Countless studies and surveys have already been conducted to figure out the perfect recipe for creating engaging content, and yet it still remains the biggest challenge marketers are facing until now.

Despite the significant increase in overall content marketing production and budgets, marketers are still struggling to produce the kind of content that appeals to and engages their audiences.

The most probable reason for this is that many marketers are still focusing on quantity, rather than on quality. But this strategy doesn’t cut it anymore. Content must resonate with its target audience – it must be timely, relevant and valuable. And the secret is in the research.

Here are four essential things you must research on in order to better inform your content marketing strategy.

  1. Who is your audience?

It’s quite simple – the more you know about your audience, the better you will be able to produce the kind of content that they are interested in.

Knowing your audience also helps you create buyer personas and resolve pain points that keep prospects from converting. There are various market research tools you can use for this. You can start with keyword research to get insight into the buying behaviours of your prospects. You can also go further by using web analytics to understand how visitors interact with your website and determine areas where improvements can be made.

  1. What trends or topics should you write about?

If you are going to spend time and money on content production, then you might as well spend it on topics or updates that matter most to your audience. Otherwise, they won’t bother reading your content and your marketing dollars will simply go down the drain.

If you want to be relevant, always be on the lookout for trending topics, popular articles, compelling questions and industry influencers in your space. This type of research will reveal pathways to success by providing new opportunities for getting your message across. It also makes your voice heard in the ongoing dialogue with customers and prospects.

  1. What are your competitors doing?

It’s always a good idea to keep an eye out on your competitors, and check how you fare against them. Are they doing something that attracts massive attention from your target audience? In what aspects did they fail? What type of stories are they telling and how does your audience react to them?

By studying your competitors’ strengths and weakness, you’ll be able to avoid threats for your own organization as well as replicate their success.

Use tools such as the Google Keyword Planner and Screaming Frog to identify any keyword gap opportunities that your competitors are taking advantage of. In addition, perform site audits and local SEO evaluations to identify hidden opportunities for content within the sales funnel.

  1. Where should you publish content?

Publishing content on the wrong platform will essentially limit reach and engagement. This is because every platform has a unique, dedicated audience with specific information needs. So in order to successfully promote your content, you need to determine the most suitable online media outlets for your industry and your audience.

If you are considering publishing on social media platforms, here’s a guide one finding the perfect match.

By doing your due diligence, you can increase your content marketing performance considerably and maximise the use of your time and money.