Whether you are new to content marketing or have been working with it for years, you will find planning is essential.
Why Planning Matters
Planning is always a useful exercise to work through. Planning;
- Crystallizes your thinking
- Identifies options and alternative strategies
- Helps you understand your audience
- Clarifies costs and resource requirements
As Eisenhower correctly surmised, while plans change depending on the competitive environment and competitor responses, having the structured thinking that goes into a plan can mean the difference between success and failure.
5 Reasons Content Marketing Matters For Your Businesses
Content both connect with your website visitors emotionally and intellectually so it can position your brand as a thought leader in your segment. Content may also be the vehicle that opens the door to new customers in emerging segments.
Here are five additional reasons why content marketing matters to your business:
1. Brand Building And Positioning: Engaging content brings your brand’s attributes to life for website visitors.
2. Drive Website Traffic: Content is a powerful way for visitors to learn about different attributes of your brand.
3. SEO Spike: SEO algorithms love fresh content, keywords, and links.
4. Target Segments: Fresh content can expand your visitor reach.
5. Customer Loyalty: Content helps nurture trust and build affinity.
U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower once commented;
“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”
7 Steps To A Content Marketing Strategy
- Define Content Objectives
~What are your objectives behind your content development?
~Why are you creating content?
~How does your content marketing plan fit with your business objectives?
- Research Content Personas
To have a successful plan, you need to clearly define your content’s target audience represented by your ideal customer personas. Personas help you in customizing content to closely reflect their needs, desires, and interests. A new persona is also an opportunity to test the viability of a new potential audience.
- Audit Your Content Library
Blog posts and lead magnets are the obvious places to start an audit. Look for gaps between the content your personas consume and the content you provide. Explore ways to re-use existing content by repurposing blog posts into eBooks or catalogs.
- Review Your Content Management System (CMS)
To reduce the resource load content creation and publishing places on your business, explore ways to manage it more efficiently. Have a system in place where you can manage your content.
Your CMS should cover content:
- Publication, and
- Monitoring and analytics.
- Identify Priority Content
Work through the checklist of common forms of content and identify the ones which most closely fit with your personas. The most popular content formats are:
- Blog Posts: Posts should provide engaging content for your audience that prompts them to share posts on social media. Test to see if your audience prefers longer or shorter reads.
- EBooks: Effective lead magnets that potential customers can download after submitting a lead form with their contact details. They’re typically longer, more in-depth, and published less frequently than blog posts.
- Templates: Simple content formats as they generate leads for you while providing value to your audience. Providing your audience with template tools saves them time and effort and your audience is more likely to reciprocate by engaging with your content in the future.
- Infographics: Organize and displays data in a compelling way. These are great content formats if you’re trying to share a lot of data in an easily understood way.
- Videos: Attention grabbing medium that is highly shareable across social media platforms. Videos can be a large investment in time and resources but are a hugely popular medium.
- Podcasts: Great way for audiences discover your brand if they don’t consume content every day. Podcasts are particularly effective if you have interesting people to interview or conversation topics to host.
- Publish, Monitor And Assess Your Content
A content marketing plan needs to outline how you will organize your content. Include a weekly publishing schedule in your plan and map it against an annual editorial calendar. These plans can be supported by a social media content calendar to streamline the coordination between publishing content on your social media channels as well as your website.
Much of an annual content calendar is seasonal or cyclical. Flesh out the gaps between them with tactical or short-term content to maintain the currency and relevance of you content to your audience. Often, that ephemeral tactical item of content is the one that spikes your traffic volumes.
Once your calendars and publishing schedule are in place, monitor your publishing performance for variances to your schedule. While content often has to move around due to tactical reasons, continuously missed deadline is an indicator that your content plan is flawed.
7. Similarly, review your content performance on an ongoing basis.
Keep an eye out for sudden spikes in website traffic attributable to an individual content item. If you find something that works, adjust your calendar and publish more.
Complement your content monitoring with a deep dive into your content analytics every quarter or half year. This is a sufficiently long time-frame to spot trends while still enabling you to take action with your content based on insights generated through the analytics.
It takes time, discipline, and creativity to build a successful content marketing strategy and supporting plan. Creating a content plan as a foundation for your content strategy helps map out key publishing dates and schedules, identify content publishing tools to leverage your content more effectively, and ensures your content is aligned with the needs and interests of your audience personas.