Content ideation is the process of coming up with content ideas. “Content” could mean blog posts, press releases, videos, infographics, or any other form of online content. Ideation is the research involved in coming up with ideas for your content, such as the topic itself, the keywords the content is built around, and the specific target audience the content is targeting.
Content ideation is an essential step in content development because poor content ideation leads to sub-par content creation. Coming up with good ideas increases the probability that your content will succeed and give you a good investment return — saving you time and resources.
Content ideation in the marketing industry is the process of producing or sourcing topics to be used in future marketing content. The topics are meant to be relevant to your company in the hopes of being part of your content strategy. Remember that in all instances of ideation, you need to have a place where your ideas are collected.
Take a comprehensive, eagle-eye-point-of-view look at all of your content. Do you see anything that could be covered more or is missing? Are there any products or services that you offer that don’t have a lot of content? Finding the gaps in your existing content is an easy way to find new ideas.
Somewhere along the product development process, there was a point where the company checked if the product would solve their current or target customers’ issues. Most companies don’t create a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist. The first part of this is knowing what pain points you solve for new customers. Come up with ideas describing how you address their pain points and why yours is the best solution.
And then, for existing customers, determine what their current pain points are. This does not have to be related to your product, but it does have to be relevant to your customers. In thinking about your current customer’s lifestyle and interests, what kind of content can you create that addresses a problem they’re dealing with?
As we discussed earlier, it’s worth noting the difference between direct business competitors and content competitors. When doing competitive research, you’re likely to evaluate your direct business competitors to understand their strategy and the topics they’re dominating, but you also need to consider content competitors.
These can include websites that are ranking for the topics and keywords you’re targeting but aren’t selling the same products or services as you. Industry publications, education websites, and news outlets could all be content competitors. These are important to review because even though they aren’t competing with you for sales, like direct competitors, they are competing with you on visibility and can divert your target audience away from your website.
You're probably already reading your competitors’ content and performing an eye test to see if you think what they’re doing is appealing or not, but there are other ways to get a handle on what they’re working on and what’s performing best.
A good way to start this research is to perform a Competitive Gap Analysis, but you also need to keep tabs on what competitors are creating on an ongoing basis. Tools like Google Alerts help you find brand mentions on the web, which in turn helps you see what kind of content is earning attention for your competitors. You can also sign up for their newsletter to see what new content they’re promoting themselves. Pro tip: You may want to use your personal email vs. your company one to sign up unless you want to tip them off about your stalking.
Remember, content is more than simply what is on their blog. You should also look at and analyze their landing pages, white papers, and product descriptions to see what they're doing well (and not so well). You never know when an idea is going to strike.
Writing the headline for your blog post is a very important step for SEO but does not need to be a difficult one. You already have the topic you’re going to be writing about and the main keyword you will focus on. Between these two things, your headline should practically write itself.
Make sure you use your main keyword in the headline/title of your blog post and try to place it as close to the front of the headline as possible.
The title of your post is the first thing Google sees when looking at the page, so you want to make sure you’re telling them up front what the page is about. If there are a couple of words before your keyword, don’t sweat it. You’re writing this post for people too, and an oddly written headline can be a real turnoff for readers.
People often think that optimizing blog posts for search engines means getting highly technical when in reality, you’re simplifying your content into terms that your target audience will understand and presenting it in a way that search engines will be able to detect more easily serve it up to your audience. Follow this SEO-driven strategy for coming up with blog post titles, and you’ll be on your way to creating original, evergreen content that helps you hit your web traffic goals.
The only way to truly know whether your blog is really working is by asking your readers directly what they think. Sure, you can get metrics such as the number of page visits, session length, organic traffic, or click-through/conversion rates, but those are cold numbers, not the opinion of your visitors.
Perhaps your content is great, but it’s not hitting the mark with your target audience. On the other hand, your content could be mediocre, but your solid SEO and link-building strategy could be getting you visits and reach. The only way to find out what you’re doing right and what needs improvement is by running a feedback poll.
Collecting feedback is also a great way to generate content ideas. Whether it’s for writing your next blog post article, repurposing an existing piece of content, or creating your next webinar, feedback from your readers can go a long way. A set of a few simple questions will let you know exactly what your readers think of your blog so you can refine and improve it.
A content review process will help you ensure brand consistency across content while also saving your team members time and enabling them to grow as writers. Not to mention, the content review process helps you organize all the performance feedback and keep your end goals and targets at the forefront.
To create a solid content review process that’s efficient and effective, you’ll need to build the following steps into your process:
- Kickoff call - This is where you meet with your team either online or face-to-face to discuss the specifics of the project. This is an ideal time to communicate the requirements as well as brainstorm ideas.
- Content brief - Create a detailed content brief that outlines all expectations and requirements. This is where you would put any specific details like keywords or internal and external linking opportunities.
- Content creation - During this stage, team members are actually creating the content. While you don’t need to micromanage your team, you may want to check in to make sure things are going smoothly.
- Review and feedback - During this process, the editor (or whoever is providing good feedback) will review the content and offer constructive criticism. Some people use the feedback sandwich method, which offers positive feedback, and negative feedback and then ends on a positive note.
- Final approval - As the final step in the content review process, the main stakeholder will review and approve the content before sending it to the client. (At this point, all of the useful feedback from the previous step should be incorporated.)
As you set up and document your team’s content review process, keep in mind any time management or task management tools you might use to make sure the process goes smoothly.
What Entices Readers to Share Content?
Did you know you can add simple elements to your content to make it highly shareable? They’re known as “share triggers.” Here's what entices your readers to share your content.
Information gaps to spark curiosity.
People have a desire to consume and share content that delivers clarity around an unknown topic, according to research conducted by Carnegie Mellon University. The study also raises the idea of information gaps – powerful motivators for people to seek clarity about a topic.
In other words, adding information gaps to your content encourages people to keep reading and sharing your content. The secret is to use information gaps to spark emotional curiosity than to make sure you satisfy it to get rewarded with more social shares.
Create memorable content (zig-zag method)
It’s incredible that almost 2.4 million blog posts are published daily. How do you make your content stand out and get lots of social shares?
Create memorable content because it sticks in the minds of readers like glue. There’s an easy way to do it, and I’ll walk you through it right now. I call it the zig-zag method. It follows the simple idea that when everybody zigs, you zag.
You publish a piece of content that goes against popular opinion, or you explore a popular idea from a different angle. Don’t worry; your content doesn’t have to beat the world; it just has to zig.
Use high-quality images with useful information.
Good design is one of the most underrated aspects that makes people share content. When people first land on your content – they have a series of subconscious micro-impressions about it. Content design:
- It helps readers decide to stay or leave.
- Indicates perceived value.
- It affects their willingness to link and share it.
Infographics are another great way to boost your page design and perceived value. They also come with the bonus of being highly shareable assets.
How to Make Content More Shareable
Share-worthy content is more than just a standard blog post or a well-written web page. To be share-worthy, your content has to engage the reader in some way—whether you’re providing information, they can’t get anywhere else, entertaining them, or sparking their interest in some other way. Here are a few tips for creating content that gets shared.
Ensure High Quality-Content
Search intent is the reason behind someone seeking out information online. They may be searching for general information about a topic, looking for an answer to a question, seeking a solution for a problem, or browsing for a product to buy.
Before you start creating content, you need to understand how people will find and use it and what outcome you want to see.
How can the needs of your audience work hand-in-hand with your marketing goals? All of this needs to be factored into your content strategy so your call to action (CTA) can align with your content goals and user intent.
Create an Eye-Catching Headline
It doesn’t matter how good your content is if no one bothers to read it. First impressions are essential. In fact, the 80/20 rule of headlines says that 80% of people will read your headline, but only 20% actually read the whole article. While a great headline doesn’t guarantee your blog post is about to go viral, it certainly helps build up the traffic and shares it generates.
A great headline doesn’t guarantee the success of your writing. The benefit conveyed in the title still needs to be found in the body of your post.
Improve Content Structuring
The overall layout of your article can have a big influence on its success. A good layout means your blog post is easier to read, which will lead to more shares. In order to make your blog post more readable, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind.
One of them is to use as many sub-headlines as possible. The more you break up your blog post, the easier it will be to read, but even more importantly, when you use sub-headlines, you make it easier for your reader to find the exact information they're looking for. Some of them might even share your blog post specifically because of a particular sub-section of your blog post.
For example, when you're writing a long blog post, such as a guide, you can also improve its readability by anchoring it. This means you're creating a table of contents where people can quickly jump to the section of the blog post they're most interested in.
Take a look at all the viral videos of the last decade, and you’ll notice a common component that nearly all of them have: emotion. They make us feel something. Many are stories like we talked about in the last section, but even those that tell little or no story are shared because they provoke an emotional response in the viewer. That emotional response makes people want to share because they want the video to touch their friends, family, and workmates the same way it touched them.
Can your content do the same? Can it have more emotion? Can it provoke strong feelings in readers/viewers/listeners, making them want to share that emotional experience with others? If so, your content will instantly become much more shareable.
However, there is a special warning when it comes to adding emotion to your content. Not all emotions provoke a desire to share. Some emotions, in fact, may make your content less shareable, so you’ll want to steer clear of those feelings.
Take, for example, sadness. Videos or articles that are sad or depressing don’t usually go viral. Why? Because when something makes you sad, you probably don’t want to share that thing with others near as much as you do when you see something happy or exciting. The same is true with something that is overly calm and relaxing. If a certain kind of content, such as a video, makes you feel very relaxed, you may enjoy the calming experience, but you won’t feel motivated to share it with others.
Other emotions provoke action. They stimulate us, motivate us, and make us want to share with others, perhaps even start a conversation about the content. What emotions do that? How about excitement. Or joy. Even anger can make people share. Recent videos capturing tragic police violence went viral not because they make us feel sad. They make us angry, and we want to share and give our opinion on those controversial issues.
Add more emotion to your content, and add the right emotion, emotions that motivate people to action or get people talking, and you’ll program shareability right into your marketing strategy.
Although specific items and services are universal, the most effective messaging is tailored to a single person and their unique issues, pain points, or goals and needs. Content created in a general manner for anonymous, nameless users will come up short.
Building complete buyer personas that portray who you’re selling to is critical. These are developed by market research and customer insights obtained through paid online surveys, interviews, or databases.
This enables you to understand what material sells and what does not, as content that persuades one prospective customer might repel another. In addition, it allows you to learn more about their history, demographics, and communication preferences.
Providing your target audience with valuable and relevant information is the most effective method to reach them. Writing about things your target audience is interested in is a method to get their attention.
The easier it is to connect and engage your target audience, the more effective and valuable your content will be. When it comes to generating leads and conversions, content marketing is crucial. It can be used in a variety of ways to get the desired outcomes.
Here are a few of the most successful methods:
- Marketing using videos – Videos are naturally entertaining and interactive. A high-quality video can quickly capture the audience’s attention.
- Articles and blog posts – Written material might not be quite as effective as videos and pictures, but it can help you answer questions more in-depth. Simply ensure that you write about interesting and valuable subjects to your target audience.
- Content for social media – You can always use social media to connect with your target audience. You can actively connect and reach them by using a combination of images, videos, and text.
Capitalize on Trendy Topics
What keeps a blog alive? It’s a consistent flow of traffic – new as well as returning. Creating a perfect balance between evergreen topics and trendy topics is one of the best ways to have sustainable traffic. Ideally, your blog should have a perfect mixture of both trending and evergreen content. While evergreen content never expires, trendy content keeps it relevant. Eye-catching and trendy content proves that your blog is living “at the moment” and paying attention to what’s happening around you.
That’s why it’s always important to cover trendy and interesting spaces for your audience. One of the most significant ways to develop a loyal online following is by being part of the conversation. Readers value fresh and trendy content. And they prefer frequent sites that feature constant updates about whatever matters most to each individual user.
Share-worthy content can get a major boost in the sharing department if your content includes mentions of other publishers, thought leaders, or businesses (also known as “ego bait”). If you’ve mentioned someone in your content (hopefully in a positive way), Tweet it to them. Or send an email asking them to share it. It’s publicity for them, and most are more than willing to toot their own horn and toot yours in the process. Even mentioning their blog as one of the top sites on the web is a great way to get on their radar and elicit shares.
Add Social Sharing Buttons
Don’t forget to include social networking sharing buttons on your website. This makes your content easier to manage. While it’s always possible for users to copy and paste their URL into a social platform of their choice, it is better to make it easy for them.
One of the best ways to get people to share your content is to include share buttons and dashboards. This removes obstacles to action by the user. Share buttons can be displayed next to intriguing statistics or infographics.
Adding the sharing icon to your content is a great way to engage your readers and increase sharing. If you don’t yet know about click-to-tweet, this strategy encourages visitors to fire a tweet from their own content.
Leverage Video Content
We now live in a digital age where attention spans are shorter, and it takes roughly 15 seconds to capture a reader’s attention. Most of the time, readers are just scanning your webpage, and only 20% of your blog content is being read and absorbed. According to Medium, the ideal blog post is about 7 minutes long, which is around 1,600 words in length.
To help overcome this inevitable truth of readers merely scanning through webpages, articles, and blog posts, using visual content such as videos can help break up the text in your blog posts. Why? Because videos stand out and attract readers. When people are scanning through a copious amount of text, they are most likely to stop at the images. They are also more likely to skim the lines right before and right after the visual to absorb the main points.
This study by Oracle suggests that videos can increase the time spent on your webpage by more than 100%. When you include videos in your blog posts, readers will feel more inclined to stop when they reach the video. More often than not, readers will end up engaging with the content by clicking on the video because it stands out in the midst of all text in the blog post.
Choose Universal Creative Solution to Create Shareable Content For You
Content ideation is often overlooked as a crucial step in the content creation process. To get the best results out of your content marketing, you must put in the time and effort to research topic ideas and plan content that you can be sure can generate the best results for your website.
If you’re in need of help with creating high-quality shareable content, Universal Creative Solutions can help. We have a team of content creators who specialize in generating exceptional content. First, we’ll offer marketing consulting, marketing operations consulting, and content strategy consulting to gauge your existing marketing strategy.
We specialize in creating top-of-funnel to attract more quality leads into your nurturing system. Get started today by scheduling a free consultation call with us.