I’ve done a lot of online launches – about eight all up if you include closing down and reopening promotions – and each one included heavy support from affiliates, some of whom run popular blogs, including Problogger, John Chow, Shoemoney, Copyblogger and DailyBlogTips.
During a launch, to get a feel for the pulse of how the campaign is going, I spend time reading the comments made to other blogs on the posts relevant to me, my products and the free resources I release.
This is always an interesting process, but it can be very misleading. Most forms of feedback you get online, including comments made to your blog, other blogs, emails you receive and any other discussion points like forums and social media, should be considered very warily.
The problem with this sort of feedback is that it comes from people who rarely represent the majority, yet because they are vocal, what they say does have an impact on the silent majority, those who read the posts and comments but never write a comment of their own.
As the creator of a product feedback is a great thing, but it’s so easy to read a negative comment made about you or what you do on another person’s blog and read into it as indicative of what everybody thinks, which it rarely is. The same goes for positive commentary too, but most people don’t stress about good comments – it’s only the bad ones.
Reputation management is important, but being careful not to involve yourself on an emotional level is important too.
The selection of blogs I listed above are very different. The personas behind each blog are different, thus the voice and writing style is different and hence the type of audience they attract is different too.
This is an important consideration, because you have to realize that what is being said on one blog relates to the environment established at that blog from prior blog posts and interactions with that particular blogger. Darren Rowse is different from John Chow, who is different from Brian Clark and Daniel Scocco.
These guys all have followings of people who have come to expect certain actions, types of posts and standards. It’s safe to say that the audience of a blogger generally likes the person behind the blog and shares some, not all, but some of the opinions and viewpoints of that blogger. In other words, they resonate with the person behind the words, hence they read their blog.
This is why, when you head out there and conduct a launch, which is presented in your voice and style, there’s a friction between how you “speak” and how the blogger who writes about you as an affiliate speaks too. The best affiliate is able to use their understanding of their market, and take what you give during a launch and promote your offer so it lines up well with the desires of the audience they have the attention of, using the right language.
Of course there are times when the alignment isn’t there and certain things you do as a marketer are frowned upon by some audiences and not others. This is why you have to be careful when reading comments on other blogs. If your style contradicts the expectations of the vocal minority at that blog, you’re going to hear about it.
State Based Opinions
Another interesting observation I’ve noticed when looking at feedback I receive is how state-based each situation is. This applies to comments made on your blog, or any other blog or any feedback anywhere you get.
What I mean by that is the person leaving the comment has established some kind of mental perception of what you are, what you represent and of course, how they feel about you and your work based on their unique experience with you. That’s how they feel about you in their present state.
It might be the first time they’ve ever heard of you so they have nothing to go by, or maybe they only hear about you when you promote something so they see you as a pure marketer, or maybe they’ve been a fan of your work for years and love what you do.
Of course your own experience with yourself is vast, so it can be frustrating when someone makes a judgment about you without really having any knowledge or experience with you, because you know it’s not true. There really is no truth of course, just your own opinion of yourself and other people’s perception of you, but still, you would like those two things to line up closely if possible, although they rarely do.
This doesn’t always equate to a negative reaction, but in most cases it does result in a poorly informed judgment, which is an opportunity for you to make a good impression, or for your fans (your tribe) or affiliates to clarify what you are about (it is especially good when your tribe defend you since they are viewed as impartial observers, rather than people with a bias towards you, like yourself or your affiliate).
Acknowledging that you have to accept that person’s perception of you and your product, but understand that it’s just an opinion given at a point in time is important, because it means you don’t have to worry about it. In most cases, at least when you know what you have and do is good, you can let your work do the talking for you. Let your “results” be your voice and do all the talking “on the court” as they say in sport.
The Variability of Opinion
Many times I’ve had a laugh when reading comments about my products at other blogs, in particular when it comes to discussion of price and value.
Surprisingly often, you will read a comment on a blog stating that your product is too expensive (and it doesn’t matter if it is $50 or $500, it’s expensive to someone out there), immediately followed by someone saying the product is good value or even too cheap.
I’ve had similar experiences with email feedback, with one person complaining the pace of my course is too slow or the lessons too easy, and literally within a matter of hours receiving another email from someone else saying my course is too quick and too hard and they can’t keep up.
I’m grateful for experiences like this because it has made me less impacted by the comments made on other blogs or any feedback from one individual given over email or even face to face. People are important and you should never discount what they say completely, but make sure you don’t overreact either.
In most cases you’re just getting one person’s thoughts based solely on their personal situation, which doesn’t indicate everyone else is experiencing the same thing.
So When Can You Trust Feedback?
If you can’t take much stock in comments left to blogs, or social media or even emails sent to you, then what can you trust and base decisions on when coming up with products, websites or even entire businesses?
As a long term Internet marketer, and this is going to sound a little like a cop-out especially if you are new to Internet marketing, often I find a mix of intuition (a “blink” moment if you are a Malcolm Gladwell fan), combined with solid empirical evidence, works best.
I can often “read” a market simply because I’ve observed it for so long and I’ve had experience both selling my own products and seeing how my peers sell their products. While I don’t have a 100% track record, I’m pretty good at predicting how many sales are going to be made for the launches I do.
The first ingredient you need is simply experience. You need to build up a stock of interactions, observations and just good old trial and error experiments, to establish a familiarity with your market that helps you understand what they want. This can only happen over time.
However, and this is coming from someone who hates statistics, empirical evidence is darn important too.
Take for example a survey. Surveys are an important part of assessing your market’s needs and wants, and while I think they are definitely better than just looking at blog comments or forum threads, they still suffer from skewed results because you only get a proportion of your audience responding – a proportion that may not be a good sample of your entire audience.
The most important factor I have discovered about surveys, is that you actually get responses. Often the particulars of the responses are not as important as just getting enough engagement from an audience that they give you feedback.
I believe why this is important is because of what I talked about with state-based decision making. The fact that a person gives you attention means you have some form of influence over them. When they fill out a survey or leave a blog comment, they are giving you their opinion at that moment in time – their present state.
However, because you are talking to humans, with all those emotional vulnerabilities, their state can be changed. If you are in a position to influence people, then it’s the state you take them to during a launch, combined with their built up experience with you that matters. The launch can be so impactful, that what they said was true previously in surveys or blog comments or emails has changed completely because they have been emotionally impacted by what you have done since then.
This is why someone might say they’d never buy something from you at that price or whatever justification they have, but then there state changes because they’ve seen how good your pre-launch content is, or you just said the right thing at the right time. Thus you can make the sale when all previous indicators proved otherwise.
All this points to the fact that feedback online, in general is helpful, but far from absolute. You should look more for engagement rather than the specificity of the responses themselves. People can be swayed, but only if they are paying attention.
What If You Don’t Get Any Feedback?
The dilemma you likely face right now is that you don’t have many people paying attention to you. You’re not receiving comments to your blog, you don’t have people email you genuine questions or feedback, and you’re not likely to get responses if you sent out a survey.
First of all – don’t despair! – we all start there and it is possible to change your situation. Change is always possible if you take the steps to make that change a reality.
One first step you can take right now is to read this article – Engagement: The Magic Ingredient You Need For Success Online Today – It will give you a better understanding of what I mean when I say “engagement” (which has nothing to do with marriage!).
The keys to attract attention online are a few things -
- A war of Attrition: keep jumping in front of people and showing them what you have until you build your own tribe
- Value Delivery: constantly deliver things people want
- Accept Rejection: not everyone wants what you have, so spend time on those who do
- Distribution: leverage the wonderful tool we’ve been given to get in touch with millions of people world wide (the Internet) to distribute your value to as many people as you can until you have a large enough tribe to achieve your goals
To put this in more practical terms – get out there and give people your goods!
Write amazing blog posts, create incredible videos, do podcasts, network with bloggers, give your best content away as guest posts, study constantly and always be testing something so you have new life experiences to talk about.
The only way you can fail at this is if you stop living and stop giving. The more you do, the more you have to give because the more you know. It’s as simple as that.
What Really Matters
At the end of the day what you consider important is what matters to you.
I look at my blog, my products, my friends, my life in general, and if I see what I want, then all is good. When I see areas lacking, that is where I must work harder and put in more effort.
Trust real results, not opinions and judgments. Look for trends in the data as indicators for success, not someone telling you your article is no good. Look at how many sales you have, not someone saying your product is too expensive.
Every launch I have ever done has exceeded my expectations. They’ve been roller coasters for sure, going from highs to lows back to highs and then back lows and over and over again, but if I look at the trend, I’m much, much better off than I was as each year passes, so things are good.
The only way you can go wrong here is by holding yourself back because of fear of what people will say. Expect negative feedback. Expect people to complain, to curse, to be rude and to say your work is no good, but let it all pass through you. As long as you are focusing on output, experience and growth, you can’t help but succeed.