Knowing what topics are top of mind to your customers can sometimes feel like an uphill battle. After all, there are always unique challenges and obstacles to every prospect and client.
The good news is that your search program can be an amazing resource to identify topics of interest to your clients and the industries that you serve. Armed with these insights, being ahead of the curve on thought leadership becomes an opportunity to differentiate you in the minds of your customers.
Put Your Fingers On The Pulse Of Your Market
One of the fascinating things about search is that you can see a cross section of what people are thinking about directly.
While the intent is not immediately decoded, when you mine the trending thoughts and patterns of what people are looking for and apply some intuitive thinking, you can begin to see a clear picture emerge of what is of importance to your prospective and existing audience.
In a way, everyone treats Google as a trusted advisor, and through understanding the volumes and trends of the inquiries made to Google, we can begin to formulate opportunities for thought leadership to add to our content strategy.
Using Search To Develop B2B Thought Leadership Content
In order to create the framework, we need to begin thinking about possibilities and using the data at our disposal to start finding the ideas that will help generate leads or sales.
B2B marketing in particular is often facing the dual challenge of resource scarcity and time constraint. Fortunately, this approach to generating insights need not impede current efforts.
On the contrary, what we can do as marketers is add a simple dimension to our marketing approach that seeks to identify testing opportunities that most likely already exist in our current data infrastructure.
With this in mind, here is a three step process you can follow to help you discover areas of opportunity to inform your thought leadership and content strategy.
1. Make A Practice Of Looking Beyond Campaign KPI
The first step to incorporate keyword insights into your approach is to engineer process to listen to the market beyond the usual KPI’s. There are myriad data sources that can help with this, from Google Adwords and keyword tools, to comScore and Nielsen data not to mention your website analytics and onsite search data.
What you are looking for is data insights that highlight a trending topic or illustrate an opportunity area based on emerging interest.
When you couple these trending keyword opportunities with categories of interest to your business clientele, you can formulate a snapshot based on growing patterns of interest.
As an example, I want to use one of my favorite new social sites, Pinterest. By now you have surely heard about the meteoric rise of this latest of social media sites. With all of the interest around social marketing, I must say I am surprised no social agencies are positioning themselves on this high volume, high interest and low cost keyword.
There appears to be very few, if any, social marketing firms bidding on the term or performing any type of organized SEO. Even though the best practices and approaches to Pinterest are still to be established, this represents a high quality opportunity for a B2B play to differentiate as a social agency.
And just in case you are thinking that this is more of a consumer interest right now, I researched the ‘pinterest business’ and discovered that this is also a breakout keyword opportunity.
When you begin to institutionally think about where you can capitalize on keywords that are either not yet in vogue, or about to become breakout, you will find that search provides a wealth of potential insight to inform your next big differentiating position.
2. Evaluate Topics & Determine Market Viability
Once you have begun to think about the opportunities keyword insights can provide, you collect the concepts into a pool of potential targets grouped by theme.
These themes will start to congeal organically because you will intrinsically gravitate to the areas in your business which will provide the least path of resistance and the most amount of return. This could be in the form of a topic where you already have some clients and thought leadership and can quickly go to market with content or positioning.
It’s here that you can discover two important pieces of information. The first is where you already have content or insight that can be purposed to serve the need of the query, and second, where you will have opportunities to develop new thought leadership in the market.
Every business that follows the herd of what everyone else is doing is flirting with market loss, and it’s for this reason that the new content areas that are identified are more than just interesting. They are your first mover opportunities to out-maneuver the competition and earn new customers.
3. Use Paid Search To Test Messaging & Fully Develop Content
So now that you have listened for trends, and identified your key categorical opportunities, the next step is to test.
Establish what is expected from your new keyword matrix and create a score to determine market viability. This can be as simple as measuring CTR that is 50% above average, or perhaps time on site for the topic you are testing.
Once you have put the new keyword ideas through your litmus, the final step is to test it for efficacy, and this is where Paid Search is a tremendous channel. You can add it to your existing campaigns without much effort and allot a test budget and trial period to determine efficacy before making the final call to build out mindshare collateral around the new topic.
If there is resonance, and the market is showing interest you will know that you should invest in the topic more comprehensively.
When it is all said and done, thinking outside the realm of simple ‘best practices’ is the way we as marketers gain advantage over the competitive set. Search Marketing and its wealth of data surrounding keyword intelligence is a low cost and high yield environment from which to find real intelligence based off of what people are actually telling the world they are interested in discovering more about.
It’s through this crystal ball of keyword intelligence that you can prepare for the future of what your customers will want to know and position your business to be their guide through incisive thought leadership.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.