How To Find Content Ideas That Hold Your Reader’s Attention

Clicks are one thing, but dwell time is more important. While a glance may briefly remind the reader of your existence, a truly engaged audience identifies with your brand, is more likely heed your call to action, and transform from potential lead to qualified customer

The question is how you consistently ideate the kind of content that doesn’t merely catch their eye but grabs their attention – and keeps it.

Let’s get topical

“There’s no such thing as a bad idea,” some say – but they’re wrong. While brainstorming sessions can throw up more ideas than any brand could process, many will be stale, inappropriate to the medium, or not fit the audience persona. In short, they won’t engage. We stand by our belief that brainstorming sessions are not the time for judgement or criticism, but post-mortem is essential.

A good idea bridges the gap between a reader and your brand. It highlights what they need – perhaps making them aware of that desire for the first time – and shows them how you, and only you, can satisfy it. It also demonstrates why that desire should be acted on right away.

If you get this right on your first attempt, consider yourself lucky. As The Content Strategist points out, “that’s not how great marketing happens. It happens … through constant testing and iterating. The days of Don Draper concocting a single campaign are so last quarter/year/decade/century”.

In the age of big data, it’s possible to test ideas before going public. AI can use your audience persona not only to predict whether an idea will fly but, if it has potential, use natural language processing to suggest changes that will help it gain altitude. To quote The Content Strategist a second time, “the plan can’t be to trick or hack your way into someone’s life. To hold attention, the only plan must be to provide your audience with a worthwhile experience.”

It’s at this point that an audience stops merely recognizing your brand and starts to identify with it.

Recycling ideas

While you can learn from the successes of the past, they should only ever be used as a data point, rarely the foundation of a new campaign. The only kind of recycling we advocate is repurposing the ideas in your current campaign for use across different media.

Successful awareness-raising campaigns increasingly play out across multiple platforms. Using in-store beacons to track shoppers’ movements and detect when they pause in front of your own – or a rival’s – POS enriches the audience profile. So, too, does dropping a cookie when they scroll past your ad on a social feed. When you know they’ve encountered your message on one platform, repurposing it elsewhere amplifies the effect. This can be done through different mediums, such as an infographic. Here is an example of a successful infographic from Visme which highlights different visuals to communicate your message in a creative way.


Created using Visme. An easy-to-use Infographic Maker.

They’ll already be familiar with your message so, rather than confuse them with something new, reinforce it. We’ve seen in politics and public health that short, simple, frequently repeated messages work. They quickly sink in, are easily remembered, and reinforced with every encounter.

Work towards your CTA

Thus, maintaining your content pipeline is essential. Occasional ideation sessions are less effective than regular meetings as teams lose focus between times. Worse, readers grow accustomed to life beyond your brand. “If you’re publishing stories as they are completed rather than publishing at a regular cadence,” warns the Content Marketing Institute, “your content marketing will seem like ad hoc thoughts.”

However well-written, such thoughts feel disposable, and will be less effective at engaging and persuading the reader. Your audience will only heed your CTA if it trusts you – and believes there’s some benefit in acting that way for themselves.

Regular ideation also allows each post, ad or article to build on its predecessor, to grow trust and, in the process, amplify the impact of each. This loop feeds back into the ideation process, by enriching the audience persona and giving the AI that underpins your content intelligence operation new data points on which to base its recommendations. Then, when you’ve found an effective message, extract its maximum value.

Hubspot recommends that brands “blog about [a] piece of content multiple times, targeting a new angle or keyword each time to avoid redundancy. Spread out posts over a few weeks or months to continue a steady stream of traffic to the landing page.”

Why? Because good ideas are a finite resource, which ought to be milked for all they’re worth.