The #1 Method for Coming Up with Winning Content Marketing Ideas for Your Business
To stand out in today’s noisy online landscape, your business needs content.
And not just any old content!
It has to be: a) super relevant to your target customers, b) unique and specific (there’s more than enough generic content out there!), and c) valuable to your target audience, so it engages them and compels them to take action.
Today, I’m going to show you my favorite strategy for creating highly relevant content topics that your audience will love. I call it “question mining,” and it works like this:
First, you discover what your customers already want to learn — by collecting questions they’re asking online…
And then, you use a simple process to transform those questions into engaging, high-converting content marketing ideas for your brand.
If it sounds super simple, that’s because it is! That’s part of what makes this method incredibly effective. Read on, and I will teach you the 3-step process you need to learn to master question mining, and use it to create compelling content topics.
In this article, you will learn:
- 3 places to get actionable questions from your ideal customers that you can turn into ROI-producing content of any kind
- How to transform said questions (even vague ones) into ready-to-use content marketing ideas
- What you can do to refine those ideas and boost their future ROI for months and even years to come
So, first things first — what is question mining, and why should you use it to come up with content topics for your brand?
What’s so great about question mining?
Like I said before, your business can’t simply create content about whatever, as long as it relates to your industry. It has to be relevant and valuable to your target audience.
Well, the good news is, your potential customers are already out there asking about all sorts of topics that are important, interesting, and useful to them! They do it online every day: on social media, niche forums and blogs, in replies to your brand account — you name it.
All you have to do… is listen.
Collecting those questions and discussions, and turning them into content topics, is the closest you can get to reading your audience’s mind. If you can master the question mining method, you will never run out of engaging, high-converting content marketing ideas — no matter what industry you’re in!
But it’s not as simple as grabbing people’s questions from the internet and creating content that addresses them (although sometimes you’ll be doing that, too).
There are several steps to this process, so let’s break them down one by one…
Step 1. Source your questions
This is the part where you’ll put the proverbial ear to the ground and try to figure out: what are your customers asking about?
What do they want to — or better yet, need to — learn? What keeps them up at night? What should you address in your articles, podcasts, videos, social media posts etc. that will help them and deliver value?
Here are 3 great sources that will keep you flush with actionable questions, ready to be turned into content marketing ideas (which I’ll cover in Step 2):
Survey your leads or existing customers
Try firing off a survey email with an open-ended question, asking your audience what they are currently struggling with, or what they’d like to learn — as it relates to your industry.
Why open-ended? Because you don’t want to be “leading” people to ask questions that you want to hear. They have to come from a deep, burning need. If you want to use a survey tool, make sure that your leads have a chance to reply in detail instead of picking from multiple choice options.
At most, you can offer your audience a list of broad topics to choose from — and then ask them to input specific questions about their #1 topic.
One last note: I do recommend using your email list for this, because it offers the most opportunities to personalize and segment your audience. Input from new leads and long-time customers isn’t created equal, so you’ll want to know where each question came from.
“Eavesdrop” on social media
You can ask your followers directly about what interests them, similar to a survey… or you can lurk inside specific social media communities your audience hangs out in, and “eavesdrop” on what they are discussing.
Niche subreddits, Quora, Facebook groups, and hashtags on Twitter and Instagram are all great for this. Asking and answering people’s questions is the whole point of Quora, for example — so you can source some incredibly useful questions there!
This option does require you to be pretty good at market research, though. So do it only if you can easily identify your target customers online and know where they go to share info and vent about their problems.
Interview leads and customers directly
This is the most labor-intensive route, because you’ll need to dedicate some one-on-one time to talk to members of your target audience (at least 15 minutes a pop).
On the plus side, it will give you in-depth insights into your customers’ struggles and goals — the kind you might not find just by scouring online spaces or getting input from your email list.
So if you have the resources to allocate to customer interviews, e.g. by assigning team members on this project, then you absolutely should!
Step 2. Transform those questions into topics
OK, so you’ve gathered a bunch of questions from your ideal customers, and you’re pretty sure all of them are highly relevant and actionable. Now what?
Well, now we’re going to take those questions and turn each of them into several ready-to-use content marketing ideas! If you do your due diligence, you can break down even a simple question into at least 3-5 specific, valuable content topics.
Let me use a specific example to show you how it works. Let’s say that your business sells marketing services to small businesses — or even just digital products about marketing. And one of the questions you stumbled on is:
“How much should a small business spend on advertising?”
There’s more than one content marketing idea hiding in that question! You just need to look at it from multiple angles. I’m going to use these three:
Affirm the question. To start with, let’s take this question at face value and think about how you could address it. Which content topics could you come up with to help a small business figure out their ad spend?
Right away, a few ideas stand out…
- “Small Business Owners: Here’s How to Calculate Your Advertising Budget — The Right Way”
- “Want to Increase Your Ad Budget? How to Know if Your Small Business Can Handle It”
- “10 Mistakes Small Businesses Make When Calculating Their Advertising Budget”
Another thing you could do is…
Challenge the question. Maybe you think that paid advertising is a terrible idea for small businesses! So you can take a contrarian stance and help your audience choose something better.
And as a result, your content marketing ideas could be…
- “Stop Wasting Money on Ads! Use These 5 Small Business Marketing Strategies Instead”
- “Paid Advertising Can Ruin Your Small Business. Find Out If It’s Already Happening”
- “10 Cheaper, Higher-ROI Alternatives to Advertising for Small Businesses”
And finally, you could…
Add nuance to the question. Maybe you think that, before worrying about ad spend, there are more important questions a small business should consider — like their sales cycle, funnels, etc.
You’re all for using paid advertising… as long as it’s done right. So your topics might be:
- “Read This Before You Spend a Dime on Ads for Your Small Business”
- “Retargeting: the Most Cost-Effective Advertising Strategy for Small Businesses”
- “Here’s How to Make Sure Your Small Business Ad Campaign Doesn’t Fail”
All of a sudden, we have 9 content topics lined up — from just one vague question. You can use this method to fill your entire content marketing calendar across multiple channels for months and months ahead!
And the final stage of the process is…
Step 3. Refine your content marketing ideas
Right now, your content topics are basically ready to be made. All you need to do is put them in your calendars and send them to your team to outline/produce/edit and eventually publish.
But there are a few extra steps you can take to improve the future performance of your content marketing ideas. These are optional, but highly recommended — because they’ll boost your ROI from each piece of content in the long run.
So let me cover them right here real quick:
- Determine the best content type and marketing channel for each piece. Some of these topics might work better as a video, others could be an article, still others — an infographic, an in-depth social media post etc. You might even decide to take one topic and distribute it across several channels! It’s up to you.
- Choose a suitable format. Should you do a list-type article, a guide, a case study, an interview with an expert, a checklist, a template, or something else? Again, it’s up to you to determine which content format would work best with each content marketing idea.
- Brainstorm a content upgrade to go with your future piece. Highly relevant, valuable opt-in bonuses can seriously boost conversions on your content. So you may want to produce a content upgrade for a few of your topics — or even all of them! Here’s a guide to content upgrades to give you some ideas.
- Research relevant keywords for SEO. Making your videos, articles, podcasts etc. discoverable by search engines is a huge part of content marketing, and it should be baked right into your content production process. You want your content to show up in your audience’s search results as much as possible, so don’t neglect this step! Here’s a couple of articles about video SEO and regular SEO to help you along.
- Find a “guest home” for your content. Getting featured on other sites and blogs can bring highly targeted leads to your doorstep. If any given topic looks like it might make a killer guest post, do some research and see if it could be a fit for an authoritative website or blog in your industry!
Let’s find your next winning video marketing idea together
When done right, video can be your best-performing, most valuable content marketing asset. It’s also one of the most challenging types of content, due to complicated and sophisticated production.
So before you create a new marketing video, you really want to take the guesswork out of the equation — and come up with a video idea with the highest potential for conversions and ROI.
If you’re struggling with that, my team and I want to help!
Get a risk-free quote here — and learn the same psychology and science-based video strategy we used for top execs at Google, Twitter and Uber to get incredible results!