Everyone knows that content is king, but that doesn’t make coming up with topic ideas for your blog any easier. In fact, if you’re like most business owners, you’ve got way too much on your plate to spend hours brainstorming ideas. Yet, according to recent studies, 74 percent of companies indicate that content marketing is increasing their lead generation in both quality and quantity. So, yes, it matters.

The good news is there are proven strategies that will help you come up with creative content ideas to engage your audience (without wasting tons of time in the process). Here are five such tactics below.

Figure out what’s working (and what isn’t).

Measuring the performance of your past content can do wonders for the quality of what you produce tomorrow. For instance, analyzing metrics like traffic, comments, likes and shares can help you identify the types of topics that seem to generate the most engagement. When you have a clearer picture of what has worked well for you, it’ll be much easier to come up with ideas that will generate similar results.

Put your ear to the ground.

What better way to ensure you’re producing content that your audience likes, needs and wants than by going straight to the source? You can do this a number of ways, whether it’s coming right out and asking what your readers want to see more of or simply listening to (or looking at) what your target audience is talking about. To accomplish the latter, start by spending a little time in relevant discussion boards or on Q & A sites to see what users are asking or discussing.

Look for related search terms.

Let’s say a particular topic you’ve written about generated a good amount of interest. To keep that momentum going, you can focus on producing content that is similar or related to that original post. And there’s a super easy way to do this. Whenever you conduct an online search, Google now produces a list of related queries in a box titled “People Also Ask”. Running a search of a popular post title should provide you with a list of in-demand topics that are related to your original post.

See what’s working for your competitors.

Competitive analysis is about more than just coming up with a business plan. It can also help you generate ideas for blog topics. Think about it – you and your competitors share at least a portion of the same target audience. By analyzing which types of content seem to perform well for them, you can leverage that information to produce similar content with your own spin. BuzzSumo and EpicBeat are two great tools for identifying your competitors’ most engaging content.

Tap your insiders.

Think about the people who work for your company that spend the most time dealing with customers. For instance, your customer service staff and sales team. These individuals spend the majority of their day in the trenches, which means they have first-hand knowledge about the needs, preferences and pain points your customers have. Tapping into this valuable resource will help you understand the struggles your customers are facing. You can then use this insight to develop compelling content that will position your product or service as the ideal solution.
Consistently producing quality content will help your business perform better in the search engines, allow you to engage better with clients and prospects and help you nurture leads through the sales funnel. It all starts with good topics. The tips listed above should provide you with the information you need to develop content that gets results.