Content ideasWhen you’re racking your brain for a blog topic idea, have you ever thought to look in your email inbox?

After all, your inbox will probably be littered with questions, comments and inquiries about your business. Perhaps there are some questions or issues that are raised by your customers time and time again? If so, a FAQ piece might be in order.

I know, it’s hardly the most left-field tip you’ve ever heard but it’ll prove really useful. Sometimes the best pieces of advice are the ones which make the most sense after all – something so logical that you can’t believe you hadn’t ever thought of it.

When you’re in and amongst it, though, those simple solutions aren’t always forthcoming. Therefore, it is articles like this one (we hope) that can prove very handy indeed in those times of need.

Even if your content marketing campaign is going swimmingly, it doesn’t hurt to have a look around for tips that could tighten up and improve your content.

Here are ten we’ve picked up from the Search Engine Journal that we think are well worth your time:

1. Start making your own videos

In order to illustrate a written point, we might embed a video from YouTube, but in doing so we might be leading readers away from our website. I don’t care what your website is, it’s very hard to compete with YouTube’s content.

Instead, make your own videos to help show the value of your brand to your customers. That’s not an excuse to sell your products in video form, though – the content should still be helpful, otherwise there really is no reason for your customers to share it.

2. Bring back the #FollowFriday

Is it me or do people not do this anymore? Sure, it got a little grating having your Friday timeline filled with people telling you to follow their friends, but it certainly held some value.

From a business point of view, compiling a “who to follow” list of experts in your field will position your firm as a trusted source of information in your customers’ eyes.

Meanwhile, those who have appeared in your list might see reason to give you a follow back (if they don’t already), or include your handle when they come to compile a list.

3. Get the facts flowing

We all love a fact, so don’t be scared to use them. Even if they are a little tenuous, people aren’t likely to begrudge their inclusion because, well, it’s a fact!

You’re best off not trying to stretch your luck too far though, otherwise you’ll have some quizzical faces on your hands (page) and they normally make for an early exit.

If you do manage to seamlessly slip in some well-timed, interesting facts, you’ll be thought of as a company that has done its research.

4. Immerse yourself in the community

Whatever the product or service you provide, the likelihood is that somewhere online people will be talking about the thing you specialise in. It might not be your brand specifically they are discussing, but it might as well be.

What we mean by that is regardless of whose product consumers are talking about, it gives you a chance to see what they want from that product.

Take the HotUKDeals website, for example: once you’ve clicked through to one of the offers, they will be a stream of comments discussing the merit of the deal. Not only will they be musing over the value-for-money factor, they will also be giving their opinion of the product itself – comments which could come in very handy indeed for your next piece of content…

5. Recycle your content

In this day and age, it’s something of a faux pas not to recycle. However, you’re only doing yourself a disservice if you choose not to reuse previously written content for the purpose of a new blog.

If you’ve created a genuinely great piece of content, it seems a shame to just leave it be in the dark depths of your website. The good news is you don’t have to: it can be repurposed.

The key here is to find a new angle on the old post. Perhaps some new statistics have emerged, or some new opinion on the topic has reared its head. If so, you could be on to a winner.

6. Go green

In keeping with the environmentally friendly theme, we’re a big fan of content that doesn’t have a use-by date – content that doesn’t read as ‘old news’ the week after it’s published.

I’m guessing that you, too, might be in favour of this “evergreen content”? If it’s written in the right way, evergreen content can be shared for years without too much in the way of amendments.

Think how-to guides or step-by-step pieces which people will keep coming back time and time again. Sure, they might take longer to write, but they’ll save you time in the long run as they will remain ever present.

7. Optimise your blog URL

In the rush to get your blog published, it’s easy to run with a generic URL containing meaningless letters and numbers, rather than some lovely keywords or an industry relevant phrase.

The rule of thumb is that you should always ensure the keyword which jumps out at you from the article is present in the URL. It’s not just to make it look nicer, it can have an effect on your search engine rankings.

The more aesthetically pleasing nature of it does hold value too, as it will give those with only the URL to go off a good idea of what the link contains. As such, a well-written URL (yes, that’s a thing…) is more share friendly.

8. Get active with your reading

Active reading is the process of properly absorbing a piece of content to the point whereby you have a thorough understanding of its relevance to your needs. That might mean getting a pen out and highlighting the parts which are most useful; saving you from having to re-read the piece over and over.

If you’re merely passive reading, you’re not engaging intellectually with the material, limiting your ability to use the knowledge for your own purposes.

How does this relate to writing content, you might ask? Well, by actively reading what else is out there, you will get a better idea of what questions your customers might have. Now go ahead and answer them.

9. Tell your unique story

We’ve been banging the drum for storytelling for a little while now, but it’s not good enough to just write any old story – it’s got to be brilliant. Too often – whether it be written by a marketer or a screenwriter – you will see or read a story that you’ve heard so many times before.

If people see an ending coming, they’re either left disappointed or, worse, annoyed. Think about what makes your brand’s story unique and tell it with passion and a bit of style.

The best way to speak to people through storytelling is to work their core emotions: how your product stimulates happiness – that sort of thing.

10. Use social media to its full potential

Social media is the perfect platform to get to know your customers, so don’t waste the opportunity. If they’re an engaged bunch (which you hope they are) they’ll likely be pretty forthcoming in answering your questions.

These answers can then act as the basis for your content, whether it be setting straight some misconceptions of your brand/product or answering some queries about the services you offer. Idea formulation can be a drag sometimes, so have your customers do the job for you.

What content marketing tips have you got to share? We’re always amazed at how a single tip can change the way we operate overnight.

Ben Hollom

August 19, 2015