Creating Your Content Marketing Plan
A lot of business owners start content marketing without any sort of strategy or planning. These marketers may not realize that it's not enough to simply start publishing articles on their websites and sharing links to those articles through social media. A successful content marketing campaign requires a plan of action.
Why is a plan important?
- To remind yourself of specific events or holidays
- To have a stream of content ideas to talk about
- To track what you've published already
- To ensure you're covering all aspects of your topic
- To know whether or not your content marketing efforts are successful
Of course, you might sometimes deviate from your plan; breaking news has a tendency to derail the best-laid plans! But a solid plan gives you a framework from which to work.
Your content marketing plan should address these 3 key components:
The most important step in planning out your content marketing strategy is defining your goals. It's helpful to set goals for the overall marketing campaign as well as for each individual piece of content. You want to be able to clearly identify exactly why you're creating content.
Goals generally fall into 3 categories for businesses that are marketing online:
- Increase exposure. This includes getting more traffic to your website via SEO, encouraging people to share your content, and getting your content in front of people who might not normally see it.
- Increase leads. You can use your content to invite interested prospects to join your mailing list, follow you on social media, or even to subscribe to your blog.
- Increase sales. Your content can demonstrate to your target audience how your products and services can fulfill a need that persists in the market, and you can easily explain how potential customers can invest with you.
Your overall content marketing plan should cover all three categories, but each piece of content should focus on one specific goal. This is critical because a lot of your content will include a call-to-action where you ask people to join your email list or buy a product or sign up for something — whatever action you want them to take. Inviting your audience to take multiple actions leads to confusion, and confusion results in them taking no action at all.
After you have a clear idea of “why” you're creating content, it's a good idea to create an editorial or content calendar of your topics. Include the goal that each item will help you move towards. This will make it easier for you to distribute your content in a way that moves you toward all of your goals simultaneously. It will also allow you to quickly see any topics that have been repeated or overlooked.
For greatest efficiency, plan your content for an entire month, at least a month in advance. If this sounds daunting, consider that major bloggers plan a year or more in advance. Early planning helps you to get a clear picture of how you're going to approach your goals and gives you the security of knowing that your ideas are captured even when you're not yet ready to create the content.
It's important to publish content in multiple locations to give yourself the greatest exposure possible. As your populate your content calendar, include information about where you plan to post. Your content should be evenly distributed on:
- Your Website. Publish high-quality articles and videos on your site to attract search engine traffic and establish yourself as an authority on your topic.
- Social Media Sites. Post helpful, entertaining, and informational content on sites like Twitter and Facebook to gain exposure and encourage social sharing.
- Content Sharing Sites. Upload your educational content to properties such as YouTube and SlideShare to demonstrate your expertise to members of their audiences and gain even more exposure.
Every piece of content you publish should help you achieve one of your goals, and all of your content together should move your closer to all of your goals. Plan content that focuses on helping you sell, content that helps you increase your subscriber base, and education-based content that simply lends credibility to your brand, and distribute it across multiple online properties for the best chance of success.