Content marketing is a powerful way for organisations across all sectors to attract and retain an audience – and ultimately drive profitable customer action. Through the strategic and targeted distribution of regular high quality content, businesses can connect and build long term relationships with potential clients and customers online.
Onsite blogs, email campaigns, white papers, ebooks and free downloads can all be used at to attract, engage and convert people along various key stages of the buyer process.
But this content marketing approach relies on the production of a large volume of interesting content. How do you come up enough content ideas to keep momentum going?
Here I share some of my content creation tips, along with advice from a number of other content marketers to whom I’ve reached out exclusively for this article.
At the end of this article, there are a couple of links to surprise gifts that content creators can use to make the quest for regular quality content a little easier.
Serial entrepreneur, blogger and investor Neil Patel is co-founder of monitoring and metrics tools Crazy Egg and KISSmetrics.
A prolific content producer described as a “top influencer” by the Wall Street Journal, Neil writes regular content marketing advice on his well-known business and marketing blog QuickSprout about how to hatch content ideas .
What Neil Patel Advises:
- Do More
- Do Better
- Be Focused
- Keep On Doing
Owner of New Zealand-based ‘Found SEO’, Robert writes regularly for the Found SEO blog, Convince and Convert, Business2Community, Problogger, and IntelligentInk, among others.
What Robert Kramers Advises:
1. Use Alltop and Google to identify existing content creators within your niche and gain knowledge on who you’re competing with and what they’re creating.
2. Check the top content of your competitors within your industry.
You can examine the content they publish to uncover proven ideas. Use that to create new content with added value in the form of visuals, advice and information, which will result in you becoming the all-in-one resource in your field.
Use AHREFS and its site explore tool. Plug in the URL of a competitor and check the “Best By Links", “Best By Shares” and “Top Content” pages. These pages will help you identify the content they are creating, which content is getting linked to and shared the most, and what this content covers. The trick is to determine what the content is missing out on that you can add or build on.
3. Use AHREF’s Content Explore tool – plug in any of your Primary Keywords to find the best performing content over the past 24 hours, week, month, or even year. This is a great way of finding content from sites you may have missed and you can make sure that your content ideas are relevant to whatever is being read and shared within your industry right now.
Michael is CMO and co-founder of US based digital agency Imaginovation.
Michael regularly guest blogs on some of the most popular digital marketing advice websites.
What Michael Georgiou Advises:
You should be reading about your industry on a regular basis to gain expertise and keep up to speed with all the latest industry developments. But you also read a wide range of topics unrelated to your industry, in order to expand your horizons and find patterns that will allow you to create analogies and produce rich copy that is interesting and readable.
Go beyond your industry, find ways of commenting on general news and developments and tying it back to your niche. Interview successful people within your industry, reach out to customers and encourage people to open up by asking relevant questions. Comment on viral news, especially something that has taken your industry by storm.
CEO of US digital company TopRank Marketing, Lee is a popular public speaker and has been writing about integrated online marketing for the last 10 years. He’s been cited by the Wall Street Journal, The Economist, and the New York Times for his digital marketing expertise.
What Lee Odden Advises:
Maintain an Editorial Calendar (SPOILER ALERT: Scroll down for freebie templates), use Search Marketing Keywords and Social Media Keywords.
Repurpose content, revisit topics that have been well received in the past and update them for the current business environment (or update any information that is past its sell by date). Repurposing content might involve, for example, turning PowerPoint presentations into articles or blog posts, breaking up a long article into a blog series or rewriting press releases into blogs and social media posts.
Do interviews with industry thought leaders (these can be done by phone and then transcribed, or done via email questionnaire).
The founder and CEO of Conversation Agent has worked with several Fortune 500 businesses and leading brands as a strategist for business growth and regularly blogs about business branding and digital marketing. Valeria encourages business bloggers to provide solutions and evoke emotions in their posts. She says that bloggers should tell a story, share practical ideas, offer advice, secrets and tips. Sharing new perspectives and being opinionated on future trends (while tracking and reviewing them) is a great way of becoming the go-to expert in your industry.
What Valeria Maltoni Advises:
Add value by linking to other good content. Comment on news stories. Write guide books for best industry practice. Share videos, tutorials, infographics, and summaries of complex information relevant to your field.
She loves the use of visuals, including images, videos and infographics – great ways of grabbing attention and getting people hooked. She advocates thought-provoking honesty and using content to create a sense of urgency that builds on the desire for belonging.
Co-founder of Singapore-based marketing agency Team3Pal, Thiam believes in the power of content marketing to transform businesses in the financier and insurance industries.
Thiam blogs about marketing, personal development and personal finance in his free time and regularly guest blogs on sites like Convince and Convert.
When I reached out to Thiam to ask him how he consistently comes up with ideas for new content, he told me that he uses Buzzsumo and AHREFS to find popular content. He also let me in on some of his secrets, by sharing the following tips.
What Thiam Hock Advises:
- Use Quora to look for relevant search terms in a particular niche and find out what questions people are asking. Generate a list of ideas using Quora, then choose a topic depending on the popularity of the question and how good the other articles in Google’s first page of search results are.
- Use Reddit. Find a relevant sub-Reddit in your niche using “[keyword] site:reddit.com”. Then search within that subreddit: “How do you + site:reddit/com/r/[sub-reddit]”/
- Engage with your audience (using an email list or social media community such as a Facebook group) and ask questions. Thiam often posts a poll to ask what topics they’re interested in – usually using this method when he already has a few topics in mind.
- Use Hotjar to embed a poll in your website. Thiam often finds that this often returns some valuable feedback for ideas for blog posts.
These are all valuable contributions to the content idea creation process and Thiam explains his methods in more detail here.
Chief Content Officer at Actionable Marketing Guide, Heidi has many years of experience in integrated marketing programmes.
You can sign up for Heidi’s free weekly newsletter with insights and advice on content marketing and social media marketing here.
What Heidi Cohen Advises:
Publish regular content column articles of moderate length (600 – 1200 words). Use a consistent hook to provide ongoing focus. By publishing at the same time (of the day or week) your readers will know when and where your content will be published, a smart way of increasing your audience organically and building trust.
Heidi’s five types of recurring content columns are:
1. Advice Columns – Heidi says take a leaf out of Dear Abby’s book and write your content in the form of a letter answering a reader’s question, a more personal approach when you want to offer information. Imagine a reader has asked a question then write the response for an audience of one.
2. Interview Columns – Bring new perspectives to your blog without having to find guest bloggers by interviewing experts or thought leaders in your field, customers and creative people (authors, graphic designers, etc.). You can use a consistent set of questions or tailor questions for each interviewee. Alternatively use the panel interview model and ask a group of people the same questions – this can be done by email using a questionnaire, by skype calls or in person.
3. News or Gossip Roundups – Try a monthly or weekly industry news roundup – an easy way of using several snippets of information to create an interesting and informative article. Use the Google News search option and set location and time parameters. (A list of Google advanced search operators can be found here) Combine your news with two or three interviews from influencers in your sector on a specific topic each time.
4. Content Curation – Curating content from a number of sources (articles, blog posts, videos or images/infographics) is another popular method of generating new content. For example, a list of five infographics that can take your business to the next level, or 3 must-see videos in your sector.
5. Special Format – Repurposing content into different formats makes it accessible to a wider audience. Some people prefer to read, others prefer bite-size visuals (infographics), while others prefer to watch a video.
As founding MD of UK-based digital marketing agency Jonny Ross Consultancy, I work with a brilliant team of tech-savvy content marketers. We publish regular content on the Jonny Ross Consultancy blog, which has been named Best Digital Marketing Blog (2015 and 2016) by FitSmallBusiness alongside the likes of The Moz Blog, Social Media Examiner and Harvard Business Review.
I’m always on the lookout for great ways of providing fresh and insightful new content on a regular basis for JRC and our clients. This list of Blog Post Ideas covers some of the main methods we use. Here are some of the ones that haven’t already been mentioned:
- Checklists that are designed to improve efficiency while planning and managing your content.
- Quizzes and polls which both engage the readers in a fun way whilst providing you with information on what your audience is looking for.
- White papers/thought papers which are authoritative guides that readers can use to understand issues, solve problems or make decisions.
- History timelines which highlight the key events, innovations and successes of a company.
- Industry event roundups, reporting on each conference, trade show or other events, focusing on the key issues for those who were unable to attend.
- Competitions that offer the winner your service or products.
- EBooks with valuable information to build customer relationships and trust.
- Case studies and customer testimonials that demonstrate to potential customers just how valuable your products/services could be.
- Twitter users in your industry that you should be following.
- Recommend other blogs and bloggers within your industry.
- Readers’ guest posts – an effective way to engage your audience and create brand advocates.
- Top comments, featuring the best comments that your blog has received, another great way of creating brand advocates.
For every content marketing campaign, we create an editorial calendar detailing key events, dates and milestones (including conferences and speaker dates, seasonal holidays, bank holidays and other relevant events). We then add in our creative ideas, drawing on existing content (to repurpose as infographics, white papers, blog posts or tweets), RSS feeds from industry media and bloggers, questions we’ve been asked and conversations we’ve had.
Keywords are another great source of content ideas. Think outside the box. For example, using Amazon keywords, categories and ebook titles to generate generate online video titles that are likely to be popular and “clickable’.
Free Content Templates
Okay, you’ve got this far and I did promise to share the love with some links to useful tools that you can use to keep coming up with fresh ideas for content, so here they are:
- I recently came across this article on Hubspot (by the Senior Content Manager, Jay Acunzo) where you can get a free download of a Content Brainstorming Key spreadsheet, a great little resource to have up your sleeve.
- David Moth, Social Media Manager at Econsultancy advocates the use of Content Calendars and published a blog post with links to free downloads of eight different content calendar templates that anybody can use.
Hopefully you’re now brimming with ideas for your content marketing campaigns!
Has this guide been useful? How do you come up with content?
I’d love to hear your comments and ideas!
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* Adapted lead image: Public Domain, pixabay.com via getstencil.com