Creating engaging, interesting content is a top priority for marketers, yet only 30 percent say they are effective at it. And one of the most reader-friendly, popular types of content is blog posts. Coming up with topics that engage, excite and entice readers to come back for more is difficult — but the payoffs are worth it.
Marketers who produce blog content are landing 67 percent more leads for their organizations than those who don’t. And with so many additional leads, it’s a safe assumption that it’s positively impacting the bottom line. But creating effective content can be hard, and coming up with the ideas that will delight and build loyalty with your readers can be even harder. Here are seven strategies for generating more engaging and effective content.
1. Old topic … new spin
Feel like you’re covering the same old, tired topics? If so, you aren’t alone. Some topics are so important to your target audience that it makes sense to cover them again. It’s often the case that new entrants are entering our target audiences constantly; and what is an old-hat topic to you is possibly a hot new interest for a cadre of people eager to read your expert advice.
You can revive topics that are old to you by putting on a totally new spin. For example, the phrase “content is king” has been on the radar at least since 2004, according to Google Trends, and most of us were sick of it by 2005.
Derek Halpern of Social Triggers took a contrarian tack, writing “The ‘Content is King Myth’ Debunked.” His article wasn’t saying that content isn’t important, but he argued that other elements (mainly design) deserve some attention too.
The blog post captured large amounts of attention and generated high engagement, with 248 comments.
Key takeaway. Piggyback on conversations that are already happening in your space, and consider taking an opposite position. In this example, a new spin captured attention.
2. Leverage FAQs into informative posts
Talk to any person serving on the front line and you’ll find that not only do your customers have questions relating to your products – they have lots of them.
Once you talk to your people and discover these questions, you can create blog content that is truly valuable and helpful to your customers and your potential customers.
You can apply the same process – discovery of what people really care about – to other issues you can create content around. But how do you uncover the hottest topics? Here are a few ideas:
- Check out LinkedIn groups. Which LinkedIn groups does your target audience belong to? Find out, and start listening to their conversations. What questions are they asking? And equally important, when they ask the questions, what are the levels of engagement? If they are capturing lots of replies, there’s likely enough interest to warrant a blog post.
- Use Twitter to check out what’s trending. Target hashtags that are of highest interest to your target market, and follow those conversations to look for themes. For example, for content marketing, you might check out #contentmarketing. Experiment with several versions of a popular hashtag so you can see what might be overexposed or underexposed.
- Check out specialized forums. For example, maybe your target audience is CIOs of midsize-to-large enterprises. Or people in a certain industry. Are there any specialized forums where they spend time? If so, start listening to discover what questions and pain points are most important to them.
Key takeaway. Be curious. Look for common headaches you can address and questions you can answer to provide useful, tactical content that your audience can start using right now.
3. Use “best of” lists
Publishing these lists gives your audience ideas about what others are doing and how to apply successes to their business. For example, KoMarketing Associates published the 12 Examples of B2B Companies Managing Impactful Twitter Profiles.
During this post, they highlight 12 B2B brands including players such as Intel, Cisco, and Forrester that are rocking the Twitter space. But why does this make great content?
Let’s assume their target audience is B2B marketers. Sharing best practices builds authority and provides useful content, which builds trust.
Another spin on this type of post is to highlight influencers in your space. For example, Jay Baer of Convince and Convert published “88 marketers you should follow on Twitter.”
There’s extra value in this kind of post. Once you publish a list like this, it will give value to your target audience, but remember those influencers you included? They may share your post, which greatly expands your reach and adds a bit of gravitas.
Key takeaway. Use list posts to build authority in your niche and give your audience valuable content they love.
4. Deliver content that engages
Sixty-five percent of people are visual learners, so when you add visual elements to your blog posts, the posts are instantly more engaging. For example, Post Planner published “Here’s a Quick Way to Get More Likes on Your Facebook Page.”
They created an infographic that recaps the content and includes 14 ways to boost visibility and inspire viral sharing on Facebook. Visual learners can view information at a glance — and it’s simple to share.
Key takeaway. Don’t limit yourself to telling … show and tell whenever you can.
5. Keep it simple
In our context of business communication, great content is focused on a topic, to the point, and simple. Check out this article published on LinkedIn titled “Four business rules I learnt in Kindergarten.” The article covers super basic elements (sharing, playing, curiosity, and sticking together) and then applies these principles to a topic the author’s audience cares about.
This post was very popular, capturing 1,498 thumbs-ups, very engaging, with 466 comments.
Key takeaway. Strive for simplicity instead of complexity in your blog posts.
6. Create checklists
Identify one pain point that is critical to your target audience, and create a checklist for success. For example, the Content Marketing Institute published “The Blog Post Checklist for Cranking Your Search Ranking.” They know that their audience wants to create blog content that gets results. The blog post includes a 21-point SEO blog post checklist.
Engagement with the piece was excellent, with over 500 LinkedIn shares. And here’s the best part: If your audience truly believes that the content is valuable, they’ll save it for future use. They might bookmark it, so you’re potentially building repeat traffic.
When creating a resource like this, don’t forget to include “suggested reading” to move readers through other types of content on your site. See below how the Content Marketing Institute does this with their “handpicked, related content.”
Key takeaway. Find a key task that your target audience is struggling with, and create a checklist that highlights the steps necessary for success.
7. Collect resources
Collecting valuable resources puts a spin on checklists. For example, check out this post from the SmartBlogger: “63 Blogging Tools That Will Make You Insanely Productive.”
The post segments into three different categories for three different personas (the minimalist, the serious blogger, and the entrepreneur blogger) and then offers specific resources for each, with some categories further segmented by company size. The post generated a lot of excitement and received 154 comments.
Key takeaway. Select a problem, such as “productivity.” Then, in a blog post, compile the most useful resources that help solve that problem.
Creating lasting relationships
Blogging is all about relationships. And as the pseudo-compassionate breakup line says, “It’s not about you; it’s about me.” Your content should be all about the reader. If you focus on readers and their needs, you’ll earn loyalty, respect, and greater long-term success. So take those unexpected twists and turns, listen to customer conversations, and create more content your audience will love.
Do you have some tips you’re willing to share about how you find great blog content topics? Please share below.