Oct 3rd, 2013
Drowning under Content
Bringing value to your customer using content marketing works well, when you do your homework. You have to know your customers; talk with them, share your vision and your core values. This will give you an idea of what they care about. You also need to get some input. What do they read about on the web?
Ideation is a good way to find a topic to write about, but it is not sufficient. You will also need some data to work on. You have to set up an efficient method to gather insights from your market. The last thing you want is to write a post on a topic that your customers don't care about.
An efficient session of ideation is the objective of your content marketing research process. Let's take a look at the tools you need, how you will need to select and categorize your sources, and how to organize it all.
The toolset for content marketing research must include software to observe blogs, social networks, and search engines. Among competitive intelligence professionals, Google Reader was widely used to watch websites. Now that Google has given up the product, many alternatives have appeared.
Feedly is the most popular and is an efficient way to observe a list of blogs or websites you trust as relevant sources. Flipboard can also help, and works best if you are doing your watch on your iPad or iPhone. To watch search engines, Google Alerts is widely used. Though, Google shut down the RSS feed distribution (since Google Reader doesn't exist anymore). A tool called Mention handles the same kind of task with a more modern set of features including social network watch.
For efficient content marketing research, once you find ideas to work on, you will want to use keyword tools to find the best keyword for your content. An efficient keyword will help you reach your target audience as it belongs to your customer's language. Google Keyword Planner can be a useful tool to compare keywords in terms of competition and search volume. For social networks, you will need to use integrated search in each network where your target audience is.
Relevant Sources for Your Market
Once your toolset is ready you can look for relevant data. Now is the time to find the relevant sources for the market you are in. You will need to distinguish different types of sources.
1. Market insights, customers
This type includes blogs and websites related to your market with articles written by journalists or experts. For example, if you are a software provider in the ticketing industry (as one of our customers), you may be interested to get the feeds not only of ticketing industry websites, but also of websites talking about the tech industry.
You would also want to take a look at what your customers are talking about, particularly if they are concerned by a specific problem you are able to solve.
This category includes individual influencers working in your industry. If you work in the tech industry following tech blogger Robert Scoble is as important as following any tech blog like TechCrunch or TheNextWeb.
3. Your competitors
Your observation of your market wouldn't be complete if it didn't include your competitors. You can choose to watch only their blog just to get insights. Or, if you are more vigilant, you can watch each of their moves on every social network and media websites. You will get insights on who is making the most noise and who is doing it best. You will also get new ideas on what to write about. For example, if a competitor writes about a trending subject triggering a lot of engagement, you can maybe write about that subject with another angle.
What about the Workflow?
Well done content marketing research is a good start for a productive session of ideation. In that matter, it must be done regularly to create enough relevant content.
Things to do (and how often):
1. Find out what your sources are (once and then review once a month).
2. Set up your watch toolset (once and then review once a month).
3. Review each mention (twice a week to once a day depending on the quantity of data).
4. Write and distribute a watch report (once a week).
5. Identify ideas and keywords (once a week).
6. Compare keyword volume and test ideas on social networks. (once a week). Engage with your customers.
If you want to know more about Content Marketing Research, I suggest you read the following articles by Beth Hayden on Copyblogger :
We would love to hear your feedback on this article in the comments below. Let us know how you practically organize your content research and how often.