Content has become the driving force for today’s consumer-driven internet. Well-informed content allows you and your company to demonstrate expertise and draw users who can benefit from it. “Create content and attract customers” is a simple enough idea, but not so easy to execute. Many blog and website owners have it all together when it comes to web design, but struggle with the issue of coming up with content ideas. If this is you, then not to worry. Once you change your approach to developing content ideas, you’ll find yourself brimming with them.
Step 1: Define your reader.
When it comes to content marketing, many people do a lot of guessing. They guess at who they’re writing for, as well as what they might want to hear about. Taking some time to form a clear idea in your head about who you’re creating content for will help to focus your efforts. Consider your average customer. Where do they live? How much money do they make in a year? How do they spend their spare time? You might even go so far as to name this ideal customer (Perhaps Joan from Ann Arbor who has three adult children, loves watercolors, and has a sister who lives around the corner). Create as many customer profiles as you need, and keep them in mind when creating your content.
Step 2: Define pain points.
Pain points are the things that people want to get rid of. Whether it’s an itchy rash, a dent in the car door, or a less-than-perfect credit rating, pain points are what drive people to look for solutions. What are your ideal customer’s pain points? Perhaps Joan from Ann Arbor suffers from mobility issues which keep her from painting and visiting her sister as often as she wants to. This is a pain point that a state-of-the-art mobile wheelchair company can address.
Tip: If you need help defining your customer’s pain points, do some research to find out. Online forums and Q&A sites are a treasure trove of pain point input from real people. Search online for your niche or specialty followed by the words “forum” or “message board.” Do some reading in the questions or general section of the message board, or where ever else there might be a conversation about your audience’s pain points. You might also choose to register and join the conversation yourself.
Q&A sites like Answers.com and Yahoo Answers are also great tools. Just look in your category to see what people are talking about. You can turn common questions into blog posts, infographics, and other content.
Step 3: Keyword research.
Keywords still count a lot in SEO since they’re what search engines use to connect people to your content. However, the emphasis should be on the natural, flowing use of keywords, and not keyword stuffing. Decide what long and short-tail keywords you want your website to rank for, though it’s more likely these days that you’ll rank for long-tail keywords. Adam Kreitman has a detailed post about this over on the Crazy Egg blog.
Step 4: See what performs best.
Every audience is different, as is every industry. Some highly visual niches like cake decorating and photography might do best with images, while technical topics might call for scannable blog posts written in plain English. You can see what type of content performs best for your website by doing a review of your analytics data. What pages on your website are most popular? The least popular? Were there any particular days where you lost or gained a lot of subscribers due to a particular piece of content? If you post your content to Facebook, then Facebook Insights is very helpful in gathering this information.
Step 5: People research.
If you don’t have any analytics data to fall back on, then consider having readers take a brief survey about what content they would like to see on your website. Include questions like:
- What issues would you like us to address with our blog, videos, etc.?
- What content do you find most helpful on our website?
- What content do you find least helpful?
- What would you like to see more of?
Your readers are the best source of feedback for how to improve your content strategy, so don’t neglect asking. You can use a free survey service like Survey Monkey to get started.
Step 6: Put it all together.
Once you have defined your audience, identified their pain points, performed keyword research, and identified your best content formats, you’re read to start generating topic ideas. Your topics should address your readers and their problems, as well as integrate your keywords.
Generating topics is simpler than you might think—especially if you know where to look.
- Review feedback and customer service emails to see what questions and comments keep coming up and make them into blog posts
- Create a video, infographic, or picture tutorial of an important process in your business
- Update your readers on news in your industry and how it affects them
- Create video profiles of key members of your team
- Create a series of blog posts or an ebook that addresses a complex problem that your readers might have
- Create a scripted video or podcast series about a fictional character who has the same pain points as your readers, and how your product helped them (this one requires an effort to not sound too salesy)
- Put together a list of helpful industry resources
- Repurpose your other content into other formats (e.g, make a video script from a blog post)
A great content strategy doesn’t happen overnight. The most successful ones are backed by research and preparation. Take some time to develop a solid foundation on which to develop your content, and you will attract the audience you want for your business.