When planning editorial content it can be easy to fall into the trap of trusting your gut or guessing what your target audience wants. However, doing this can lead to bland or salesy content that just won’t be found and definitely won’t be shared.
So how do we avoid the pitfalls of useless content?
By avoiding three common mistakes and planning better.
Mistake #1: Using a gut feeling or guessing what your target audience wants
Answer: Give them what they really want
This might sound obvious, however finding out what the mass online public really want can be tough. That’s where Google search really becomes a wonderful thing. People will type questions into Google that they’d never ask their facebook friends or tell a customer research survey. This means that it can be an amazing source of information on what people really want to know.
The suggestions section under the Google search box is powered by the aggregation of all the data from searchers - people just like your target audience. It shows the top searches related to the topic you have entered, all delivered in real-time.
It's a tool as described by a colleague new to search insight as akin to reading the minds of your potential customers!
Mind reading is a pretty good skill to have when you're thinking about what content to create or what hook might appeal. However digging into all of the ways people search to find the perfect content topic could take a long time, but there is a free tool that does it for you; Answer the Public - It allows you to use your sector knowledge to answer popular questions the public are searching for.
Let’s explore an example.
I have a site selling shoes and I’m planning editorial content for the fall. Boots are going to be a key product focus so I want to plan some useful blog posts for the same time.
The ‘Answer the public’ tool shows all of the ways in which people have searched for ‘Boots’.
Already, it has sparked some ideas but I want to explore further. The tool is showing that there are lots of people asking for “Boots like Uggs but cheaper”, that’s a nice and easy roundup post. We’ll be able to seamlessly link to a selection of boots on the main site and we have some interesting editorial that can capture searching for some Ugg-like boots.
I now have some blog posts planned for the end of the summer. But too many and it will probably become too product focused and salesy. So, what do we do? Return to answerthepublic.com.
The tool also helps you find questions you can answer to put a stamp on your brand. ‘Boots with skirts’ is a common question, why not put together a trend setting piece looking at ways to wear boots with skirts?
People are looking for the same with leggings/dresses/jeans. That insight provides me with more regular posts for the blog. We know that people are searching for this topic so my posts should be easily stumbled upon.
Keeping on the boots example, fitting keeps coming up. ‘How should boots fit?’ ‘Boots are little too big’, ‘Boots a little to small’ appear - I could get an expert involved in commenting in the post on why the right fit is important.
By creating the ultimate answer to some these questions and adding the right promotion, my blog posts will be found and could be referred to for years to come. It’s this type of content and recognition that Google really values and will help push both the blog and the website up the search rankings, increasing the audience of the blog which, if everything is aligned, will have a positive impact on sales.
Mistake #2: Believing your content is so powerful it will set the news agenda
Answer: Let your readers be the judge of that
Topical timing in content marketing has always been key. However, another easy mistake to make is to believe that our content is so powerful it will set the news agenda. Let me tell you now, that is very unlikely. A far more impactful way to gain traction is by providing your content to our public when they demand it.
Let’s return to my shoe retail site and the next season in the calendar for example; Christmas.
A Christmas gift campaign is a common component of consumer content and marketing plans. Often this activity starts in November and content goes live in December but what about the thousands of people looking for gift ideas before then? Do we ignore them?
Google searches for ‘Christmas gift ideas’
The graph above demonstrates the volume of people looking for ‘Christmas gift ideas’ from June 2014 to May 2015 in the UK. There is no surprise that there is a peak of searches close to December 25th, however interest started to build in September!
Interestingly, most Christmas gift guide posts don’t appear until December (point A) so this content would miss the initial demand.
In October and November 2014 200,000 people searched for ‘Christmas gift ideas’. They want great content and they’re ready to be marketed to and potentially buy. There were even 10,000 people searching for ‘Christmas gift ideas’ as early as September 2014.
Gaining trend and search timing data is easy through Google tools and they allow us to unearth gems of insight that will feed a powerful strategy. The data above is taken from Google Trends and search volumes can found through the Google ‘Keyword Planner Tool’. Just make sure to allocate enough time to plan your editorial calendar. That way you can create content with the right seasonal hooks before the competition.
Mistake #3: Not planning the promotion of content until post production
Answer: Integrate and plan to promote early
It’s important to consider and plan promotion before you write and create your content. Although your topics do need to be business-related and targeted to your audience, you also need to consider how you will kick-start earned recommendation or pay to promote your posts.
The third mistake is often one of the biggest. So many marketers create content and don’t consider the promotion until after it’s completion. This is a very bad idea.
The best promotion is often when you have involved an influencer, a like-minded brand or industry partner in the piece. This involvement encourages the influencers to share with their audience and with the right selection this can kick-start the earned media machine. However, without early and true involvement in the piece, it is very unlikely they will get involved and they certainly won’t share it with their audience for free.
Plan early, gain their creative input and your audience could increase instantly.
Similarly, paid promotion also needs to be considered early. Even when you’re paying to reach an audience, the provider has to ensure it is relevant. If it’s not highly targeted to their readers or viewers the cost can be more expensive, you won’t gain as much traction or the provider will simply decline involvement.
The key to avoiding the pitfalls of useless content comes down to planning and always remember:
Give the public what they want by gaining true insight
Launch content when people want it
Integrate and plan promotion early
Prove it all worked with measurement!
Join the Webinar
With 83,000 blog posts published every hour it’s easy for content to fade into the background and never be read.
If you want to find out how to plan and create content that your online audience will easily find, read, and love then join Stella Bayles , marketing director at AnswerThePublic.com and CoverageBook.com for a live webinar on Wednesday, June 8th, 2PM ET.