How to Read Your Customers' Mind: Write Killer Blog Posts Your Audience Craves
You’re staring at a blank screen, trying to come up with blog post ideas. If only you could read your customers minds and know what they want…
You finally decide on a topic and spend hours writing your blog post. You hit publish.
But all you hear is crickets…
I know the feeling. It sucks.
When I started my marketing career years ago, I had put together this campaign and I thought it was going to be amazing.
I did exactly what I had learned in graduate university: I showcased how my product was solving customers problems.
The campaign did ok. Not awful, but just ok. We weren’t making as many sales as I thought we would.
I knew the product was good. So what was wrong with my campaign?
I’ve since learned from experience and mentors how to put together content that audience craves.
Why Consumer Psychology Matters for Writing Killer Blog Posts
You’ve probably seen the Venn diagram below before. It shows that your content topics should intersect at the meeting point of your Passion, your Knowledge, and your Customer Problems.
But it’s wrong. It’s missing a big piece.
Consumer psychology research has proven over and over again that the perceived emotional end-benefit is what will actually make a customer purchase a product or a service.
Not only does your content need to solve your customer problems, but it also needs to take into consideration emotional benefits.
Understanding What your Audience Craves
To create content that attracts readers, you need to:
Uncover the practical problem your customer is experiencing.
Uncover the emotional feelings attached to this problem.
Position your solution.
The better you’ll get at applying this formula, the more you’ll:
Grow your audience.
Attract your ideal customers.
Drive engagement from your existing customers.
Eventually, increase revenue.
4 Steps to Writing Blog Posts Your Readers Beg For
Step 1: Research your niche
Step 2: Research your market
Step 3: Rank your content topics
Step 4: Create a transformation for your customers
Step 1: Research your niche
Ask your Audience the Right Question
I often see online entrepreneurs make the mistake of asking their customers what to write about.
That’s the wrong question.
Consider what Henry Ford famously said: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
While most people are clear on their problems, they’re often not clear on what they want.
Make it easy and send an email to your audience asking what problems they’re struggling with.
You’ll be surprised at the number of people that reply.
You can even ask a few of them to get on a quick Skype call with you. It’s a great opportunity to dig deeper and it also shows you care.
Document your Findings
Create a spreadsheet (in Excel, Numbers or Google Sheets) with 6 columns: Topic, Source, Brief summary, Question/Problem, Frustrations/Pain points, Desires, Solution.
Do Research in Facebook Groups
Join Facebook groups in your niche. Read the questions and comments. Record all the relevant details in your spreadsheet.
Copy and paste the sentences without editing them, as it’s important to use the same words that your audience uses. Not only will it help your content resonate with customers, but it will also help with your SEO.
Join Facebook groups where your niche hangs out (not your peers). For example, if you’re an accountant wanting to create a course on budgeting, join personal finance groups (not accounting groups).
Set a timer to resist the temptation to spend hours on Facebook.
Search recent and older posts, so you have a diversity of views and topics not afffected by seasonality.
Quickly find posts related to your topic by using the search function in Facebook groups (located in the upper right corner, under the group main image).
While it takes a little bit of time, make sure to document your findings. It will save you time in the future, as you’ll have a library of future blog post topics.
You’ll also have a list of actual customer problems and emotions that you can quickly refer back to when writing your blog.
At this point, you should have an extensive list of topics with customers problems and emotions.
If you’re finding you need to dig deeper, here are other sources to consider:
Amazon: search for bestselling books in your niche. Look at the table of content and note the topics. Go through the comments and identify questions, problems, frustrations, pain points, desires, and solutions.
Online forums: join online forums in your niche.
Quora: search for questions in your niche. It will give you a good sense of what customers struggle with.
Reddit: I haven’t engaged much with Reddit, but some of my peers find it useful for searching niche subreddits.
Step 2: Research your Market
Research your Peers the Smart Way
Go in Buzzsumo.com and enter the websites of your top 3-5 successful peers. Take note of their top 5 posts that garnered the most shares.
In a second spreadsheet, document Topic, Peer, Blog post title, Url, Number of shares, Strengths (for example, detailed, actionable, likable tone, etc.), Gaps (for example, difficult to read, outdated info, etc.).
When documenting gaps, I like to look at the comments and identify any clarification questions readers had. I use my Mac search function ‘Command + f’, then '?' to quickly search for questions. I can then address these gaps in my own content.
If you’d like to dig deeper, here are additional sources:
Look at YouTube comments of popular videos in your niche.
If you don’t know who your peers are, search for your niche keywords in Buzzsumo, and go down the rabbit hole.
Webinars by your peers can also be a great source of questions and comments: take note of customers' struggles.
In case you’ve hit Buzzsumo daily limit for free searches, then search for topics in Google and scroll to the bottom of the page for Related Search terms. Click on top ranking articles and record your findings in your spreadsheet.
Set a timer to give yourself a specific amount of time to complete your research, so you don’t fall prey to “analysis paralysis”.
Step 3: Rank your Content Topics
This step is about prioritizing the best topics for you to create products and write about.
Go in the spreadsheets you just filled, and identify the top 5 topics with the highest number of occurrences. You can also poll your audience for further validation.
Create a final and third spreadsheet:
First column: list your 5 top topics
Second column: total number of topic occurrences
Third column: grade your passion for each topic (1-low, 2-medium, 3-high)
Fourth column: grade your skills for each topic (1-low, 2-medium, 3-high)
Fifth column: grade your ability to deliver a product to market quickly, i.e. speed to market (1-low, 2-medium, 3-high)
Sixth column: Poll results
Last column: Multiply all columns
You now have your core topic, your customers problems, your customers emotions and it matches your skills and your passion.
Congratulations, you did it!
You now have a core topic for writing your content and your online course.
Step 4: Create a Transformation for your Customers
We’ve seen earlier that consumer psychology confirms that perceived emotional end-benefits trigger purchasing behavior.
As your blog posts are part of your sales funnel for your products or services, it’s important to be clear on the emotional outcome for your customers.
Here’s how I do it.
My audience currently does [fill the blank], because they currently feel that [fill the blank].
If I can help my audience feel that [fill the blank], then they will do [fill the blank].
Now, you can use these elements to help you write your blog posts, your online courses, your sales pages, your emails, etc.
Bringing it All Together
I’ve been using this strategy for years and it works like a charm.
It works best when there is consistency in your messaging (blog posts, products, emails, etc.). It takes customers several times of seeing the same message before taking action on it.
Not only will you be solving your customers' problems, but you’ll also be creating positive emotions. And that's good.
Your customers will thank you. And you'll feel confident about the content you're writing.
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