Have We Chosen a Content Topic or Area of Focus We Can Sustain?
Editor’s Note: This post explores the concepts covered in Chapter 4 of our recent eBook, The Definitive Guide to Planning a New Content Initiative. If the post’s content is helpful for you, why not explore more by downloading the ebook? 😉
In content marketing, you want a content topic that has staying power. In developing your content plan, you’ll designate content clusters. They stand as the main pillars through which all our content flows.
It sounds easy to define your content topics and areas of focus. Sometimes it is, but your clusters need to be sustainable. Otherwise, the content idea well will run dry. So, how do you choose the best topics? And what makes a topic sustainable?
We’re going to explore this more below, but ultimately, you need to find. that “sweet spot” in between the topics where you’re an expert and those topics that your audience really cares about.
Niche vs. Broad Focus
Should you go niche or stay broad in content topics? That depends on your industry and audience. If you think narrow, you’ll be very targeted in your approach. However, it could be challenging to maintain a cadence of fresh, high-quality content consistently.
Conversely, going broad makes it easier to keep throwing out ideas. However, audiences may not dial into your messaging because it’s so broad.
Additionally, considering there’s a lot of content saturation, it can be difficult to come up with new angles or to rank well for keywords regarding broad topics. Thus, if you want results from content marketing in the form of conversions and engagement, creating niche content for niche audiences is the best long-term plan.
Tips to Choosing Content Topics
To master identifying and developing a long-term content topic, you can follow these tips.
- Assess past performance by studying content analytics: Look for engagement and patterns around topics you haven’t covered extensively.
- Group keywords you’re targeting and determine which themes have the best opportunity for ranking. To do that, balance search volume with the competitiveness of the keywords.
- Tap into trends in the industry that your audience is talking about: Monitor these by visiting industry associations and publication websites. You can also find trending topics using social media listening tools and keyword trend data from Google. Another option is mining industry reports for information about your audience’s challenges and worries.
Take what you learn from these tips and narrow your options based on data. To select the “winner,” you also want to make sure that the topic ties specifically to your company’s value proposition.
Further, you should also consider your expertise on the topic. Do you have access to SMEs, inside or outside your business, to offer insights and learnings? In developing a topic with legs, you’ll need experts to interview and collaborate.
You Have a Topic, Now What?
Once you have the topic to add to your list of clusters, it’s time to flesh it out so you have a full content calendar. The next steps are about zeroing in on specific pieces you’ll produce. Those will include content for every phase of the funnel — top, mid, and bottom. Additionally, you’ll decide the format of the pieces and how you’ll distribute and promote them.
Brainstorm with the Content Team and Others
You’ll want to start with a lot of possible ideas. There are several brainstorming exercises you can use. Before you do this, set parameters and expectations. That could include providing keywords, content examples on the topic, buyer persona data, and anything else that offers context.
You should also call on the SMEs you’ve identified. Interview these people to add to your idea list and talk to them in-depth about the topic. They’ll also play an important role in content creation and review. These thought leaders will be critical in delivering content that’s compelling and accurate.
Determine Content Formats
In developing a content cluster, you should also think about formats. You have many options — blogs, long-form content, video, webinars, infographics, etc. Based on what you know about how your audience consumes content, some of these will be more prevalent than others.
Repurposing of content should be part of the discussion as well. For example, you can create an ebook with several points and break those into individual blogs with a CTA to download the asset. You can also turn blogs into animated videos — same content but different presentation.
Finalize Topics and Format
Next, you’ll bring together the top ideas from brainstorming that fit within the parameters you created. Then look at the formats you’re prioritizing. Match these up for a final list. There isn’t a magic number for this. It depends on your content production frequency as well as the other content clusters you have.
You do want this to be a sustainable campaign. Look ahead at least six months for the topic, so there’s something on your content calendar for that time period. You can always add more topics as new things happen and as you learn from your content performance data.
Identify Distribution and Promotion
Finally, as you’re adding topics to your content plan, you also want to strategize about distribution and promotion. You’ll have owned, earned, and paid media options. Not all content will have dollars behind it — those will be mostly gated content or events like webinars.
Every content piece you create will have social media distribution. Many will also be part of emails, either newsletters or specific campaigns. Some unique or event-related pieces could get some earned media recognition as well via press releases or pick-ups from industry publications.
Content amplification is another option. There are platforms and tools that maximize content exposure. If some of your pieces have a great hook and usage of a high-priority keyword, content amplification is a good fit.
Does Your Content Topic Have the Depth to Deliver Results?
Your content topics have to be more than just a one-time mention. They need depth to keep executing on campaigns that attract and convert prospects. These tips and points will provide you with a good start.
You can learn much more about content topics in our ebook, The Definitive Guide to Planning a New Content Initiative. Inside, you’ll find more tips on topic creation and how to find the “sweet spot” where your expertise and audience’s needs combine.