A content marketing plan is a roadmap that, not only tells you what you’re going to create but how you’re going to create it, when you’re going to publish it and how you’re going to promote it.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, having a documented (i.e. written down) strategy means:
- You’ll feel significantly less challenged by every aspect of content marketing.
- You’ll generally consider yourself more effective in your use of all content marketing tactics and social media channels.
- You’ll be able to justify spending a higher percentage of your marketing budget on content marketing.
Below you’ll find my process for developing a content strategy.
Step #1 Audit Existing Content
A content audit allows you to review the content you have published and look for opportunities for improvements or content gaps to fill.
Take a look back at what has worked for you this year. Which of the content (blogs, videos, live streams, images, etc.) that you created and shared performed the best? What length of content worked best (long-form or shorter posts?) Which content fell flat?
Pro Tip: Learn from the success of your competition. Run a competitor audit to see which type of content they’re creating that is making an impact with their followers.
Step #2 Do Keyword Research
Keyword research is vital because identifying the terms people are searching for will determine the kind of content you create and the way you will optimize it.
If you want to rank in Google you have to make sure that you’re using the right keywords. Brainstorm a list of suitable topics related to your business. Then use one or more of these keyword tools to discover more terms related to your core keywords.
Step #3 Set Clear Goals
Setting clear goals will not only propel your content strategy forward but it will also serve as defined metrics when it comes to measuring your progress.
Describe the specific goals and outcomes you’re seeking to accomplish with your content marketing. These should be aligned with your business goals. Are you looking to build brand awareness, drive leads, or increase user engagement?
Whichever goal you wish to pursue, make it as detailed and specific as possible. The more trackable your goal is, the easier it’ll be in a few months to see if you have achieved it.
Take Action: Follow the SMART goal formula to make your goals clear and actionable.
Step #4 Know Your Audience
Your next step is to identify exactly who is going to consume the content you create. Start by finding data on your existing audience. Use the Demographics and Interests sections of Google Analytics and the audience analytics features contained within Facebook Insights and Twitter to help you.
When producing content, your number one goal should be to add value to your community. Content doesn’t work unless it’s targeted. All successful businesses are based on their ability to meet the needs of their audience and content marketing is no different.
Pro Tip: The key here is to really know your audience and their pain-points. Start speaking their language when it comes to the problem you’re solving, and how they relate to their pain points. Write content that specifically answers their particular needs and the types of solutions they’re looking for.
Step #5 Determine Your Content Format
This is a two-part strategy. Firstly, you need to go where your audience is consuming content (many social media platforms lend themselves more naturally to specific types of content). Identify how, when, and where they like to engage with content, and then start to create content on your audience’s preferred platform and preferred way of consuming content.
Secondly, you need to take stock of your own resources. What internal and external resources will you need to run your content marketing engine? Do you have time to write regularly for a blog? Would it be better for you to create video blogs (vlogs) for your website or communicate through a live stream broadcast? What assets do you already have that you can leverage for your content strategy? For example, do you have access to a graphic designer who can create infographics? Use your in-house talent to create unique content and publish it in a format that will attract and retain your audience’s attention.
Step #6 Build A Content Calendar
A content calendar helps you maintain a consistent content production schedule, enabling you to plan for seasonal content, and annual campaigns. It also helps you deliver a more balanced mix of content formats, such as articles, videos, and social posts.
Pro Tip: Add your keywords from Step #2 to keep you focused.
Step #7 Plan Your Promotion
Content has no value unless it’s shared. You need to determine how you will connect your content with the right audience at the right time.
Instead of treating content amplification as something you only do after the content is created and published, you should incorporate promotion strategies into the content planning and creation process. Marketer Rand Fishkin goes so far as to say: “Before you ever create content, I urge you to ask the critical question: Who will help amplify this and why? If you don’t have a great answer, a specific list of people, don’t create it.”
Step #8 Measure Results
How will you know if all the time you’re investing in social media marketing is paying off? You won’t know
You won’t know unless you put a system in place to measure and analyze your efforts.
Key metrics to track include:
- Traffic. How many blog or website visitors did you receive from social media?
- Engagement. How many likes, clicks, and shares are your posts receiving?
- Conversions. How many blog or website visitors are completing conversion steps?