Content marketing is a hugely important part of any brand’s marketing strategy. The right digital content ideas can help demonstrate your brand’s expertise and give you the opportunity to really showcase your brand personality to potential online customers. It also helps with your SEO as search engines reward websites that regularly upload unique, high-quality content.
But, unless people actually see your content, there’s only so much you can do to reap these rewards. If no one is visiting your content, search engines have no metrics to know if the content is high quality and there will be no audience to demonstrate your expertise to.
That’s where outreach comes in.
But, what is outreach?
Outreach is a part of content marketing where you actively reach out to websites or companies with shared interests, for the opportunity to have your content featured on those sites. Hopefully building links back to your original content in the process.
Why is outreach something you should prioritise?
- Brand awareness: If your name is on content people find enjoyable, informative or intriguing, they’re more likely to remember your brand name and want to find out more about you and your brand.
- Improving your SEO: Backlinks, from reputable websites, can help increase the worth of your website in search engines eyes. Backlinks tell search engines you are creating interesting, relevant content that people want to share and will therefore show up higher in search results.
It can also help improve your overall domain authority. While this isn’t a “real” metric as far as search engines are concerned, it can be a good indicator that they trust your website and believe it to have high-quality content that people want to read. A higher DA can also add value for those websites that wish to share it.
- Increase website traffic: If people enjoy what you’ve produced and are keen to find out more, they’re likely to click through from websites featuring your content and may even share it themselves – casting your net even further.
Here, we’re going to look at how you can use the planning stages to optimise your content and make it as enticing as possible when you reach the outreach stage.
Planning: What is the purpose of your content?
Before you begin flexing your creative muscles and working on new content ideas, you should decide what you want it to achieve.
Are you trying to make content that demonstrates your brand’s specialist knowledge?
Content marketing that demonstrates your brand’s expertise will help customers understand why they should trust you. It could demonstrate insider knowledge or break down complex topics into an easy to understand format.
For example, if you are a flower seed company, a beautifully designed growing chart of when to plant seeds gives useful information that demonstrates you know your products well.
Customers who visit your website will be reassured of your expertise and it would be a welcome feature on gardening and home sites – putting you in front of relevant traffic and potential new customers.
Do you want to develop content ideas with mass appeal?
Mass appeal content ideas help you to build brand awareness by putting your content in front of as many people as possible. This is the perfect chance to show a fun side of your brand’s personality and get really creative. The content may not be directly related to what you do, but it gets your brand name in front of audiences who wouldn’t see it otherwise and are at an earlier stage of the customer awareness journey.
Are you trying to get in front of your audience by appearing on websites they read?
This often combines demonstrating expertise and creating content with mass appeal. By looking at what kind of sites your audience likes to read, you can look at what kind of content ideas would appeal to them most.
For example: if you’re a sports brand, you may find your audience likes to read blogs and magazines related to healthy cooking. Content ideas that would be a good fit for those websites, puts you in front of your potential customers and shows you understand their lifestyle and what it is that appeals to them.
Research & Finding Content Inspiration
Once you know what you want your content to do, it’s time to start researching platforms that would be a good fit. This will give you an idea of what type of content does, and doesn’t, work. In the content ideation stage, this will give you a more informed idea of which ideas to develop and which to discard. If 80% of the websites you think would be a perfect fit have a “no infographic policy” then you know to save yourself the heartache of creating an infographic that will automatically be rejected, no matter how good it is.
Tip: Make sure you keep a note of these websites too! If they’re your ideal website, you may want to reach out to them in future with content ideas that align more with their requirements.
Other ways you can research content:
- Keyword research: Whether you’re coming up with fun content ideas to get in front of a wide audience or niche informative content, keyword research will help you find terms people are using. This will help you both research what your audience enjoys and know which keywords to use to improve organic performance. Tools such as Also Asked and Answer The Public are a great place to start.
- Community Forums and Q&A’s: Websites such as Quora and Reddit are great tools for finding out what your chosen audience is curious about, problems they are having and other interests they have. This gives you a great base to build content ideas from. The new Google Question Hub is also set to be an extremely useful tool (currently in Beta and only available in a select few countries, you can sign up to be notified when available to you if it isn’t already).
Even if you’ve been struck by a bolt of inspiration and know exactly what kind of content you want to make, this is a helpful proofing exercise to make sure your content has the best chance of success.
Are your content ideas time sensitive?
There are some content ideas that have the potential to do extremely well and have mass appeal, but are only relevant for a very short window of time.
If your content ideas are based around a particular event or time of year, timing is absolutely essential. Perhaps you’re a packaging company with an amazing content idea around how to recycle cardboard packaging to create Halloween costumes! But… it’s January. Only the most dedicated are already planning their next costume. It’s an idea worth saving, but January probably isn’t the best month to dedicate time and resources towards creating and outreaching this content idea. It’s better scheduled for later in the year.
On the other hand, trying to outreach that same content the day before Halloween? It stands an equally low chance of success. There’s a good chance the websites you’re reaching out to won’t even see your email that day and if they do, it won’t be useful to their audience so close to the event. Instead, reaching out a few weeks before gives publications a time to schedule it while it’s still relevant to their audience.
Tip: This is where search volume can help you. Looking at when search volume spikes for keywords related to your content ideas can help you plan your outreach schedule.
If it is time sensitive, is it also annual?
Sure, your Christmas content ideas might only be relevant once a year but … there’s a good chance it’s going to be relevant every year.
The copy may need updating but the content, while not evergreen, is annually relevant to audiences who are interested in decorating and home improvement. There’s a good crossover between audiences interested in this and those who would be looking at home improvement, like buying new doors.
Now, if this piece had been “the best toys of 2019” then it would not be annual because toys change every year. It would instead be a piece that could be remade and perhaps even used to create an interesting comparison piece, but it couldn’t be used as it is.
Content Originality: Finding your own spin
Both search engines and readers reward a fresh take on something. No one wants to host rehashed content ideas, and frankly, it doesn’t send a good message about your brand if you are using other people’s content with a slightly different colour scheme.
For informative, Digital PR led pieces, original research and empirical data can be a huge boost. It gives you a completely unique dataset and gives sites you outreach to, the ability to pick and choose which research is useful to their audience.
Original illustrations & photography
Stock images have their time and place but when it comes to creative content, original images will always be given preferential treatment. After all, it’s brand new and hasn’t been seen a thousand times. Many stock images are overused so unless you transform them, they send an impression this is old content.
Decent quality, unique images that are optimised well can also be a useful boost when it comes to SEO, as they often perform better in image searches.
Using your voice
Depending on your budget and time, it might not be possible (or necessary) to conduct original research or create your own images for content marketing purposes. In this case, you need to find your own unique brand voice and use that to make compelling copy.
This is also hugely important for search engine optimisation. Search engines are very good at noticing when copy isn’t original and they penalise it. Harnessing your unique voice and using it to breathe life into content will give you the best chance of turning up in search engines results.
Outreach: Making the value proposition clear
Once you’ve made your content and you want to outreach it to relevant sites, it’s time to evaluate your value proposition. After all, you know why you want other sites to feature your content, but what’s in it for them? With all of your research you should know what makes your content an asset to the websites you’re outreaching to – so make sure that you tell them!
Express what makes your content idea a good fit, the value it would bring to their audience and drop in any extras you’re willing to offer – e.g. unique copy to introduce graphics so they have something just for them.
Personalisation is also key here, after all, there’s a reason you’re choosing to reach out to this website, so make sure they know what that reason is. Using the correct names, acknowledging the website and referencing particular articles you admire, helps to reassure that you actually are offering something of value specific to them.
How to keep a content optimisation mindset:
- Keep up to date with content marketing in your field. What are your competitors writing about? What are industry hotshots sharing? The websites your audience visits, what do they like to post?
- Find out the names that are influential in your industry and keep up with them. They’ll often be ahead of trends and will keep your content evolving. If possible, try to get involved in conversations on social media platforms like Twitter.
- Keep on top of keyword research and search trends. This will keep you in your audience’s mindset so you’re always thinking about what content ideas they might be interested in.
Struggling to come up with creative content ideas? Of course, you don’t have to do this in-house. At Boom, creative content and link building is kind of our thing, so why not get in touch or check out some of our content marketing case studies.