So, you’ve been given the green light to implement a content marketing strategy to help your company increase brand awareness and drive customers to your website. It will also provide the added benefits of improving SEO to increase keyword rankings in search engines, and create an opportunity for potential customers to sign-up to hear from you directly. However, if you thought it was hard convincing the naysayers in your organisation that it is a good idea to invest resources into creating content, the next step is even harder. Coming up with content ideas! Don’t worry though, help is at hand from Agency51. Here are 9 resources where you can get some initial inspiration, without making a dent in your budget.
Primary resources for content ideas
Current and potential customers are often the best source for content ideas because they are the actual people that you wish to engage with said content. They can be asked directly through surveys (face-to-face, telephone, online), but you may find that they aren’t so sure what they are looking for when put on the spot. A better way to get this information is indirectly. By analysing customer emails, checking comments within your social media channels and asking customer services what questions are frequently asked, ideas for content will immediately become apparent.
No-one understands customers better than the staff who are at the front line of a business. Bringing together staff members from all departments (not just for creative ones!) for brainstorming sessions is a great way to generate ideas for content and get volunteers to help with its production. These sessions also have the added benefits of creating an opportunity to develop cross-departmental cooperation, and demonstrate to staff within the business that their opinions are valued.
Blogs which provide your business perspective on a particular topic or all well and good, but the crème de le crème of content contains information that cannot be found anywhere else. This sort of content can be generated in two ways. A survey can be commissioned to generate new insight, or your own company data can be analysed to create original information on a particular topic. Both of these methods require more resources than your average blog, but the unique nature of the content will make it much more likely to be published and/or referenced by third parties.
Secondary resources for content ideas
By signing up to competitors’ e-newsletters and monitoring their social media channels, you will soon get a sense of what type of content is being produced. If you want to stay anonymous whilst doing this, it is possible to sign-up to a newsletter using a gmail account so that the company name doesn’t appear in the email address. On Twitter, a list can be created to monitor all competitor activities without the need to actually follow them. The purpose of monitoring competitors is not to copy their strategy, but to see where there are gaps in their output. This will aid you in designing a content marketing strategy which is superior!
Similarly to competitors, it is also beneficial to monitor the activities of any publications which are specific to your industry. However, there is no need to be quite as secretive, as they will expect you to be interested in their content! Some publishers will also accept guest blogs. It is useful to get some blogs published on third party sites when you first initiate a content strategy (we suggest 1 in 4) as this will drive relevant traffic to your website and backlinks will also help with SEO.
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Google Alerts are a great way to monitor keyword mentions online which are relevant to your business. This will help you to keep abreast of content which is being published outside the scope of competitors and industry publications. For example, Agency51 has a client who specialises in garden pond equipment. We continuously monitor keywords such as ‘koi fish’, ‘garden ponds’ and ‘water gardens’ (to name a few) to discover relevant content for them to share and comment on through their social media channels. They also use these resources to find inspiration from for their own original content. Google Alerts can also be used to notify you of any references online to your company or your competition. If a certain source crops up frequently then this can be followed directly for regular updates. The Alerts platform allows you to adapt the settings to state;
- how and when alerts are received
- what type of sources should trigger an alert (news, blogs, videos etc.)
- define a specific region from where content must originate
Similarly to Google Alerts, social media channels can be monitored for any keyword mentions that are not associated with competitors or industry publications. There are many social media monitoring tools available, which are free or subscription based, depending on your requirements. For example, TweetDeck is a free platform that allows you to monitor Twitter for competitor activity, specific keywords/hashtags (#) and/or mentions (@) in separate newsfeeds. Again, any posts referencing your company or competitors can also be monitored.
News/ blog aggregator
News and blog aggregators, such as Feedly and Bloglovin, are free platforms which allow you to search for and group news and blogs on similar topics. These resources come from various online sources and can be grouped into individual feeds. For example, Agency51 has a car leasing client and Feedly allows us to monitor relevant news from publishers such as Automotive Fleet, Business Fleet and Fleet Europe all at the same time.
Other industries and sectors should also be monitored to help inspire your content marketing strategy. Obviously, the topic may not be as relevant, but new styles and formats for content can be discovered which can then be used and introduced to your sector or industry.