Creating content is difficult, but aligning a content strategy might be a more significant challenge. Should you focus on gated or ungated pieces? Should you emphasize video? Should you start a podcast?
It's not enough to create content — you have to make sure it is helpful and valuable to your audience. You have to ensure it evokes the desired reaction so you can effectively drive customer action. Most importantly, you have to leverage your creativity to create content that strikes the perfect balance between engaging and informative.
With this in mind, what kind of content should you create? Here's a quick guide about how to create content your customers will love.
How to Come Up With Ideas for Content Creation
Two main factors should influence the type of content you create:
1. Buyer Personas
Many marketers make the mistake of creating content that speaks to everyone instead of focusing on the groups of people that are their best target customers.
Creating buyer personas is the best way to gain insights into your target audience. As such, you're able to effectively address their pain points, learn about their goals for what they'd like to achieve, where they consume content, and more.
An excellent example of a buyer persona template should include a minimum of the following:
- Persona’s name
- Work responsibilities
- Research habits and preferences
Once you have a full picture of your target customers, you should determine what key phrases they search online to research solutions to their pain points.
Keyword research allows you to develop plans for what content you should create based on competition and search volume. Goldmine keywords and phrases face low to moderate competition with high search volume. If you’re fortunate enough to find these types of keywords related to the pain points you’re trying to address, it’s crucial to develop topical completeness around them.
Google rolled out it’s Hummingbird update in 2013 that was a significant shift away from keyword matching primarily and towards “intent matching.” Then, in 2015, Google’s RankBrain machine learning update was designed to pull together the context of a search query by learning from past search history, matching multiple keywords and keyphrases to find the best results.
With that SEO history lesson in mind, it’s essential to understand Google is getting more adept at matching searcher intent with the content vying for particular searches. Any company's best chance to rank for specific topics is to develop high-quality, value-based content that centers around a "topic cluster.”
Here is what HubSpot has to say about the strategy behind the topic cluster approach to content planning:
“Topic clusters rearrange the architecture to look more like the image below, where clusters of content that cover a topic area link to a central pillar page that definitively -- yet broadly -- outlines the topic. By linking all internal content within that topic to a pillar page, search engines such as Google, Bing, or Yandex can easily scan all the content and understand that there is a semantic relationship between the pages' content. The cluster setup also signals to search engines that there is real breadth and depth in the content, which gives the pillar page more authority on the topic. Algorithms like Google’s RankBrain reward this orderly linking with higher search placement.”
2. Competitor Research
What type of content are your competitors writing? Can you identify any trends in the way they create their content? What kind of content do they give priority? Which blogs or videos are getting the most engagement?
Stalk your competitors! You share customers, so if a content strategy is working for them, there's a good chance targeting similar topic areas will work for you. It’s a quick way to keep an eye on the competition and provide a jumping-off point towards where to look next for content direction. Identify what's working, what's ranking, and then use that information to create something even better.
What Forms Of Content Can I Use?
You can consider various content mediums, but your customer’s preferences should influence them. The most popular content mediums are:
- Blogs: create articles that give your customers value. This could be anything from 'how-to' articles to listicles.
- Videos: are there any “behind the scenes” videos that would humanize your brand? Do you have an area of expertise you can’t fully capture in writing alone? Put this content in a video and instantly add value to your topic cluster!
- Interactive content: this is content created primarily to drive engagement with your customers. It includes surveys, quizzes, "pick your own adventure" pieces, competitions, etc.
- Thought leadership content: you must establish your brand as an expert in your field. The best type of content to do this are ebooks, webinars, pillar pages, etc.
- Action-oriented content: give people something actionable through templates, guides, how-to articles, etc.
- Data-oriented content: Do you have relevant industry data to publish with insights that your current and potential customers would deem helpful? Publish white papers and infographics to showcase your expertise further.
- Podcasts: Do your personas typically commute in the car to work? Do they already listen to podcasts at or on their way home from work? Podcasts are long-form informational conversations that take a casual tone in most cases and allow your brand to portray its personality. The beauty of this type of content is that you can repurpose the transcripts into other kinds of content. Involve influencers to widen your reach.
Create a content mix that your audience would be most responsive to, based on your previous audience research.
Useful Tips To Get Started with Writing Content
The first step is always the most difficult and the most overwhelming. However, there is an effective way to work around this — repurposing old content.
If you have a blog article performing well, can you take some of the top data points from it and create an infographic? Can you create an animation from stories told in the piece? Is it possible to center your podcast discussion around it?
Other ways to dip your toe into content production include:
- Looking at industry trends, new products, or concepts and giving your take on them.
- Creating content around accepted industry practices and the trade-offs of going with low-cost service providers.
- Addressing your customer's pain points and providing solutions. Keep this type of content highly targeted and informative and ensure that it is something that your customers would want to learn from you.
- Comparing different services in your industry or going into specifics about your services and comparing them to other options in the market. For example, Content-marketing vs. paid advertising would be an awareness level example and help a reader evaluate two general, broad alternatives.
- Solicit testimonials or case studies to highlight current customer experiences. HubSpot vs. Pardot would be a considerable level example comparing two narrow alternatives competing in the same space.
Content Creation Doesn't Have to Be Intimidating!
Creating content is as simple as doing your homework and then following a gameplan.
Before beginning the next phase of your content journey, build or review your buyer personas. Conduct keyword research accompanied by an analysis of your competitors to devise an effective content strategy. Once you lay out the groundwork, you only have to start!