When we think of creative inspiration, we typically think of artists, but the truth is a lot more jobs rely on their “muse” than you might think. Marketers, advertisers, bloggers, social media influencers — any profession that demands fresh new ideas for content always runs the risk of, well, running out of ideas.
If you need help getting your creative juices flowing or inspiration for your next great idea, here are some tips to lead you in the right direction. Consider these the next time you’re stuck on what kind of content to create.
1. Use Google Trends to Find Popular Topics
The most direct way to see what topics people are looking for is to see what they type into search engines. SEO tools like the free-to-use Google Trends are great for identifying “breakout” trends — keyword phrases that are rapidly increasing at the moment. If you catch one of these breakout topics early enough, you can ride that SEO wave all the way to the top.
SEO tools are an online retailer’s best friend, especially when digital marketing is a pillar strategy. You can even use Google Trends to identify in-demand niches and new penetrable markets, as long as you know how to use it.
2. Check Trending Social Media Hashtags
Along those same lines, you can also check what’s trending on social media, in particular hashtags. Just like SEO tools, most social media platforms plainly list which hashtags and topics are popular at any given time, providing vital information into what’s on people’s minds.
You’ll get more useful results if you look into hashtags related to your niche or industry, but those aren’t always the ones mentioned in the official “trending” lists. You may need to dive a little deeper yourself — try searching for specific keywords related to your brand and note how many mentions they have during a certain time period.
If you can’t find a definitive list of the most popular hashtags, you can at least track which topics have the most Likes, Retweets, Replies, etc.
3. Rely on Seasonal and Timely Topics
Often popular topics vary depending on the time of year. You don’t see as many gift-giving guides posted in April as you do in November. Sometimes, all you need for inspiration is to look outside your window.
If you can learn to gauge which topics become popular at which times, you can create a stable of safe, dependable fallback topics year after year. If you’re not quite experienced enough in content marketing to develop those instincts yet, start off with our own ecommerce blog ideas for summer and blog ideas for winter.
4. Monitor Your Competition
Although we advise against copying your competitor’s ideas, poking around their blogs and social media feeds can still help you understand what customers in your industry want to see. Just like you can monitor the popularity of certain hashtags, you can gauge the success of your competitor’s content by evaluating the numbers of Likes, Comments, and Shares it gets.
Also, pay attention to the types of content they produce. If they focus more on video than blogs, for example, that may offer insight into which segments of the market they’re targeting. The content itself is also revealing, for example, whether they post how-to instructionals or more personal vlogger episodes.
5. Brush up on Industry News
You want your followers to see you as an authority in your field so that if they ever have a question in the future, they’ll come to you first. One of the best ways to demonstrate this kind of expertise is by being the first one to break a crucial news story related to your niche or industry.
Of course, there’s really no way to fake this — you actually have to become an expert in your field if you want to scoop your rivals. Your best bet is to find reliable sources for industry news and check them frequently; most customers will welcome you as a messenger rather than checking trade publications themselves.
6. Share a Personal Passion
A large fraction of marketing and sales relies on emotional connections, even more-so than rationality. With that in mind, you don’t always need the most logical idea for content if you have one that sparks emotion nonetheless. And one of the best ways to get someone else excited is by talking about something that excites you.
Passion and enthusiasm are contagious, so if you create a piece of content that’s genuinely heartfelt, your viewers, followers, and readers will feel it too. Pick a topic that’s not only a personal passion of yours, but is also relevant to your industry — you want to maintain the voice of your brand, even as your content gets more personal.
7. Fall Back on Evergreen Content
Evergreen content refers to content that’s always popular, as opposed to seasonal trends or today’s top hashtags. For example, a comparison guide between top smartphone brands is evergreen content, whereas a Christmas gift guide about the best smartphone for teens is not.
Every successful digital marketing campaign involves at least a few pieces of evergreen content, if for no other reason than hedging your bets while you experiment with more time-sensitive topics. Evergreen content is a little easier to predict, too, since there’s more overall data to draw from.
If you’d like some examples of evergreen content for ecommerce blogs, we recently published a guide on blog ideas for online stores. There we outline 9 boilerplate topics you can customize to fit your specific niche or brand style.
Build a More Effective Content Strategy
Digital marketing is far from easy, especially considering that the rules change frequently with the speed of technology. If you’re new to all this or want to freshen up on the latest best practices, check out our 6-part series on how to apply the ecommerce sales funnel to content marketing.
The sales funnel model helps you identify what kind of content your customers want to see at each stage of the buying process. Our series takes you through all five individual stages (plus an introduction) and explains what type of content and style works best at each stop, culminating in marketing campaigns that satisfy both your customers and your bottom line.