Coming up with a steady stream of ideas is par for the course for content and demand gen marketers.
Not every idea is necessarily perfectly aligned, or can be followed up on. However, what makes a strong piece of content stand out from the others is almost always the research behind it.
Smart marketers always do research and there are many different methods and starting points to conduct the research.
To help, I’ve compiled some great resources for you right here to make the beginning of getting the content train moving a little easier. Read on for some tips and tools with sources to research your upcoming content campaigns.
Scope Out Successful Campaigns
Before you embark on your next content campaign, get a handle on what’s working well right now.
Buzzsumo is arguably the best content research tool in town – and the best tool to use to scope out successful campaigns.
Use BuzzSumo to find out what content is performing best for key influencers in your market. You can also see what topics and keywords are getting the most attention.
The BuzzSumo report will tell you how many shares each piece of content got across the various social media channels, how long the content is, and the number and quality of backlinks.
Knowing this information gives you an idea of what is working and what readers want to see. You can determine what kind of content to make more of or cut back on or find inspiration for what your content needs.
Bonus: For a compiled list of essential tools and their uses, check out “35 Content Marketing Tools To Drive Your Content Marketing Success.”
Research Your Competition
Use a tool like Twitonomy or Followerwonk to analyze your competition’s Twitter audience. You’ll learn things like …
- The demographics of your competition’s audience
- When they are most active on Twitter
- What kind of content they’re interested in
- What hashtags they’re using
- Where they’re located around the globe
- How many Twitter followers they have
All this data can help you understand who is looking for the content you create and what specific topics they want to see from your content. Knowing what people want to read about is one of the most important skills to make successful content, and it can all comes from the research you conduct.
Understand Your Audience
To start thinking about your audience ask yourself a few simple questions: Who consumes my content? How can I reach out to them? What might they wish to gain from my content?
Understanding your audience is a process, not a guessing game. The best way to really connect with viewers is to talk to them directly. Consider interviewing some of your customers to find out more about who they are, why they bought your solution, and how they use it.
If that’s not feasible, send customer surveys to people who have bought your products. Or add popup or sidebar surveys to your online content to allow visitors to give their feedback on a particular subject’s relevancy or point of view.
Customer feedback will help you create content that is meaningful to your target audience – and more engaging. When you know what your audience is looking for, you set your content up for success.
Look at Your Own Content Performance
Look at your own past content performance to see what campaigns performed well – and which didn’t.
Use your website analytics tool (most of us use Google Analytics for this, but your company may use something else) to analyze traffic and user activity.
Pull reports from your social media platforms to determine how your promotional efforts went over for each campaign.
Gather metrics from your mailing list service provider to see what content garnered the most opens and clicks.
Getting familiar with and reflecting on your strengths and weaknesses will help you allocate your time and focus, and overall optimize results.
Investigate Effective Design
Don’t neglect user experience when coming up with your next content campaign! Visuals are more important than you’d think!
Good design is memorable and can make your brand identifiable among competitors. The visual aspect of content can attract more likes and clicks, and can give your work that slight edge it may need.
Though the written content is the most important thing, the design of your content will impact how (and if) it gets read or otherwise consumed.
Come up With a Theme
Coming up with a theme for your content campaign helps you get more audience attention and makes your job easier.
But how does this help you with your research? It actually helps you in 2 ways.
- You can research how others are implementing the same (or a similar) theme, and see what’s working – and even better, what you can improve upon.
- Researching the elements for the campaign itself – copy/content, design, format – is much easier because your choices are more limited. If, for example, you are going with a Halloween theme, your design choices are narrower – which makes it so much easier for you to make quick, smart decisions.
Reflect on Current Events
Consider current events, holidays, and trade events that are coming up. It might make sense to create a content campaign around one of those occasions.
If you’re feeling stuck and not sure what to create content on, checking to see what’s going on in the world or in your trade is a great way to find inspiration.
Take a look at economic trends or recent industry events / trade shows. One of our favorite tricks is to google an important keyword and click on the “news” tab under your results.
For example if you look up “consumer technology trends”, you’d find a ton of content from the recent consumer electronics show:
If you really want to get creative, you could even add a holidays and observances calendar to your Google Calendar. You’ll get a laugh out of it, if anything! Did you know that Dec 28 is National Chocolate Day?
Pull up the Latest Research Reports
Mining research reports for data to lend credibility to your content is always a great idea. But you can also start with the research report to get inspiration for upcoming content campaigns.
Some good sources for research reports that will inspire your content campaigns are:
Check out this infographic that visualizes how research can impact sales:
Now – Go Research That Killer Campaign Idea!
These tips and tools should be a great starting point to validate your content campaign ideas, or drum up brand new ideas.
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