content goals

Content Goals: Here’s How to Come Up With Profitable Content Marketing Ideas Using My 3-Bucket Topic Strategy

As a content marketer, part of your job probably includes constantly and consistently coming up with content topics.

And not just any topics — you need ones that will resonate with your audience and earn ROI for your brand or your clients.

But, if you’re like most marketers, you are not a never-ending idea machine.

We’re all human. We can’t rely only on our finite brains for infinite content marketing ideas — although we should absolutely be pulling from our own creative geniuses within. But how do we jumpstart these ideas in an effective, productive manner?

There ARE data-backed, key ways to come up with high-ROI content marketing ideas.

And the way to do it is to map your content to content goals.

You don’t have to brainstorm until you feel like you’re brain-dead. You can and should rely on proven tools, workflows, and strategies for truly never-ending and always-profitable topic ideation.

That’s right: Never-ending. Always profitable.

really gif

Don’t believe me? You will soon. Let me prove it to you.

content marketing ideas guide

7 Steps to Map Your Content to Goals

  1. Use The 3-Bucket Topic Strategy for Topic Ideas Connected to Goals
  2. Find Broad Seed Keywords to Begin
  3. SEO Content Goals: 6 Ways to Use Long Tail Keywords to Generate Unique Content Marketing Ideas
  4. Four Ways to Use What Works for Others (Repurpose, Don’t Rehash)
  5. Content Goals Get Tangible When You Poll the People (6 Easy Ways)
  6. Run All Topic Ideas Past Your Topic/Goal Buckets
  7. Content Goals Will Get Clearer As You Repeat the Process

These are the seven steps we’re going to cover in today’s blog. Ready?

Content Goals: Your Detailed 7 Steps For Never-Ending Profitable Content Marketing Ideas

These are fail-safe strategies for coming up with endless, steady streams of content topics, ones that will never dry up. You’ll be able to clearly see your content goals come to life if you get this strategic, each time.

Ready to find out what they are?

Learn data-backed, key ways to come up with high-ROI content marketing ideas via @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

1. Use The 3-Bucket Topic Strategy for Topic Ideas Connected to Goals

Before you do anything else, make sure the topics you choose are related to your overarching content goals.

This way, you always know for sure that the content you create will lead to ROI.

For my content marketing, I came up with something I call “three-bucket topic strategy.” (I also teach this, step-by-step with hands-on video training and exercise worksheets, in my comprehensive Content Strategy & Marketing Course.)

These are the “goal buckets” I rely on to guide all initial topic ideation:Three-bucket topic strategy

Every single piece of content I create should serve one of three purposes:

  • Build SEO rankings
  • Build sales & connections
  • Build brand awareness

Each topic bucket calls for a different content type. For example, to build my SEO rankings, I should create blogs and web pages around profitable long tail keywords.

Three-bucket topic strategy

Note that I don’t just throw out random ideas in a panic-ridden brainstorm session. (“Ohmygosh I’m running out of content topics – Aaaaah!”)

panic

I never panic–anymore. (I used to. Learn more about my story in my free masterclass.)

I always, always, ALWAYS refer to my topic buckets to guide content topic ideation.

I call this a “three-bucket strategy mapped to goal areas.”

Here’s a chart of how that looks:

Three bucket topic strategy mapped to goals

If a topic has no potential to hit one of my goal buckets, I trash it and move on. That topic will not bring in any ROI or help me meet my goals. Next!

Your own goals for your content might look different from mine. Think hard about what’s most important to achieve with content marketing for you/your client. Narrow these desired achievements down to three or four core goal buckets.

Also, remember that no idea should be too sacred to scrap. It doesn’t matter how much you like it or how trendy it seems, or even how much engagement others are getting from posting content about it.

If it doesn’t fit into YOUR goal buckets, it’s not a profitable content topic for you.

If your topic idea doesn’t fit into YOUR goal buckets, it’s not a profitable content topic for you. Trash it and move on. @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

2. Find Broad Seed Keywords to Begin

To complete any of the research steps for finding content marketing topics, first, you must have a broad stem topic in hand (also called a “seed keyword”).

This is simply a place to start. Usually, you’ll have no trouble coming up with a broad term (like “content marketing,” “SEO,” or “content writing”).

If your mind goes completely blank, however, use these techniques to find your starting point:

A. Use Google’s autocomplete feature. Just go to the Google search bar and type in the broadest industry term possible to find more options.

google-autocompleteB. Try KeywordTool.io. You can search a broad term and the tool will spit out a long list of hundreds of related terms for free.

keywordtool-ideas

3. SEO Content Goals: 6 Ways to Use Long Tail Keywords to Generate Unique Content Marketing Ideas

Again, if you throw out random topic ideas for content, you can’t be sure that they’ll lead to ROI.

You need to start from a research angle to come up with topics. Base your topics on quantifiable data, and you’ll almost always be able to map them to your goals and bottom-line.

The first research angle is keyword research. From one long tail keyword, you potentially can create dozens of topics.

This is the general workflow:

A. Open your favorite keyword research tool. For this example, I’m using Mangools’ KWFinder.

B. Enter the content topic stem you want to explore. I’m going to search for “SEO writing.”

C. Look for high search volume/low competition alternatives, synonyms, and related keywords. Make a list of at least 20. (With help from KWFinder, I see that some of my options include “SEO writing,” “SEO content writing,” “SEO copywriting,” and “SEO article writing.”)

kw-research1

D. Keep an ongoing list of all the keywords you find. Group them by the initial term you searched. Include their difficulty score and search volume.

E. Choose one keyword from the list. Generate 5-10 content topics from that one term. Write them all down, and don’t leave any out. Even if your ideas don’t seem very good, record them. You can tweak them later/scrap them if they don’t fit into one of your content goal buckets.

F. If brain fog is rampant (or you haven’t had enough caffeine), use a blog topic generator to get the flow started. HubSpot’s tool is excellent for this. Just enter a few keywords and hit “Give me blog ideas!”

hubspot-blog-topic-generator1

The tool will help you come up with lots of topics. To keep adding to the list, riff on the ones the generator suggests.

hubspot-blog-topic-generator2

4. Four Ways to Use What Works for Others (Repurpose, Don’t Rehash)

This topic ideation technique puts inspiration into action. Use it to find website content ideas that are already working well with readers.

The basic gist: Look at top sites in your industry to see what they’re producing. Then pull from top posts and create content on a similar topic. The key is to make the topics you discover this way your own, using fresh insights and research.

This is how:

A. Look at top industry websites for their most recent content posts. What are they writing about? Which posts/topics are getting the most engagement?

Look at the actual website (most big blogs have a “top posts” toggle view), or search BuzzSumo for a specific website’s top-shared posts.

buzzsumo-content-analyzer

B. Search BuzzSumo for topics that get a lot of love from readers. Enter a broad industry category in the search bar, then read the most-shared posts for inspiration.

These are the top results for “SEO writing” – what trends do you see happening here, just from skimming the headlines? Write those down.

buzzsumo-topic-search

C. From what you’ve read, determine how you can put your own spin on the topic(s) you find. Think about these things:

Do you have anything new to add to the discussion?

  • Is there any new research on the topic you can highlight?
  • Do you have a different opinion about the topic from ones you’re seeing?
  • Is there an angle of the topic that remains largely forgotten or ignored?
  • Can you write a better, more comprehensive post about the topic?

D. Write down your topic ideas from the above prompts. Add them to your ongoing topic ideas list.

5. Content Goals Get Tangible When You Poll the People (6 Easy Ways)

Your audience/social media followers/blog commenters are a fantastic source of content marketing ideas for use in a campaign.

Essentially, you’re going directly to the source to find out what they want to see in your content. It’s fail-safe.

There are many ways to pick the brains of your audience members for ideas:

A. Flat-out ask them their main concerns/problems/questions in a social media post. Invite responses and see what people say. Record the subjects and topics they mention.

B. Create a social media poll to get more specific answers. You can easily create these types of informal polls on all the big platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram Stories.

For instance, ask your audience to choose between two or three potential topics. Ask which one interests them the most.

create-twitter-poll

It’s super fast and easy, and people love engaging with these posts and sharing their opinion.

C. Search for industry hashtags on social media. Write down the subtopics people are chatting about.

D. Check question-and-answer sites like Quora, Reddit, or Answer the Public. Dig into the data you find at these places and jot down all possible content topics.

For example, when I search Reddit for the seed topic “SEO writing,” the list of results includes communities talking about the topic, question-and-answer threads, and posts on the topic.

reddit-topic-research

On Answer the Public, I get even more great data, including visualization charts of related topics and terms:

answer-the-public-seo-writingE. Engage with people on social. Comment on others’ posts and have conversations. Dig into your community and see what insights you can glean. Plus, the more you build relationships, the more you’ll create a web of people who will be willing to answer your calls for ideas.

You never know what you’ll learn from simply talking to people, so don’t be afraid to jump in.

F. Chat one-on-one. If you’re engaging with a certain person quite a bit on social media, whether it’s a peer or a customer, ask if you can email/chat one-on-one. Pick their brain, exchange ideas, and add any topics that come up to your ongoing list.

6. Run All Topic Ideas Past Your Topic/Goal Buckets

By now, you should have quite an impressive list of potential content marketing ideas.

Before you take any one of them for a spin, run them past your topic/goal buckets. See if they fit.

If you can’t make the topic fit into any of them, toss it. Cross it out and move on to the next.

Once you hit a topic that does fit into one of your goal buckets, you can move on to additional research/content creation, including outlining, drafting, choosing sources, and editing. Here’s my three-bucket topic strategy mapping chart again.

Three bucket topic strategy mapped to goals

7. Content Goals Will Get Clearer As You Repeat the Process

It’s your lucky day.

This content marketing idea process can be repeated over and over. Just plug in various seed topics to get the ball rolling. As you go, you’ll find new angles and subtopics you would never have discovered on your own.

Pretty soon, you’ll have a list of hundreds of B2B content marketing ideas just from this handful of research tactics.

The key is to write them all down (even the seemingly crappy ideas – hey, they’re a start) and keep that running list in a safe place. This list will become an integral tool for your content creation process.

And, because you’re vetting each topic against your goal buckets, you have a proven method to whittle down your content to ONLY what will be profitable for your brand.

(Yessssss!)

yesss

Revolutionize the Way You Generate Content Marketing Ideas in 2018 and Beyond

It’s time to stop hoping, wishing, and praying for content marketing examples and ideas to fall out of the sky and into your lap.

Instead, use a strategy that depends on real data and research to ideate topics.

This method will lead to ROI far more often than scratching your head and attempting to come up with something from nothing.

Start somewhere to get somewhere.

Then, rinse and repeat.

You’ll never run out of content marketing ideas again.

julia mccoy masterclass

12 replies
  1. Chrishan
    Chrishan says:

    A very creative article on writing creatively. Now if I can just find my inspiration – seems to be suffering from writer’s block recently…

    Reply
  2. Wajahath Ali
    Wajahath Ali says:

    Hi Julia

    I am taking your three buckets with me to my blog.

    I love your idea.

    How do you do Long tail keyword research?

    Reply
  3. priyanshi orca
    priyanshi orca says:

    Thank you for sharing this article. content plays an important role in getting users on our site as well as attaining higher traffic. so we must ensure that our content should be creative and also SEO friendly. It should possess some main purposes which are SEO ranking and brand ranking etc.

    Reply

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