Content is one of the most important parts of your marketing strategy, and it is most effective when it’s planned out and defined. You need to be posting relevant, engaging content in order to drive more traffic to your site, increase conversions and win over your target audience. Content marketing can be key to driving revenue – you can’t do that successfully unless you’ve formulated a clear plan.
A content strategy dictates who, what, where, when and how you connect with your audience, and it’s much more than just writing the occasional blog post for your site. It’s the framework to ensure you’re achieving the right results for your business, but it takes time and research to get it right.
In this guide, I’ll walk you through creating a clear and effective content marketing plan for your website, from the types of content you should be developing to managing content creation.
Determine your goals
The first step in formulating any type of marketing strategy is to understand your why. Similar to all other channels such as SEO and paid marketing, you must start with goals. What are you hoping to achieve through your content – are you aiming to generate more sales? Do you want more traffic to your site? Is it a way of building authority in your niche? Understanding your goals and objectives will help you set targets and measure your success.
Define the audience
A crucial initial step in formulating your content marketing plan is determining who the content is for. There will be a specific segment of the online population who you’ll be targeting, and you need to know who they are – what they like and dislike, the type of content that will appeal to them, the places they view and interact with content.
When you know who you’re developing content for, you can build specific, detailed personas that should include the standard demographic of those individuals, from what their concerns are and their lifestyle to what motivates them. As you create content going forward, you can refer back to these personas to ensure you stay on the right track.
Identify what makes you unique
Your USP is what sets you apart from similar businesses in your industry. There’s a high chance that your competitors will have similar products or services to your brand, so you need to differentiate yourself and show your potential customers why they should choose your brand over another.
Maybe it’s longevity in the industry and expertise, or maybe if your unique brand voice that’s instantly recognisable. Perhaps you deliver an outstanding customer service that goes above and beyond anyone else in the industry. Whatever it is that makes you stand out should be a central feature in all your content.
Choose the content you’ll focus on
From blogs, infographics and video to podcasts, social media and whitepapers, content comes in various forms. But you don’t want to waste time creating in a certain format if it’s not going to appeal to your target customers. If they’re interested in video and tend to use YouTube over any other platform, there’s no point in spending all your precious time creating in-depth blog posts because they won’t receive the engagement you’re hoping for.
Knowing where your audience lives will help you understand the types of content you should be focusing on to capture their attention and build trust and loyalty. But you also need to think about your industry and the types of content that best suit your subject matter and niche.
Do your keyword research
You know your objectives, you’ve identified your audience and you know what type of content you need to produce. The next step is refining the details to make sure that content is found.
Keyword research will highlight the specific terms that people are using to search for topics, which you can then include in your content to ensure it ranks for those keywords and phrases, which is key to organic search marketing. There are a few tools you can use for this, including SEMrush, BuzzSumo and Google Keyword Planner. I recommend Ahrefs, as it has a variety of useful features to make the process of refining your search even easier.
Review your existing content
If you’re starting from scratch, chances are you’re working primarily with blog posts. But if you want to venture into different formats, an audit can help you assess the content that’s performed the best for you so far. And if you’ve been in business a while, you’ll have more to work with and analyse. Analysing the pages on your site that have had most, and least, engagement from your viewers will help you build a picture of the type of content your audience likes to see, as well as the topics that interest them most and the keywords that have been used to find your site.
With your core keywords, it’s time to start brainstorming ideas for your upcoming content projects. Feedly and BuzzSumo are great resources for trending topics in your industry and different angles you can use as a jumping off point, as well as Google Trends.
CoSchedule’s Headline Analyser is also useful for generating ideas – you simply enter general topics you’d like to write about, and it will produce title suggestions you can work with.
Map the journey
Any successful content marketing strategy shows that you need to think about the entire marketing funnel when planning content.
Brand awareness is at the top of the funnel, followed by building trust through high-quality content that’s useful and relevant, rather than simply promotional. Creating content that’s helpful builds engagement, which leads to evaluation and eventually conversions. Consider the journey your potential customers are taking, and how you can foster trust and loyalty through your content to facilitate that journey.
Work out how you’ll manage content creation
Figuring out how to create and publish content on a consistent schedule is daunting, but having a plan in place makes it more manageable. Gather your team and work out who will be creating what, where and when it’s being published, and whether you’ll be producing it all in house or if you’ll be outsourcing it to freelancers or a third-party agency. A content editorial calendar can make this much easier, but I also love Trello for breaking tasks down and keeping track of each stage, so everyone can have a clear overview of the process.
As you can see, there’s a lot that goes into developing a content marketing plan but doing the prep work makes all the difference to the quality of content you produce and the results you’ll see for your business. It’s essential that you create meaningful content, and there are a few best practices you can rely on to do just that. Make sure you’re keeping your target audience in mind, so you’re developing content that’s useful and relevant to them.
It’s also important to communicate to them in a way they’ll understand, in language that makes sense to them. Keep your content up to date and factual, and as new information becomes available, make sure you’re updating or archiving the content you’re publishing. Lastly, stay consistent, not only in publishing regularly but also in style so people following you know what to expect and can learn quickly what you’re trying to communicate.
Need further advice on building an effective content marketing strategy? Why not get in touch today and I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have.