One fairly common behavior noticed among most content marketers is that they start with some great ideas to develop and promote their content, however, things rarely go as expected. All amazing thoughts on content creation and marketing cannot succeed without a proper content marketing plan.
A consistent content strategy is essential to connect with readers and bring in more appreciation for your content. It is equally important to reuse or repurpose old content systematically to obtain the best results. Without a doubt, forming and implementing any such plan is a daunting task but once properly formed, it can go a long way in generating significant results for your content marketing campaigns.
The Value of a Content Marketing Plan: A content marketing plan is much more than just the content you create. Content marketing, by definition, includes creating and sharing relevant and valuable content that attracts your target audience and helps drive business profits by bringing as well as retaining customers. It requires a strategic approach to achieve what content marketing aims to do: reach the right audience and give valuable information that they will appreciate. A content marketing plan provides a road map to implement and bear the fruits of this strategic approach.
Listed below are few benefits of having a clearly defined content marketing plan:
1) It will clearly define the key elements of your efforts such as who you will be connecting with, what to say and how to say it, where to promote content and how to analyze the results of your efforts.
2) This plan helps keep everyone involved on the same page so as to ensure you have all the resources required to manage a content marketing campaign. Every member is aware of each step in content creation and promotion and works to gain consistent results.
3) A well-formed road map can be shared, whenever required, with others in the organization to make sure that your content marketing goals are in sync with the goals of your organization.
Now we provide a simple guide to the content marketing planning process to help you produce a plan that can generate visible results for your business.
1) Content Audit: Running an audit of all of your content is the first step in creating a content strategy. First, collect all content currently produced by your organization such as keywords, blogs, websites, social media, etc. and use a content inventory spreadsheet to measure the success of each of these elements in your content strategy.
analyze the results of this audit by checking which content was more successful and why and which piece of content was not up to the mark. Figure out gaps in the subject areas so as to diversify your content matter and appeal to a wider audience.
2) Define your audience: The purpose of a content marketing plan is to identify who your target users are and how they will utilize the information provided. Use your content audits to understand user responses to certain content types and evaluate buyer personas to understand current problems and future expectations so that your content meets those specific needs.
The collaboration of our sales and marketing teams can prove extremely helpful in developing useful quality content. The experience and inputs from both these teams can indicate what works in the market and save a lot of time in your content formation.
3) Matching Content with Audience: Now that you know what content worked for you earlier and what the audience likes, you are in a better position to collate this data to inspire the desired actions from the users. Start with information gathered in the content audit to see which content areas were successful and how they were valuable to your audience so as to gain insights for your future content.
For instance, if you want to gain awareness of the marketplace, education-based content that can highlight problems faced by prospects will be required. If you want to increase sales, your content needs to bring to the fore the benefits of your products or services. No matter what type of content you create, make sure it is compelling enough to give the reader the information he or she needs to think or act in a certain way.
4) Create Your Editorial Calendar: An editorial calendar is a working document that provides requisite information to everyone involved in your content effort such as what they need to produce and promote their content. The message and substance of any content are what matters to buyers. Therefore, your efforts should be directed at understanding some common buyer questions and their answers. An editorial calendar is required to answer some critical questions of your content strategy such as:
♦ Who is responsible for content creation and promotion of the content and who you are targeting with your content?
♦ What is the goal of your content and what information you wish to provide with it? What is the desired action you want from the readers? What format will you use in your content: video, blog post, infographic, or podcast? The editorial calendar is also a good place to check what content can be repurposed and how.
♦ Where will you promote your content, Facebook, website, YouTube, email newsletters or through paid promotions? Using the editorial calendar, you can also store URLs where your content has been posted.
♦ When will you post or distribute your content? For this, you will need to allow enough time for the development of written or visual elements to be included in your content such as images, infographics or charts.
♦ Why are you creating this content and what is your expected outcome from this content? Putting this data in an editorial calendar ensures your content aligns with the goals of your organization and indicates where you need to add additional resources or subject areas.
You can also note results achieved from your content marketing activities and get an idea of how to improve in future strategies.
5) Tracking and Reporting Your Success: Tracking and reporting the effectiveness of your content strategy helps make relevant metrics available to everyone and point out the key performance indicators important to a business. This is vital to align your content with your business goals and achieve success. Furthermore, sharing your content strategy to demonstrate how it supports other sales and marketing initiatives promotes collaboration among teams and streamlines the reporting processes.
With regular tracking, you can provide all relevant teams with data on how well content marketing is supporting lead generation and lead nurturing activities or how the content strategy supports sales to drive revenue.
To conclude, developing an effective content marketing plan includes identifying your target audience, measuring content effectiveness from previous campaigns, ensuring the content aligns with customer preferences, storing all relevant information in an editorial calendar and, lastly, regularly tracking and reporting results generated by your content marketing strategy. Having a plan in place helps in developing effective and useful content for the right set of users and saves time, money and efforts in content promotion.