The most common advice when it comes to choosing topics for your content marketing is to focus on the challenges your customers face. While it’s the right advice, how can you go about actually putting it into practice?
One option is to access the knowledge of people who live and breathe content marketing.
You can find out more about this in our new, free eBook. But to start, let’s look at three questions to consider when picking topics that target your customers.
1. What problem does your company solve?
Why do customers come to you? Answer this and you have a lot of content potential. These are topics that revolve around your expertise – and they offer you a chance to be an industry authority.
As explained in our eBook, this is exactly what John Deere did back in 1895. As manufacturers of agricultural and forestry machinery, this company began publishing a magazine (The Furrow) to offer professional advice on topics important to their farming audience.
In short, their content delivered the same thing as their products – assistance to the farming community.
Build a list of customer problems
Make a note of what you offer your clients and, from this, what problems you solve for them.
Now talk to those who deal with your customers daily and find out what questions they face on a regular basis. This is important because while your product may solve a problem, it may also create additional challenges for customers. This is normal, but a great way to get engagement is to respond to those challenges or customer queries through content.
2. What are your customers searching for?
Of course, the first thing people do when they hit a snag is they Google it. So if you know what your customers are searching for you’ll gain more insight.
According to Brightedge Research’s 2019 report, 76% of B2B combined search traffic is trackable. So there is plenty of data out there to give you an idea of what people are searching when they open that browser.
Discover what people searching for
There are many places to mine searches for free. For starters, if you have Google AdWords, then the Keyword Planner Tool is great. It shows what people are searching for, how often, and what keywords they used.
One of the most useful is Buzzsumo. It’s an excellent way to see what topics are most popular, and on which platforms.
Also, keep an eye on what is trending on Twitter or what is being pinned on Pinterest. This will give a general view of underlying trends. To make this easier, set up Google Alerts. This is a free monitoring tool that will notify you when it indexes new content relevant to you.
Once you have visibility over the types of searches being conducted around your product, service, or industry in general, you can create content that addresses them directly.
And if you’re more research-minded and really want to dig deep, then consider getting more long-term analysis of yearly trends from the Pew Research Centre or the office for national statistics from your country.
3. What are your peers doing?
Now take everything you’re doing above that’s directed at monitoring your customers and point it at your competitors.
One very important point about content marketing is that it doesn’t always have to be original. It doesn’t have to break the mould every time. So if your competitors have created content that’s a clear winner with customers, all isn’t lost. You can create it too. Only do it better.
Then it’s time to look at it in another way entirely. Look for topics (or rather, sub-topics) that are in the area you want to write about but have less competition. In other words, there are fewer articles about this topic, but the engagement for those few articles is very high.
You’re still able to write about your subject, it’s just a case of coming at it from a slightly different angle, or with a different emphasis. That way you’re avoiding the saturated market and you have less competition.
Learn from industry peers
There is nothing wrong with taking time to read your competitor’s blog posts, tweets and even signing up to their email list. If you haven’t, do it.
Make a list of topics they cover that you don’t. Add them even if in the moment they don’t seem important. Later on you can mull on them and see if there might be a strong reason for their existence. Don’t copy their work, just get a handle on important themes. Look for gaps.
New to content marketing?
Learn more in our new eBook. It gives you insight into what customers expect from you and how content marketing can enhance your current digital marketing. Access it here.