Do you ever wonder why so many business blogs suddenly stop? Or personal blogs for that matter?
They run out of ideas for content.
Sometimes the well just runs dry.
Personal blogs have an out. They can just post a farewell message, or pivot entirely to a new blog with a new content theme. Businesses don’t have that luxury if they want to look professional.
Another reason business blogs stop is a lack of results. When a content marketer pours out everything they have and they barely see a blip in the metrics, it’s quite disheartening. And management may just shut down the program if they don’t see a promising return on their investment.
When the article idea juice just isn’t flowing, or if your existing content under-performs, what can be done?
It means it’s time to listen to what the visitors want. There are six main waysto open up your ears, without literally knocking down the door of your customers:
1) Use your site search data
2) Use your Google AdWords data
3) Use keyword research tools
4) Look at what people are responding to in your emails
5) Examine social media trends
6) Update your old popular pieces
Use your Site Search Data
Remember that content marketing pieces are never written for the sake of the business. They are written for the reader’s benefit. Interest in your business is a side effect of good content marketing. So, if your creative well has run dry, it’s time to turn to the data on the pieces you do have.
People who are already browsing your site are your hottest prospects.
These prospects will often turn to the search bar on your site (assuming you have one) to fast track to whatever it is they’re after. Using Google Analytics you can easily track these searches, then when you dive into this data you can start to build a picture about what people are really looking for.
Pro Tip: Try looking for site search terms with higher than average exit rates after the search, or with high numbers of follow-up searches. Both of these metrics suggest the user didn’t find what they were looking for.
You’ll might already be targeting specific keywords for SEO (search engine optimisation) purposes, but if you sift through your site search data you might find other keywords that your visitors are using to find your products and services that you never thought about. These additional keywords can be the key to unlocking more content pieces and provide important feedback for you to action as part of your SEO efforts.
You might even uncover potential product improvements, for example lots of people searching for FAQs, if you don’t have an FAQ section then make one.
Think of this as an opportunity to mind-read, site search data really is a case of your customers telling you what they want.
Use your Google Adwords Data
If you are using Google Adwords, then there’s a separate set of keyword data you can examine. If you go into your Adwords dashboard, go into your campaign and look for the “search term” report. This report will show you exactly what the users searched for when your ad was displayed, and Google won’t hide any of the keywords.
This feature works great if you’re using a broad match PPC campaign because Google will show your ad on a wide variety of related keywords, many of which you may have never thought of.
You can still find some great insights in here to generate new content ideas.
Plus, since they’re responding to your ads from those keywords you know there is a strong interest from your audience in those topics.
Use Keyword Research Tools
Keyword research never really ends. Search trends change all the time. If a keyword starts to rise in usage, it’s good to ride that swell up by targeting it with a good piece of content.
Conducting regular keyword research will help feed your hunger for content ideas.
Start your keyword research feast with Google Keyword Planner, but remember there are other keyword tools out there. Bing (don’t laugh, people do use it) has a tool in their Webmaster Toolbox. Ubersuggest is another. You can even use tools like Spyfu and SEMRush to get an idea of which keywords your competitors are using. Use these tools to find related keywords you may not have targeted yet with your content.
Always take a pinch of salt with the search volume numbers that these tools throw at you (even Google’s), the figures are more indicative of search volume and you’ve got to factor in that your ads or natural search listing is only ever going to get a small percentage of total search volume, yes even if you’re listed high up on page one of the results.
Look at Email Responses
If you’re sending emails – make sure you run subject line and content testing on a regular basis.
The data you will collect gives you another key that helps you access a small area of your customers mind.
If you get a big response to a particular piece of email content you’ve sent out, that’s a big clue about the subjects you should be focusing on.
Another place to look is the email responses to your customer service center. Are there questions and topics that come up repeatedly? Those are also targets for content pieces. A great piece of Q&A (question & answer) or FAQ (frequently asked questions) content can reduce the number of support emails so your team can focus on more serious questions.
Look at Social Media Trends
Studying social media patterns is just as powerful as studying keyword trends.
First, take a look at your own social media dashboards. Are there any pieces that stood out? With social media, you have to think about more than just the topic that people respond to. You also have to think about the content in relation to the social media channel you’re looking at.
Many different types of content can be generated from the same keyword phrase. Some visitors want articles and editorial content, the usual content marketing path. But some want images, videos or specific product information. If people are responding to your Pinterest campaign, for instance, then they are likely to respond better to a lot of visual content. If they come from YouTube, then having video waiting for people on your site is more likely to keep them interested. This information can help your social media content planning work much better.
Updating Old Pieces
Not every piece of content will get a high response or go on viral distribution journey that will make your mind melt. When it does, savour the moment and try to understand what worked.
The fact is that most content pieces don’t get high engagement. But if your blog has been running for a while there’s sure to be a few pieces where you got a spike of interest compared to others. This can help point to keyword phrases and topic areas of interest, but they can also directly lead into new content pieces through an update.
Make a point of reviewing your highest performing articles and see if they need a brush up with new information. An update to a post that still gets a level of traffic is a great way to continue the conversation. Visitors also really appreciate knowing they’re getting updates. If you take this tactic, be sure to put a note in your old post to redirect people to the new one (or clearly indicate in the opening paragraph when and what updates you have made).
So, stop banging your head against that brick wall, it won’t help your new content ideas leap off the page.
Instead, let the data from your visitors, potential visitors and performing pieces tell you where you should point your pen.