Creating content is not rocket science. But creating good content that everyone needs, reads, and shares is a proper challenge that not many companies are up for.
There are a few keys to content success, and one of them is mastering content research. You can do that using a couple of tools to automate, facilitate, or assist in that process for you. Today, we’ll guide you through our selection of tools and tell you how to use them on a daily basis, for your content research efforts.
Survicate: to get feedback on your content strategy
If you’re reading this article now, you're probably always looking for insights into what your readers want to see. After all, it's hard to create content that resonates with your audience if you don't know what they're looking for.
Survicate steps in to save the day.
Survicate is a powerful content research tool that allows you to survey your readers and get feedback on the quality, quantity, and all things related to your existing content. It also brings you insights into your future strategy, as you can ask your readers or potential readers about, practically, anything via website surveys.
Best of all, it's easy to use. Just create a survey, send it out to your readers, and wait for the responses. Then, analyze the data and use it to improve your content strategy. It's that simple.
Survicate allows you to build any survey you want and display it whenever you feel like it – but for content creators and strategists, we have a few dedicated templates ready to grab and use on the spot.
#1 Content Preference Survey
Content preference surveys allow you to quickly learn about the preferences of your users. Get insights on what they are interested in reading (next) by presenting them with an easy slide-in survey from a blog post.
Even a few responses can help you determine which angle of your content strategy works best for the needs of your readers. If you act upon their feedback from a readers survey, it won't take long for them to become loyal readers (and customers) and close the feedback loop.
You have published your blog post, feeling proud of what you have accomplished. What is your proof that it delivers?
Analyze analytics, evaluate heatmaps (more on that later), and ask your audience a quick question with a Content Rating Survey. In just one click, your audience can share their initial thoughts on the piece of content they just discovered. It's either a pat on the back or food for thought regarding your content strategy, depending on the score.
Are you inspired by surveys and would like to use them more in your content research? You're in good hands with our survey software. If you would like to build a more advanced or specific survey for your audience, you can customize any of our templates. Why don't you try it?
With Survicate, you can get a free plan, but you can also take advantage of the really advanced plans starting at $89 per month.
Sparktoro: to get to know your audience
If you want to understand your audience and their needs, you need to know what they use, where they are, and what they prefer. Sparktoro won't answer all of these questions, but it will give you a great deal of insights that can help you improve your marketing strategy and create better content.
The Sparktoro platform allows you to systematically analyze any query and get detailed results on any online audience. It’s like taking an x-ray on your strategic keywords.
In the blink of an eye, you'll learn what platforms, podcasts, or websites you should follow. You'll also learn what hashtags or phrases might be relevant to your initial search, so you can use them in your content research and strategy development.
Sparktoro offers a free plan that gives you a glimpse of their full capabilities (only five searches per month). You can enjoy more features with their advanced plans starting at $50 a month. Even if you're not quite ready to purchase this tool, you can still get some interesting ideas from the free version.
Brand24: to get a more detailed look at your audience
With Brand24, you can monitor online conversations related to your brand, product, or industry in real time. This tool provides you with instant insights into what people are saying online about you, so you can protect and grow your online reputation immediately.
The Sparktoro tool, mentioned above, gives you a quantitative view of your target audience's preferences, while Brand24 provides you with a qualitative one.
Brand24 lets you monitor social media (and more!) and see what all the buzz is about your brand. And all these insights make a great foundation for your future content plans, as you can solve your audience problems and answer their needs in the form of content.
With complex analytics, Brand24 makes a must-have solution in a content marketer’s toolbox, giving an overview on “current state of affairs” around your company, competitors, or the industry overall. You can use all that data to create better and curated content that your audience, actually, is on the lookout for.
Brand24 pricing starts at $49 a month, and the tool itself offers a couple of plans differing from each other in terms of features, users, and mention range. However, even the cheapest plan enables you to access data that you wouldn’t have found otherwise, or you’d have difficulties deciphering.
Ahrefs: to research keywords and analyze performance
Ahrefs is known as a SEO machine – and one of its best and most popular uses is to deliver data into either your past, current, or future content performance.
You can get a lot of information about your content with Ahrefs.
In just a few minutes, you can get an overall understanding of the health of your entire website or specific page through traffic, links, and referring domains – just to name a few metrics.
Ahrefs became a go-to tool for content creators to check important metrics and data, such as keyword density, search volume, and user intent. You can also find out what keywords you're ranking for, what sites are linking to you, and how much traffic they're sending. Top it up with a lot of data you can use to strengthen your internal and external linking, and you’re on your way to success with a better and more curated content strategy.
Its keyword explorer tool allows you to find new keywords quickly and track their difficulty levels. Using Ahrefs, you can also spy on your competitors and see what kind of content they're creating, as well as spot content gaps. It is especially useful since it allows you to analyze otherwise inaccessible or extremely hard-to-find data.
Anyone who wants to create engaging, high-quality content should consider using Ahrefs (or some of its alternatives).
Ahrefs comes at a high price, with the lowest package starting at $99 per month, and still limited when it comes to historical data, for example. When you begin using this tool, you'll quickly discover how useful it is, and you may reap the benefits in no time.
Smartlook: to check content interactions
If you want to know your audience preferences inside out, checking what content they click through is only the beginning. Session recordings and heatmaps reveal not IF, but HOW your readers consume the content you create.
And here’s where Smartlook comes into play.
Smartlook provides detailed information about how people interact with your content. You can see what they click on, where they scroll, and where they hover over on your website.
This data can be really useful in identifying areas that need improvement, content that is popular and widely read, or articles that don’t gain enough traction or attention – but also bugs and bottlenecks that stop you from getting desired conversions.
With session recordings, you can watch real people using your website or app, which can give you some great ideas for how to improve the reader/customer experience. You can see what works and what doesn't by looking at how people interact with your content, one by one.
Using this tool is easy, and it provides valuable insights that can assist you in improving your content. You can start creating better content by examining even just a few heatmaps and identifying patterns.
Smartlook pricing is very reasonable. You can get up to 1,500 recordings a month for free, and for advanced features or a higher volume of requests, you can pay as little as $39 monthly.
Biteable: to create video content
When we say “content”, we often think of “written content” in the first place. Taking a look at social media platforms, one can see that video content is taking over. Don't overlook this in your strategy, as it may be the perfect fit for your audience.
You might not want to spend a lot of money on equipment and professional software if you have no previous experience with video content, though. There are a few tools you can use to create simple animations, explainer videos, tutorials, and so forth. One of the top spots goes to Biteable.
With Biteable, you can create a video using a variety of templates and elements, publish it, evaluate its statistics, and decide whether to proceed with video content creation on the spot. You can use it for content research in conjunction with Smartlook and Survicate, like publishing a video created with Biteable, checking on a heatmap if people scroll down to it, and asking your audience a simple question via a Survicate-designed content preference survey.
Biteable allows you to see how your audience responds to different types of video content. You can use Biteable to test out different video concepts, formats, and styles to see what resonates with your audience the most. As a result, you can create videos that are more likely to capture attention and drive results.
The added benefit is that, for Google, sites with embedded videos are often perceived as more valuable. As a result, your SEO metrics and rankings might improve.
You can start using Biteable for $49 a month. It has a wide range of features and compared to any other software or professional video production costs, there is little to complain about.
Surfer: to run content research
Content and SEO are like two peas in a pod. Good content needs to be coupled with good SEO in order to achieve the best results. Surfer helps you analyze and improve your content so that it ranks higher in SERPs - right from the start.
Surfer is a relatively new tool on the market, but it's quickly gaining popularity among content creators and SEO professionals. The tool is designed to help you improve your content in a number of ways, giving you a lot of info helpful for pre-, during- and past-research, on-page optimization, and content strategy.
With this software, you can audit any piece of content on the Internet to identify areas for improvement, check internal and external links, and verify keyword density, among other things. Content Editor allows you to optimize your articles based on keywords, length, number of paragraphs and sections, images, and other factors contributing to their structure.
In addition, Content Planner allows you to plan entire content clusters in a fraction of the time you'd otherwise have to spend on manual research.
If you're serious about improving your SEO, then Surfer SEO is definitely a tool worth considering. Give it a try and see how it can help you take your keyword-rich content to the next level.
You can access ten content editors for $49 a month with SurferSEO's most basic package. $99 per month is the starting price for more advanced packages.
With Frase, you can research, write, and optimize your content so that it’s more readable, engaging, and effective.
There are a few Frase features that overlap with SurferSEO, but Frase is more AI-driven (at least at the time of writing this article).
Using a Content Editor, you can also overcome writer's block, for example, when creating briefs or outlines. Content marketers or copywriters can create outlines by dragging and dropping headlines and parts of articles that appeared high on SERPs.
Also, you can quickly find out how your competitors rank in Google, and what pieces of content you should beat to rank #1. The Content Editor highlights the keywords you should be using in your articles, so you can follow the list once you've written or when you've finished writing and are ready to focus on optimization.
In addition, you get access to a lot of internal tools - useful for writing headlines, structuring your articles, and further optimizing them.
Those looking to produce better content, faster, and with a more data-driven approach will find Frase to be a very helpful tool.
The cheapest Frase plan starts at $14.99 a month, which is very affordable. If you publish just a few articles a month, this may be more than enough for you to start with.
Trello: to organize content ideas
When it comes to content, you never know what, when, why, where, and how you'll get inspired. Therefore, you should always be prepared to quickly collate your ideas and gather them in one place for easy access.
Trello is primarily a project management tool, but it can also be used for everything from brainstorming to organizing your ideas.
In Trello, you can create different boards for different projects, and then add cards with your ideas. You can also add notes and attachments to each card to keep all your information together. Additionally, you can assign tasks to specific team members and leave comments for each card. Trello can help you keep track of your content ideas and make sure they get done.
The ease of dragging and dropping cards around, as well as the ability to create as many boards as needed, makes it a popular tool among content creators. Moreover, you can create boards and share them with others for easy collaboration - they will be able to access all of your ideas.
Let us add one more thing that will persuade you to use Trello - it's free to use. If you're looking for more features and capabilities, you might want to consider a paid version (starting at $5 a month), but even the free version is great for researching and brainstorming content ideas.
Clearscope: to dive deep into analytics
Content marketers and creators know that keyword research is crucial to developing content that ranks well in search engines. But finding the right keywords can be a challenge, and incorporating them into your content can often result in forced, unnatural-sounding writing.
Clearscope is a keyword research and content assistance tool that helps you find the right keywords for your content while also providing guidance on how to make the most of them. Also, Clearscope offers suggestions for improving your content so it will rank higher in search engine results. For content marketers or creators who wish to develop content that will be shared widely and reach a wide audience, Clearscope is a must-have in a toolbox.
It comes with many advanced features you may want to use for content research, including Keyword Discovery, Content Report and editors, or Content Inventory.
When it comes to pricing, it does cost a pretty penny. Even the cheapest plan is pricey at $170 a month and comes with several limitations.
Buzzsumo: to identify trends
Who is being talked about? What brand has been making headlines lately? How do you know what is trendy, and what has already gone out of style?
Buzzsumo can help you discover it, at least partially.
With lists of influencers, sources, and media that are currently trending, you can start identifying patterns almost immediately with this tool, and apply it to your content research.
It can tell you who to contact and reach out to, whom to collaborate with, what kind of content gets all the shares, and what topics to cover. Not only can you catch up on trends with smart content discovery, but you can also lead them.
With a long history of data, a wide range of social engagement metrics, and a cutting-edge platform, you'll be able to discover top formats, competitive benchmarks, and trending topics in any niche.
No matter what kind of content ideas you're exploring or what campaign strategies you're planning, Buzzsumo is a must-have research tool that helps you achieve better outcomes with less effort.
The Buzzsumo tool isn't the cheapest in our toolbox, but it doesn't cost the earth either. You get access to many advanced options for $99 a month, but it's the package for $299 that gives you access to all the vital features.
Zapier: to integrate tools and workflows
Zapier, per se, does not help with content research. Instead, it enables integrations, connections, and workflow streamlining using the tools you already use.
Zapier supports more than 4,000 tools, making it one of the largest online integration systems. Using triggers, you can create a specific workflow connecting your favourite apps. Automating content research can save you a lot of time - you could, for example, link multiple tools with Trello via Zapier and gather content ideas faster.
You can create custom workflows based on your preferences using a variety of Zaps that allow you to integrate nearly all mainstream apps. It might be a good idea to leverage Zapier if you want to optimize your time and resources spent on content research.
Zapier is free to use, to some extent. Paid plans with more integrations and options are available at the starting point of $19.99 a month.
Over to you
With content research, there are a lot of factors you need to consider, including those related to your competitors. To materialize your ideas and ship ready content as fast and efficiently as possible, it's essential to keep an eye on your strategy and structure your content research. We are sharing with you a toolbox that your competitors may not have - and that's where and how you can win over them. Fingers crossed!
If you’re looking to get started with content research today - give Survicate a try! Sign up for the 10-day free trial to test the tool. There are plenty of survey templates in our library to help you get started.
Customer Experience Expert at Survicate
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Kinga is the creative owner of Brainy Bees. Kinga has over ten years of experience in marketing and delivering a bespoke customer experience across the B2B and B2C fields while redefining a client-first approach. She knows that insights are everywhere, kindness in business is no longer optional, and simply following trends is no longer enough. Also, Kinga operates at SaaStock as a Country Leader.
NET PROMOTER, NPS, AND THE NPS-RELATED EMOTICONS ARE REGISTERED U.S. TRADEMARKS, AND NET PROMOTER SCORE AND NET PROMOTER SYSTEM ARE SERVICE MARKS, OF BAIN & COMPANY, INC., SATMETRIX SYSTEMS, INC. AND FRED REICHHELD.