Easy Market Research: Leveraging Your Existing Data for Content Creation

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While there’s no doubt that business blogging is an important part of the connection that forms between your customers and your company’s brand, coming up with new content to post to your blog on a regular basis can be incredibly challenging.  We’ve all had those days where we sit down at the computer, open up a new post in WordPress and… nothing.

If you find yourself facing blogging writer’s block, don’t worry!  Although you may not be aware of it, you actually have plenty of different data sources at your disposal that you can pull from to generate new ideas for content creation!

1 – Google Analytics Top Content

One of the first places I turn for new article ideas is the “Top Content” area found within my Google Analytics account.  There, I’m able to access a quick list of the posts on my site that have been viewed the most often – providing me with some interesting insight into the subject matter that my audience finds most interesting.

For example, suppose the following three Single Grain blog posts wound up being the most frequently read pieces on the site:

Because our blog covers topics ranging from SEO to social media marketing to PPC advertising, seeing three articles on link building techniques in the top spots of the “most read” list, I could extrapolate that Single Grain readers are most interested in reading about link building strategies.  As a result, I could use this information to brainstorm new topics surrounding this subject matter in order to appeal to my readers’ demonstrated interests.

2 – Google Analytics Top Keywords

Another great source of topic ideas within Google Analytics is the “Top Keywords” section, found under the organic traffic sources section.  Basically, this list represents the keywords that readers have entered into the search engines in order to find your website.

Now, there are a couple of different strategies you can use to turn this data into blog post ideas:

  • You can write new posts based on the keyword groups you see most frequently.  In this case, if you see a group of four highly-related search queries appearing in your “Top Keywords” list, you could write additional posts based on their subject in order to appeal to existing search traffic.
  • You could also compare the keywords you’re receiving search traffic for to the topics you’ve already covered on your blog and use new posts to fill in any holes you find.  If, for example, your top three organic search keywords are phrases you haven’t thoroughly addressed on your website, you could go back and add new blog posts to provide readers with the content they’re obviously looking for.
  • Finally, consider writing new blog posts based around the keywords in your list that have a high bounce rate.  Because this indicates that people who searched for a given query aren’t finding the information they’re looking for on your website, adding content on these topics could be a good way to capture additional visitors on your site.

Really, the possibilities are endless – so don’t just use this powerful information to guide your SEO campaigns.  Come back to it when you’re feeling stuck on new blog post ideas and you’re sure to wind up with content that will appeal to your site’s existing visitors.

3 – Industry Authority Social Profiles

If you’ve been reading the Single Grain blog for very long, you know that I believe social media marketing should be a critical component of every business’s promotional plan.  But did you know that you can also use the information found on your favorite social media websites to generate new blog post ideas?  Here’s how to do it…

In my post on the mistakes you’re making on Twitter, I talked about the importance of setting up different Twitter lists within your account in order to make profile management even easier.  So hopefully, by now, you have a list set up for the “big name,” authority influencers within your space.  Now, instead of using this list to forge connections with these power users, we’re going to use it to brainstorm new blog post ideas.

To do this, head over to your list of Twitter power users and copy down the names of the articles they’ve promoted to their followers into a spreadsheet or other document.  Pay close attention to the articles that have been re-tweeted most often, as well as those that appear to be based on a common theme.

As you carry out this analysis, you should start to see some common threads forming that can be used to brainstorm new topic ideas for your own blog.  Obviously, you shouldn’t plagiarize based on the data you gather from your industry’s authority figures.  Instead, you should use this information to form a rough guide to the subjects that interest your followers most – and, consequently, the topics you should cover in future posts on your blog.

4 – Follower Surveys

Finally, if you find that the above sources don’t provide enough information for your content creation needs, you can always generate your own data using follower surveys.

Essentially, a follower survey allows you to poll your audience members (whether you target your blog readers, social media profile fans or email newsletter subscribers) and ask them directly what types of content they’d be most interested in reading on your site.  Once you have their responses, you simply create the content they want – easy as pie!

Follower surveys can be carried out using tools like Survey Monkey (which offers both free and paid subscriptions with varying levels of features), though you’ll want to keep a few things in mind when it comes to survey creation:

  • Keep your surveys short.  Although there are dozens of topics you’d probably like to poll your readers on, asking more than 5-7 questions on a single survey will seriously diminish the number of completed responses you receive.
  • Skip the open-ended questions.  If you’re polling your audience on the blog post topics they’d most like to read, don’t ask them to type in topics they’re curious about – most people won’t go to the trouble.  Instead, present respondents with a list of a few potential blog post topics and ask them to rank the ones they’d most like to read.
  • Offer an incentive for participation.  If you have a dedicated following, asking readers to complete your survey out of the goodness of their hearts might be enough to garner meaningful data on new blog post topics.  However, in most cases, you’ll see your response rate go up significantly if you offer a coupon code, free download or other incentive for readers to complete your survey.

It’s also important to keep in mind that, while follower surveys are a powerful tool, they shouldn’t be abused.  Asking your readers to take a new poll every week gets repetitive and tiresome – and you could see the number of responses you receive go down due to participant burnout.  Instead, use follower surveys carefully to ensure that they remain a valuable tool for collecting data to use in planning the future direction of your blog.

Of course, these are just a few possible strategies that you can use to come up with new blog post ideas when you’ve hit the wall of writer’s block.  If there are any other techniques that work well for you, feel free to share your recommendations in the comments section below!

Image: Nomadic Lass