c-level executives lists, contact database, contact listsIn a previous blog post titled “How to Create Solutions-based Email Content for Your C-level Readers,” we’ve walked through the steps to follow for producing and distributing email content that solves certain problems facing recipients in your contact database of executives and briefly touched on the need to “uncover” your readers’ pain points. Now, we’ll expand on this critical idea by providing some tips on doing your research and discovering the relevant issues your executive recipients are preoccupied with.

As mentioned in the same post, there are basically two ways to research on your target audience’s pain points: the direct and indirect methods. The first four tips below belong to the direct approach which basically means asking the contacts themselves. The remaining three points are examples of the indirect way. Of course, you don’t have to apply all of the below ideas – only those which are appropriate to your situation.

1. Conduct an email survey. The most ideal tactic to use in figuring out your executive readers’ pain points is an email survey. Ask a representative sample from your C-level contact list about what questions they normally encounter in their line of work which they’re finding very difficult to answer.

2. Leverage your sign-up forms. Some experts recommend adding an extra field or two in your opt-in forms that focus on asking what issues your recipients deal with. Sign-up forms are ideal places to do this type of inquiry as these are where site visitors tend to be more open to disclosures of this nature.

3. Incorporate transactional emails. Email messages sent as a result of some action or inaction on the part of the subscribers/recipients in your contact database are also excellent platforms to embed survey/research questions in. Of course, you also have to consider the relevance of your questions within the context of your main message.

4. Utilize certain pages on your site. Some pages on your website are ideal for interacting through your visitors with forms that allow them to enter their concerns and comments. Pages where you express your appreciation/congratulations in response to some action taken by your visitors should also be where your research-directed forms are placed.

5. Research long-tail keywords. Keyword research isn’t only for search engine optimization alone. It’s also how you can find ideas for content and discover what your audience members are looking for. Long-tail keywords are typically problem-oriented and, as such, are excellent sources of insights for your solutions-centered emails.

6. Engage with online communities. Niche-specific online communities are rich grounds for mining and extracting insights on issues and problems that bother your target audience. In fact, many online communities revolve around solving or addressing specific problems experienced by such people as those in your executive contact list.

7. Consider offline sources as well. There are also excellent real-world sources of problem-focused insights you can tap into. Internally, other departments in your company (especially those that directly deal with customers) can be gold mines in terms of ideas for problem-solving content. Outside your organization, there’s a vast lake to fish for insights as well with publications, conferences, experts, etc.

Once you’ve gathered enough survey and research data on your C-level readers’ potential pain points, the next logical step is to analyze the collected items and look for common patterns of issues. From those trends, you can then select or prioritize which pain points to focus on. To develop email content based on possible solutions to these issues and produce lead nurturing emails that help grow your sales-qualified contact list, follow the steps outlined in the above-mentioned blog post.