We’re all familiar with the adage that ‘Content is King’. We couldn’t agree more - no matter what kind of business you run, you’re going to need great content!
From growing your brand’s visibility online to having a profound impact on the success of your business, effective content marketing strategies are what will set you apart in the mad, mad world of digital content.
Having said that, there’s a lot that goes into creating valuable content.
8 seconds - that’s the current attention span of humans, dropping nearly 25% in the last few years (way to go technology!).
With all of us being programmed to receive answers instantly, marketers today have a lot riding on them to hold on to users’ attention.
You need more than just good content - what you need is well-researched content that will speak to your readers and have them gripped onto your story, right from the first few lines.
Content Research - what’s that all about?
Let’s take it from the top.
Content research is an essential arm of marketing. It’s all about analyzing content that is available online, identifying topics that your audience engages with, and then building a unique strategy to increase your brand’s visibility.
You want your content to be picked up by both search engines and your users and so creating data-backed, valuable content for your audience involves a great deal of research work.
Content research is the perfect mix of looking up content that’s attracting a lot of shares and engagement, identifying the right keywords, searching for the top posts that are being ranked high by search engines, and keeping an eye on what your competitors and peers in the industry are writing about.
What makes content research essential?
Content research is the key to step up your content game, wow your readers, and keep those conversions coming in!
We’ll dig a little deeper and understand why content research matters in today’s day and age.
You can’t just wing it anymore
Gone are the days where merely publishing an article and pushing out two or three social media posts a week would keep you in the game. Doing the bare minimum just doesn’t cut it anymore.
Your users are well informed, know exactly what they want, and more importantly, are spoilt for choice! You need to come up with unique content ideas that sell - bear in mind that you’re dealing with readers who possess a relatively low attention span.
Exhaustive research will help you uncover content topics that are working well in your space.
You will get to know your audience better
Good research will help you know just what your audience is looking for. You will also be able to build content for every stage in your buyer’s journey.
From topics to recommendations and timely tips, you will have plenty of options to keep your users glued to your content. You will also be able to discover a niche, low-competition topics that are driving a lot of engagement but have very little content around them.
Giving your audience what they want consistently is the trick to stay in the game.
You will have a plan of action
In the world of content, it’s important to have a strategy in place and map out how you want to win over your customers with your content.
Content research will help you craft a plan that will position your brand as a thought leader in your space. Checking up on your competitor’s work and understanding the pulse of the industry is important in shaping a well-thought-out plan for both the long term and the short term.
12 steps to help you do content research the right way!
Now the way you approach content research can make a world of a difference in the results that your content marketing efforts will bring in.
We’re listing out 12 steps that you’ll need to follow to take on content research in the most effective way possible. Here we go!
1 - Understanding your target audience:
When it comes to creating wow-worthy content, we cannot stress enough the importance of knowing your target audience.
It is and has always been about what your audience wants. Before you flesh out a content strategy, you need to understand how you can bait the audience with your content.
You can do this by identifying your buyers and carving out the buyer’s journey with your brand. This will give you a clear picture of who your customers are, what they are looking for, and how you can customize your offerings and content to suit their needs.
2 - Sync up with sales teams
No doubt the marketing and sales team need to work hand in hand. Once you have identified your buyers and mapped out their journey, you need to ensure that the content that goes out effectively closes sales.
Sales calls and customer support transcripts can give you a pool of knowledge and help you discover loopholes in your content strategy. There might be questions and drop-off points that arise during sales demos which can be useful in your content research.
3 - Third-party review websites
Review websites are a great place to get started with your content research. Honest reviews from your customers will not only give your business a reality check but you will also have enough data to get back and fine-tune your content.
4 - Social media forums
We all know how customers are quick to take to their social media handles to rant about brands and also stand by businesses they love. You can do a quick study of these social media forums to know about topics and themes that are keeping your industry abuzz.
5 - Conducting deep surveys
Surveys are a great medium to gather compelling data for your content research. You can use tools like Typeform or even stick to Google forms to gather rich insights from your customers.
The in-depth research can help you work on building content that attracts organic traffic and leads for your business.
6 - Build buyer personas
Another important tactic to develop content that speaks to your audience is to build buyer personas for your business.
Right from the general demographics to the problems your audience face, their background, challenges, and interests - you will need to consider several user traits to zero in on buyer personas.
Researching and identifying the different buyer personas that you are dealing with will help you churn out valuable content.
7 - Find topic ideas & questions your audience asks regularly
You can build on great content ideas, stories, and theories from all the questions that your audience is asking. Which makes it very important for you to be available on platforms like Buzzsumo, AnswerThePublic, and Quora to know what your audience is talking about.
8 - Discover key phrases
It’s important to push out content that gets ranked and is considered relevant by Google. How can you get this right? Tools like Dashword have been built to help you unearth keywords and phrases that should be included in your content.
9 - Determine the intent & volume of those key phrases
Once you’ve figured out the key phrase, your next step would be to check the intent and the volume of usage of these key phrases and search terms. This level of research will help you build solid, keyword-optimized content that will draw in organic traffic. You can turn to tools like Ahrefs and Keyword Planner for this.
10 - Competitor analysis
Now in most cases, marketers are in the dark about what their competitors are doing. This could hurt you more than you can imagine!
It’s important to closely watch the top performers in your space, what they are talking about, which are their go-to keywords and topics, understand their content distribution strategies, and snoop around to see what discussions they are having with their customers.
Checking up on what your competitors are doing will not only help you stay ahead but will also prove to be beneficial in search engine rankings. Remember imitation of content will only get you so far, instead consider your competitors’ content to be a starting point for your content ideation.
11 - Binge on third-party research reports
The good news here is that some third-party sources are already sharing interesting insights and data on what you need to be talking about.
They come up with research reports that can fuel a ton of ideas on how you can shape your brand’s content. Make sure that you check up on these reports to coin content topics and ideas that will set you up for success.
12 - Build a ‘Research Bible’
With this exhaustive amount of research that you will be conducting you can create a ‘Research Bible’ of sorts which will serve as an excellent reference point and framework for future content activities. You will know just what you need to gear up for and you can even tweak content along the way with this framework in place.
Make informed, better decisions with content research
Dissecting the content online and doing a thorough research will help you build a personalized approach in your content strategy and eventually win over users invested in your brand.
Research is what makes the difference between content and great content. While it could be time-consuming, the power of pushing out well-researched and data-driven content cannot be ignored.