One of the top reasons businesses don’t blog is they don’t know what to blog about. It’s a valid concern. In a sea of content-flooded inboxes and social media newsfeeds constantly, it’s hard to get noticed. It’s even harder when you don’t have anything interesting to say.
But even in that sea of content, people are still searching for answers. Your business can help them and, in turn, convert them into loyal customers. How? After you create a blog, the next step is to pinpoint readers’ problems to come up with blog post ideas that will resonate with them, here’s how.
Define your audience
The first step to knowing what your readers’ problems are is to know who your blog readers are. You might be surprised to find that they’re not who you’d expect.
Start by considering your business as a whole. What problem does your product or service solve? What kind of people have that problem and are willing to invest in a solution? Answering these questions alone should give you an idea of the audience interested in your business.
But it’s not a fool-proof way to identify your readers. Your branding, marketing, and messages might attract a different type of person than you initially thought it would. It’s possible that the people who read your blog aren’t the same people buying your product or service. Or your product or service might appeal to more people than your content does.
Take a look at the type of people following you on social media and commenting on your blog posts. A customer research company can help you identify your audience and pinpoint your brand’s messages if you’re willing to invest in the services. You can also use tools like Facebook Insights to see who’s following and engaging with you.
Do you notice similarities in the type of people who engage with you? If they’re all middle-aged females with kids, then you’ll be able to better narrow their problems and target your blog posts to that demographic.
If the audience you’re attracting to your blog isn’t the audience you want to attract to your business, it may be time to refine your messages to attract the right people. If you’ve attracted the audience you want, you can move on to the next steps.
Analyze demographic data
Now that you have an idea of who your audience is, you can take a look at statistics covering that demographic. This will give you more insight into how your readers think, act and buy. Pew Research Center has conducted countless surveys on a variety of topics. You might find research there pertaining to your industry and your readers’ demographics.
However, this only gives you a general idea of what your readers might want. To really pinpoint their behaviors, wants and needs, you might consider conducting research of your own to narrow who your ideal reader really is.
Again, a market research company can come in handy if you’re serious about connecting with your customers. Otherwise, reader surveys are a good way to learn what your readers want. You might consider setting up a giveaway with the survey to get people engaged. You can post the survey form on your blog, share it on social media, and send it in your newsletter.
This will give you a chance to learn who your most dedicated readers are, understand their needs and interests, hear what content they like and dislike, and learn if your blog readers are your actual customers. It also helps get them involved in your content strategy to keep them engaged in future blog posts.
Best of all, reader surveys help you learn what exact problems your readers are facing so you can develop blog post ideas that address and solve those problems. Be sure to let survey takers leave long-form answers so you can hear it straight from the horse’s mouth rather than assuming with multiple-choice questions.
Listen to the conversation
Aside from reader surveys, one of the best ways to identify reader problems and develop ideas around them is to listen to the conversations happening online.
- Social Feeds: Pay attention to what types of articles, topics and discussions occur in your own social news feed. Connect with industry leaders to stay involved in the conversation and listen to what people are saying when they reply to or share your content. Reply to comments, participate in groups and post questions that engage people. Doing this puts you in the conversation and provides insights into the types of questions people are asking and the topics they want to know more about.
- Blog Post Comments: Your blog is the perfect place to figure out what your readers need. If someone asks a question in a reply to your blog post, you can always turn that into a new topic idea. You can also browse competitors’ blogs to see what their audience is asking about. Then, develop blog posts around those ideas.
- Forums: Forums are packed with awesome blog post ideas. Scrolling through a site like Quora will connect you with tons of questions about your industry. Not only that, but you can use forums to engage in the conversation and lead people to your blog.
- Facebook and LinkedIn Groups: Facebook and LinkedIn groups are a lot like forums in the types of questions you’ll find people asking and the conversations going on. Join industry-relevant groups to tune into and engage in the conversation.
- Email Feedback: To hear directly from your readers, listen to what they’re saying in their emails. You can even spark a personal conversation with email subscribers by asking questions at the end of your newsletter or in your automated email sequence. Not everyone will email you back, but if even one person engages to discuss their struggles, then you’ll have plenty ideas to draw from for future blog posts. This also opens a channel of communication to help you develop strong relationships with your audience.
As you listen to the conversation online, pay attention to what social networks your readers are most active on. Where are they most likely to share your content? This can tell you a bit about what your audience likes. Also, pay attention to who is sharing your content. You can even take a peek at readers’ bios to see what type of person you’re reaching and if they’re the type of people you want to reach.
Monitor your content
A great way to pinpoint what resonates with your readers is to look at your site statistics to see which posts perform best — and which ones don’t. Determine post popularity by both shares and page views. This gives you an idea of what your readers really want to hear about and what kind of topics are helping them.
You can always recycle old ideas by broadening the topic, narrowing the topic or taking the topic in another direction. Otherwise, use popular topics as a jumping point to inspire brand new ideas. You can also use the same ideas and put them into a new format, such as an infographic or video, to reach a wider audience.
Coming up with blog post ideas isn’t always easy, but by identifying your audience and listening to them, you can spend less time struggling to come up with ideas and more time crafting content that readers want. What steps will you take to pinpoint your readers’ problems and come up with better blog post ideas?
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