One of the most difficult parts of content marketing is constantly coming up with topics that resonate with your audience.
There’s little doubt that it’s extremely difficult, yet some people seem to be able to consistently produce amazing content that is always helpful just when you need it.
How do they do this?
Well, for one, it’s not random. They’re not just magically pulling ideas out of a hat, nor does inspiration only come from breakthrough findings after hours upon hours digging through analytics.
The best content marketers choose topics that work but finding out that a topic will go over well with their audience before they even write it.
Mining for Content Marketing Topics
Normally, when we think of our competitors, we think of how much we spite them and how much better we are, or will be. But, what if we took a different perspective: looked at what they were doing right, and beat them at their own game?
The first step you need to take is to identify your top competitors and run a social media analysis on them using QuickSprout Analyzer. What this allows you to do is see which pieces of content have been shared the most on your competitors’ sites, which means you know exactly what kind of topics their audience shares, which will more than likely be the same type of content that will work for you.
For example, I chose to analyze ProofHQ’s blog posts, which you can see below in the next section.
Based on these results, several marketing posts, including 58 Great Marketing Blogs and Marketing Campaign Success, did very well, along with several pieces on remote working. This makes perfect sense since our audience is made up of marketers, designers and a good amount of our customers who either work remotely or use our software to collaborate with clients from all over.
What’s the takeaway of all of this?
Assuming you were our competitor, you can see exactly what’s working and what isn’t, and then make similar posts that are better or more inclusive or more visually appealing. The possibilities are endless once you’ve identified content worth investing in.
The Skyscraper Technique
The Skyscraper Technique is a form of content marketing used to attract links and shares simply by being better than the best content available. It was coined by Brian Dean at Backlinko, and it’s truly one of the best techniques around.
Essentially, no one wants to link to the second, third of sixth best pieces of content. They want to link to the best piece of content, just like how no one cares about the fifth or tenth largest skyscraper in the city, only the largest skyscraper.
Now you’re probably wondering, of course everyone wants to link the best content! But actually creating the best content is the hard part...and you’re right, but it’s not as difficult as you might think.
When you know what piece of content is performing the best, all you have to do is look for flaws in it. Everything can be improved in some fashion.
Maybe it’s an extensive list post, and you can add more listings the the post with better descriptions. Or, maybe you can improve upon the design, because it’s outdated and looks like it was made when having a dial-up connection was still acceptable. The bottom line is, great content can last forever, but it can always be improved upon, tweaked and updated.
Find Out What’s Trending
Twitter does a great job at showing you what’s trending in your part of the world, but have you ever given any consideration to what’s trending within your industry or niche? Many times there are hidden gems that go unnoticed by major media publications because its too narrowly focused; however, these can be absolute goldmines for your business.
My favorite tool for finding these gems is BuzzSumo, which allows you to analyze what content is performing best for an entire industry as well as your competitors. This is my go-to tool when I want to write about a different topic than usual, keep my pulse on relevant niches or just see what’s going on in general.
For instance, I typed in "marketing automation" and selected content from the past 24 hours, while allowing all forms of content such as articles, infographics, videos and so forth to be present.
I can see which pieces of content related to marketing automation are currently being shared. When you click on "view sharers" you can actually see who’s sharing that content, which is extremely valuable as they could be potential leads, partners or subscribers.
BuzzSumo is extremely powerful, and it has a ton of great filtering options to take advantage of.
Ask Your Current Visitors and Customers
Chances are you have people visiting your website everyday, some who are past or current customers, and some who have never even heard of your site until that very moment. Either way, the only true way to really understand what kind of content they’d like to read is to simply ask them.
This is where Qualaroo comes in, which is a simple way to generate insights from your visitors by asking them questions and getting responses in real-time. If you’re looking for content ideas, then why not ask them what kind of blogs they read, or what kind of content they’d like to see on your site? You can do this via multiple choice or have people answer freely in an open text box.
Either way, you’ll get great results straight from the only source that counts: your readers.
Strong content loses its value if you do not write articles your audience actually wants (no matter how great it is). So, by studying what your competitors are doing, looking at what’s worked in the past in your niche, and keeping an eye out for trending content, you can spur some great content ideas that you were previously unaware of that your audience is practically begging you to write about.
Always remember that no matter how great a piece of content is, it can always be improved; that right there is your opportunity to build amazing content your readers will show their appreciation for by sharing and linking back to your content, and rewarding you with valuable, organic traffic.