Email marketers guide to knowing the hot topics your readers want to read


Carol wrote me a few months ago…

“I love your articles. I just wonder if writing emails with the idea of helping people works for the author. I don’t have anything but books to sell my readers, not something to help them save money, look good, fix problems, ask for a donation, or save the planet. That’s why I’m stuck in writing content on my blog and inviting my readers … in with email blasts.”

Lemme guess.

Carol just read your mind.

She’s certainly asking the right question.

Every email marketer needs to build an engaged audience.

Boring emails go straight to the trash bin.

Here are 7 proven ways to come up with topics your readers will love to read.

7 Super-reliable (and some sneaky) ways to know what hot topics your readers are dying to hear about from you

1. Write about the most frequent question(s) you get

You may be bored with these topics, but your target audience isn’t.

2.  What is your customer, donor, or reader just too embarrassed to admit? Write about that.

If you give voice to a topic your readers are too embarrassed to admit, they will love you forever!

3. What should your customer, donor, reader, be asking that they aren’t. 

Use that headline or subject line too… “Here’s what you should be asking about                              that you aren’t. It makes your reader wonder what they overlooked, or think that they are about to get juicy insider information.

4. Eavesdrop (my personal favorite)

First, you’ll need a way to systematically record your research.

I use an Excel Spreadsheet or Google Sheets.

You can also use Evernote.

1. Create four columns

  • Pull (where you pulled the comment from)
  • Memorable Phrases (that you’ll use in your copy)
  • What People Want (tangible wants, needs)
  • What are commenters emotionally reacting to? (this is the gold)

Amazon Eavesdrop SpreadsheetAmazon Eavesdrop SpreadsheetAmazon Eavesdrop SpreadsheetGo to and look up your topic or book genre.

Amazon Eavesdrop SpreadsheetChoose the books with the highest number of reviews in your topic.

Choose the books with the highest rankings (rankings indicate sales).

Amazon Ranking

Skip past the “friends and family reviews” (you know, the glowing reviews with absolutely no substance to them). Get to the real reviews. Both good reviews and bad reviews.

On your spreadsheet, note the book that you’re “pulling” comments from in case you want to refer back to it later.

Select and record memorable quotes, what people want, what they liked, what was missing, and what triggered their emotions (together with the emotions triggered). You only need 20 or so reviews to start seeing common quotes, trends, and topics emerge.

Amazon AuditTHOSE are topics that will fire up and interest your target audience. Put these ideas into your calendar for blog posts, newsletters, and emails.

5. is free.

Amazon AuditIt may not work for your topic, but if it does, Buzzsumo is a great place to see which topics related to your business get the most attention and shares on social media. Shares are a great indicator of hot topics people are interested in.

See what’s trending in your topic or industry and then noodle how you can put your personal spin on the topic.

Buzzsumo Screen shotBuzzsumo Screen shotHere’s a view of my search on the topic of “writing a novel.”

It shows that writing a novel opening is an area where writers have a lot of interest.

Buzzsumo Screen shotBuzzsumo Screen shot

You might play around with the search terms, but this is helpful from both a sharing perspective and what channel gets the most shares.


Udemy is an online learning marketplace.

Udemy has about 5M customers and offers digital products and training programs ranging from learning how to knit to Salesforce database new user training.

Here’s how to get the best search results on Udemy.

Go to and put your keyword(s) into the search.

I used “Salesforce” in the example below.

IMPORTANT: Filter your search using the pop-down menu at the top of your search results (shown in the image below). Select “Price: Highest to Lowest.”

Udemy Salesforce Search

Yes, you can select Popularity, but I find that what people are willing to pay a premium for is a much better gauge of their passion or pain for a topic.

If more than 100 people have been willing pay for a specific course, you’ve got a hot topic.

7. Find out how many people are searching your topic or key phrases on Google each month

Google the words “keyword planner” to get to the keyword planner site.

You’ll need to login with your gmail account.

Run a search for any keyword or phrase to find out how big an audience is searching just Google alone.

Here I entered “dog training” to see the “average monthly searches” for the last 12 months.

Google search input

About 300,000 people per month search on dog training.

Google Keyword Search Bar Graph

It gets even better…

Your search results will show you more specific search phrases so you can further narrow your topic.

In this example, house-training is a leading search phrase.

It’s a hot topic.

Google key phrases

Google Keyword Search Bar GraphGoogle Keyword Search Bar Graph

8.  Survey your audience

This is my least favorite, but the most obvious.

I think surveys works better when you have an email list of 5,000 or more. If you get a 5% response rate, that’s 250 answers which is a really solid statistical sample to glean trends. That said, even if your list is smaller, you can try this. Just remember to give an incentive of some kind to inspire a decent response rate.

You can use SurveyMonkey for free.

Here’s a good start on questions I would ask.

  1. Are you currently [whatever your topic is]? If so, how long?
  1. Are you satisfied with your [                               ] results?
  1. Please rank, with 1 being THE MOST IMPORTANT, how important [                                        ] is in [your life][budget][overall revenue].
  1. What are the biggest roadblocks in your way to getting the [                               ] results you want? Choose the top 3 only.
    1. Other __________________________________
  1. What are the top 2 or 3 things about [                                      ] that you are the most proud of?
  1. What gives you the most anxiety about [                                        ]?
  1. What do you wish was different about [                                       ] RIGHT NOW?
  1. Based on the list below, which 3 strategies do you want to learn MOST about to grow your [                                               ]?
    1. Other __________________________________________
  1. Is there anything else you’d be willing to share about your [                     ] goals/struggles/challenges so I can help you overcome those roadblocks?


There you go Carol. Thanks for asking!
Udemy Salesforce Search