In order to succeed at content marketing, you have to have high quality content. Rather than promoting your products, services, or even your business, content marketing means pushing the actual content. In turn, it is the content that will convert readers to buyers.

It may seem like a long and convoluted process to market various stages of the buying process; one that will inevitably mean that you lose a few leads along the way, but, the modern prospect is a complex, emotional, and savvy animal – one that devours content of all types on a regular basis, and this means that publishing a keyword laced content page will not prove enough. Not only does your marketing need to be highly effective, but your content needs to be a level above everything else in your industry.

If you have an established online presence, then you already have access to powerful data, and if you don’t already collect data from your blog, your website, and your social media profiles, it isn’t difficult to start doing so.

So, where can you find inspiration for your content?

Your Own Content

1 – Site Analytics – Use your analytics software to determine which of your pages are most popular. You should be able to quickly determine which pages attract the most search traffic and the most click throughs from other destinations. You can also see which content your visitors are most likely to consume once they are on your site. Look for trends, popular topics, and the most popular types of content in order to determine what your visitors want to see more of.

2 – Social Analytics – If you have a Facebook account, Twitter feed, or a social media profile with any other site, and you have a reasonable following, take a look at the content that you have shared. If you use Klout, then this is even easier, because it will measure the success of the content that you share for you.

Crowdsourcing Content

3 – Social Engagement – Social engagement is any action that means a person has engaged with your content, so likes, comments, shares, and essentially anything else that can be measured. The content that enjoys the most interactions with your readers is the content that has proven most socially successful, and you can aim to replicate this.

4 – Comments And Conversation – If you have a blog on your own website then you should already be following and joining in with the conversation. As well as being an active participant, sit back and consider which of your posts cause the greatest reaction.

5 – Surveys, Polls, And Questions – Once you have a reasonable social following, you can put your followers to work. Encourage visitors to ask you questions. Not only does this give you the appearance of being an authority in your industry, but it will encourage engagement. Post polls and surveys, and even consider getting permission to email and ask questions directly.

Competitors

6 – Google Search – You will probably already be following a number of your competitors, and blogs and websites that are prominent within your industry. Conduct Google searches to find other sites that you can follow. Run a number of searches with slightly different keywords and for each of your niches.

7 – RSS Feeds – Simply knowing the address of your competitor blogs is obviously not enough, you need to do something with that information. Find the RSS feeds for those blogs, and follow them. Consider using an aggregator of some sort, because if you follow a lot of sites, you will soon become swamped with information.SocialClub

Answers Forums

8 – Answer Sites – Yahoo Answers is one of our favourite places to dig for content inspiration. It gives you genuine insight into exactly what people want to know when they are looking for information regarding your industry. One problem with Yahoo is the amount of spam, and for this reason you may want to consider Quora instead, or as well as Yahoo Answers.

9 – Social Media Groups – The likes of Facebook and LinkedIn offer similar services to the Answer sites that you can benefit from. Trawl through the Groups and Topics pages to find inspiration, and join the community forums in order to find out what people are talking about within your industry.

Google News And Alerts

10 – Google News – Google News is another favourite source for content, although it is obviously more beneficial when looking for newsworthy topics. While there are still some irrelevant pages, and getting the best results requires some search query tweaking, you will find a lot of relevant content in any industry and for virtually any keyword.

11 – Alerts And RSS – Rather than keep submitting the same searches every morning, you can set up alerts so that you receive an email whenever relevant content is published on Google News. You can choose to receive an alert each time something new is added, or receive a daily digest. Alternatively, you can conduct your modified news search and then set up an RSS feed and include this in your feed aggregator. You will always have a stream of relevant, newsworthy, and up-to-date content sources.

Search And Social Trends

12 – Google Trends – Google Trends enables you to select a topic and see exactly what people have been searching for in that industry. The list you receive will be pretty basic, but you can then click through the search terms and determine whether anything is worth your attention or not. This does require some manual effort, but you could uncover some of the hottest trends for your industry.

13 – Topsy – Social media is more current than search, and trends can change quickly. Topsy enables you to add a keyword or search term, and it will display the most popular tweets, trending topics, and more social information in a single location. Check back often and try not to get too lost in the world of content.

14 – Alltop – Alltop is essentially an aggregator of sorts. It displays the latest posts from leading and authoritative figures within different industries. It is will categorised and enables you to view the very latest updates from your industry. Another very useful resource for your content strategy.

TakeitofflineDon’t Be Afraid To Take It Offline

15 – Magazines And Newspapers – Just because you’re looking for content to publish online doesn’t mean that all of your inspiration has to come from Internet sources. Look at trade and industry magazines and scour the newspapers. Some of the content you see may not yet have enjoyed extensive coverage online.

16 – TV And Radio – In the same way that you can use magazines and newspapers, you can also use the TV and Radio. Watch and listen to the shows that are relevant, whether they are documentaries or sitcoms. This can give you a unique source of content and one that will connect with other similarly minded individuals.

17 – Exhibitions, Seminars, Trade Shows, And Events – Most industries have multiple events that occur throughout the year and across the world. You don’t necessarily have to book your own booth to take advantage. Turn up, note what’s important, live Tweet the event, and even interview some of the attendees to find inspiration and to create content.

These are just some examples of sources of inspiration for your content strategy. Be bold, be creative, and don’t be afraid to cover topics and content that your competitors haven’t thought about yet. Some of it may prove unpopular, but you may uncover a sticky topic that continues to attract visitors for years to come.

Matt Jackson is a professional content writer and regularly posts insight, news, and guides on content strategy and marketing techniques. You can follow his latest posts on Google+.

Photo Credit: Mark Stozier via Flickr Creative Commons