Marketers have been hearing “create great content” for a long time. We know content should be relevant to your business’ audience and goals as well as being shareable, authoritative, useful, unique…and the list goes on and on. Needless to say, there’s a lot of advice out there about how to create great content.
But what do all of those adjectives that make up “great content” really mean for your brand? What’s right for a B2B brand is going to be different than for an e-commerce or service-based company. On top of that, each individual business’ needs will change over time.
Perhaps a better question to ask when creating content is, if you had all the budget and all the resources in the world, what would you create? Truly great content ideas are often quickly dismissed because of the budget and time it would require to make something spectacular, so many marketers find themselves settling for “good enough.” But the fact is there’s no quick formula to create amazing content.
In a hurry? Download the checklist to creating kickass content for your brand here or keep reading to get all of the details!
Creating Content that Works
Let’s start with a case study of a company with a service model — Seer. The Ultimate List of IFTTT Recipes for Marketers was written in June 2014, yet today it’s still one of Seer’s top organic landing pages and a top performing blog post.
This blog post is very in-depth, with links to each of its different sections. We formed this content piece by addressing a direct issue our audience was, and still is dealing with; how do marketers automate tasks with IFTTT? To make it easier for them, we explained with steps, examples, and screenshots.
This post hit all the “good content” check-marks:
- Targeted directly at our audience
- Covers an issue our audience has
- Provides value
- Detailed and in-depth
- Presents original research
- Easy to navigate with header links
- Evergreen potential
Those check marks took a long time to hit as this post was made over 6 months in a three stage process: discovery, planning, creation. If you take the time to do the heavy lifting, your brand will be able to build something extremely helpful for your audience — and in due time, you’ll be able to reap the rewards too.
Phase 1 – Content Discovery
Start with an audience analysis.
Use the free tools already at your disposal to understand your audience.
- Google Analytics Audience Insights
- Facebook Insights
- Product forums
- Customer service records
The above are all great places to start. Find out your audience demographics and whittle all of the information down until you know who is most likely to convert and be a repeat customer.
Perform a content audit.
Next, take a look at what you’ve already produced. Are you a sad panda because your blog posts just aren’t driving traffic or conversions? Maybe your audience prefers video. Are you getting tons of clicks but zero conversions? Maybe your topics are more buzz-worthy so they drive brand awareness and focus less on driving leads. Study behavior metrics in Google Analytics, including time on site, bounce rate, new vs. returning sessions, and conversions. Moz, Buffer, and Distilled all have content audit guides.
Perform a competitor analysis.
Take a look at what your successful competitors have done. Search topics on Buzzsumo, Google autocomplete, and Google related searches to find what your competitors are publishing. You can also plug your competitor’s big assets into tools like Ahrefs to see their backlinks, keywords, and traffic (which you can use in the next step!) to see how successful they’ve been.
Perform an opportunity analysis.
An opportunity analysis can help you understand how or if your content can cover a growing topic. Check Google Trends to see if a topic has growing interest, then use Buzzsumo to make sure your specific idea hasn’t already been covered. Finally, looking at the types of links and traffic similar content pieces have earned, pair your Google Analytics conversion data with ranking and traffic potential to estimate ROI.
Phase 2 – Planning
The next step is deciding whether your topic is best addressed by a large asset or something more typical, like a blog post or series of posts.
Find the right content format for your brand by asking the following questions. Different types of content serve different audience needs, and these questions will help you determine the most appropriate content type for your audience.
Question: Does your audience want concrete answers to a handful of very specific questions?
If the answer is yes, read below. If not – then jump to question 2.
A series of short blog posts that provide quick, to-the-point answers and links to additional resources is a great way to address your audience’s questions.
- Example: How to Find Anyone’s Email Address Using All My Tweets is a blog post with fewer than 250 words, but it’s been one of Seer’s top landing pages over the last 2 years because it solves an immediate audience need in a few easy-to-follow steps.
- Best for: You have a smaller budget and your audience has an immediate need for specific answers.
- Is it worth it? Yes — this type of content is evergreen and continuously helps your audience with an ongoing issue and/or reoccurring question.
Question: Is your audience collectively struggling with a long term challenge?
Find a solution to your audience’s problem and give it to them. You’ll position your brand as an authority on the issue and be seen as a valuable problem solver.
- Example: Outreach is a constant struggle for marketers and PR professionals alike, so Seer published a post that shared both good and bad examples of blogger outreach and important takeaways to help the community improve.
- Best for: You have new research or have a novel solution to a common problem. Your solution is either the first of its kind or it’s better than what’s already out there.
- Is it worth it? Yes! Research backed content tends to earn more links and shares than other content types. Share that puppy!
Question: Is there a lot of information out there attempting to answer your audience’s questions, but it’s scattered all over the internet?
By creating in-depth guides, you position your brand as a one-stop-shop to answer their questions on an important issue.
- Example: The Ultimate List of IFTTT Recipes for Marketers is a collection of dozens of recipes to automate common marketing tasks for improved efficiency. The list incorporates header links which earned navigational links in the SERP.
- Best for: You want to be an authority on a topic that’s important to your audience and you have a bit more time to create something detailed and in-depth. Great thing about this type of post? Its’ cost doesn’t bust the bank.
- Is it worth it? Yes — this is Seer’s most shared blog post. Its success comes from being highly targeted to Seer’s audience, its navigational links to sections and recipes, evergreen qualities, and the step-by-step outline.
Question: Is there a massive gap in information on a topic that your audience is extremely interested in that could be of great use to them?
- Example: Pinterest: A Guide for Marketers examples to marketers how to use Pinterest to promote their brands. Seer noticed that there were a ton of basic Pinterest business guides out there, but there wasn’t a detailed, or helpful guide for marketers.
- Best for: Your audience’s need for this content is building. You also have the time and resources to dive into a big project and devote a lot of time and resources to do it well.
- Is it worth it? Yes! The Pinterest guide earned more than 3,000 shares and ranks on the first page for “pinterest guide.” Its’ success comes from answering more of our niche audience’s questions and providing more helpful information than existing content.
Phase 3 – Content Creation
Chances are, you already know what your audience really wants and you’re hesitant to give it to them for budgetary or time challenges. But if you really want to create kickass content – push back, overcome the challenge, and be the glorious content champion your audience deserves!
We’ve created a nifty checklist you can download and save to help you drive your content strategy towards creating content that works for your audience. Now get out there and help your audience!