As the adage goes, “Content is king.” This is especially true when it comes to marketing in the Internet age. Content marketing can be an effective way to reach and engage with customers wherever they are via social media, email, and search. But if you want to be the king or queen of content, you need a plan. To help you get started, we’ve put together a list of tips for creating a content marketing plan. But first let’s get a quick overview of content marketing.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing involves creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience, and ultimately, to drive profitable customer action. It should be a part of any comprehensive digital marketing strategy.
The goal of content marketing is to build trust and credibility with your target audience by creating and sharing content that addresses their needs and challenges. This can differentiate your business from competitors and establish you as a thought leader in your industry. It can also help build brand awareness, increase brand loyalty, and generate leads and sales for your business.
Some common tactics used in content marketing include blogging, social media posts, webinars and videos, e-books, white papers, and case studies.
Now that you know what it is, let’s take a high-level look at how to develop a content marketing plan.
Six Tips for Creating a Content Marketing Plan
A content marketing plan is a strategy that outlines the content that you will create and share on your marketing channels in order to achieve your business goals. Here is an overview of the six basic steps you should follow to create a content marketing plan:
- Define your target audience: Identify the demographics, interests, and behaviors of the people you are trying to reach.
- Set your marketing goals: Determine what you want to achieve with your content marketing efforts. This could include increasing brand awareness, generating leads, or driving sales.
- Conduct a content audit: Take stock of the content that you currently have and assess its effectiveness. Identify gaps in your content and areas where you can improve.
- Develop a content calendar: Decide on the topics you want to cover and the target dates on which you want to publish content.
- Create a content distribution plan: Determine the best channels for sharing your content and create a plan for distributing your content on those channels.
- Measure and analyze your results: Use analytics tools to track the performance of your content and make adjustments to your plan as needed.
Now let’s take a closer look at each of these steps so you can create your plan with confidence.
1. Define Your Target Audience
Defining your target audience is an important step in the overall marketing process. It involves identifying the specific group of people that you want to reach with your marketing efforts. Whether you are an existing business that wants to re-evaluate its current audience or a new business that needs to define its target audience for the first time, you should consider the following factors:
- Demographics: Consider factors such as age, gender, income level, education level, and geographic location.
- Interests and hobbies: Think about what your audience is interested in and what they like to do in their free time.
- Needs and problems: Consider what problems or needs your audience has that your product or service can solve.
- Behavior: Consider how your audience typically makes purchasing decisions and what factors influence their choices.
To gather information about your target audience, you can conduct market research using methods such as surveys, focus groups, and customer interviews. It can also be helpful to analyze data from your existing customer base to better understand who your customers are and what they are looking for. Once you have a clear understanding of your target audience, you can tailor your marketing efforts to more effectively reach and engage with them.
2. Set Goals
Content marketing goals may vary widely depending on the size, nature, and target market of your business, as well as the resources and budget that are available. Some common, high-level goals include:
- Generating leads: This involves attracting potential customers to the business through content distributed across various marketing channels, such as email marketing, social media, and advertising.
- Increasing brand awareness: This involves using content such as blogs, case studies, white papers, or webinars to make the business and its products or services more recognizable and familiar to potential customers.
- Improving customer loyalty: This involves building long-term relationships with customers and encouraging them to continue doing business with the company.
- Increasing sales: This is perhaps the most obvious content marketing goal, and it involves using marketing strategies to drive more sales of the company’s products or services.
You can also get more granular, setting channel-specific content goals such as:
- Increasing email opens and clicks.
- Increasing social media Followers, Likes, or Shares.
- Increasing website Visits or Page Views
Whatever goals you decide to set, make sure they are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) so you can monitor and track your progress.
3. Conduct a Content Audit
“You can’t really know where you are going until you know where you have been.” – Maya Angelou
A content audit is a process of reviewing and evaluating the content that you have created and published on your website and other marketing channels including email, social media, SMS and more. It helps you to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your current content and helps you to plan for future content creation. Here are the steps you can follow to conduct a content audit:
- Gather your content: Make a list of all the content that you have created, including blog posts, landing pages, social media posts, email campaigns, etc.
- Categorize content: Group your content into categories based on the topics or themes that it covers.
- Assess the quality of your content: Evaluate the quality of your content based on factors such as relevance, accuracy, and readability.
- Analyze your traffic and engagement data: Use analytics tools to see how your content is performing in terms of traffic, engagement, and conversions.
- Identify gaps in your content: Look for gaps in your content where you may be missing opportunities to reach your target audience or address their needs.
- Determine the future of your content: Decide which content you want to keep, update, or delete based on its performance and relevance to your business goals.
Keep in mind that a content audit is an ongoing process that should be repeated regularly to ensure your content is meeting the needs of your audience and helping you to achieve your business goals.
4. Develop a Content Calendar
A content calendar is a schedule that maps all your topics and types of content to specific publishing dates on a calendar. A good content calendar can help you organize the process of creating and publishing content while providing transparency along the way. Here are some steps you can follow to develop a content calendar:
- Determine your content topics: Choose the topics that you want to cover in your content based on your audience’s needs and interests, the results of your content audit, and your business goals.
- Plan your content types: Determine the types of content that you will create, such as articles (blogs, case studies, white papers), emails, social media posts, SMS, infographics, webinars or videos.
- Integrate your content distribution plan for publishing your content to the appropriate channels at your desired frequency.
- Create a schedule: Use a tool such as a spreadsheet, a content calendar template, or a planning app such as Monday.com, Asana, or Trello to plan out the specific dates and times that you will create and publish your content.
5. Create a Content Distribution Plan
A content distribution plan is a strategy for sharing your content on the channels where your target audience is most likely to see it. Here are the steps you can follow to create a content distribution plan:
- Research distribution channels: Identify the channels where your target audience is most likely to be found, such as social media platforms, email newsletters, industry websites, or targeted ads.
- Determine distribution frequency: Decide on the frequency with which you want to share your content on each channel.
- Create a promotional plan: Determine the tactics you will use to promote your content on each channel, such as email campaigns, social media posts, or paid advertising.
Be prepared to experiment with different channels and tactics and adjust the plan based on your results.
6. Measure and Analyze Results
There are several ways to measure and analyze the results of your content marketing efforts:
- Track website traffic: Use tools such as Google Analytics to track the number of visitors to your website and the pages they visit. Look for increases in traffic to specific pages or articles as a result of your content marketing efforts.
- Monitor engagement: Use email and social media analytics or other tools to track the number of opens, clicks, likes, comments, and shares your content receives. This can give you an idea of how well your content is resonating with your audience.
- Track conversions: Use tracking tools to monitor the number of conversions (e.g., purchases, sign-ups) that result from your content marketing efforts.
- Monitor brand mentions: Use a tool such as Google Alerts to track when your brand is mentioned online. This can help you see the impact of your content marketing efforts on your overall brand presence.
- Conduct surveys: Consider conducting surveys or customer interviews to gather direct feedback on your content marketing efforts. This can help you understand what is and isn’t working and how you can improve.
It’s important to regularly review and analyze the results of your content marketing efforts to understand what is and isn’t working and to make any necessary adjustments.
The steps described in this article provide a basic roadmap for creating a content marketing plan. Your plan should focus on reaching your target audience with specific content at predetermined dates and times on designated channels. It should include SMART goals that enable you to analyze results and measure progress. Your content marketing plan should be a living document that is regularly updated and adjusted as you learn more about your audience and what works.