It’s probably not possible to teach you everything you need to know about content marketing in a single post, but our goal is to get as close as possible without boring you to tears. Content marketing is the strategy for stomping your competition online this year, and we’re going to do everything we can to arm you to the teeth with the skills to make it work.
There is no room for holding back if you want to win, so join us and let’s do this.
1. It All Starts With a Question
This part is so basic it can be easy to forget. Most of us learned in grade school to start any paper by asking who, what, when, where, why, and how, and most of us have also filed that crucial knowledge away, burying it somewhere in the depths of our minds.
No matter how boring your niche is, it becomes interesting when you ask the write questions. We wrote a detailed guide on the subject for CopyBlogger, and we highly suggest reading it to get a firm grasp on how to make this work.
For the quick and dirty on this:
- Ask the six basic questions mentioned above
- Mix and match your subject with other subjects you find interesting
- If you find yourself getting tunnel vision on your topic, use a random word generator to see if you can find novel connections and analogies between subjects
- You aren’t brainstorming questions correctly unless some of your ideas are absurd (and keep in mind that absurdity can be good for viral content anyway)
- Find the questions your audience is asking by checking out Quora, Yahoo! Answers, and perhaps AskReddit (fewer topics but more viral).
2. Research Your Topic, Your Audience, and Your Network
These are activities you should be doing all the time, on some level, but this is probably where they should be emphasized the most. The most intense research comes in between your question and your content production. And it involves not just your topic, but your audience and your network of influence, in order to get it right.
Researching Your Audience
After digging through Q&A sites, forums, and social networks, you should already have a good understanding of what your audience cares about and what they’re likely to be interested in. But it can be helpful to take things a step further by:
– Checking the AdWords keyword tool – This will let you know about how often a keyword is searched for, which will give you some idea of the level of interest in that subject. Use this as a relative tool, rather than trying to estimate the absolute number of visitors you can expect. We would also urge against using this tool as a source of ideas. It’s better as a way of narrowing down your existing ideas.
– Check social networks for interest – Try searching Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Reddit, and similar sites for groups about your subject and pay attention to what seems to grab the most interest. Ask yourself if your question is the kind of thing that would be interesting to these communities. This is a bit of a “soft” research tool, but in some ways it can be more effective than keyword tools.
– “Test ask” your questions – Use Quora, Yahoo Answers, forums, and Ask Reddit to ask your questions, and find out which questions seem to attract the most attention. This is very powerful, because it helps you research your topic as well as decide which questions are most promising. Pay more attention to the number of people who want an answer to the question than the number of people who provide an answer. Also, if the answers you get are links to comprehensive answers that already exist, your content idea is probably too redundant.
– Test through advertisements – This isn’t free, but it can be a good way to gauge interest in questions. Try posing your questions in the form of an advertisement, and find out which question gets the highest click through rate. The biggest issue here would be figuring out where to point the advertisement, and how to avoid making a negative impression on these visitors.