Let’s face it — doing research might not be as fun as creating killer headlines, writing the first draft of a genius blog post, or crafting your next irresistible offer.
But solid research is absolutely essential if you truly want to be successful as a content marketer.
When you hear the word “research” in conjunction with content marketing, you might immediately think about keywords (and optimizing your content for search engines using those keywords.)
And yes — keyword research is incredibly important. Mostly because it’s the language of your audience — even if search engines didn’t exist.
But to really dig into your research, you need to start thinking beyond just search engine optimization research. You need to think bigger.
Your audience is online right now, searching for things they want to discover more about, and looking for real-time answers to their questions. They’re also socializing online in LinkedIn groups, Google+ circles, and Twitter chats.
So, it makes sense … your best research will come from the digging around and exploring in the places where your audience is socializing and searching.
You need to find out what really makes your prospect tick. You have to figure out their frustrations, understand their desires, and find out what problems keep them up at night.
This all sounds great on paper, right? You’re nodding and smiling and saying, “Of course!”
But research is the often-ignored, frequently avoided red-headed stepchild of content marketing.
What good research does for you (and your readers)
When you do research well — when you build a solid foundation for your content marketing efforts — you can build a complete profile of your ideal client, and how that person thinks, feels, and buys.
This profile shapes everything you do online.
Solid research means your copy practically assembles itself. Your content will be easier to put together because you know your audience so well that you can speak directly to them without a lot of stress or strain.
Writer’s block will disappear, and your biggest problem will be trying to find the time and energy to crank out all the high-value blog posts and articles that you know your customers want and need.
Good research also leads directly to more click-throughs, better opt-in rates, more social media shares, better search engine rankings, and more conversions. Your content marketing metrics improve because research helps you speak directly to your ideal client — in the language they understand, and in a voice they will trust and want to buy from.
When you research thoroughly, you’ll be able to anticipate what your customers need — even before they really know they need it. Your relationships with your readers and clients will be better, because your thorough investigations (via social and search) make you look like a mind-reading genius.
And bonus points to you if you got the Ice Cube reference in the headline. 😉
A guide to mastering the art of research
So how can you do better (and more efficient) research, even if it’s not your favorite thing?
This post is the kick-off for our series on research, which will take this typically unsexy topic and turn it around.
In this series, you’ll learn:
- What you should be researching
- Where to find the tools you need to make the research process faster, better, and more interesting
- The most important thing to consider before doing any research (it’s not what you think!)
Check out the rest of the series here:
- A 6-Step Content Marketing Research Process
- Become a Content Marketing Secret Agent with Competitive Intelligence
- A 3-Step Process for Painless Keyword Research
- How to Find the Keywords that Work for Your Content Marketing Goals
- Case Study: How Keyword Research Works in the Wild
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What questions do you have about the research process?