If you’re reading this blog post, you’ve probably already figured out that content marketing is one of the easiest, most cost-effective ways to build your audience and generate more business online.
But even if you’ve figured that out, it still doesn’t mean you’re actually going to DO it.
One of the biggest obstacles of putting a successful marketing strategy into action is figuring out what to say.
What type of articles will people want to see in my emails? What should I post on social media? How can I write blog posts that people will actually read?
As a small business, you are interacting with members of your audience every single day.
Your audience is made up of your social media followers, blog subscribers, users, customers, referrals, partners, and affiliates. That’s a lot of people, and these people are chalk-full of questions and ideas.
Why not answer these questions and engage your audience with content they want to read?
Using your audience to generate content ideas will save you time, and improve the effectiveness of every piece of content you create.
Ready to get started? Here are for easy ways to tap into your audience for content inspiration.
1. Social Media
If you want to write engaging content, you have to know what your followers are interested in, and therefore, talking about.
Social media is an informative environment you can use to understand what your target market is most interested in, and concerned about. All the major social media platforms: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and even Pinterest are great resources.
Take a look at what type of content your audience is engaging with. What types of posts are they liking and sharing? Then, start thinking about what you can create that they might find just as useful and engaging.
You can also use a tool like HootSuite to set up some alerts or streams specifically for some of your most relevant hashtags or keywords. This way you can see what other people are saying about your industry even if you’re not directly connected with them on social media.
2. Feedback Forms
Another cool place to find content ideas is from your own website. Your blog is part of your website so you can use widgets like HelloBar and UserVoice’s SmartVote and Satisfaction Rating to generate more ideas.
Using the customizable text in the HelloBar, you can ask your readers what they want to read about next and direct them to a page with a contact form where they can provide as much detail as they want. Of course, the main use of HelloBar is for lead generation, but it’s also a great way to get new content ideas.
SmartVote allows visitors to vote for their favorite item from a list of two. This helps if you’re having a hard time determining which topic to choose. Use the Satisfaction Rating Widget to have your visitors tell you how satisfied they are with your content. This isn’t necessarily for finding ideas, but a great way for you to know what topics really make an impact on your readers
Surveys remain one of the best ways to pick the brains of your audience members.
Send out a quarterly survey, asking questions specific to your content marketing strategy. Incentivize respondents with a gift or monetary prize (try not to make it too sought-after as to avoid bias opinions).
Ask for their feedback on every aspect of your campaign; length, frequency, imagery, topics, etc. Also, ask them what other relevant blogs they frequent and why.
Make sure these are not “yes or no” questions. They should be weighed and should ask for written feedback when applicable.
Ask your audience what they love and what they hate about your content. Ask them what they’re afraid of. Ask them what you can do to improve. Analyze the responses and hone your strategy based on your findings.
The old adage goes, if you don’t ask for something, don’t expect an answer. If you don’t ask questions that you want answers to, you’ll never find solutions.
Make sure that whenever you write a blog post, you have a solid call-to-action. Most of the time you’ll call your readers to sign up to use your tool/service or purchase one of your products, but if you want to get your audience involved in the content process, try asking them for ideas of what they want to read about.
The readers of your blog are extremely engaged audience members. They’re exactly who you should be writing for every week. For this reason, it’s very important to ask for their thoughts, feedback, and suggestions in the comments area.
You may find you learn something new and start some compelling conversations that lead to awesome topic you would have thought of on your own. I know this from experience because it just happened to me on the Convince & Convert blog.
Get started using ideas from your audience now
Stay organized. Be prepared. Start a master spreadsheet where you keep all your content curation ideas so you can easily organize them. Separate them out based on where you found them and when.
It’s a best practice to write while the iron is hot. If there’s a hot topic being discussed now, don’t wait until next month to add to the discussion.
Follow these guidelines for creating high-quality blog posts every week and you’ll build your audience quickly.
Put these tips to work today! Log in to your Constant Contact account and get started.