Despite what people outside the industry may think, content experts don’t just pluck their ideas from thin air in between drinking coffee and chatting about their ideas for a novel.
Don’t get me wrong, most of us are indeed fuelled-by-caffeine aspiring writers, and once in a while a great idea for a blog just pops up in our minds, but the majority of the time inspiration makes us work for it.
This week, we put together a useful guide to coming up with content ideas that will engage your readers and get results.
Keep your finger on the pulse
Your business doesn’t exist in a vacuum, so give your content industry context to broaden its perspective and build trust and credibility amongst your readers.
There are many ways to tap into the wealth of expertise in your field. Speak to colleagues about their expertise and partner up with other trusted voices. If you are looking for inspiration, browse industry publications and reports for the latest expert trends and insight.
Sign up to news alerts for your favourite publications to tap into what’s happening in the industry.
what are your target audience searching for?
The best way to make your content useful to your audience is by paying attention to what questions they are asking. Use a tool like Answer the Public to gauge common queries and inform what answers your content should provide.
This genius consumer insight tool collects search data from Google and Bing, and provides an overview of the questions people are typing into their search engine, neatly organised into categories such as ‘how’, ‘what’ and ‘where’.
enlist the help of a content strategist
At Spindogs, we offer content strategy and planning services. Through a range of analysis and tools, we strategically analyse what content works for your business, whether its print or digital, to optimally engage your audiences to increase conversions.
Check out our full list of content services.
position yourself as thought leaders
Thought leadership is a great way to position your business as experts. Is there any expertise in your company you can tap into? Does your company carry out customer surveys or market research with interesting results? These could make great infographics or white papers offering industry insight that sets you apart from competitors as knowledge leaders.
Connect the dots to analyse what the data is saying, whether it’s a survey, third-party data sources or the early trend seen in informal numbers. What’s the story?
carry out a stocktake
Audit your existing content. Is there are lot of high quality, high performing content that could be used to make an e-guide or downloadable piece of content? We often find that our clients already have a bank of high-quality content which can easily be repurposed with excellent results.
A series of blog posts centred on the same theme, for example, can be collected into a larger document. Add a lead generation form to collect the details of readers and watch that content work hard for your sales strategy.
listen to the data
Regularly check-in to Google Analytics and other tools like Google Console and SEM Rush to see what content your audiences are engaging with. Keep a track on those page views and viewing duration figures. Do they engage more with infographics or do they spend longer browsing your expert guest posts and industry insight? Drilling down the numbers will highlight what content your audience is craving.
tap into your events calendar
Covering an event that your organisation is attending is always an easy content win. You can work these in your content schedule or do them ad hoc, depending on how far in advance you know about them.
Industry talks your senior managers are attending and award ceremonies can be transformed into valuable content for your readers in the form of blogs and/or email marketing.
In fact, if experts in your company do any talks, you could even record these as podcasts or share their presentation with your audience as Slideshare afterwards.
what's in season?
A clever content strategist plans for seasonal content that’s unique to their business and stands out from the crowd. Use milestones, such as the end of the financial or calendar year to review what has happened in the industry, or indeed your company, over the past 12 months.
Highlight any notable changes as well as timeless trends, and predict what would happen throughout the next year.
what does your audience want?
A clear picture of your target audience will go a long way to inform your content, making your ideas valuable and relevant. To create content that audiences really care about, talk to them! Get to know your customers through interviews or stakeholder workshops.
If that’s not possible, speak to customer-facing staff and quiz them on customer interests, happy points, challenges and pain points. Addressing these issues head on are guaranteed to resonate with your target audience.
Some more things to try:
If you see something that inspires you, save it! It’s always good to have a bank of content ideas to leaf through in case you’re stuck. There are loads of tools out there to do this, including Evernote and Scoop.it
- A good old-fashioned head to head
Get people across the business in for an ideas generation session. Having members of the team with different perspectives (aka from different departments) is guaranteed to get the creativity flowing.
- Snoop at what your competitors are up to
If someone tells you they don’t do competitor research, they’re either lying or not doing their job right. In addition to reading your competitors’ content and making note of what works, pay attention to keywords, links and social media engagement.
Questions to ask yourself before taking your ideas forward
No matter how many ideas for content you come up with, it’s important to analyse the objectives of each piece of content by asking the following questions:
- Does it fit with your company’s mission?
- Does your audience care about the topic?
- Does it help you meet your business goals (i.e. sales, brand awareness, lead generation)?
There's more where this came from. Learn more about our content creation and strategy services.