Sunday, 8 February 2009

My Reader Engagement Survey, Let Me Show It To You

Results of the Blog use and enegagement survey I ran for about two weeks.  (Sorry, no hard and fast metrics here, this is a bush survey of the roughest kind.)  Basic indeed, because all I wanted to find out was what sort of demographic is likely to read my blog, how they found the blog and articles in the first place, how they interact with the blog, and what sorts of other activities they perform online so that I can perhaps extend my reach and audience.

  • 100% of the audience I am reaching is between 30 and 60 years of age.
  • 57% of the audience is female. 
  • 75% read their news online, 60% read blogs an respond to comments, 50% just read blogs and 45% are bloggers themselves.  Only about 30% read blogs without commenting.
    (Percentages here are for multiple choice multi-answer so people can read their news online, be a blogger, and read and comment on other blogs - I wanted to see what sorts of activities are engaged in.  Also, as I see the number of people who gave more than one response, I've levelled out the percentages a bit to account for that.  None are higher than survey results, but I've allowed for people who ticked both the "read and comment" as well as the "read only" selection etc.)
  • Almost half regularly use online chat systems.  One third of my respondents actually read the announcements of new articles on Twitter and come to the blogs from there.  Only around 15% saw link love or comment links on another blog or site, and the rest (just over half) found their way to the articles because either I contacted them or advertised the blog some other, one-off way, or by word of mouth.  Posting announcements and fragments on another site seems to definitely be the way to go...
  • Side-bars and self-referential blogrolls work - over two thirds of my readers use the blogroll links to my other sites to navigate and find the other blogs.  This would be a good place to do reciprocal links and feeds with other blogs.  Maybe keep both for a while, or combine blogroll with a microfeed and make sure your own other blogs are prominent.
  • Several of the blogs I place a lot of value in, specifically the ones dealing with technology and with health and ecological issues are not read as much.  Yet because I rate these topics highly, I put a lot of research and effort into these blogs only to have almost no readers aware that A) they even exist and B) get updated several times a week.  That means I need to publicise them much more, and make better and more compelling descriptions for them.
  • Retention rate - around quarter of my readers have been reading my blogs for 2 years, about a quarter for one year at least, and half are recent readers, having started reading only in the last 12 months or less.  Seems I lose about half my readership each year.  Or maybe this is part of the audience building phase, it's about as long as my blog has been moved to 

So definitely I need to perhaps cross-post or cross-link articles.  In fact, a Tumblr style microfeed in the sidebar may be even better than a blogroll if one has more than one blog.  In the face of limited attention, it needs to be a microfeed so as not to overly annoy or impose on readers.  That means articles need catchy titles and newspaper style first paragraphs that lay out the basic premise or grab attention in 255 characters.

I should probably go and find any blog aggregator sites I'm on and update details there too.  So that means a revised description of each blog, and then go on a round of updating.

That last points out another thing about blogs - they change over tiem and you need to keep descriptions relevant all over the web. How handy would it be if the RSS feed included and  type tags so you could write it all once and then have every aggregator pick up the changes?  

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