Let's get one thing clear – the internet is practically inundated with content. Take WordPress, for instance. Every month, users produce 59.3 million new posts and 48.4 new comments! (wordpress.com/activity).
Needless to say, creating content that stands out from the crowd and resonates with your audience is a serious challenge. And it's getting harder by day as more brands finally realize the potential of content marketing and start creating new content themselves.
One way you can guarantee that your content gets noticed is by perfectly aligning it with the expectations and needs of your target audience. But how can you learn what they'd like to read and talk about? Here are 5 smart tactics to help you learn what your audience wants and use these insights to power your content marketing strategy.
1. Engage your audience in commentsIf you're on the lookout for insightful information about your audience, comments are an excellent place to start – especially if you're a B2C business. By comments I mean not only those left by users on your website, but also those that appear on forums and other websites.
Platforms like Reddit have comment threads that run into hundreds of thousands. People looking for particular solutions are likely to ask others in dedicated discussion boards, so these spaces are just great for mining new content ideas.
Browse through these forums and use monitoring tools to learn which topics can gain you most traction. If you spot an interesting subject that few people are talking about, don't give up on it – this might be an opportunity to create content that places you on the leading edge of the industry.
2. Check which keywords users search forEven if it's an old strategy, it's still trustworthy. Google Trends offers insights on the level of interest users show about a specific item. By picking generic keywords of your niche and looking up these trends, you'll be able to understand what's trending in your sector. Equipped with this data, you can identify specific keywords and then build topic ideas on their basis.
Google’s Related Keywords is one good tool for starting your research. You'll find them at the end of each search page – if you spot a long-tail keyword, pick it up and delve into it. If metrics like search volume or competition promise user engagement, produce your content around that keyword.
While short keyword phrases are often generic and don't offer any kind of valuable insight for your topic ideas, long-tail keywords indicate what people really want to talk about. If you happen to find a group of such related keywords, you can easily design your entire content strategy around it.
3. Identify common pain pointsDo you know what issues your audience struggles with? What kind of problems they experience? And is there any way you could provide them with a solution? Identifying common pain points of you audience can become the foundation of very powerful content.
How to find that type of information? Check surveys and industry trend reports published by recognized research centers. These surveys are often conducted with professionals in mind and show things like common challenges or powerful industry trends which can easily become an inspiration for engaging content.
Have a look around the web – from trade publications and association newsletters to regular magazines and newspapers, you can use all these as important sources of data on what's happening in your niche.
4. Organize a surveyThe thing about surveys is that they're boring and many users click past polls without a second thought. However, if you're got resources on your hands and an engaged user-base, a survey might be a good idea.
If you've got thousands of users, a few hundreds will probably respond – and those are usually engaged with your product or interested in something particular. The results of your survey will provide you with a funnel where a targeted group of users gives you a selection of smart ideas about what to cover in your content.
When it comes to personal opinion, nothing beats social networks. If you know where to look, social media can become a great source for content ideas. For Twitter users, hashtags are the best place to start. Look at what industry experts and thought leaders are talking about by tracing the hashtags they use – they're at the forefront of the sector.
5. Don't forget about social networks
If you're thinking of Facebook, it makes sense to get a little interactive and encourage users to share their thoughts about your product. Capitalize on insights gathered from these comments and you're practically guaranteed that whatever you create will resonate with your audience.
Learning what your target audience looks for is crucial if you want your content to engage and convert, bringing your brand to the forefront of your sector and generating a substantial ROI that keeps the management happy. Therefore, always try to learn what your audience wants and when you do – go for it with all you've got.
James Pointon is an experienced blogger and marketing specialist working at OpenAgent where he often shares his stories pertaining to growing and promoting a successful business. In his free time, James is often found reading marketing blogs and browsing the net looking for inspiration.