In your content marketing strategy, it is not enough to simply be churning out content. That content must be working for you, otherwise, what’s the point? It needs to be driving sales, leads, subscriptions; whatever your business goals are. And to do that, the content must be engaging. It must compel the reader to take action, or at least visit your website again in the hope that they will take action in the future.
But writing engaging content is no easy feat. In fact, according to the fifth annual B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America* report, producing engaging content was listed as the number one challenge marketers face in 2015.
So how do you do it? The secret? It’s all in the pre-game my friend. The work you put in before you write one word will set you up for success and set you a part from the majority of marketers out there.
These 3 steps will help you with the research process and guide the direction of your content.
1. Find out what your customers are already responding to.
If you have been producing content for a little while you will have a baseline to work from to find out what your customers are already responding to. The first step is to find the top 10 articles that have received the most traffic. And the top 10 social posts that have received the most engagement.
There are a number of tools available to find out this information - Google Analytics, your blog’s CMS, your social media page’s insights section, or scrunch (where you will find all of those in the one place).
Now take a look at the following components of each piece of content:
- What was the topic?
- What was the writing style?
- What images did you use?
- What comments did you receive?
Now take that information and brainstorm potential articles that go deeper on the same topic, or address another area of the same topic. If you find an article that’s really old, considering re-working it. Try inserting these into your content over the coming weeks and test your customer’s response.
2. Research your competitors to look for gaps.
I am sure you know your top 3 competitors. You may not consider them competitors, you may think of them as a business you aspire to be like. Either way, go now and visit their blogs. Take a look at the last month’s worth of articles and note down the following:
- What topics did they cover?
- What was the writing style?
- What images did they use?
- What comments did they receive?
- How is this different to your list from step 1?
- Has this research highlighted any gaps that your blog could fill?
- Are there topics you think you’ve been missing writing about?
Look at this list and brainstorm new content ideas that cover the gaps in both their content and your own. Try inserting these into your content over the coming weeks and test your customer’s response.
3. Look for trends within your industry.
Talking about something at the RIGHT time can be pivotal to the success of your content and up your cred as a thought leader in your industry. Keeping a close eye on the influencers in your industry by reading their blogs and following their social media accounts is a great idea. But you can also speed up the process by using tools like Buzzsumo. Buzzsumo enables you to enter a keyword (like ‘content marketing’ or ‘fashion’) and brings back the top articles with the most shares across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google. Assess the articles for common themes and brainstorm your own views on the topics.
Try inserting these into your content over the coming weeks and test your customer’s response.
Underpin your content with research.
So there you have it. 3 solutions to start underpinning your content strategy with research. Building research into your editorial process sets the standard for effective content. Keep checking in with your metrics and track the effects of this strategy.
*B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America report surveyed 5,000 marketers—in 25 industries in 109 countries—from forprofit and nonprofit organizations.