What We Learned From Our 2015 Reader Survey

We posted a reader survey a few weeks ago, and the results have been illuminating. We believe a reader survey is the best way to get real, useful, concrete data on the people we want to serve best: you.

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After analyzing the results of the surveys, I want to share the results with you, along with how we plan to use the feedback to meet your needs and exceed your expectations in the coming year.

What the Numbers Say

Based on the numbers, here’s what a “reader profile” would look like.

  • Our typical reader is a female (59%) between the ages of 19-30 (60%).
  • She tends to be either a college graduate (34%), possibly with a masters degree (14%), or is either in college or has some college education (31%). This isn’t surprising to us, as the primary demographic we’re trying to reach are pro-life college students.
  • She is typically either Christian (65%) or an atheist (22%). If she describes herself as a Christian she is probably Roman Catholic (46%) or non-denominational (18%). I’m really happy that we have so many atheists reading the blog. Anecdotally speaking, many of my pro-life atheist friends have said they enjoy the way we write on our blog because it’s rarely inherently religious, and doesn’t make atheists feel like 2nd class citizens in the pro-life movement.
  • She probably believes that abortion is morally wrong in all cases except to save the life of the mother (81%), although 17% of our readers do not believe abortion is morally wrong in general. While our blog is certainly geared toward helping pro-life people to have productive dialogues about abortion, I’m proud that so many of our readers are pro-choice. Again, anecdotally speaking, I’ve had many pro-choice people tell me that what they appreciate most about this blog is the language we use (we don’t use snarky or pejorative language to describe them) and that we sometimes make philosophical arguments they hadn’t heard before and need to consider.
  • Of the major categories of our blog posts, she probably enjoys the practical dialogue tips the most (81%). I’m actually glad to see this, as we purposefully have chosen to focus on that category more than others this year, partially because some of these nitty gritty tips (like how to use body language) provides fresh material that other pro-life apologetics organizations have not typically focused as much on, and partially because it’s one of the things Students for Life of America have appreciated most about our work. (It’s what they had us speak on at the national conferences this year.) This question asked her to “check all of the categories you enjoy the most,” so the other categories were rated as follows:

What We’re Taking Away from the Numbers

Based on your feedback in a few open-ended questions, we have come to four conclusions about things we want to keep doing or improve on.

  1. Post more often, and more consistently. I was blogging at this site for about a year before I launched Equal Rights Institute. I was podcasting at the same time, and a lot of people got to know my work through that podcast. Having said that, I was getting better results from the blog than we got on that podcast. I think there are several reasons for that, but I won’t get into that here. The point is, when we launched ERI and lots of people were asking for me to start a new podcast, it was a clear choice to continue blogging and keep the option open for a podcast in the future. This blog is where we’re going to focus our free content, even after we start selling more comprehensive courses and books. We will definitely branch out into using more audio and video at some point in the future (something several readers in this survey asked for) but for now we need to focus on publishing blog posts more consistently. The goal is a new post every Monday, and we’ve been getting better at that in the last few months, even while growing the non-profit, speaking across the country, doing campus outreaches, and creating new training material.
  2. Maintain a calm, respectful, yet uncompromising tone. The most frequent positive comment about the blog had to do with our style of writing. Readers called it “extremely approachable and personable,” “respectful,” “charitable and thoughtful,” and “unfailingly fair-minded and willing to genuinely listen to other people’s perspectives.”
  3. Keep things practical. Many of our readers clearly appreciate the practical dialogue tips more than anything else about our blog, and we’re going to keep focusing on that more than any other topic. Our staff has collectively had thousands of conversations with pro-choice people. There is certainly more that we have to learn, but we have picked up a lot of little things that help our dialogues to go better than they did when we started, and those are things that you just have to have a ton of conversations to learn. So our attitude is not that we are like a guru on a mountaintop somewhere. Our attitude is more like the person who comes down the mountain and says, “I’ve been there. I’ve made mistakes. I’ve learned some things. Let me show you what I’ve learned and help guide you up the mountain, and we’ll go on this journey together.”
  4. Keep using stories to model the kinds of dialogues we want people to have. There were several readers who said they appreciate reading our dialogue stories because they “model reason and compassion” and inspire the readers to do the same. Last year I wrote a blog post that I wasn’t very excited about because I didn’t think there was anything innovative in it. It was just a story about a dialogue I had with a biology professor on campus. That piece went viral, and our takeaway was that we need to use more stories, and since then we have published several stories of us in dialogues. We plan to do this even more in the future, as it is clearly helpful to our readers.

We received a lot of interesting responses to the open-ended question we asked, “What is the biggest challenge you face when talking to people about abortion?” I’ll respond to many of those challenges in a post later this month.

If you participated in the survey, thank you for taking the time to do it. It’s the most important window we have into what concerns and motivates you. Most of all, thank you for entrusting us with your time and attention.

President

Josh Brahm is the President of Equal Rights Institute, an organization that trains pro-life advocates to think clearly, reason honestly and argue persuasively.

Josh uses speaking, writing and campus outreach to emphasize practical dialogue tips, pro-life philosophy, and relational apologetics.

Please note: The goal of the comments section on this blog is simply and unambiguously to promote productive dialogue. We reserve the right to delete comments that are snarky, disrespectful, flagrantly uncharitable, offensive, or off-topic. If in doubt, read our Comments Policy.