Research is one of the most overlooked aspects of content creation, yet it’s arguably one of the most important. Here’s Probella’s guide to content marketing research for 2020.
Don’t just focus on the successful sites
Browsing while thinking from a market research perspective is very different to browsing as a consumer. When you find sites that are ranking well, you will almost instinctively begin to look at what they’ve done to make this happen. It’s easy to think that only the first page of results its worth examining but this isn’t the case. You will also need to identify sites that you think are failing so that you can identify “what not to do.” Look at the later results and try to work out why they aren’t ranking as well as their competitors. This not only allows you to establish a benchmark of quality to aim for, it also helps you to learn how to criticise content objectively. Identifying issues in this way means you can be mindful of them when you come to create your own content.
Learn how to recycle and repurpose
The nature of digital marketing means the repetition and duplication of content is inevitable to a certain extent but learning to reuse or recycle existing material is a skill that must be honed. It’s fine to take some inspiration from a blog post or article, but never be tempted to copy anything word for word. If an issue in your industry is something of a recurring theme (for example, Christmas preparations in retail or seasonal events) it can be a good strategy to have a few evergreen articles that you post around the same time each year. You can also use high quality content like this as a jumping off point for quicker, more disposable pieces that can be used on social media platforms to bring users in. Providing you aren’t saying the same thing repeatedly in a way that seem unnecessary, you can expand on topics and review them from different perspectives several times before you exhaust the potential for genuinely engaging material.
You can’t ignore video content anymore
Even the most traditional of industries are beginning to embrace video content now and 2020 will no doubt see this trend continue. As we’ve said in the past, creating marketing content that feels like it’s been conceived in a rush or “for the sake of it” is never a good plan, but unless you’re in a very niche offline industry, the chances are that you will benefit from engaging with video based content. Meet the team, a tour of the office/shop and product specific videos are all popular choices amongst novice and beginner marketeers as they’re easy to make and even easier to watch. In 2020, we’re likely to see even more live streaming video content as the demand for unique, up to the minute information continues to rise. A word of warning, though. Always make sure you have something genuinely worth watching to stream to your viewers, nobody really wants to watch a live stream of the office on a Tuesday afternoon. Unless of course they’re incredibly bored.
Check Your Sources of Information Carefully
Fake news and bot generated content is still a problem for many social media and content sharing platforms. Similarly, poorly written, badly researched blogs can sometimes end up at the top of Google’s search results thank to clever, grey hat seo skulduggery, rather than genuinely engaging copy. Always check that your source material is reputable, especially if you’re planning to quote statistics or soundbites. Industry magazines, newspapers, authoritative websites and evidence-based studies are usually good starting points, but you can also gather information from forums and blog sites, too. Just make sure to present your findings appropriately.
Use Analytics Tools to Measure Your Competitor’s Engagement
Twitter now shows the number clicks per tweet and there are plenty of tools to help you see how many times a page has been viewed, too. If you’re struggling to come up with ideas organically, compiling a list of articles or other content that performed well can help you to spot trends and themes. A new angle on an existing topic or a fresh take on a subject with plenty of depth can be a good way of capitalising on trending topics, without looking as if you are simply jumping on the bandwagon.
Conduct research offline
Speaking to your customers and clients in person or over the phone is still an important part of business life. Don’t be afraid to carry out surveys and questionnaires in real time as many people are happy to do this for you. This kind of data can be quite valuable and as you have carried out the research yourself, you know the figures are going to be reliable. It can be as simple as one or two questions, but this kind of exercise can be a starting point for a whole series of articles or video posts if you know how to manage your findings correctly.
Capitalise on keywords and hashtags
Though this won’t work very effectively with viral levels of trending, it can still be a useful way of gathering several pieces of content about the same subject in a relatively short space of time. A hashtag search on twitter can be surprisingly fruitful, especially in smaller or more niche industries. The same approach can be employed on most social media sites. Using keywords to search google can be a little more difficult, but if you are effectively mimicking the behaviour of your potential users, you’re likely to find content that’s relevant to you.
Whether it’s delivering pacey, engaging vlogs instead of posting written content or including video links in your weekly newsletter, 2020’s content strategies must be original enough to get you noticed. The sheer volume of content online means that unless you’re providing your viewers with something they can’t find elsewhere, you’re unlikely to create a significant impact with anything you release.