People will respond better and more enthusiastically when they feel like the speaker/writer/whatever-er knows their mind intuitively. That should be obvious.

It’s the knowing part that’s hard.

There are a couple of trusted methods for understanding your audience’s desires and motivations.

The first is to watch their behavior. When you create things for people to consume, keep track of who consumes it. Use the sophisticated tools we all have at our disposal to look for patterns. Use data to measure what resonates and what doesn’t.

The other is to ask them. It’s as simple as it sounds. If you want to know what somebody wants, fears, loves, or hates, the quickest and least complicated way to learn that information is by giving them a friction-free way to tell you.

Both of these methods have their time and place. Neither is better than the other, really.

The real ninja move is to do both at once.

Nothing creepy or untoward, you understand.

Just a simple strategy by which you strategically place some rabbit holes in your content, then watch who starts exploring.

Over time, you’ll know intuitively what your people want and what they don’t. And, as a nice bonus, you’ll have a more complete picture of the type of people you want to attract (and the people you’re looking to repulse).

Ok, five tips, fast and furious:

  1. Never waste a click; assuming it’s not total garbage, your email marketing software can show you a list of everybody who clicked on a certain link and group people by the links they click. This is valuable information for gathering data about your audience.
  2. Provide binary options; give them two opposite choices (e.g., a link to an article for people who are new to your industry vs. something for the salty veterans). Track those clicks.
  3. Conduct surveys; this one isn’t sneaky in any way. Create a short survey that gets sent shortly after somebody signs up. Record their responses in your email marketing system. Presto. Bonus: reward them somehow for completing the survey.
  4. Use lead scoring to figure out which people are hyperattentive to your content. Take the top 20% of your audience and do more focused research on them because you want more people like them.
  5. Send content very regularly. The more chances people have to tell you about themselves and their preferences, the less you have to assume.