Does anyone else sometimes feel like their content just fails? Every so often I get into this funk and nothing I write seems to have any oomph. The topics are stale, or I am just not feeling it? Sure, research shows that it is what is popular in the public consciousness at the time. But trends and I don’t always mix and when that happens you can really see it in what I produce.
That is why this little trick really saved my bacon. After years of struggling with this particular issue, I realized I was missing the obvious: my customers were the ones I should be listening to. I had been hearing about – and sometimes writing about – the importance of answering customer questions for ages, yet I was failing to take that advice.
Once I made the shift it was like a whole new world opened up for me. Now I expound on the virtues of this method of content research at every given opportunity. Here is why:
It Shows You What Your Customers Want To Know
This is the most direct way that customer question research gives some punch to your content: it shows you exactly what it is your customers what to hear about. It also gives you a certain position of credibility. After all, they have the question and you have the answer. If they feel they can come to you then they will hold onto that impression.
Another way to use this method is to see what other people’s customers want to know. I have found some incredibly valuable information and content topics by looking up problems customers are having with competitor’s products/sites and going from there. In some cases, you can do this with large companies, where you have a much larger pool to fish from.
Tip: Use Twitter search to monitor what questions people ask your competitors (or related to your competitors). This will help you win their customers’ hearts and better align your products and content marketing to the customers’ needs:
Use Twitter search operator: [“competitor name” ?] with the space before [?]. This will filter Twitter search results to only questions.
You can use the same trick to monitor questions on your topic by adding the question mark (with the space) after your primary keyword. For example, try searching Twitter for [“eating apples” ?]: All you see are questions people ask each other on Twitter in real time!
It Directs You To Areas Your Content Is Lacking
If your customer has a question, it is because you aren’t being clear with the answer. It is time you went through your site and started taking a real inventory of your content. One of the best ways to make sure you are offering the best possible write-up in each section is to get beta testers to come in and take notes. At the end ask them if they can answer the questions that your customers had, or how it could be more clear for them.
A FAQ section is one of the more popular methods for utilizing content to provide answers. I am personally becoming disillusioned with traditional site FAQ’s, which customers don’t seem to like as much as they used to. Given how bulky and cumbersome they can be, I don’t really blame them.
Instead, try for smaller sections that answer the most common customer questions that you are hearing. That both bolsters your content and directly targets the issue, without going for a giant directory of every single question someone could possibly have.
Tip: A great tool to research what your customers are asking in your niche is to use an advanced keyword research tool called Serpstat. It has a very powerful keywords suggestion suite that lets you find exactly what your customers are typing into the search box. You can also check their “Question research” section for more in depth niche question research. Using their tool called clustering, you can also optimize your FAQ pages to rank for a group of keywords instead one particular keyword. You can also extract keywords from your competitor’s FAQ page using Serpstat and let the tool group them for you to see what kinds of questions your competitor focuses on:
For additional help on how to optimize your content with keywords you have identified, try installing a few of these SEO plugins and also refer to this guide, “Top 5 Tools To Make Business Keyword Management Easier”.
It Gives You Interesting Topics To Write About
You have probably heard of Buzzsumo before, as they are one of the biggest names in content tools right now and have been for a couple of years. A lesser known feature is the Question Analyzer. If you haven’t been using it before now you really need to start. It is an excellent way to break through a slump and find really excellent content ideas. Not to mention an effective keyword researching tool to boot, giving you a two-pronged approach to your content marketing.
First, you can see the most commonly asked questions across multiple networks. Second, you can set up monitoring for social media platforms to keep an eye out on topics. Third, you can monitor for brand mentions and questions. Fourth, you can provide eCommerce related questions common to your product. Fifth, you can develop your product using customer questions. All from a single platform. It is pretty amazing and really easy to use.
Tip: When researching your topic on Google, pay attention to those “People also ask” boxes that pop up from time to time. These are popular questions relating to your search query which can inspire new content ideas. Once you start clicking questions to expand them and see the answers, more questions will be added to the bottom of the box, so you can get more and more inspired!
It Shows You How You Can Be Better
This is related to the lacking on content but isn’t quite the same thing. You may have been doing everything possible to provide the right kind of content, yet still not be meeting the expectations of your customers who need something a little more. That applies to your competitor’s customers, as well… you can see in what ways you can show you are better than they are and so poach their audience. Because in the end isn’t that all anyone is trying to do, take and retain the lion’s share of customers and keep them happy?
Try writing down a list of ten questions that customers have that you are seeing more than any others. Then write a list of impressions these questions give you. What is it your customers are really craving? What are they probably not getting? How can you improve your content across the board (I am talking everything from blog and social media posts to web content and drip campaigns) to fill that need?
You may be surprised by how simple the answers are and how little you can do to make a huge difference.
Tip: Try using a mind-mapping technique: Write one popular question you kept coming across using Serpstat and Google and then map down your possible emotions and underlying questions which your customers may have when trying to find an answer.
It Connects You More Deeply To Your Audience
Finally, one of the best ways that you can use customer questions to make that content of yours really shine: you can connect. Knowing what concerns are most on the mind of readers and users is the first step in empathizing and reacting the way that they need you to. You can feel what they feel, see what matters to them and respond in a way that truly shows your customer base that you have their interests at heart, not your profits.
If you are able to make a real connection with the people who matter, you will be expanding the loyalty bottom line for your brand.
Tip: Have you tried creating buyer personas to craft your content marketing? A buyer persona is basically how you imagine and what you know about your customers allowing you to cater to their needs easier. Buyer personas make it easier to brainstorm content because, with those buyer personas, you suddenly start talking to real people, so your tone and topics become more engaging. It’s easier to talk to working moms or retired travelers who love bringing their grandparents souvenirs than to the crowd.
Question research is a great way to build those personas because they allow insight into your readers’ everyday life. For example, if you come across a popular question that says something like “What are the best snacks to take on a road trip?”, you realize that many of your target readers love traveling, so you can adjust your persona list based on that. On the other hand, if you notice a question “What are the best snacks to take on a road trip with kids”, you’ll know that many of your readers have kids.
This knowledge will allow you to go search for suitable angles and experiment more with your topics, covering a wider range of your audience’s interests that may go beyond your actual niche.
How have you managed to use customer questions research in your own content marketing plans? Is there a source or tool you would recommend? Let us know in the comments!