Have you ever created a piece of content that’s been a total flop? It’s a content marketer's worst nightmare, and a real slap in the face.
I’ve been there… when I first started my personal blog, I’m pretty sure my mum was the only one reading it. And that had more to do with her obsession interest with what I was up to in Manchester, rather than any particular enjoyment in my writing.
Creating compelling content all starts with an understanding of what topics your audience want to read..
Honestly, I had no idea who my audience were or what they wanted. Which meant when people came to my blog, they couldn’t identify what the hell it was all about either. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
And as taunting as a blank page can be, writing down a load of nonsense just for the sake of getting a piece of content out there is a waste of everyone’s time. Instead, take your time to plan and craft content that hits the spot with your audience.
I know what you’re thinking - easier said than done. But push that negative thought back into the dark hole it came from, because it can be done just as easily as it is said. And here’s how…
First things first: who is this audience you so desperately want to please?
It’s all well and good knowing what you want to write about, and what you think your audience might enjoy. But if you’re not 100% sure, if you’re not willing to bet your life on what your audience want to read, then I guarantee nine times out of ten your content is going to flop.
Everything comes down to your audience. They are the key to inbound marketing success.
So before you start choosing content topics willy-nilly, define who you’re choosing them for.
A great way to do this is to create buyer personas. Get to know your audience in more detail; their needs, wants, behaviour patterns, responsibilities and challenges. And use this information to guide you on the types of topics you should be focusing on.
When you list the topics you think your buyer personas might be interested in, ask yourself what challenge is this helping my buyer personas solve?’ If you can answer that, then you know it is going to hit the mark.
Do what ya need to do
Just as crucial as your buyer personas, your marketing message needs to be apparent in every piece of content you write. If you can’t easily weave it into every piece of communication, you’re not writing about the right stuff.
Your marketing message isn’t your slogan, your awards, your history, your mission statement, or your vision. It’s the reasons why prospects can trust you, why they should choose you, and how you can help them solve their problem.
Before coming up with topics, define your marketing message. This will provide you the right direction to take if you want to create content your audience will crave.
The name of the game...
Something you should be using on a regular basis to uncover what your audience are searching for, and as a guide to your content topics.
Your insights from your buyer personas should have provided you with an understanding of what content your audience wants to read. Use their needs, goals, challenges, and responsibilities to draft up a list of search terms and keywords.
For example, if you’re targeting marketers you might start with the following:
- Marketing tips
- Marketing best practice
- Marketing advice
- Marketing small business
- Marketing tools
- Managing marketing resources
- Marketing strategy
Fairly basic, but you get the gist.
Then use this list to kickstart your keyword research quest...
This is only scratching the surface, so why not check out our neat little guide to using keyword research to inform your content creation.
Another great way to find out what content topics your audience enjoy is to find trending articles within your industry, or relevant to your buyer persona’s challenges.
Personally, I like using Buzzsumo to research into this. As well as being an excellent tool for content creation, it’s amazing at uncovering hot content topics everyone wants to get their hands on.
There are two areas of this tool I used when brainstorming content...
This does exactly what it says on the tin; it brings together articles on a specific search term (of your choice) that have received the most social shares. For example, content marketing...
If you know your buyer personas are responsible for content marketing for example, then start your search there. Have a look at the most shared articles within the last year, or even the last 24 hours - and make a note of the common themes in terms of content topic.
Be sure to check out their latest addition of ‘linking domains’ following their new partnership with Majestic. It means you can now evaluate the types of content and subjects that are earning the most unique backlinks.
Use this to whittle down your search even further. Pick a theme and search for that, and repeat the process until you have a healthy list of article titles you know your audience are enjoying.
This list should inspire you. Repurpose these titles to appeal to your specific buyer personas or fit within your niche, or dabble in a little content curation to create compelling content.
This is great if you want to monitor what competitors or industry influencers are writing about or sharing. And if you’re coming up with content topics, this is essential information.
At the end of the day, they are trying to please their readers - they’re not going to share or create any old drivel.
Pull in the all the most relevant Twitter accounts and keep them together in one handy location. You then have the option of reading all their latest content, or viewing content they have recently shared on social.
For brand new, unique content ideas, you’re not going to find anything on your competitors’ or influencers’ sites or social feeds. But it might help if you look a little closer to home.
If you know your audience are hanging out in a particular online space, don’t be afraid to have a snoop. Follow hashtags on social media, or monitor specific forums.
This is a simple yet effective method of getting into the minds of your prospects. And your insights don’t just have to be used within blogs, infographics, or whitepapers for example. A tweet answering their questions or replying within a forum is a clever way to get in front of the right people in the right place.
It never hurts to ask
Back to basics with this technique, but it works.
If you have a rapport with your audience, use it to your advantage. Reach out to your current clients, social media following, blog readership, and so on, and find out what they would like to see from you next.
There’s no harm in asking, and the risk of being ignored is worth it for even one dynamite suggestion from your audience.
Don’t hold back
If you think you’ve run out of content topics, you’re wrong. You just need to do a little digging and you’ll soon find some pretty epic subjects that will keep your audience coming back for more.
As long as you know your audience inside out, I guarantee you won’t fall short of ideas. And with these techniques, I’m confident you’ll know your prospects like the back of your hand in no time.