The right topic ideas can be the difference between the success and failure of a content marketing strategy. After all, if content doesn't cover what prospects want to know, how can it ever be expected to attract – let alone convert – them?
When you're not used to generating ideas, it can be difficult. However, like with most things in life, idea generation a learnable skill. The more you do it – and the more research you do before you start – the more ideas you'll come up with and the easier it will be to generate topic ideas.
With that in mind, here are some ways to start generating ideas for inbound blogging.
Customer feedback is one of the most important – and effective – ways to get content ideas.
Customers can tell you what their biggest problems are when it comes to the product and the industry. This information can then be used to inform content ideas to draw attention to – or solve – these problems.
There are several ways to get feedback from customers to generate ideas. The first is a customer call. These give you one-to-one access, allowing you to get inside someone’s head and to the root of their problems.
Another option is a focus group with customers. These discussions can be helpful because they allow you to see if multiple people suffer from the same problems. The more people that agree, the more significant the issue is and the more important it is that it’s addressed in the content.
Focus groups with prospects can be useful too, both for awareness and consideration content. The reasons why prospects haven't converted yet can be useful in helping you to create content that answers their objections and convinces them to convert.
Customer emails are a lower touch way to get ideas. The more often a question is asked, the more useful it will be to answer it in a piece of content. This content can then be somewhere support staff can direct people when the question is raised in the future. It can also help people who may be thinking the same thing but not willing to send an email enquiry about it.
Questions On Reddit And Quora
Places like Reddit and Quora are content goldmines. Subreddits and Quora topics are full of people asking questions every day. These are particularly useful for products or services in technology-related niches.
Look for questions that are asked a lot or ones that have cropped up recently. The more often something is asked, the bigger the need for the problem to be solved.
Questions that have cropped up recently and are more time-sensitive can also be useful to inspire content around current trends.
Social Media Listening
Social media listening is a lesser-known way of getting to know an audience. It's highly effective because it helps businesses to find out what people are talking about within the industry.
To do this, log in to a social media site and search for a relevant topic or hashtag, such as SEO. The platform will then show what discussions are happening around the topic or keyword. It can help to set search results to show chronologically to make sure that any information is the latest available.
It can help to think outside of the box when using social media listening. Most businesses only follow their company name and particular topics related to their business. Following periphery topics – for instance, PPC or print media when you're an SEO company – can inspire related content ideas that can bring new people into the business.
What's In The News
Every industry has trends that come and go. For instance, a few years ago, everyone wanted to know how to be more productive. Now, most aspects of that have been covered, and a lot of publications are no longer interested in this niche. What they want to know about instead is wellness – things like self-care and self-compassion.
Tapping into industry trends shows the business is at the forefront of its industry, particularly if it covers the topic before its competitors.
The best way to stay ahead of this is to read far and wide within an industry and related industries. It can help to set aside some time each day, or a few days a week, to spend time reading and researching. It’s much more beneficial to build this into a regular habit and not try to squeeze it in around other things. That way, it’s a more conscious commitment and it’s easier to stick to.
Setting up alerts on news apps or using Google Alerts when a word or phrase is mentioned also helps to ensure you never miss the latest news on a topic.
What Competitors Are Writing About
A business’s competitors want the same search engine real estate that the business does. So it makes sense for them to be writing about similar topics. But that doesn’t mean the business can’t write about it too, or even use a competitor’s content to inspire ideas.
Don’t steal their content verbatim, of course, but look at the topics they’ve covered and the wider strategies around it. See how their content is ranking in search engines using a tool like Moz, Keywords Everywhere, or BuzzSumo.
Once you have an idea of what resonates with prospects, you can use this information to generate topic ideas.
Start with a topic or a theme, such as content marketing. Now branch off and think about topics that are related to that theme, for instance, SEO, the stages of awareness, blogging, and videography.
Then break those down even further.
Keep going until you get to really niche, specific topics. Things like 'how to get a featured snippet on Google' for SEO, or 'types of awareness content' for the stages of awareness.
These clusters will not only make it easier to generate ideas, but they'll also help with search engine rankings. Content clusters inform search engines about the context of a website. This context demonstrates the expertise the site has to offer, helping it to rank for topics within that industry.
Look For Inspiration Everywhere
Everything from what happens in the workplace to a conversation with a plumber can act as content inspiration if you approach it in the right way.
Content marketing expert Janet Murray is famous for saying 'everything is a content opportunity'. This is something she teaches her Build Your Audience members – content ideas are all about perspective. It’s all about changing the way you look at the world.
She's used things like getting opinions on what to wear to an event, to being mistaken for a speaker's wife (when she was the speaker!), to running the London Marathon as a content opportunity. It's through these tactics that she's grown her audience into the tens of thousands, and it continues to grow.
Topics like these can be unique and human ways to open blog posts. The link shouldn't be too tenuous, but tying in, say, the London Marathon with something about motivation or inspiration would work.
A unique way into a post also helps to make it memorable. And it’s helpful, memorable content that will keep people coming back again and again, and eventually turn them into customers.