How to Ideate Content Strategically

Modified on Sun, 27 Nov 2022 at 05:42 PM

How to Ideate Content Strategically

Because your contributors are the furthest from the publication's strategy and goals, you and your Managing Editor are in a unique position to be proactive about strategic content ideation.

Getting ahead of content creation ensures that:

  1. You aren't solely relying on pitch requests

  2. You're steering the publication in the right direction

We have five suggestions on how to ideate content strategically.

1. Combine audience interests & brand intent

The best piece of content incorporates both what your audience wants to read and what your brand can address.

Most customers know what their goals are, but haven't fully considered what their audience wants and needs. Take the time to flesh out your audience's persona(s) so that you understand your audience on a demographic and behavioral level, especially their goals and pain points.

One way to do this is by using Google Trends to gauge popularity around a search term within your industry and begin to ideate topics from there.

To get a more in-depth view, you can leverage Contently's SEO strategy services because Google Trends doesn't factor in competition for a particular keyword. You can also analyze your current target list of SEO keywords to see if there's a theme with what your audience is searching for. For example, if you see that some of the keywords are "quick trip", "breaking away", and "cheap getaways", one assumption you can make is that your audience is budget-conscious and perhaps looking for a stress-free escape from their regular routines.

Keep in mind the key takeaways of your piece of content to ensure that it meets the audience's needs and your brand's goal.

2. Competitive Research

A second way to ideate content strategically is to gauge what's working for your competitors and why.

To determine your competitors, you can use the market intelligence tool SimilarWeb to enter your URL and surface your competitors and similar sites, as well as the sites your audience frequently visits. Another method is by going on the related pages feature on Facebook to see who your competitors are on social media.

Once you have your list of competitors, you can plug their URLs into Buzzsumo, a research and monitoring tool for social media, to see the types of content that are performing well for them on social media. Looking at what works for your competitors will help you ideate strategically around what's working in the space already.

Also, be sure to keep count of a particular topic as well as the popularity that topic—that way you can see the amount of effort competitors are putting into a particular topic as well as which topics are most successful for them.

3. Industry Trends

Staying on top of industry trends is one of the best ways to ideate content because you can capitalize on the buzz around recent news or updates in the space and leverage that news into implications for your brand and consumers.

You can utilize Google Alerts to set up notifications for your company and for your industry so that you're the first to know about any updates. Having a group of contributors who can respond quickly to these updates will allow you to capitalize on the timeliness of trending news.

4. Lateral Thinking

Lateral thinking is the method of solving of problems by an indirect and creative approach, typically through viewing the problem in a new and unusual light. In content ideation, lateral thinking generates fresh ideas or changes the frame of reference.

Think of it as a random association game. Jot down the main idea, which can be something related to the business model or an SEO keyword. For example, let's use "selling TV set".

Write out all the random things associated with TV sets that could make content about selling TV sets more interesting to your audience. Perhaps you go down the path of "People want TV sets to watch their shows and often times they have viewing parties for these shows, like the Superbowl and Grammys."

So a potential content idea that ties it all back to selling TV sets could be “These are the best flat screens for a Grammys Watch Party."

After you've got an idea, always tie it back to research. What are the best keywords associated with this idea? Is there competitor content like this that's already out there? This way you ensure that you're conscious of your audience's needs and addressing how your brand can meet those needs.

5. Monitor Success

Keep track of what kind of content is performing well and mimic top-performers by conducting a light content audit every month. Do the articles have a certain word length, headline structure, or content layout? Are there particular topics that resonate best with your audience? This will help you in planning content for the future that's likely to perform well.

These five methods will help you take the reins on your content creation, and if you ever have questions or need more guidance, reach out to your Program Manager or Managing Editor.

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