You want to create content that your readers will find useful, and what’s more useful than content that helps them to solve their pain points? Read on to discover different methods on how to find your readers’ pain points so you can use them to create valuable, targeted content.
“Pain points” sound, well, painful.
But when it comes to creating content and eventually promoting and developing products that your readers and future customers will love and pay money for, you need to know where they hurt.
And it’s not because you want them to suffer.
By understanding your readers’ pain points, investigating how to solve these pain points, and creating content to solve these pain points, you get to attract more readers to your blog, increase traffic from a specific audience, and improve your chances of monetizing your website.
In this blog post, I discuss what pain points are and how to find your readers’ pain points so you can create content around them.
Since we’re going to discuss this throughout the article, it pays to know what a pain point is.
A pain point is a specific problem or difficulty experienced by your readers and prospective customers.
Getting to know your readers’ pain points is not going to be easy because pain points differ among them. Sometimes, they may not even be aware that something is a pain point until you point it out to them and make them realize it.
You can categorize these pain points so it’s easier to think about how to position your blog in your niche and the products you’ll someday promote to or create for your readers.
This is all well and good, but why should we, as bloggers, even bother?
Readers are always interested in solutions to their problems.
Products that are successful in the long term are those that actually solve buyers’ problems and not those that solve problems that don’t exist.
Similarly, the blog posts that are successful are the ones that present solutions to readers’ problems and not those that merely indulge the writer’s whims.
Knowing what problems to solve can influence the direction of your content.
Readers depend on you to find or create a solution to their problems.
It’s not ideal, but sometimes we are better at expressing our problems than we are at expressing what we need to solve them.
As a blogger, you shouldn’t expect your readers to know how to solve their own problems; that’s your job.
It’s up to you to tease out the underlying reason for your readers’ pain points so you’ll know how best to solve these pain points. This is why it’s absolutely important for you to ask all the right questions to discover the deeper challenges that your readers are facing.
Sometimes, it takes you asking “why?” a number of times just to get to the bottom of it all.
Readers only care about your pain points if they have the same pain points, too.
Your own pain points can be the starting point of your own research and content development efforts. But none of your readers will care about what you’re writing about unless they care about your pain points.
Whenever you create content or eventually conceptualize your own products, you’ll need to think about your readers’ pain points more than you think about your own. As your blog grows, it will become harder to focus, and you’ll get distracted by other opportunities to make money.
You can’t let yourself get diverted from what should be your main purpose: serving your readers by solving their pain points. Remembering this is the only way your website can survive in the long run.
Now that you know what pain points are, we can now talk about how to find them.
Generally, there are two types of ways you can find out what your readers’ pain points are: direct methods and indirect methods.
Here are the different ways of finding your readers’ pain points.
Sometimes, it’s just a matter of simply asking your readers what they find difficult or frustrating and then listening—really listening—to their answers.
Here are a couple of the direct methods that you can use to discover your readers’ pain points.
Conducting an online survey is probably the easiest way to start learning about your readers’ pain points.
Online surveys have been used by businesses as a tool to get feedback and opinions, as well as find out what their customers want and need.
You can also choose whether or not to keep the survey anonymous. Respondents may be more open to sharing their thoughts when the survey is anonymous, but if their identity was attached to the answers, then you’ll be able to contact them to follow up if you have to clarify any of their answers.
Here are some steps to help guide you when you do an online survey for your readers.
1. Clarify your goals.
Yes, we’ve established that you want to know your readers’ pain points. But it’s easy to get distracted when you don’t have a well-defined set of goals to keep your sights on.
First, find out what type of information you plan to gather. What exactly do you want to find out? Do you want to know their general problems? Or do you want to know what specific tasks you can help them with to overcome these bigger problems?
Also, what do you plan on doing with the information you gather in the long run? Do you plan on creating a product that solves these pain points, or teach them how to solve these problems? It’s important to take note of these plans.
2. Formulate your questions.
The quality of the answers you’re going to get from your readers is highly dependent on the quality of questions you ask them.
Open-ended questions tease out answers that are more useful for you. They tend to be more detailed, more illustrative, and more informative.
However, open-ended questions can be tedious to answer, especially if readers don’t have a lot of time on their hands. You can probably integrate multiple-choice questions or even yes or no questions in your surveys, both to make the surveys simpler to answer, as well as to break the monotony.
Here are some questions you can try to tweak and use for your own surveys.
3. Select your tool.
To create high-quality surveys, you’ll need to use the right tools for the job. You’ll want a tool that you can use to create compelling, easy-to-answer surveys that respondents would be happy to participate in.
You’d also want to consider the features offered by paid and free tools, and whether the cost of paid tools justifies the price. Some of the features to consider include custom branding, varied question types, and data export.
4. Choose your respondents.
Not all of your readers are created equal.
Not all of them are willing to answer your questions or have the time on their hands to do so. Conversely, not all of your readers’ answers will be useful for what you want to achieve.
Also, as your reader base grows, it becomes more and more difficult to survey all of them and analyze the answers. This is why you’ll need to learn how to choose your readers so you can get a representative sample of your entire reader population.
You want a sample that’s diverse enough to cover all the demographics your readers belong to; all genders, age groups, etc. Plus, the sample needs to reflect the proportion of these demographics in your reader base. For instance, if most of your readers are in the 30-34 age group, you need to make sure that you sample more from this age group than others.
5. Invite participants.
There are various ways to persuade your readers to participate in your survey. You can email individual participants or message them through social media.
Also, remember that when you send the invitations can matter as much as who you send them to. Find the right time to send out the invitations to increase the chances of your intended participants actually responding to the survey.
Other things you can do is to offer incentives, like discount codes to stores or services that are popular with your readers or even an actual, physical gift, so your respondents are more inclined to answer your online survey.
6. Gather and document the responses.
The answers you get from your respondents are only useful if you take note of them, so make sure the survey tool you’re using has the capability to save the data in the cloud or allow you to easily download the data.
7. Analyze the responses you gathered.
The next step after gathering responses is to interpret those answers.
You can make sense of quantitative data through tables, graphs, and charts. Qualitative data, not so simple. You can try to analyze answers to open-ended questions through word clouds and text analyzers to find trends and common answers.
The results of the survey are potentially helpful to your readers. Plus, you can gauge the reaction of your readers to the results to find out if the results you got as valid. They’ll either agree, which validates your survey results, or disagree, which gives you a new outlook on your readers and new questions to ask on succeeding surveys.
8. Apply what you’ve learned.
After you’ve made sense of the answers and figured out the trends, the next thing to do is to apply what you’ve learned to create useful content that addresses your readers’ pain points.
Online surveys are an excellent way to gather information about your readers, but interviews give you deeper, more emotional answers than surveys ever can.
When you do a survey, you ask a specific set of questions. By contrast, an interview is more dynamic; you ask questions, get answers, and ask additional questions based on the answers you get.
Thus, because there’s a conversation going on, there’s additional knowledge to gain from conducting interviews with your readers as opposed to online surveys.
Bear in mind, though, that interviewing takes up a lot more resources than having readers fill out online surveys, so you probably can’t do this very often. So you’ll have to do your best to make sure that each interview is successful.
Here are some steps to holding interviews to make sure you cover everything you need and to increase the chances of success.
1. Define your interview goals.
Before you set out and just ask your questions, you need to be clear about what you want to know. As I’ve mentioned above, you want to discover your readers’ pain points, but what else do you want to know?
Do you want to know what goals they want to achieve and what stops them from achieving these goals? Or do you already know what their goals are and you want to know what’s stopping them from reaching these goals?
Also, what do you plan on doing with the insights you gather from the interview? Do you plan to share with your readers the entire transcript, or just excerpts that you think are relevant?
Defining your goals before you go ahead with your interviews allows you to prepare for your interviewees’ answers.
2. Write down your questions.
Your questions should be driven by the goals that you set.
Because you want to know what your readers’ pain points are, you want to think of questions that will encourage sincere answers that accurately describe your readers’ current experiences and how they feel about those experiences.
Keep in mind that your questions should allow for flexibility. This isn’t a survey or questionnaire. You’ll want to have a conversation, so you want to allow some leeway and allow the back and forth between you and your interviewee to be more fluid.
On the other hand, you don’t want to be completely unorganized. Remember the goals you set for yourself and steer the conversation back to what you want to know when the dialogue seems to go off on a tangent. Prepare follow-up questions that you can use as prompts to tease out more information, as well as help you gently guide them back to discuss topics that will help you achieve your interview goals.
Here are some examples of questions to start with and modify according to your needs and goals.
There are three kinds of questions you need to avoid, though; leading questions, closed questions, and “why” questions.
Leading questions are questions that suggest a particular answer. The questions you ask should elicit honest, unbiased answers and not lead respondents to answer in the way that they think you want them to.
An example of a leading question is “How frustrating is it when you don’t get the support you need?” This question implies that your interviewee feels frustrated when you don’t really know what your interviewee feels; you just assumed it.
A better question to ask is “How do you feel when you don’t get the support you need?” This gets you an honest answer about what they actually feel. Remember that you’re looking for your readers’ pain points.
Closed questions are ones that are answerable only with a yes or no. If you want nuanced answers, you’ll need to ask open-ended questions that inspire interviewees to elaborate.
For instance, “Does this solution work for you?” Your respondent can just say “yes” and unless you ask a follow-up question, that’s where it will end. You can instead ask “How does this solution compare with others you’ve tried?” to get of the “yes” or “no” conversation killer.
“Why” questions compel interviewees to rationalize and come up with reasons why they do or feel things. You want to know how they feel, not how they think.
3. Choose who to interview.
Because interviews take plenty of time and cost a lot, you probably don’t want to do interviews often. So if you’re picky about which of your readers could answer your survey, you should be even pickier about which of your readers to interview.
Here are some qualities to consider when deciding who to interview.
4. Extend the invitation.
When you have 5 to 7 candidates on your list, the next step is to invite them to be interviewees.
Who you invite is important, of course, but how you actually invite them can mean the difference in the success of your interviews.
Here are some tips to convince your candidates to be interviewees.
Tell them exactly what to expect. How you will conduct the interview (e.g., video call, audio call), how long it would take (aim to keep it below an hour), what software to download, if you will record the interview, if you will publish any part of the interview in any format (text, audio, or video), if they have the option to remain anonymous, how you’ll protect their identity and their personal information.
Be courteous. Treating your readers respectfully makes them feel valued and makes them more inclined to help you out with what you want to know.
Introduce yourself, even though they’ll probably recognize you from your name and email address or social media account. Give them a concise summary of what the point of the interview is and what you’re hoping to learn from them so they can prepare accordingly.
Provide them at least 2 choices of timeslots for when you can do the interview, with an invitation for them to suggest an alternative time if the timeslots you suggested won’t work for them. Lastly, allow them enough time to think about it before they respond. A week is a reasonable timeframe. Meanwhile, don’t bombard them with emails or messages.
Make them feel important. You know your readers are important, but do they know it? Underline how valuable their input is in helping you grasp their pain points and how to alleviate them.
Offer something in return. Set up an incentive, such as discount coupons for services they’re likely to use, gift cards for stores they’re likely to be shopping in, and so forth. If you know your target audience well, you should be able to know what gifts they’ll appreciate.
5. Conduct the interview.
So your interviewees have agreed to be interviewed, and you’ve agreed on schedules and all the details.
The next thing is to do the actual interview. Here are some helpful pointers to make your interview a success.
Choose the right tool. The most popular video conferencing tool for interviews is Skype. It’s free, it already comes with Windows, and it’s familiar.
The problem is that you’ll want to record your interviews (more on this below), and unfortunately, Skype doesn’t have a way to record video calls incorporated in the software itself. You’ll have to download third-party software, such as MP3 Skype Recorder or iFree Skype Recorder to be able to record your interviews.