It’s wrong to say that content marketing strategies fail. People fail content marketing strategies.
The reason for that is simple; when we start off we allocate a realistic proportion of our time into researching trends and developing intriguing ideas to craft into interesting and engaging content. But as time goes on, gradually we begin to have less time to set aside into expanding potential ideas, so we start to settle for fledgling themes and titles that aren’t offering anything new or exciting.
As the level of ingenuity and originality in our content drops, so too (and rightly so) does the level of engagement we receive. It’s at that point we claim that “content marketing just isn’t getting us the results”, when actually we’re to blame for disengaging the small audience that we managed to generate at the beginning of our endeavors. Leave content marketing out of it. Content marketing is doing a great job. Content marketing has been doing a great job for years.
Avoiding the inspirational slump
Every single writer has days when they find it nigh on impossible to write or create anything. Unfortunately that’s completely unavoidable. To conquer this takes extra persistence over the persistence that you have already invested in your strategy. Content marketing is 95% tenacity – on those days, whack it up to 99%.
In order to avoid the inevitable inspirational slump, alongside giving yourself space in your schedule to research your industry and jot down potential ideas, you need to spend time actively developing these. A little planning and expansion here and there never hurt anybody. Efficiency is great, but don’t mistake being hasty for momentum. If you don’t plan your time well; start. If you do, rejig your schedule to compliment the natural ebb and flow of your consciousness. And seriously invest in your editorial calendar.
A word or two on repeatable content features
Regular and repeatable features should be one of the mainstays of your content marketing. By coming up with a recurring format that is easily reproduced, you can build a loyal, engaged audience. Regular features allow you to build, and manage, you audience’s expectations, however, they only work if they’re worthy of that audience.
If you don’t already have one, you want to invest in creating a repeatable format that works as they can provide the cornerstone for growth – but make sure that you constantly monitor your results to make sure you’re not wasting your time.
Good ideas for content don’t have to be elusive if you look in the right places for inspiration. Here are some places you should consider to help get those creative juices flowing…
1. Industry-specific news websites
Industry-specific news websites will give you a great idea of the kinds of stories and content currently being consumed by your audience. Many will have their own metric tools to give you an idea of what’s getting the most hits, even if it’s as simple as a trending widget; but be wary of any promoted content – you don’t want to get to the end of an article and find you’ve inadvertently beefed up your competitor’s services. These websites will give you a broader insight into the latest industry changes and news. When you look at them, do so from a critical point as this could help you to distinguish you own original take on them.
2. Yours and your competitors’ archives
If you have old content that you remember being particularly popular, it may well be time to rehash something out of that. The questions that you asked and answered then are likely to have different answers now, so don’t be afraid to reformulate these into new content by altering your angle or your voice – for example, altering an editorial tone into a tactical one.
Alternatively, your competitors archive can be useful for identifying potentially interesting themes that you can revisit – and do much better with.
3. Your own analytics
We’re in a data-driven era, so it stands to reason that your content should be too. Keeping track of your analytics will help give you a far better understanding of the sort of content that’s driving the most traffic to your website.
You can use these performance metrics to identify trends that are worthy of a reader’s time by analyzing a high performing article next to a low performing one, evaluating the differences and reformulating the positive aspects into future articles.
4. Conversations with your colleagues
Chances are if something is interesting enough to provoke a conversation between two or more people in an office, it’ll also be interesting to others. Identify what the key aspects of your discussion were and use these as your primary take for a piece of content. Articles that come off the back of real-life discussions are often some of the most interesting, and with the right amount of research, they can lead to high quality, resonant posts.
5. Interesting statistics
Always be on the lookout for potentially intriguing facts, figures and statistics. Sometimes these can be found in the most monotonous of content. Pluck these out of the bad and allow them to become a starting point for your own content. It’s not unusual for a content writer to set out researching for one particular theme and be spurred into writing something completely different. With some solid research, interesting statistics can help inspire some great analytical articles.
6. Popular media and entertainment
Big trends in popular media and entertainment, such as blockbuster movies and global sports tournaments, can’t be overlooked for content inspiration. If you can take a piece of popular culture and look at it through the lens of your niche, you’ll enable yourself to reach a much broader audience. There’s something to be said about taking two seemingly dissimilar things, finding the tenuous link between them, and building that link into something strong and worthy of an article.
7. Evolving social media dialogues
Take to social media to help you get a broader idea of what topics users are currently talking about and get in the habit of identifying evolving dialogues before your competitors do. See what questions people are asking – and answer them. Find the least contested niche and excel in producing something better than everyone else’s attempts.
8. Trending social media content
Content and social media are best friends. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, G+ – if you already write content, you know the best places to distribute for your industry. Take to these networks and see what is trending. Bear in mind that trending topics are nearly always overdone. Therefore, try to look at these through your own niche.
9. Those flappy paper things from the olden days
Newspapers, magazines and books can be great sources of inspiration for original content creation. When you allow yourself to turn away from digital media you can start to focus more distinctly on your own opinion and voice, both of which help you to form authentic ideas of your own. Many sources of news and content on digital media are so saturated with opinions and noise it can be easy for your mind to be led astray or become completely disengaged. With old media the chance of that happening is, in the very least, dramatically reduced. You still need to bear in mind that your content will be for digital distribution though – keep asking yourself how each story could be translated for an online audience.
10. Industry influencers
Influencer marketing is currently held in particularly high esteem by marketers and businesses. Once you have identified the key influencers for your industry you can start to look at the style of content they are sharing. Because these people wield the power to steer the conversation within your community of potential customers, let what they do inspire the topics that you cover in your content.
All marketers can benefit from revisiting their content every once in a while and actively attempting to lend it a new lease of life. The key to creating quality content is to spend less time needlessly writing and more time looking at the bigger picture.