Creating content is getting more and more expensive with every passing day, on every single front — in terms of the hours and effort it takes to create it, or the marketing dollars it takes to get it visibility. There is immense competition to capture the target audience’s attention, and in an effort to get that much coveted attention, marketers are creating content wherever they can. But if your content ends up being a dud, that is an immeasurable waste of invaluable time and resources. So, how do you prevent that?
By investing time in figuring out what kind of content you should be producing before you fire up the content foundry to start the actual production.
Here are some of the questions you need to know the answers to:
- What content is considered valuable and relevant by my target audience?
- What are the most successful articles and topics in my business segment in terms of engagement (shares, retweets, backlinks etc.)?
- What content types witness the highest engagement within my target audience (both in terms of interacting with the content, as well as sharing it further)?
- Which are the influencers for various types of content in your industry segment? — both in terms of popular websites as well as content creators. You can research this by looking at accounts your competitors follow, content they share, as well as the networks where your target audience is both most active as well as most engaged.
- What are the topics that lead to evergreen content? — Content that continues to receive engagement continuously over time.
- What are some of the most successful content by your direct and indirect competitors, as well as other prominent brands in your industry segment?
Doing a little bit of research into questions like these will help you create the best and potentially the most effective content in an efficient manner. It will also help you in defining and setting up benchmarks for evaluating the success of your content. Instead of going with your gut on what content your target audience will like and find adding value to their lives, leverage data backed by solid research; this will substantially improve the odds of succeeding in your content marketing efforts.
IT IS IMPERATIVE TO DO COMPETITOR RESEARCH
It always pays to take the time out to understand the lay of the land and get to know the competitor landscape inside out. You would want to know what is the typical frequency with which the most prolific players in your industry share content and what is the kind of engagement such a routine has been rewarding them with. (In all likelihood, they would have invested time, money and a lot of number crunching to arrive at that sweet spot, so whenever you can, leverage the research done by others. This will save you the time you will spend in trial and error.)
The time you will invest in this research can help you identify some critical trends that will help you define what your content marketing strategy should be:
- How has the interest of your target audience changed over a period of time towards a particular topic. (You can evaluate this by measuring the engagement content produced on different topics has witnessed over a period of time.)
- How has the competition changed, i.e. if you produce some content on a particular topic, how many other content-pieces would it be competing with, to get the attention of your target audience.
- Whether you need and/or should spend marketing dollars on promoting your content, and if you should, how much should that marketing budget be.
The more you think about these, the more you will realise the criticality of these researches. For example, if there is a lot of content-competition, then it would stand to reason that any content you are producing on these topics need to be beyond exceptional, in terms of the value they add to your audience. Alternatively, if there is a lot of content-competition on any particular topic, then you may be able to subvert that competition by picking a niche where your content will get more prominence.
SIMPLY ‘COPY PASTE’ SUCCESSFUL CONTENT?
Far from it. My suggestion to research on content that is working and getting engagement is not to ask you to plagiarise content. The research helps you in other ways.
By analysing successful content-pieces, you would be able to filter out content that is gaining traction, and this filtered content-set would help you come up with a range of content ideas — which is one of the most time consuming processes of a content marketer.
For example, if you find that educational content is leading the charts on a particular topic, it makes a lot of sense to come up with short email-courses, webinars, youtube tutorials, how-to guides etc. on that topic and related sub-topics.
Similarly, this research will help you analyse what content format works best for different social platforms. Remember, not all platforms are the same, and users use different social media platforms with different mindsets and expectations. What may work splendidly on one platform may completely tank on another. So, prepare your content and distribution strategy accordingly to maximise reach and engagement.
ALWAYS HAVE SOME EVERGREEN CONTENT
The beauty of content marketing is that it is a gift that keeps on giving — as long as you don’t contextually fade away in obscurity.
It is a tempting thought to always create content that follows the current trends; after all, why would you not want to ride the wave of what your audience is currently looking for. But, with some regularity, you should always post content that can stand the test of time. Focus on the basics — they never go out of style. This will ensure that these pieces of content can and will always be featuring on the search results, and act as traffic drivers to your website.
For example, if I am talking about social media marketing, a blog post that details out some new algorithm change at Facebook can bring in seasonal traffic, but a post on say “20 Facebook content marketing best practices — by analysing top 100 performing brands” would be something that will not go out of style.
Posts that detail out statistics, data, strategy and are formed on the lines of being a guide or how-to article typically end up being evergreen because they tend to be relatable. Leverage that.
Research obviously helps you in ways much beyond what we have just detailed out. It can help you establish benchmarks to evaluate the success of your content marketing efforts, it can help you in identifying networks, brands and blogs to strategically align yourself with, it can help you stay ahead of the curve as compared to your competitors.
So, no matter what your content marketing strategy looks like, always ensure to allocate ample amount of time, effort and resources into time to time content marketing research. This will not only even the odds stacked against you in the competition laden content marketing landscape, but also ensure you are using the resources at your disposal in the most effective and efficient way possible.