Choosing content topics effectively is often a mixture of art and science.
And if your team is currently lacking the advantage of having an internal content marketer with significant experience, some guidance is often appreciated.
Below we’ll walk you through some of the ways our strategists and content marketers think about what and when to choose certain content topics.
And if you’d like to listen to a discussion about this very topic, you can listen in on a recent episode of the Content That Grows podcast.
The most effective ways to choose your content topics
1) ALWAYS align your content topics with your ICP
When we work to identify the initial topics, we know we can’t get started without some understanding of who it is we’re talking to. AND we understand that not all early-stage companies have rigorous qualitative or quantitative data on their target audience.
We typically approach this by looking for:
- Pain points
- An understanding of their Jobs to be Done
There are multiple ways to go about getting that information. This often includes:
- Interview your actual customers
- Inviting multiple other teams to the table such as customer support, customer success, and sales to share what they know about your customers (or any other teams that frequently interact with your audience – maybe it’s your in-house team of dietitians)
- Read your comments, reviews, and e-mail replies
Recommended Listening/Viewing: Finding Your ICP to Build Better Content
Recommended Reading: Using Ideal Customer Profiles (ICPs) To Improve Your Content Marketing’s Efficacy
By creating content that directly responds to your current and most engaged customers, you’re completing two important marketing goals.
First, you’re making a customer feel heard and solving their problem at the individual level. That’s how loyalty is built.
Second, your current customers often articulate the same struggles and views of your broader audience. That content topic can be packaged up and shared with current and potential customers.
Pro Tip: Sometimes this will be directly related to your product and sometimes it will not be. The purpose of content marketing is often to build demand through a community of people that see you as a broader industry resource.
2) Use sales enablement and retention topics
Sales enablement and customer retention topics are some of the most effective types of content because they speak to your ICP AND your product/service – sitting at the center of the most ideal Venn diagram.
These topics might include:
- Case studies - that speak to past success stories using your software, especially for companies that look like a potential lead’s company.
- Competitor comparison content - about the capabilities and pricing of your product or service vs. your competitor’s.
- SEO-focused content related to their JTBD - For example, oftentimes our strategists hear a client discussing distributing content by repurposing it. We recognized this as an opportunity to strengthen our partnership with them by creating content that shows them how AND is optimized for a keyword like “content repurposing.”
This type of content also tends to increase marketing’s buy-in with cross-functional teams as you support them in being more successful.
3) Prioritize topics that sit at the bottom and middle of the funnel (BoFu & MoFu content)
If you have not, make sure your content strategy prioritizes BoFu and MoFu content topics. This content is ready to convert people who are already at the comparison stage of the buyer journey.
By capturing and satisfying this bottom-of-the-funnel demand, you are ready for the “easier” wins - hopefully reducing some of the sales and support efforts.
Examples of MoFu and BoFu content topics include:
- “How-to” guides on how to solve a problem for your audience
- Lists of “best x software products that do y” or “Alternatives to x competitor”
- Pricing pages
- Product reviews
- Direct 1:1 vs pages between your product and your competitors
Recommended Reading: Creating Bottom of the Funnel (BoFu) Content That Converts
4) Focus on both demand generation and demand capture simultaneously
In addition to focusing on BoFu/Mofu content topics, don’t misunderstand us for suggesting that you should focus entirely on one aspect of the funnel at a time.
Demand generation and demand capture content are both required to deliver a well-rounded content experience.
For this reason, you should prioritize a ratio of topics that best represent what your company currently needs.
Early stage content programs might try:
- BoFu (Demand capture): 25%
- MoFu (Demand capture/gen): 25%
- ToFu (Demand Generation): 50%
Mature companies might try:
- BoFu (Demand capture): 5%
- MoFu (Demand capture/gen): 25%
- ToFu (Demand Generation): 70%
As your program and your company matures you’ll be strategically shifting the ratio of content you're producing across each stage. Likely you’ll have the majority of your bottom funnel content built out and a more established brand name as time goes on - providing you more opportunity to expand at the top of the funnel.
5) Leverage SEO-focused topics that support the overall content strategy
Establishing a content strategy around your ICP should help direct the keyword topics that are chosen as part of an SEO roadmap. Don’t be tempted to let the keyword opportunities you find in your third-party tools shape the overall strategy.
Content topics for SEO should do two things:
- Establish content pillars and clusters that allow for the overall building of authority around any given theme (overarching topic)
- Prioritize an emphasis on the navigation through your content clusters and eventually into the marketing website for your product, services, and feature pages
Creating a significant amount of content related to a theme that your audience is interested in signals to Google that your website is, in fact, an authoritative place for searchers to be sent. This often improves the rankings for many of the semantically related topics on your site.
It also might be the case that one of your best-performing, central pieces of content isn’t something that is prioritized to be found via a search engine like Google. For instance, perhaps you have a podcast episode or webinar that people really love and often converts people into leads.
Those content pieces can often be supported by choosing topics that have significant opportunities to drive organic traffic to your website that match the same search intent that people who enjoy your podcast or webinar have.
Example of several cluster topics surrounding the pillar topic “Workflow Automation”
Pro Tip: A great way to find keyword targets for new topics outside of traditional third-party tools is to use Google Search Console. By exploring a single URL for the queries that have high impressions and no clicks, you’ll be able to identify topics for your next content pursuits.
Recommended Reading:Building Content Pillars That Reward Your Readers and Showcase Your Authority
6) Double-down on topics that receive engagement from distribution channels
Your audiences are likely scattered across various marketing distribution channels. You’ll learn a lot about the topics they’d like to hear more about from you by watching for key engagement metrics.
- For social media, this means watching for an above-average amount of discussion in the comment sections, likes, and amplification (shares or retweets).
- For podcasts, look for above-average numbers of listens, longer content listening/watching times, and qualitative self-attribution metrics like references in form fills or on sales calls.
- For emails/newsletters, this might mean looking for more related topics based on content that tends to generate link clicks, replies, or a significant number of sign-ups.
Recommended Reading: SaaS Content Marketing Guide: Build a Strategy that Increases Brand Awareness and Influences Revenue
A content topic evaluation checklist to help get you started
The content topics you ultimately choose will be based on the types of content and the topics you’ve built already.
Because some of you reading this might be starting from scratch and others of you might be sitting on thousands of blog posts, hundreds of YouTube videos, and a few hundred podcast episodes, let’s review the simple checklist below. Each item represents the goals of a well-rounded, fully realized content strategy. Use this to determine where your content topic gaps are.
You have created:
☑️ “Knowledge base” content related to topics that respond directly to your customer’s questions, pain points, goals, and larger Jobs to be Done that are DIRECTLY related to your product
☑️ Content about topics that respond directly to your customers’ questions, pain points, goals, and larger Jobs to be Done that are NOT directly related to your product
☑️ Your sales team content about topics they’ve identified as potentially helpful in enabling them to close more deals
☑️ Your customer success and support teams content about the topics they’ve identified as useful to upselling and/or retaining customers
☑️ BoFu/MoFu content topics (Pricing, comparisons, reviews, product/services lists, etc.)
☑️ Pillar topics surrounding each feature/solution your product offers
☑️ Ample related cluster topics that link to and from each pillar topic with the goal of providing both breadth and depth around a larger theme, comprehensively educating your audience
☑️ Industry-specific ToFu content topics that are tuned into the evergreen discussions being had amongst industry leaders/influencers
☑️ Industry-specific ToFu content topics that are tuned into the trending discussions being had amongst industry leaders/influencers
☑️ Content for topics inspired by/or in response to your competitor’s content (ONLY if it is also relevant to your larger audience
***Note: A single topic might very well cover multiple of these goals.***
If you can confidently answer YES to all of these items, then you likely already have a healthy topic selection process in place.
Your next efforts might be best spent learning to:
- Repurpose and distribute that content
- How to optimize your content further to increase organic traffic
- How to update content that is experiencing decay
- Improving navigation and internal linking on your website
- Exploration the use of multimedia