What is it with content?
You already know that it’s not king … or queen :).
You even know that you can’t just create any type of content and expect to see mind-blowing results.
But, if you’re serious about your blog and your business, there’s one thing you need to do.
No, not the look and see approach. Not even boldly copying someone else’s content strategy and creating a similar one.
Because their strategy, though successful for them, is catered for them.
What you need is a content strategy that’s specifically catered for you. A content strategy that’s defiantly authentic. A content strategy that can grab and hold your audiences attention for as long as humanly possible.
And guess what?
It all starts with one thing.
Research: The ‘Meat and Potatoes’ of an Effective Content Strategy
Don’t believe me?
Tough. Because it’s the honest-to-God truth.
Think about it for a minute: you research everything in life, right?
What plush neighborhood you’re going to live in; what luxury (or economical) car you’re going to drive; the healthiest (and mouth-watering) foods to buy at your local grocery store; your ‘problem-free’ web-hosting company; even specific keywords for each blog post you publish.
So why wouldn’t you do the proper content research for your content strategy?
It doesn’t have the same sexiness keyword research has.
But, if you want your business to be successful and command the attention of your audience, understand that everything starts with research.
That’s why, with the proper approach to content research, you can grow your business 3x, 5x or even 10x from where it is today.
Well, that’s the 3-step process I’ll share with you later in the post.
But first …
Why Content Research Trumps All (and Makes it Easier to Convert Readers Into Customers)
Imagine readers scurrying through your content.
They’re confused. They’re frustrated. They start planning their escape.
All because the topic they clicked on, your topic, wasn’t what they expected.
But this scenario happens all too often. Readers find topics they want answers from, and click away dazed and disappointed. Hoping the next search result they click on, actually provides something of substance.
Not the experience you want, now is it?
That’s why content research gives you the upper hand over competition. More importantly, forces readers to become immersed in your words.
Because when you do the research, you no longer have to guess what information your readers want — you already know it.
For example, this was a post I published in 2014 (on my old site) that I thought my readers wanted:
Sure, it seemed like a good post … but severely missed the mark on all levels.
Fast forward a few months later … and when I took the time to research the topic, the results were drastically different:
More signups to my list.
And because I took the time to actually do the research, the content practically wrote itself. The good news is the same can happen for you
As soon as you stop speculating which content is good and actually do the research, it’ll become easier writing content your readers crave.
And that’s what you ultimately want, right?
Content that converts readers into customers? Content that has them hanging onto every single syllable you write? Content that’s targeted with such precision they always feel it’s written specifically for them?
Well, to really achieve that, you need to master the art of researching.
Here’s the step-by-step process to get you started …
The Simple 3-Step Process To Content Research That Will Fast Track Your Success
You ever seen a musician truly master their craft?
The very moment you hear them play those exquisite notes, you’re entranced by how beautiful the sound really is. And, with little to no effort whatsoever.
But, what you don’t see is the countless hours spent practicing. Playing scales. Reading, and learning, new notes.
And without that sacrifice and time they put in, their music wouldn’t be as beautiful.
Your blog is the same thing.
You want to be successful with it, but you need to put in the “practice.” You need to do the research in order to truly master the craft.
So, how do you achieve that?
Let’s take a look at the steps:
Step #1: Clearly Define The Problems Your Audience Faces
Want to really fast track your success?
Then, you need to clearly figure out what problem(s) your audience is experiencing … then solve them.
To do this, start by using Google Drive or Excel to create a spreadsheet full of pressing question aimed at helping you define their problems.
Something like the following would be great questions to ask:
Your goal is to use these questions as a guide to continuously drill into the mindset of your audience — and make it easier to create content that they want answers to.
But, let’s face facts here:
Drilling into the mindset is all fine and dandy, but you’ll never get anywhere if you can’t define those specific pain-points.
That’s why taking advantage of the various social media tools at your disposal is key.
They help you decide the best topics to tackle — and how many people are truly interested in getting a solution.
For example, let’s say you’re in the mortgage space and your potential audience is new home buyers. Here’s some tools you can use to gather more in-depth information on them:
Quora is a gold mine of information that can help you understand your potential audience.
Head to their homepage and enter your keyword in the search field. In this case, you’d search for “mortgages”:
Quora will show you a few auto-populated choices that you can choose from. But, let’s stick with the main topic of mortgages.
These are just a few topics (out of hundreds) that people have legitimate questions about:
Let’s take a closer look at the first topic, “Is buying a foreclosure smart for a first-time home buyer?”:
There’s 24 answers/conversations going on here. And to a niche focused question like this, 24 answers is HUGE.
It means that you have various perspectives on a topic that your audience may be interested in. Obviously, you don’t want to rip off their answers completely, but you can use certain pieces to construct your own content and create something amazing.
On top of that, there’s 55 followers to this topic.
This means that 55 people raised their hands and said they’re interested in this topic — and want to get notified when new information about it is posted.
So, you might be wondering … 55! That’s it!?!
Here’s the results from a simple Google Keyword Planner search I conducted:
3,600 monthly searches!
Results like this are just the tip of the iceberg.
All you need to do is rinse and repeat the process to consistently find topics your audience is hungry for.
2. Niche Specific Forums
Niche specific forums are a different, but equally effective method to your content research.
To find relevant forums on your topic, you first want to go to Google and enter “your topic + forums” in the search field.
Following our mortgage example, you would enter “mortgage + forum” into the search field:
This will give you a list of various forums you can go to.
Spend a few minutes checking out each forum and the wide variety of topics discussed:
The higher the views and replies, the more interest they have in that topic.
And if that’s the case, you should add it to your list:
Here’s why this method is so important:
Because those that are your target audience validated their interest in the topic by viewing it — and trying to find a solution as well.
Which brings us to step 2 …
Step #2: Find Promising Keywords Your Audience Wants Answers To
In step one, we used Quora to find a goldmine of questions and information reader wanted answers to.
Now, we’ll use the information we found to see if each topic is something that’s searched for a lot.
Here’s how to do it:
First, use the Google Keyword Planner to find keywords that has a decent to good search volume.
For example, when we did a search for “buying a foreclosure” it had a search volume of 3,600 searches/month:
Definitely not bad, right?
But, not all the keywords you find will have a high search volume.
Let’s take a look at the first potential topic found in the forum … “credit score to buy a home.”
This clearly has a much lower search volume:
But 590 monthly searches is nothing to sneeze at either.
Next, size up the top 20 results in Google:
At this point, what you want to find out is how good (or bad) the content is as you click on each result.
Lastly, by using Excel (or Google Drive), create a spreadsheet with a list of the top 20 results in Google. For each result, your goal is to document the good, the bad and what needs improving. For example, analyzing things like the format, writing style and visuals (or lack of) is key.
Rinse and repeat this entire step with promising keywords your target audience is searching for.
Note: This step may take a while because you have to really be dedicated to find out everything possible about each result you find. But, it’s well worth it in your quest to produce content that (1) outranks them and (2) your audience can’t get enough of.
After you’ve done that, you can move on to the last step …
Step #3: Thoroughly Collect Relevant Information to Make Your Content Absolutely Mind-Blowing
You know exactly what problem(s) you’re trying to solve and the keywords your target audience want answers to.
Now, your last step is to get relevant data on that specific problem. And that means taking your content to the next level.
Not too long ago, I wrote Writing Website Content: How to Write Mind-Blowing Content That Converts:
This involved sharing content that:
- Provides actionable tips.
- Is sharing real world examples.
- Makes every image and screenshot visually appealing.
Sounds simple, right?
Not so fast.
While everyone else may just settle for what they find on Google, you have an opportunity to make your content pop. And all it involves is going the extra mile and providing some detailed information your audience would appreciate.
Here’s the two methods you could use:
- Get experts to weigh in with their opinions.
- Conduct random surveys.
Let’s explore these in more detail:
Method # 1: Get Experts to Weigh In With Their Opinions
I know what you’re thinking:
“How can the opinion of experts really help you solve a specific problem?”
Any opinions you can get them to share only helps support whatever point you’re trying to get across. In other words, you’re leveraging off of their expertise to further justify your points.
Brian Lang did just that in this post he wrote for Boost Blog Traffic. For certain portions of that post, he featured quotes from experts to solidify his point:
Do you think that something like this can increase your social proof and credibility?
Better believe it.
And all you need is a quick and simple email to ask any expert if they want to contribute to your post. Here’s a tested script you can use:
Subject: Quick Question …
Hope your week has been going great.
I’m emailing you now because I’m working on a post I’m looking to publish in the next [Timeframe].
The post will talk about [Topic]. I was wondering, if you’re not too busy, if you could provide a quote on that topic?
The main question is this: [Ask question topic]
Would love to have you participate in this and have you provide a quote.
Would this be something you’ll be able to do?
Thanks in advance,
– [Your Name]
(Note: This works best if you already have a relationship with the person — or have communicated with them before. Don’t start off your very first communication with them by asking for a favor. That just looks bad.)
Method #2: Conduct Random Surveys
What’s the secret to getting data that actually matters?
There’s no one specific way.
But, you have a better chance of getting targeted information by simple doing a survey.
Here’s how it works:
First, choose multiple platforms that your audience hangs out. In this case, I chose LinkedIn …
… and FaceBook:
Next, ask the question(s) you want answered.
(Note: Depending on how active your followers and colleagues are on these platforms, you may need to keep your survey active for a little while. In this case, I kept the questions up on both platforms for 2 weeks.)
Lastly, you’ll need to show the results of your survey. Here’s exactly what I did:
And because I had actual data to back up my point, it made the information I shared much stronger.
Remember — you can conduct the survey for as long a you want. As long as you get sufficient information and data that’ll show crystal clear results.
But, that’s not all.
You can use surveys to find out what type of content to create next. And this works because surveys are the best way to get inside of your readers head — without actually asking them.
Are you ready to give this entire content research strategy a shot?
It takes hard work to create great content. And proper research is one of the key components to make it work.
Fortunately, the more effort you put into the research aspect of things, the better your content will perform — and grasp the attention of your audience.