than actually contacting your customers.
If you're in a business model like mine (predominantly eCommerce or minimally client-based), email is the best way to go.
Depending on where your store is hosted (I use Squarespace's eCommerce mainly and now on Amazon—I'll share a strategy with you soon on how to make that work for your email list, too), you can contact your customer through their provided email address.
You can offer something for their time, of course. But really try to get them on a phone conversation.
Even if you offer a free 20-minute coaching session on an area of your expertise, a phone conversation will build trust, assure your customer of your personal care and attention to them, and will generate the best, most forthcoming feedback you need.
Anyhow, again, you'll want to gather similar info when selecting "Gender" and going through the same deduction.
In my report, I can see that, although 25 to 34-year-old females visit my site more than any other age range, that means little to my bottom line.
Even with 513 less visitors in April, my highest income and conversion rates came from those ages 35 to 44.
That age range actively engages with my content and has a low bounce rate of only 16.35% (bouncing is when a visitor lands on one page of your website, doesn't do anything with it—click, etc.—and leaves).
The 35 to 44 range also visits an average of 4 and a half pages per session (the period of time a visitor actively engages with your website)—which is quite desirable to me.
It's safe to say that my current target reader is female and between the ages of 35 to 44.
With that said, when you're going over your numbers like this, simply make sure your outcomes align with your goals and your product or service.
For example, if you're selling high-end skin care products, depending on your location and if our numbers for April were similar, you'd want to gear your focus to that 35 to 44 age range.
So, in the case of a skin care specialist, you'd want to focus on promoting the anti-aging lines and educating sun care and so on.
(See how that can work?)
In my case, profit is only a concern so I can continue to create and do what I love while helping others and being able to enjoy my family/life/work "balance".
So, profit is a necessity to continue running a business, however, it's not my sole focus.
Therefore, I expand my target audience focal range from 25 to 44 with a lean toward mom entrepreneurs.
I want to help the younger generations just as much as the more "matured", too.
With this, my content, design, and marketing should reflect a balance of both age ranges while discussing more mompreneur topics and examples.
See how that works?
Third. Dig Into Your Visitors' Interests
Within interests, there are 3 categories:
- In-Market Segment
Affinity Categories display where advertisers can reach, or "get in front of" their audience members to bring in more new visitors, as well as retarget visitors (remind previous online store or website visitors to buy or revisit using ads which will appear on ad-allowing sites they visit elsewhere).
Although this information isn't necessarily geared toward non-ad buyers, you can use this for ideas to generate topic discussions or examples and stories within your content.
They are interests of your current visitors, after all.
In-Market Segment and the Other Category cover customers who are researching products and are actively considering buying a product or service like those you offer—according to the Google AdWords Support blog.
So, as a non-ad buyer, use the Affinity Categories as topics of interests, and the results of the In-Market Segment and Other Category to better develop and research your current readers.
Fourth. The Necessity For "Good" Behavior
Under Behavior in your Google Analytics sidebar, open "New vs. Returning".
This is going to give you an idea of who to cater your content and conversion efforts to.
Conversion—not just in the sense of email subscribers—covers transitioning new visitors or subscribers into paying customers. Then there's first and second time customers into "lifetime customers".
The latter being the most desirable of all, of course.
Whether or not heightened or exploding sales is your end-goal, this research will help you to write for your current target reader.
Checking your New and Returning Visitors stats is a great place to get a summarized look at where your efforts should be pointed.
Meaning, if New Visitors generate more Goal Completions then you'd want to gear your content and product or service pitching faster.
In my case (shown in the above screenshot of April's New and Returning Visitors stats), I have 2 goals set up for my business: Monetary and Opt-In.
New visitors have a 35.43% bounce rate (which isn't bad for an eCommerce-based business—although I do give away a lot and focus on being a resource to solopreneurs), it also tells me that I could increase my efforts to retain more New Visitors.
(I'll have to write about that too, huh?)
With Returning visitors filling only half of April's traffic, their bounce rate is only 18.88% (fantastic!). Plus, if you scroll over further, you can see that returning visitors also average almost 6 pages per session with nearly 9 minutes on each page.
Also, their conversion rate (purchasing and opting in for other resources on my website) over doubles that of new visitors.
Okay, so what does all this tell us?
At least for April, it shows that although my returning website visitors are much fewer than new visitors, returning visitors are also buying more, engaging more, and doing more on and with my content.
That means that my efforts should be to focus on email collection, then "wowing" subscribers with serious value.
It also tells me that creating more marketing funnels is a wise idea.
With only a 12.37% conversion rate from new visitors, I should focus on securing new customers from email subscribers faster.
Which means I should pitch more often—but naturally, of course.
Because, in my experience, paying customers and clients are the most faithful, communicative, and important visitors you can have. Why not cater to them?
On a less self-focused note, I'm sure you're wondering what all this information can do for you.
To really hone in on how this info and deducing what your current website visitors want and need from you, you should answer a few more questions.
- Is your content consistent? If you're only posting once or twice a month and not promoting your content socially, your Google Analytics results won't be thorough enough to base a strong content strategy on.
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- Are your range of topics connected or all over the place? Trust me, I get it. I write about starting a strong solo entrepreneurial business, yet also as a mom entrepreneur with small children. That's pretty darn vast.
But, I made the connection within my content to make it valid and valuable for my readers (read about content connections here).
If your content is all over the place, find a topic you enjoy and do some research on it. See what your competitors are doing with that same topic. See who's following and interacting socially with them.
When you're able to settle down for at least 3 months to fully develop your topic and content direction, you'll find your Google Analytics results are much more accurate and helpful.
- And lastly, how are you weaving together your website content and pages? Do you tend to send visitors away from your site (like hosting your store on another platform or domain name, or focusing on sending website visitors to "Like or Follow" you on a social channel)?
By limiting the ability for website traffic to be sent away from my site over the past 6 months, my average bounce rate went from 48.72% in mid-2015 to 26.78% at present.
The point is, you won by getting visitors to your site. Why lose them by sending them away before you even make your mark?
Always have external links open in a new tab, if you didn't know.
And something else you should do to keep visitors on your site longer is to link your web pages under one domain name together. And wisely.
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CREATE A COMPELLING CONTENT PLAN THAT GETS RESULTS
...you know, the kind of results you want from your business. Learn everything you need to know to create better, smarter, more audience-driven content, development and planning in 90 minutes.
Fifth. Study Your Competitors (But Be The Star In Your Own Show)
You are unique.
No matter how "unoriginal" you may think you are, you offer something so epically branded that no one else can touch it with a 10-foot pole.
Now, you just need to find it.
And to wrap up the 5th step super-fast, I'm going to refer you to posts I've thoroughly covered this topic in:
So, where will you start?
I know this was a lot to take in.
Be sure to bookmark this page for future reference, but I do want to give you a clearer starting point:
- If you have a blog that's less than 3 months old or your content has been inconsistent and few—start with researching your competitors' audiences.
They're the readers you want, too. If this is the case for you, I thoroughly recommend grabbing the free 45-page Content Planner and committing to the Content Planning Workshop thereafter.
- And if you have a blog that's been consistent and is a bit more established, the Workshop could prove worthwhile for you, however, jumping in with a solid plan and framework for your content would be best.
And in that case, the Content Strategy Planner would be ideal for you.
Regardless, you now have a stronger understanding of how to scope out your target audience to deliver what they actually want.
Because there's no profit in nor value for your readers without it.