Research by the Content Marketing Institute shows that content marketing generates three times more qualified leads than traditional forms of advertising.
To do it well though, you need a plan! Banging together a few posts and hoping for the best won’t do you justice.
Here are 7 steps to guide you through the process.
- Articulate your goals.
- Empathise with your audience.
- Run a content audit.
- Determine budget, tools & resources.
- Decide on content types.
- Create a content calendar & consistently create content.
- Measure results.
What is Content?
Content is, arguably, anything you create that doesn’t contain an overt sales message; it is that simple.
- Blog content
- Social media
- How to guides
1. Articulate your goals.
What’s your aim for developing a content marketing plan? Why do you want to produce content and create a content marketing plan?
Understanding your goals will give you greater ability to pinpoint your strategy and define targets so that you can measure the success of your content marketing campaign.
Most businesses will initially define goals like brand awareness, attracting new customers, fostering brand loyalty, improving SEO, or engaging with customers.
Though, the best results will require you to articulate specific, measurable, actionable, relevant & time-bound goals. This way, you can genuinely benchmark your progress and make tweaks as necessary.
Some examples of SMART content marketing goals according to Semrush are:
If you’re updating blog articles to improve your SEO and bring more users to your site: Double organic traffic to our blog by September 2023 by updating five posts per week.
If you’re organising a series of webinars to improve customer retention: Reduce churn by 5% during Q3 and Q4 of 2023 by organising two product-focused webinars per month.
If you’re creating new YouTube videos to promote your products: Increasing ecommerce sales of kitchen products by 15% in Q2 by publishing two YouTube videos per week.
2. Empathise with your audience.
To connect with your customers, you need to know who they are. Creating targeting audiences and buyer personas will aid this process. Using a design thinking methodology this is where you would empathise with customers and then define that data on a spreadsheet or other tool.
Defining your target audience first will define the overall crowd of customers you want to target. This way you reduce the pool of customers into manageable groups.
Once you have your target audience, you can zoom in on individual customers and craft more personalised messaging.
You can think of a target audience as a team and a buyer persona as one of the players. The only difference between them is specificity. When you look at a team, its members have similar interests and are around the same age. However, when you focus on a specific player, that person will have a different background, goals, and personality than other team members.
A marketing Agency like Whisk Creative can conduct interviews to uncover deeper insights about their frustrations, motivations and behaviours. Having more in-depth customer personas will ensure your content marketing plan will reach the right people at the right time with the right information.
Developing target audiences and customer personas requires asking in-depth questions about your ideal customers. The insights illuminated are vital in empathising and understanding your customers so you can define how to bring them more value.
Every industry will vary about the questions, so it is better to craft your own than use a template. But some basic questions included in most buyer personas, include the standard demographics of age, gender, location, and income. In addition, it would help if you also considered what your target audience’s pastimes are, their concerns, and what motivates them.
3. Run a content audit.
You should review your content marketing efforts and last year’s results if you’ve been in business for a while. From here, you can further define what works and resonates best with your audience, identify gaps in your topic clusters, and brainstorm fresh content ideas. You can also look at your competitor’s content against engagement levels and keyword rankings.
4. Determine a budget.
If you’re starting out, you may not have the budget to do everything you want but prioritise your list to get the most out of it. Following the tips in this guide will ensure that this is a sound investment that will deliver returns. A good rule of thumb that many marketers recommend is to designate 25% to 30% of your marketing budget to content marketing.
5. Decide content types.
Not all content types are created equal, and there are several different content formats to consider when planning your content marketing strategy. Some perform better on certain channels, while others are more expensive to create. Common content types include photos, videos, blog posts, podcasts, infographics, and user-generated content.
Your content will also change based on the marketing funnel stage and the audiences that you’re targeting. You can read more on the content marketing funnel here.
6. Create a content calendar to ideate and deliver content.
It’s time to plan the distribution of your content on a calendar. An old-fashioned spreadsheet is excellent, or you could try content calendar software like Hubspot.
When ideating content is important to stay results focused to that you don’t get lost in the landslide of perfectionism. With your plan aligned with your goals, this will be easy.
7. Measure Results.
Now it is benchmark your results against your goals set out in step one. This is a continual process, and different content will have different metrics.
If you are interested in learning about performance metrics, please check out this performance metric guide from Semrush.