Everybody wants high-quality content. Not everybody knows how to create it.
It’s a matter of research and brainstorming—generating specific ideas with high value. And then acting on it.
The new marketing buzzword is growth hacking, but it’s still just marketing. This involves some SEO tricks and automation strategies, but it depends on persuasive copy, valuable content, email marketing, and other more traditional marketing techniques. The name might eventually change, but the need will always be there.
So, how do you create content that is valuable, targeted, and aligned with your business and sales funnel goals?
With the internet at our disposal, it’s now a lot easier to find out what works and what doesn’t.
Rather than getting in a room with your colleagues to “brainstorm” content ideas, we suggest coming up with ideas on your own (using the strategies below) and later pooling those ideas with a group. This anti-brainstorming session has been proven to be more effective time and time again. Read The New Yorker article, “Groupthink: The Brainstorming Myth” by Jonah Lehrer for more on how traditional brainstorming doesn’t work.
So, instead of “brainstorming” content with a group, use your brain to storm the problem on your own first. These idea generation strategies are useful for content marketers and growth hackers, but anyone trying to sell something will something will benefit as well.
How to Create Content That Converts
Here are a few techniques for coming up with content that converts:
1. Social Media
Social media research is a great way to find out what works and what doesn’t. Follow and research influencers in your industry and copy the techniques they use. Finding influencers is extremely easy with online tools such as Traackr, Buzzsumo, and Klout.
Learn more about digital marketing tools and resources that will help your content marketing efforts.
2. Competitive Analysis
Once you find a related business that has robust content marketing, their website, social media, and other marketing efforts can be a goldmine of inspiration for you.
3. Internal Brainstorming
There’s a lot of advice for brainstorming headlines and content ideas in our Copywriting Guide and Swipe File. If you are struggling to come up with content ideas, enlist the help of your team. Give everyone the task of coming up with 3 ideas on their own and then hold a meeting so you can all share your ideas and brainstorm together. You may be surprised to see how many great ideas get shared by members of teams outside of your own.
4. Keyword Research
Keyword research should be a very early step in your content marketing plan. The list will help guide the rest of your content marketing efforts. Ask everyone on your team to create a list of keywords and then gather all of the lists together to create a master keyword list. If you have somebody doing PPC for you, ask them for their keyword list. You should also ask people outside of your business what they would search for.
Start with 3-5 main keywords, then come up with a list of synonyms for those words (a thesaurus helps). Use various tools, such as the Keyword Planner in your AdWords account. You can also use a competitor’s site to start thinking of your own keyword strategy.
After developing a list, you’ll want to organize them into a taxonomy. List all of your products, brand-specific terms, and consider sorting them into categories and subcategories.
Read Google’s tips for building your keyword list here.
5. Related Searches
As part of the brainstorming process, you should periodically run your ideas through Google and Bing to see what types of words and phrases other people are searching for. Simply enter your keyword/topic into the search engine, such as “dimmer switch.” Scroll to the bottom of the search results page and you will see the “related searches” section, which provides popular searches for your keyword:
Searches related to dimmer switch:
- dimmer switch installation
- dimmer switch led
- dimmer switch car
- double dimmer switch
- rotary dimmer switch
- types of dimmer switches
From there, you can come up with a blog, video, infographic or other content with a title such as “Dimmer Switch Types: How to Choose the Right Dimmer.”
6. Question and Answer Sites
Not only are Q&A sites like Quora and Yahoo Answers useful for SEO purposes, they can also serve as a great content research tool. A little research shows you what your potential customers are curious about.
7. Research Udemy
Udemy is a site that sells video instruction courses. Customers are paying good money for premium content to improve their skills.
Simply use the search bar to search for content that is similar to yours, click on a course, and then scroll down to the “Curriculum” section to get an overview of the course. Here, you can find dozens of article ideas in one course alone.
8. Go for a Walk
Steve Jobs is well known for taking walking meetings. Now, it seems to be a common practice. A recent Stanford study has proven that walking greatly improves creativity, reporting that “the average increase in creative output was around 60%.”
If you are hitting “writer’s block,” sometimes a little fresh air will do the trick. Many creatives come up with their best ideas while taking a walk or a shower, when minds are more alert and free from distraction.
Not only does fresh air and sunshine boost creativity, it also improves health and wellbeing. So, leave your phone behind and go for a walk. No earbuds, no distractions, just you and nature.
When you have finished your individual brainstorming session, consider going on a walking meeting to discuss your ideas with the group. The increased blood flow will help everyone communicate their ideas more clearly.
Additional Idea Generation Tips:
- Monitor your social media metrics to find out which content has led to the highest engagement. Success you see on one channel (social media) can help you develop headlines and content for another channel (PPC).
- Steal ideas from Buzzfeed, Reddit, Digg, Mashable, Upworthy, and BoredPanda. They are masters at getting people to click on their headlines. Take a look at their clickable titles and then make them relevant to your industry.
Although the brainstorming process can be time-consuming, it is important to do this early on so you have a wealth of information and resources at your fingertips. Still, brainstorming ideas is a continuous process that takes place nearly everyday.
If you come up with an idea in the shower, at a bar, or walking your dog, jot it down so you don’t forget. Whether you are a blogger or a PPC marketer, these momentary realizations can separate the good from the great.
Quick Note: These tips focus primarily on generating content ideas for blogs, but the same strategies can be used for any content you publish (websites, sales, product pages, landing pages, etc.)
Let VitalStorm do the brainstorming for you! Contact VitalStorm for original content, marketing insights, and custom-tailored solutions.
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