For many people, starting a blog can be intimidating. For many others who are already in the blogging business, writers block or creative ruts can interfere with timely posting reducing your blog’s effectiveness. One technique for coming up with new ideas for blog content is to look specifically at your target audience. As a business owner or part of a marketing team, you likely know your clients or customers best. You can leverage this knowledge to brainstorm ideas for blog articles or content that you can give away with your blog posts.
First, assess what you already know about your target audience. A website has two types of visitors: repeat visitors, and new arrivals. For our purposes here, we can refer to these as the target audience you already know and the target audience you intend to know. For people familiar with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) concepts the following tips will be easy to follow. If you haven’t already embarked on a SEO strategy of some kind, it’s a useful idea to invest some time understanding what SEO is and how it affects your website’s performance. That’s a subject for another article, but for now, know that SEO can lead to exceptional insight on your audience and this information can also be used in other aspects of marketing such as creative brainstorming, direct outreach, or even advertising.
The Target Audience You Already Know
Hopefully you have Google Analytics tracking integrated into your website. This free service provides an excellent starting point for analyzing the target audience you already know and a means for measuring the success of your efforts in reaching a target audience you intend to know. With Google Analytics, you can collect information about your visitors such as geographic locations, behavioral patters, time spent on specific pages, popular pages, popular times of day, devices your visitors are using, and even the different browsers they use to peruse your content. You can use this information to create content intrinsic to your audience.
For example, if a substantial subset of visitors are coming from New York City, you can research local news or events in NYC related to your industry and create content that is more easily relatable to that subset of your audience. You can even piggy back on current events. Let me illustrate even further. It’s Christmas season and let’s say your business sells specialty foods online. You find out you have a large audience from NYC. A little Google research could lead you to types of vendors that are selling food in the various Christmas Markets throughout the city. Or if you live nearby you could grab your camera, hop on the train and sample some of these yourself. This is a simplified example, but you can get quite specific using analytics information. A more creative example would be to look at the devices that are popular when browsing your website. If you are a specialty food store and find that the majority of your web visits are using Apple devices and iOS, you could piggy back an Apple announcement by creating a blog post about how fun it will be to browse your store with the new iPad Pro. You could even create a blog post with tips to use when shopping with your iPad Pro while using the latest iOS features or handy 3rd party apps. You don’t have to be a tech authority to assemble a post from the plethora of techie blogs out there and relate it to your product or industry.
The Target Audience You Intend To Know
Ok, so you grasp how to mine Google Analytics about the audience you already have, but what can you do to help create ideas for the target audience you intend to have? The following technique was adapted from John Jerkovic’s excellent book on SEO techniques titled SEO Warrior published through O’Reilly media. The idea is to take some time and create character profiles for the type of audience you want to attract. These character profiles can be based on a real life visitor who you already know, or better yet; the type of visitor you wish to attract. For instance, if you wish to attract someone that works in the hospitality industry, you can create a character profile based on what you know of that industry and it’s stereotypes. Give your character a name (it could be anything), but the more real you make these character profiles, the more useful they are when brainstorming creative ideas. Next, simply start writing about your new character as if you were creating a character for a short story or novel. I recommend shooting for a minimum of 3 paragraphs, but the more you can write describing your character, the better off you will be. Think about what your character’s life is like at work. What is it like at home? Where is their home? What do they like to do for fun? What clothes or accessories do they wear? What type of friends do they have? Do they have a family and any children? What makes them laugh? What makes them cry? There are many resources out there for creating characters for a story. I recommend starting with a simple query for how to create characters for a book on Google search.
Popular Words And Themes
Once you have a few character profiles (I recommend starting with at least 3), you can use them in a creative brainstorm session. Start by looking to see what, if anything, they all have in common. Next, look at words or phrases that you used to describe all of them. Are there certain words or phrases that are used more frequently than others? Make a list of websites you think your characters would regularly visit and make a list of locations and any demographic information contained in your profiles. Compare it with performance data in Google Analytics. If you find any correlations with the data you collected in your character profiles and in Google Analytics, note that down. Finally, after collecting notes while dissecting your profiles, spend some time making two brainstorming lists of new blog posts. One of the lists will contain potential blog post headlines containing popular words or themes found in your profiles and analytics correlations.
The second list is a little more abstract. This list needs to be made up of metaphors created by themes in your character profiles related to your business. For instance if you own a restaurant, you would have made character profiles for potential diners. Some items on your resulting list of blog posts from metaphors could include ‘A good meal is like reuniting with an old friend’, ‘Nothing says the 4th of July like our Firecracker Shrimp’, or ‘A holiday party at Joe’s Upscale restaurant is like celebrating with the team in the end zone.’ These metaphors might appeal to character profiles that are sentimental, Patriotic, and those who like football. Let’s try a few more, but this time our example company builds websites. ‘Good design with a functional website is like getting your cake and eating it too.’, ‘Trying to increase your SEO search performance is like an old arcade game that never ends, but only gets harder’, or ‘Responsive design is like a one-size-fits all shoe’. These metaphors might appeal to character profiles who like baking or crafting food, who like video games, or are into fashion and have big shoe collections.
When creating blog post idea lists from character profiles, it’s important to quantify your success in some capacity. Here Google Analytics can help us again. Keep an eye on the performance of different types of blog posts in relation to the character profiles you created. If the posts are popular with bringing in new visitors to your blog, then you can expand on the character profile that inspired them, or make new ones with variations in their traits. If the types of character profile inspired posts are not popular, you can consider that profile to be a poor match for your business and can create completely new profiles. This is a proven method to use when approaching the idea of creating content to attract new audiences.
Finally, there’s one more way I can recommend you use when looking for ideas for new blog content. Ask your design team to come up with suggestions. At Be Better Studios we have brainstorming sessions daily. Often we have them multiple times a day. We’re professional brainstormers. Part of producing good design is to create solutions to problems. If your problem is a creative writing rut, you would be surprised with what your design team can come up with to help you. If you’ve built a relationship over time with your design team, chances are your design team will be knowledgable about your industry because they’ve been developing great design for your business. Sometimes it helps to get some ‘outside’ assistance in order to get you out of those creative ruts. Your design team could be a great source for blog content ideas.
Let us recap what we’ve learned. One method for creating blog content is to examine your target audience and brainstorm using the information you’ve gathered. Web Statistics such as Google Analytics enables you to glean insight on your audience through visitor website usage, behavior, and geo locations. Once you have access to Analytics you can begin the process:
- Brainstorm blog content ideas based on information recorded in Google Analytics by past visitors, or for our purposes; the target audience you already know.
- To brainstorm ideas for blog content based on the target audience you intend to know, use character profiles to put a name and personality to the types of new visitors you wish to attract. Character profiles are like writing characters for a novel. They can be based on real life people, or better yet, completely made up people based on your ideal client ‘stereotypes’.
- With your character profiles, you can brainstorm two lists of blog content ideas. One is a list based on common words and themes in your character profiles, and the other list is one made up of metaphors that would appeal to your character profiles.
- Use Google Analytics to track the performance of your blog posts and help determine if you need to build on your existing character profiles or create new ones.
- Get help from your design team when looking for new ideas, or assistance in breaking out of a creative rut. Designers are professional brainstormers.