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Amanda Milligan

24 Ways to Come Up With Engaging Content Ideas that Captivate Consumers

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Amanda Milligan
24 Ways to Come Up With Engaging Content Ideas that Captivate Consumers

Compelling content is a cornerstone of any comprehensive modern marketing strategy. More than 50% of businesses currently invest money, time, and energy into content marketing, with most of them publishing new material every single day. Why is content so valuable? Marketing is all about gaining trust, a feat that traditional avenues are no longer able to accomplish. For instance, 96% of consumers distrust traditional advertising. In contrast, informative content that provides tangible value is gaining ground.

Content allows you to connect without coming across as too “salesy.” Great content doesn't just capture a person's attention, however, it also engages them and gets them to act in a certain way — clicking, sharing, liking, and even buying. Compelling content ultimately helps a business, brand, product, or an individual to be seen. However, there's a lot of competition in the digital world and creating content that stands out from the crowd isn't always easy. Constant innovation is needed to craft ideas that convert and result in positive consumer actions.

This guide provides a slew of tools and tricks to help you come up with great content ideas. It's not just about producing more content but about producing better content that your target audience will want to respond to. Some of these tips are more technically focused while others are more spiritual — they're all about helping you find your content muse. With this mix of actionable tips and inspirational activities, you can increase your content quantity and quality. Read on to learn how to make these content ideas work for your brand.

Get Content Ideas

By Researching Your Competitors' Content

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1. Look for Ways to Deliver Value

One of the primary reasons people go online is to get information. They could be looking up something more complex, like financial advice, or something as basic as how to unclog a toilet. The YouTube channel "Dad, How Do I?" has 2.6 million subscribers and is a great example of one person offering valuable and actionable content that people genuinely need, utilize, and appreciate. Think about what information your users will find useful and let that steer your thinking.

2. Research Frequently Asked Questions

A couple of ways to look for questions relevant to your users is to scan online forums like Quora and Yahoo or to use the Google search bar. For example, if you search "consumer advertising distrust," Google will provide you with a list of questions (listed under the section "People also Ask"), such as "What are the 4 types of advertising?" This is a commonly searched question related to the keywords you've input — and a great basis for crafting content people will want to read or watch.

3. Identify Common Myths in Your Niche

Instead of answering questions, try debunking common myths. Exposing frequently believed falsehoods with well-researched, science-backed content is a way to establish yourself as an expert. Going against a commonly accepted norm is also an effective way to grab attention. Just be sure to back up your claims with stats and studies to drive home your expertise. Whether you need newsletter content ideas or blog content ideas, a "myth-busters" style approach can prove popular.

4. Dig Deeper With Keyword Analytics

This is especially significant for website content ideas. Instead of keyword popularity, advanced search engine optimization assesses keyword opportunities. Using a tool like SEMrush to check keyword difficulty allows for an in-depth analysis. For example, you can discover the top-ranking domains and business value for a keyword. Then, you can either target that keyword or look for more suitable alternatives. In some cases, it may make more sense to switch to lower-competition keywords. A good rule of thumb, if you choose to go this route, is to go after the low-hanging fruit first and then decide on additional keywords to target from there.

5. Check Out Competitors' Page Titles

You can also use keyword data to check out popular page titles and use these titles to guide content. You can then use our SEO Content Template to get the title of each page. With a list of all the page titles in front of you, you can see how frequently certain phrases occur. This can then inform potential titles when you're struggling with how to come up with content ideas.

6. Set Up a Group Brainstorming Session

Content idea generation shouldn't be a one-person job. Sit down with other people in your team to bounce around ideas and share inspiration. Not sure how to brainstorm content ideas? Get things started by asking people to share content they've liked, then start discussing what they liked about it. This can be a great way to come up with your own original concepts, whether you need content ideas for a blog or social media.

7. Collaborate With Your Clients

If you're coming up with content for a client rather than your own company or brand, involve them in the ideation process. It can be tempting to simply present them with polished final concepts, but beware that one of the most common reasons clients reject content ideas is that they feel they've had zero input in the process. Your clients are industry experts and will bring knowledge to the table that you can then transform into compelling material. Better industry insights lead to better ideas and, subsequently, better results.

8. Let Your Performance Data Inspire You

A major asset of content marketing is its measurability. For instance, you can see which of your influencer content ideas are doing well based on key performance indicators like shares and comments. The same tools that help you track data can also serve as a content idea generator. Our Link Building Tool helps you evaluate interest in potential content topics by seeing which ones generate the most links back to the site. Use this to steer content ideation.

9. Find Ways to Refurbish Top-Performing Content

If you've struck gold with a content idea, don't be afraid to recycle it. Take advantage of some content's versatility and adaptability. Let’s say you've identified key FAQs that your target audience searches. You can present each frequently asked question via a series of tweets, turn them into points for SlideShare, or present them in a video. Implement content creation ideas across multiple channels to reach a more diverse audience.

10. Hijack the Headlines

If you're feeling stuck on how to find content ideas, start reading the news. Piggybacking content off of current headlines is a great way to leverage a moment of popular public interest. It's also worth signing up for a daily news briefing so you get headlines delivered straight to your inbox. A quick skim is enough to show if there's something you can tap into for your daily content ideas. This saves time and ensures that you don't miss anything relevant.

11. Look at Industry Publications

Don't just look at mainstream media. We recommend checking out denser sources beyond the confines of the internet for information and inspiration that is off the beaten path. Try checking out a book or taking a deep dive into Google Scholar. A scientific study can make a great jumping-off point when you're wondering how to create content ideas containing brand new information that excites users. You can also browse book categories related to your niche on Amazon.

12. See What's Trending

If you're searching for Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, or Instagram content ideas, check out what's trending on the respective platforms. This is basically the social media equivalent of reading the headlines of industry publications. Sometimes you don't have to spark a new conversation — it's enough to take part in an existing one, especially if you have something valuable to contribute.

13. Read the Comments

Whether you're searching trending hashtags, reviewing academic studies, or reading a mainstream news site, always check the comments section. This is where everyday people have their say — the same everyday people you are hoping to reach through your content marketing. You can learn more about what your audience is all about, including their opinions, likes, and dislikes. This will give you a better sense of what kind of content they will be inspired by and engage with.

14. Use Surveys to Learn More About Your Audience

This is a more direct way to find out more about your audience. Quantitative research like clicks and conversions only tells you so much about your consumers. Explore qualitative methods to find out more about your target audience. Surveys are one option, allowing you to create a more comprehensive profile of the people who are interested in your brand, company, or product. Surveys can easily and quickly be administered online using digital tools like SurveyMonkey. You'll then know more about your audience and what kind of content might speak to them.

15. Consider a Contest or Giveaway

To get more participants to take part in a survey, you can offer an incentive like a contest or giveaway. In general, prizes are a great way to get your audience more engaged in your content. You can also offer freebies in exchange for something like signing up for an email list, which you can then use to distribute future content. People love free stuff, especially if it's giving them legitimate value. If you're positioning yourself as an expert in a field, you might give away an e-book or white paper in exchange for email sign-ups, for instance. This shows genuine attentiveness toward your audience and their needs and can help you win that coveted asset: trust!

16. Encourage Consumers to Get Active

Another way to get people engaged is to make them the content creators. This tip is especially useful for social media marketing content ideas or influencer content ideas. Let’s say you're brainstorming content for a fashion brand targeting teens. It's the end of August and school is starting. You might ask users to share their #OOTD (outfit of the day) for the first day of school featuring (and tagging!) your brand. Alternatively, you might post a Twitter thread inviting users to share their most cringe-worthy first day of school memory. These are just a few ways to directly engage with your audience and make them feel more connected. Their input may also offer inspiration for the future!

17. Check Out Industry Conferences

Look at conferences relevant to your field and see what the hot topics are. You don't necessarily have to attend, as many events post agendas online. This provides a succinct overview of current themes and a list of influential speakers. You can use the key themes, for example, to generate content ideas for your YouTube channel. Alternatively, you can contact conference speakers yourself to see if they'd be interested in contributing content, like a guest expert blog. Even the companies that sponsor a conference can spark ideas for content (or for contacts worth interviewing or soliciting content from). Webinars are another great target.

18. Talk to Front Line Employees

If you're focused on a company's content marketing, you likely aren't dealing much with customers yourself. Take the time to talk to employees who are in the trenches every day. Customer service representatives and salespeople know exactly what kinds of questions and concerns day-to-day users of a product or service have. Asking employees to complete a survey or even interviewing employees for their insights can provide valuable information. You can also consult product or service experts for intelligence — or even feature them in a piece of content, such as a short interview video getting their pro insights.

19. Tap Into a Controversy

From drama to disputes, controversy of any kind tends to garner attention. It can be tempting to steer clear of the fray and avoid controversial topics in your content, especially in the internet age when people easily hide behind the safety of their screens and leave negative comments. However, you're doing yourself and your audience a disservice if you fail to take a stance on major issues within your industry. Keep your commentary above the belt and avoid getting dragged into sparring wars online. As always, the point isn't to shock but to create valuable content that resonates with your audience.

20. Rely on a Roundup

When you're struggling with how to come up with article ideas, publishing a roundup is an excellent fallback. Choose a topic, question, or event and solicit input from various industry experts for an influencer roundup. This is useful on multiple levels. First, your audience will be eager to get insider information from people who know what they're talking about. Second, it spares you the task of coming up with the creative details. Third, you can get inspired for future content ideas based on the individual inputs you receive. Finally, it gives you the opportunity to nurture existing connections in your field and create new ones, which is always handy in business.

21. Engage With "Real World" People

If you're still lacking inspiration for great content, press pause. Instead of focusing solely on how to get blog content ideas or researching the best content ideas, spend some time interacting with the outside world. People-watch in a park. Touch base with your family and friends beyond the office. Have a casual chat with your employees or co-workers. Remember, the entire point of content is ultimately to reach people. Get out there and spend some time networking with people.

22. Create a Swipe File

A "swipe file" is a common concept across many creative fields. It basically involves compiling content that you like. The point is not to plagiarize, of course, but to get inspiration. As you compile your swipe file, think about how to organize content ideas. You want to be able to peruse this information quickly and easily. For example, you might want to categorize your swipe file by the type of content. An important note: Your swipe file does not need to be composed solely of material specific to your industry. It's about curating great content, period.

23. Step Away From Your Desk

Leisure activities outside the office, like listening to music, reading a book, watching a movie, or even doodling in a sketchbook, can help your brain out of its creative rut. You may even come across artistic material that serves as a source of inspiration. Sometimes something as small as a song lyric can serve as the seed for your next great idea. Still stuck? Take a brisk walk. Research suggests that physical activity boosts creativity, so getting your heart pumping may unlock your muse.

24. Ask Your Audience Directly

Last but not least, here's one of the most obvious but less frequently used ways to generate great content ideas: Ask the people! If you have a social media following or email subscriber list to tap into, don't be shy about asking what kinds of content they'd like to see (or if they have a favorite from the past). The answers may surprise you! A quick poll is an easy way to get the conversation started. For example, you can ask whether people would be interested in a masterclass on a select topic — but give them the chance to propose other topics, as well.

Content Ideation Made Simple

This list provides a peek at some of the many ways you can come up with great content ideas. As you can see, there isn’t just one hard-and-fast method to get the job done. You will get plenty of great content ideas using quantitative methods, like analyzing SEO data or page titles. You can also get great content ideas from simply perusing public comments on an Instagram post, talking to a friend about a movie they liked, or even reading your own journal. Content ideas are everywhere. It's up to you to take that seed of inspiration and nurture it into content that makes people want to read, click, share ... whatever action you're looking for.

Regardless, the key to success in content marketing is human connectivity. That's exactly why you're just as liable to get a great content idea scouring keyword data as you are people-watching at a coffee shop. And this is where content marketing gets its value: Unlike traditional advertising, which prioritizes direct selling, content marketing priorities personal connection. That can be easy to forget because of the digital nature of most modern content marketing, but that's still the crux of it. Think of the headlines, social media posts, or blogs that go viral, getting passed on again and again. One thing they usually share is an ability to inspire an emotion — anger, sadness, happiness — borne of an innate person-to-person bond.

SEMrush’s Topic Research Tool makes it easier to find out what excites and engages your target group. With this tool, content ideation becomes more streamlined, simpler, and faster. To tap into the power of content marketing, you'll want to continually look for new ways to come up with content, as well as review what you’ve already implemented. This will give you a better understanding of what drives conversions with your audience.

Get Content Ideas

By Researching Your Competitors' Content

Please specify a valid domain, e.g., www.example.com

Amanda Milligan
Pro

Asks great questions and provides brilliant answers.

Amanda Milligan is the Marketing Director at Fractl, a growth marketing agency that’s worked with Fortune 500 companies and boutique businesses alike. Throughout her content marketing career, she's managed the creation of 200+ content campaigns and led the strategy for 20+ clients. She spoke at 2019 SMX Advanced and 2019 Pubcon Pro Las Vegas. Her content marketing advice has appeared in Forbes, Content Marketing Institute, MarketingProfs’ Marketing Smarts Podcast, CMO and more. She also currently hosts the Fractl podcast Cashing In On Content Marketing.
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