How do I know how to structure my blog content? How do I know what my audience wants to read?
By using the “Reverse Engineering Technique”.
Being in the tech industry, you run into a lot of proprietary technology. In non-geek speak, that means a non-standard design feature that only the manufacturer knows how to build.
How then, do competitors legally figure these designs out and improve upon them?
With a technique called “Reverse Engineering”.
What the product engineers do is take the product apart, piece by painstaking piece. Examine the design, materials used, structure, systems,etc.
As they go, they write down what they observe, and their best hypothesis as to how the vendor designed, created, and built the product.
So, how can you apply the Reverse Engieering Technique to writing effective blog content that is useful to your readers?
Pick 3 of the top blogs in your target market, and follow the step-by-step process below for each:
1. Find the content categories for the blog you’ve chosen, and capture all the categories listed on a sheet of paper, in a spreadsheet, or Word document.
On blogs created with WordPress, categories are just what they sound like: how you group your posts by topic.
2. Find the 3 of the most popular posts on the blog you’ve chosen.
Many blogs will highlight their most popular posts, favorites, or “what’s hot”, in a section in the sidebar. If the blogs you’ve chosen don’t have this, you can just select the 3 most recent ones.
Write down the title of the post. Scan through it, and jot down what you think the main point of the post was, and 2 or 3 supporting points if you think they’re significant.
3. Now,for each post, scan through the comments, and look for 2 things:
First, what types of comments are people leaving? Things like:
Are the comments positive or negative about the post ? Does it seem the post is resonating with the readers?
Do they just leave the standard “great post” type of comment, or are they engaging in detailed conversation with the author and other readers?
Do they seem to agree or disagree with what the author wrote about?
Just jot down some common themes you notice, both positive and negative.
Secondly, and this part is especially important to pay attention to:
What follow-on questions do the readers ask, if any?
Do you see any comments asking for information that wasn’t covered?
Ex “I assumed a post about email marketing would have included a recommendation on what the best email services are out there, but I didn’t see it here.”
When a reader leaves a comment about something they want, but didn’t get, they have just given you the holy grail of marketing:
a validated unmet customer need.
4. Once you’ve done this for each blog and each post, the notes you’ve taken now become your list of topics to write about, and real customer needs to be solved.
So if you are writing about home organization tips, you’ll probably have topics for specific rooms in the house ie, keeping the kitchen organized, making the laundry room function as it should, etc. No doubt someone like me probably has commented they don’t have time to get organized, so you could write about “keep your house organized in 15 minutes a day”.
Now, I know from past experience, some of you will immediately think “This is kind of underhanded/sneaky/lowdown isn’t it? It’s like I’m stealing from my competitors.”
No, no, and no again.
The reasons are, first, all of this information is public, by design.
That’s one of the basic premises of blogs and social media.
Now if I’d listed “4 steps to hacking your competitors’ paid membership site”, that would be underhanded, sneaky, and lowdown. AND I would never do that.
Secondly, business is competitive. If competing is done ethically,it not only benefits you, it benefits the customers you serve.