How many marketing articles have you seen around the idea that “content is king?” You’ve probably seen dozens of them, all following the same basic structure, sharing the same statistics, and basically saying the same thing over and over. Hundreds of these articles exist on hundreds of different marketing sites.
Coming up with new ideas is hard, so it becomes easy to see what other people are writing about and do the same thing. While not a bad idea, if enough people do this, then everybody is just rewriting the same article. That floods the market, and unless you are one of the first few people to cover it, means most articles are left unread.
So, instead of just looking up what other people are writing, you need to come up with new and fresh ideas for your content marketing. That means effective brainstorming, researching new topics you might not be familiar with, and discovering what needs customers have that aren’t being met.
Brainstorming: More Than Just Chatting with Coworkers
Any marketer worth their salt knows that brainstorming is essential to effective content marketing. If only one person is coming up with all of your ideas, you will likely have some pretty big gaps in your marketing.
If you are going to take time to run a brainstorm with your coworkers, you need to make it as effective as possible. You want to get as many good ideas out of the meeting as you can and avoid wasting your co-workers time. There are tons of tips for having an effective brainstorm, but here are a few essential ones:
Location Plays a Huge Role
Holding your brainstorm in the right place is very important to staying productive. Do it in a public place like a coffeehouse or park, and people will get distracted. Hold it in a public area of your office and people might be nervous speaking up or suggesting new ideas in fear of judgement.
Prime locations typically need a way to write down ideas for everybody to read (like a whiteboard), are relatively distraction free, have enough space and seating for everybody to be comfortable, and is separate from the rest of the office so that people can speak freely.
Have a Variety of People
Who comes to your brainstorm plays a big part in your end results. Deciding who to invite to the brainstorm is essential to getting the ideas you want. If you are wanting highly specific article ideas that only experts can provide, then you need to invite industry or business experts. On the other hand, if you want more of a top-level style of content, invite people who won’t focus too much on specifics but have a general understanding.
Diversity in your brainstorm also means different experiences and ideas. These people might interpret your target market differently and see barriers or problems you didn’t notice.
Finally, be careful who you invite and consider how each person might impact the brainstorm. Inviting a boss into a brainstorm might lead to certain employees not offering up their ideas, while others might try to dominate and show off.
Have Them Come Prepared
Before people walk into a brainstorm, they need to know the purpose of it. At least a day in advance, let them know what the focus of the brainstorm will be and give them whatever info they need. Give them time to ponder on the topic, come up with ideas on their own, research any data you can provide, and get in the right mindset for a brainstorm. That way, you can hit the ground running, not waste time explaining the situation and avoid idle chit chat.
Pulling Ideas from Data and Research
Marketing decisions based off of data are more likely to succeed. As you work on coming up with content ideas, turn to different data sources for inspiration.
A good place to start is the analytics from your website. What content performed the best, and why? High-performing content shows an interest from people on the subject matter, and maybe you need to go more in-depth on it.
The next place to go is keyword research. What keywords are you trying to rank for, how much progress have you made, and what keywords are too hard to go for. Many short tail keywords or head terms are often dominated by major industries, so it behooves you to pursue long tail keywords. Often, long tail keywords are in the form of a question that needs answering, perfect for ideas of what content to make. By answering their question, you’ll get a more qualified lead and hopefully can lead them into your marketing funnel.
If possible, use your data and external sources (like Google Trends) to find upcoming trends you can talk about. If a topic is becoming popular, try to find a way it can apply to your industry. That way, you can attract traffic to your site by either bringing your own spin on a hot topic or being one of the first to cover it.
Interview Your Target Market
Content marketing can sometimes feel like throwing ideas at a wall until something sticks. Instead of working in the dark, you can directly ask your target market what kind of content they want from you.
Ask to interview a few recent customers about their experience. Find out what information they got from your site, where else they went when searching for information, what info they wished they could find, and what difficulties they encountered. This is a great way to find gaps in the buyer’s process that aren’t being filled by your business or your competitors. By interviewing a few different customers, you can get a good sense of the strengths and weaknesses your strategy has and work to fix it.
The Ultimate List of Blog Post Ideas
Starting a blog is easy, but creating quality, valuable content regularly and consistently can be hard. If you ever find yourself stuck and can’t figure out what to write for your next blog, keep reading! Thanks to the folks at DigitalMarketer.com, they’ve created this great infographic with 53 blog post ideas you can try out, categorized under eight different goals you may be trying to reach with your blog:
These are blog post ideas that will provide value to your audience and help you establish credibility and authority in your space:
- List Posts
List posts are easy to scan and read, particularly for those who are pressed for time and want to get to the key points right away. You can create blog posts featuring lists of resources, tools, books, and any other topics your target audience will find useful.
- How-to Posts
How-to posts are another popular format for blogs. By walking readers through a process of getting something done, they leave with actionable steps and tips that they can apply to solve a specific problem or challenge they’re facing. Make your how-to posts more engaging by incorporating videos, audios, or images.
- Case Study Posts
The word “case study” itself carries more perceived value than other terms like blogs, posts and articles, so it’s a great format to grab a reader’s attention and encourage them to click through. Case study posts aim to unpack details of something, for example a process, project or event.
- Checklist Posts
If your content can be broken down into a checklist, it will often perform better because it’s an easy to digest format for readers to scan and take action on the itemized key points you’re sharing.
- Ultimate Guide Posts
Just like this post, ultimate guide posts aim to provide readers a comprehensive, detailed coverage of a given topic. When you’re doing an ultimate guide post, make sure you actually take the time to do your research and deliver a definitive post.
- Definition Posts
In niche markets, or where there’s an emerging trend that most people don’t know about for example, you can create a series of posts that educate and inform your readers on various aspects of your given topic. This is an effective format to help establish your thought leadership and expertise in your space.
- SAQ Posts
No that wasn’t a typo! Should Ask Question (SAQ) posts highlight questions customers or prospects don’t ask but should be asking. This is another great format to be helpful and provide value to your readers.
- Problem/Solution Posts
Similar to how-to, checklist and SAQ posts, problem/solution posts aim to help readers solve a certain challenge they are facing by defining the problem and presenting helpful solution(s) they can consider.
- Series Posts
If you’re covering a complex topic, or if there are opportunities to break a topic into a series, you can publish a post every day or week to encourage your readers to come back for the next installment. Linking your articles also helps drive traffic to other posts in your series.
- Stats Posts
A stats post is just what it sounds like – a post with original and/or curated statistics on a given topic. It’s another popular format for blogs since it’s easy to scan and for readers to pull out the key points right away.
Your customers are human. They want to build relationships and engage in conversations, not talking to robots or listening to corporate speak every day. Here are six blog post ideas that can help you humanize your brand:
- Inspirational Posts
Some of the most effective or popular blogs on the web aren’t informational or entertaining, but simply inspirational. This format works really well as a story, profile or quote post for example.
- Holiday Posts
Holidays present huge opportunities for marketers to humanize their brand and build authentic, emotional connection with customers, by delivering well-wishes or showing their humorous side to their audience for example.
- Guard Down Posts
Sharing a deeply personal experience or story is one of the most effective ways to connect with your readers. By letting your guard down, not only are you showing your “human” side but you’re also sharing an experience the audience may relate to.
- Behind-the-scenes Posts
This blog format works well especially if you have a loyal following who is interested in seeing what goes on behind-the-scenes at your company.
- Off-topic Posts
This type of posts can be risky as they may seem irrelevant to your readers. But if you have a strong following who has become accustomed to the topics you usually cover, this blog format can sometimes shock or surprise them and can receive a great response.
- Rant Posts
Like guard down posts, a rant post shows your human side by sharing your passion, anger or frustration about a topic relevant to your audience. This format isn’t right for everyone, but it can get a great response with the right content and audience.
One of the best ways to grow your blog and increase traffic is being generous by promoting other people. When you promote others, they will help promote you and your content as well. Here are some ways to get started:
- Profile Posts
Write a profile of an influential person in your space. Make sure you reach out to them via social, email or phone to let them know, so they also have an opportunity to share it with their network.
- Crowdsourced Posts
Collaborate with multiple influencers to answer a single question and combine into a post. For example, you can get 10 influencers to share their responses in 100 words or less on a topic relevant to your audience.
- Interview Posts
You’d be surprised by how willing even the most influential people in your space would be to give you an interview if you just ask. The easiest way to interview someone is via a phone call or podcast session, but there are many other ways you can do this depending on what the interviewee prefers.
- Link Roundup Posts
Curate and link to other posts or content that you think your audience will find relevant and valuable to read. You may want to consider including a short blurb or one-liner to describe what each piece of content is about. This type of post works great as an ongoing series you can publish every week or month.
- Quote Posts
Who doesn’t love to read quotes from influential people? Take a topic your audience may be interested in and ask or pull quotes from multiple influencers and thought leaders in your space. If applicable, be sure to let those people know that you’ve quoted them.
- “Best of” Posts
The best of posts often include content, resources, tools or anything else that you’ve curated, linked to, or written about, which you can highlight and package up as a “toolbox” that will be informative and helpful for your audience to use.
- Pick of the Week Posts
In a pick of the week post, you share a piece of content, resource or tool that you’ve curated, linked to or blogged about before, which you think your audience should know or read.
- People to Follow posts
People to follow posts are another popular blog format to highlight influencers and thought leaders in your space. In your posts, you can include a short description of these individuals as well as links to their social media channels, blogs, websites, books, etc., for your audience to look into.
Some brands use blogs in a very promotional way, and while it doesn’t work for everyone, it is extremely effective for some:
- Comparison Posts
Like the title suggests, you compare the benefits and features of your products against the solutions of your competitors. To build trust, you want to include cases where your products are not the best solutions.
- Project Showcase Posts
Create a post to highlight a project your organization is working on or has completed. Whenever you can, share the process and results.
- Presentation Posts
If your executives or employees are presenting at conferences, events or online webinars, why not upload these to the web? Consider publishing presentations that contain relevant and valuable content for your audience.
- “Best of” Posts
Pull together some of the most popular blogs you’ve published over a period of time. Many companies do this at the end of the year to highlight their top content.
- Income Report Posts
In the age of transparency, you may want to open the kimono and share with your audience the money your organization is making.
- Product Update Posts
If you have a loyal and strong fan base, you’d be surprised by how well a post announcing a new feature or product will do on your site and via social. Facebook announcing its new feature Reactions is a great example.
- Company Update Posts
Similar to income report posts, company updates aim to inform and share with customers and prospects the latest information about your company, which may include recent acquisitions, customers, etc.
- Product Tips Posts
Share tips and advice to help customers be more successful with your products or services. This type of posts can be both promotional and useful, and can be extremely effective for the right audience.
If it fits with your brand, controversial posts can get a lot of attention and action from your target audience. Here are some ideas for controversial blog posts:
- “What If” Posts
If you can choose a “what if” topic that is debatable and relevant to your audience, this type of blog posts can be extremely successful and thought-provoking.
- Debate Posts
Take a stance on a certain topic and present your side of the argument. You can also find someone who disagrees with your stance to present both sides of an argument in your post.
- Attack Posts
You’ll want to be really careful with this type of blogs, but if you pick the right person, event or organization in an attack post it will force your readers to take sides and can get you a lot of attention and conversations going. Done right, you can earn some die hard, loyal fans.
- Prediction Posts
Similar to “what if” and debate posts, you take a speculative and debatable stance on a given topic by predicting what will or will not happen in the future. Predictions can get great conversations going and help drive traffic to your blog.
- Reaction Posts
Use your blogs as opportunities to respond to blogs, books or presentations created by someone else.
Engaging content can be challenging to create, but done right it can be extremely effective. These are some common formats:
- Story Posts
Tell a story that would be entertaining and interesting to your audience. Story posts can be separate, individual blogs or as part of a series of posts.
- Satire Posts
Humor, through the use of exaggeration and irony, works really well with timely issues like sports or politics.
- Cartoon Posts
This type of posts can give readers a good laugh and think about certain topics or issues relevant to your space. Cartoon post works really well as a series as well as weekly or monthly publications.
- Meme Posts
Meme’s are extremely popular and humorous pieces that can go viral across the web. You can create your own or curate from sites like memes.com.
- Parody Posts
This type of posts can be very humorous and entertaining if you imitate a well-known individual or entity and exaggerate their strengths or weaknesses.
For some niches, it takes commitment and hard work to stay timely and up-to-date with the latest updates in your space. If you find it too daunting to keep up with the latest news, consider creating a blog series that covers timely information on a weekly basis, for example. Here are some blog post ideas that are timely:
- Review Posts
Review a product, service, event or anything while it is still newsworthy. For review posts to be effective, you want to be as honest and unbiased as you can. Painting everything in a good light even when not warranted does not provide any value to your readers.
- Survey Posts
Survey your audience about a newsworthy or trending topic then share the results in a blog post. It’s a great way to get your readers involved and drive traffic to your blog.
- News Posts
Consider covering events as they are happening. You don’t necessarily have to be the person to “break” the story, but make sure you do add a new perspective or insight that your readers will find interesting or valuable.
- Trend Posts
If you’re able to spot trends as they are happening, create content relevant to that trend as it becomes popular. Not only will this help you or your brand stand out from the crowd, but it will boost your credibility and authority in your space.
- Issue Posts
Create content about issues that matter to your audience while they are still timely and relevant.
Engagement may not necessarily be your end goal, but having an engaged audience is crucial to the success of your blog. Here are some post ideas that can increase engagement:
- Question Posts
Monitor and track questions your audience asks on forums, in the comments section, or on social media, and answer them in your blogs.
- Answer Posts
With answer posts, you actually ask your audience a question and encourage them to share their answers in the comments section. Co-creation is an effective strategy to promote engagement by getting your audience involved in creating your content.
- Challenge Posts
Posing a challenge to your readers is another way to get your audience involved. This post type works well as a blog series with updates on the status or progress made by readers who are participating in the challenge.
- Customer Showcase Posts
While partly promotional, featuring a customer or a project you’ve worked on does help build engagement.
- Contest Posts
Holding contests on your blog is another great way to boost engagement and participation from your readers. This post type also works well as a series as you can provide ongoing updates on winners or contest results.
- Freebie Posts
Create content that allows your readers to get access to giveaways that are relevant or interesting to them.
Fresh Approaches to Create Content Your Customers Want
If the good folks at Digital Marketer didn’t think of any ideas, you’ll find them in the list below:
- Take all the best written content you already have (such as whitepapers) and summarize it
- Take all the best video content you already have, write a summary, then embed it into a blog post
- Take all the slideshare decks you already have and copy the notes into article format and embed it into a blog post
- Take any research reports you have released and summarize the key points and charts
- Ask the project manager who is marketing your webcasts and ask them to send you the notes from each webcast
- Find all your employees who are already blogging on your topical areas and ask if you can syndicate their posts
- Live-blog any events you can attend or ask your team to live-blog any events that cover your industry topics
- Live-tweet the events and create a blog post of the best tweets
- Ask your PR team to send you a transcript of any press releases or executive speeches and turn them into a blog post
- Search Klout and Twitter for the most influential people on Twitter for various keywords where you are trying to rank and use it to create a “list post”
- Create a list of the top blog sites for each keyword group
- Define the top “terms you need to know” for each keyword group
- Debunk the greatest myths for each keyword group
- Identify the top LinkedIn groups for each keyword group
- Curate the top slideshare presentations for each keyword group
- Find the most shared infographics for your keyword groups
- Define your top keywords in a blog post (such as “What is Marketing?“)
- Define the top questions your customers face for each solution area and answer them
- Define the main customer benefits of your solution category (without naming your product)
- Ask your customer service team to answer the frequently asked questions (FAQs) they get
- Interview an external expert for each keyword group
- Interview internal employees and ask them to answer simple questions (by email even) such as who they are, what they do and how it serves your customers
- Ask experts what they think is “the future of” each keyword group
- Ask experts what they think is “the greatest challenges of” each keyword group
- Ask experts what they think is “the number one benefit” of each keyword group
- Define “7 steps to success with” your solution category without naming your product
- Interview customers on what their biggest challenges were, what benefits they achieved and what steps they recommend to anyone considering your solution category
- Identify the top solution providers for your solution category. List yourself last and you can rank for your competitors keywords
- Identify the greatest barriers to success with your solution category
- Curate your own posts and create summaries such as “top articles this year” for your keyword categories
- Identify a recommended reading list of books in your keyword category
Be Unique, But Stay on Strategy
It’s easy when coming up with new ideas to get sidetracked. You might come up with an amazing and fresh article idea, but remember to refer back to your content marketing strategy. If your idea doesn’t fit, or won’t be conducive to pushing customers down your marketing funnel, move on. Whether you come up with ideas through brainstorming, interview, or from data, make sure those ideas stay in line with your purpose.