Creating great content isn’t always easy. Like most disciplines, it requires a substantial amount of research to get the most effective output. Due to the multi-dimensional nature of content marketing, it can become confusing as to who to target, and where to start.
To ensure your digital content is worthwhile from a commercial perspective, then considerations into how to make it valuable to both your audience and your business is crucial. Making it relevant and interesting to your intended audience ensures you get a high level of engagement towards your content piece. Ensuring it is aligned with your business plan provides purpose and benefit to your long term direction as a company. Creating great content is all about the balance of these two areas, as imbalance either way could lead to your content being off point and unsuccessful in its objectives.
Below is a simple Venn diagram, that will help you understand what sources of research you need to consider before embarking in your company’s content strategy moving forward.
Audience Data (from external sources)
Arguably the most broad and important data source to delve into. Market Research can be classed as either:
Primary Research is the most direct form of market research, which includes techniques such as:
- Customer Surveys
- Focus groups
- User Testing
Feedback Polls from services such as Hotjar are a good way to get valuable data from your website that you can use towards content ideas moving forward.
Secondary Research is widely available data that can give you audience insight beyond what you may be able to realistically gather independently. This includes:
- National Statistics
Conversion Rate Optimisation
If you are currently carrying out CRO on your website, then the data from your experiments may provide valuable insights on your audience behaviour towards functionality and content matter on your site. Understanding how your audience use your site could give you ideas on how best to carry out your content pieces, and what subject matters to focus on.
Using analytics platforms such as Google Analytics could give you information on:
- Popular/unpopular pages and products
- Top search terms on your site
- Segmentation of your audience
This data could prove handy for trying to understand your demographic, and to see what gaps you can exploit in your current content.
Although Paid Search typically targets audiences at the end of the purchase funnel, data on split testing display ads and audience building might provide beneficial in understand audience behaviour and habits.
Data gathered from email marketing applications such as MailChimp can give you understanding into the sort of content your audience find interesting, and what content forces users to subscribe.
Social is fast becoming one of the channels to rely on, when it comes to understanding your audience. Here’s why:
- Social signals such as shares and tweets (done by you and competitors) give you insight into what your audience are likely to engage with
- Trending topics give you an idea into what social factors are currently relevant
- Tools such as Buzzsumo, Social Crawlytics, Followerwonk and Hootsuite are great ways to measure your social presence, and how it relates directly to the content that is being made
Alongside this, Facebook Insights is a hugely powerful tool that allows you to drill into to specific demographic data of users. Coupled with email addresses gathered within your CRM, you can really start to understand and segment your audience in a much more granular way.
Finally, using search engines such as Google can give you some understanding into what your audience are searching for online. Although it can be unwise to ‘chase’ neglected keywords, analysing their trends can give you some insight into what is cared about by your audience, and whether or not your content is something that would be considered valuable by the majority.
Some tools that can help you analyse keywords are:
Business Data (from internal sources)
Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats
Spawned from the SWOT Matrix, knowing these four factors in your business plan can help you understand improvements and opportunities where your content can help benefit your business.
Employee Learning and Development
L&D is an important factor for any company, and can be an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone when it comes to potential content subject matters. Encouraging your staff to create content as part of their learning and development can be a great way to produce innovative and forward thinking topics that benefit your business both internally and externally.
Sales and Marketing Forecasts
Looking at sales forecasts and targets can help focus you on the areas you want to aim for and improve within your long term financial plan. Whether it be a service you want to improve, or a new product that you are launching – steering your content towards relevant areas of improvement gives it a stronger sense of purpose and value as a whole. We’ve also built a free tool to help you do your marketing forecasts, which you can access here.
Brand values have a tendency to evolve over time, and ensuring your content reflects these values gives your brand an effective way of sending out the necessary messages moving forward. You can read more information on the importance of a strong brand in digital marketing here.
Taking a step from marketing strategies to instead look at the bigger picture of the product/service itself can be a really good way of reminding yourself of the physical goal you are trying to achieve. Taking your product roadmap into account may inspire you to launch content at certain points of the roadmap, as your product progresses.
Although forward thinking marketing should always be the goal, it is wise to keep an eye on your competitors and what they are up to on the digital landscape. This could give you knowledge into what they are not doing (as opposed to what they are doing) and therefore providing some valuable content gaps that you can exploit.
Knowledge is power
Spending the time to research about the parties affected by your content will inevitably give you information to be inspired by, and ultimately give you a content strategy that is more refined and relevant as a result. The skill then comes in ensuring your content takes the audience and business insights you have gathered, and then presenting it in a wholly balanced way.