Guest post by Ashley Verrill
Content is one of the most important tools companies have for attracting would-be customers on the Web. It’s used as a conduit for driving and nurturing converting traffic from search and social media, as well as for getting your brand in front of important journalists and bloggers.
But you can’t just turn on a blog, start writing and expect to start racking up Web conversions. You need to make sure that you write content that attracts the right kind of visitor – someone who would actually one day purchase from you. So even if a blog about funny cat pictures could drive 10,000 new visitors to your website, it doesn’t matter if none of them are remotely interested in what you have to sell.
The answer to this problem seems obvious enough. Just write content that your target customer cares about. But this takes figuring out what information they are seeking out most online, which isn’t easy.
The first step is to build your buyer persona – or a hypothetical representation of your ideal customer profile based on data about your past real customers. These include their demographics, challenges, goals, hobbies, interests, important life events and so on. This information can be gleaned from interviews with real customers, as well as with your sales and customer service teams. Also, some CRM systems I’ve researched provide reporting tools that let you pull data on some of the demographic profile information.
Once you have these articulated, you can start the content ideation process, which brings us to today’s list of tips. How you can come up with ideas for killer content that works.
Google It (Advanced)
There are a range of “Advanced Search Operators” you can use to refine your searches. One I like to use for content ideation is “inurl:blog.” This allows you to find blogs related to any search term you typed before the operator.
Let’s say, for example, that your audience is young mothers whose biggest challenge is keeping their kids healthy and active. You could search “tips for keeping your kids healthy” and inurl:blog.
Once you have a list of relevant blogs, go through and start browsing through their articles to find the ones with the highest volumes of shares and comments (relative to all of the other articles on the blog). For these articles and content, try to put them in a topic bucket. Eventually, you’ll start to see which topic buckets generate the most interest from blogs with a similar target audience.
Find Influencers with “Klout” in Your Industry
If you’re not finding a lot of blogs that have significant shares or comments with your ASOs, try Klout. This website let’s you search for influencers by topic area, as ranked by their social media following and volume of people actively engaging with them on social.
When you find an influencer, check out their blog. See which articles are shared most, but check the profiles of those sharing them to make sure they align with your persona. If they don’t post shares publicly, drop the URL in Topsy. This will show you how many times that article shared on Twitter and Google+.
Read Comments to Find Unique Angles
I’m not suggesting that you replicate successful articles from other blogs. You also need to come up with your own, increasingly granular ideas. One good way to do this is by reading comments on these popular articles.
When people ask questions (especially more than one person asking the same question), this presents an opportunity to write a blog that answers that question. You can even make that question your article headline.
These are just a few tips you can use to come up with content ideas that will generate the right kind of traffic to your website. Now get to writing!
Ashley Verrill is a market analyst at Software Advice. She has spent the last six years reporting and writing business news and strategy features. Her work has appeared in myriad publications including Inc., Upstart Business Journal, the Austin Business Journal and the North Bay Business Journal. Before joining Software Advice in 2012, she worked in sales management and advertising. She is a University of Texas graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.
Photo © Erin Kohlenberg, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license