Content marketing is a big topic.
It’s something that all businesses can (and should) be using to attract more customers and make more sales. And it all starts with a solid content marketing plan.
You need to have a clear plan before you start posting on social media and publishing on your blog. This helps you create better content that has a greater impact.
84% of businesses use content marketing, but only 11% of these businesses consider their strategy to be excellent. Let’s make sure you’re not part of that 11%.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through creating a winning content marketing plan step-by-step. If you’re just starting to market your business, or if you want to improve your marketing efforts, then these are the strategies you need to know.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is all about creating and publishing valuable content for your audience. This content can take many different forms and achieve many different goals.
The most important part of any content marketing plan is to add value to your audience. To achieve this, your content should cover three important bases. It should be:
It also needs to be relevant to your audience and the type of content that you are creating.
Ok hold up, let’s take a step back. What exactly is “content” and why is it so important?
For the purpose of this article, content refers to any kind of marketing material that you can use to promote your business. Although, we’re not talking about content that simply advertises your products or services. Instead, we’re talking about content that informs, educates, and entertains your target audience.
Some examples of this?
- Blog articles
- YouTube videos
- Social media content
- Email newsletters
- And anything else you create to add value to your audience
Why is this content so important?
Well, that depends on the specifics of your content marketing strategy. However, the main is that your customers need to discover your brand, build trust, and decide to make a purchase. To do this, you need to offer more than just a post about what your product does and how much it costs.
Instead, you need to meet customers at their stage of the buying journey and target them with content that matches this.
For example, a customer might know they have a problem (a painful back) but they don’t yet know what the solution to their problem is.
So, they will head to Google and search for something like “why does my back hurt?”. Now, as an ergonomic chair company, it’s your job to address this question. Let the customer understand that their back hurts because they’re sitting on the wrong chair. Now you can recommend your chair as the solution.
This is a basic example of content marketing in action. Although, content marketing, in its many different forms, can help you achieve all kinds of things. This includes:
- Spreading brand awareness
- Building trust in your brand
- Maintaining relationships with existing customers
- Nurturing leads and prospects into customers
- Encouraging repeat purchases
And plenty more.
Make sense? Let’s dive into how you can apply this to your business.
How to Develop a Content Marketing Plan: 10 Steps
Hopefully, you now have a decent idea of what exactly content marketing is and what you can achieve with it. To do it right, you will need to develop a solid content marketing plan for your business.
Here are the steps you should take to achieve this.
1. Establish Your Goals
Start with the end in mind. What do you want to achieve by publishing your content?
Yes, the overall goal is to make more sales, but the specifics of each piece of content will differ. Your content marketing goals can also differ depending on what channel you’re using.
Some common goals could include:
- Spreading brand awareness
- Increasing sales of a specific product
- Booking demos
- Building an audience
- Establishing authority
- Providing content to help customer support
- Nurturing leads down your funnel
Once you have established your goals, you can break down your content into three main categories. These are:
- Top-level content
- Mid-level content
- Bottom-level content
Each type of content relates to the relevant stage of the customer’s buying journey.
For example, let’s say you sell environmentally-friendly T-shirts. Your three types of content topics could look like this:
- Top-level content: “How the textile industry is damaging the environment”
- Mid-level content: “How to choose more sustainable clothes”
- Bottom-level content: “The best environmentally-friendly T-shirts”
Each level of content should push the customer to the next level, with the final piece of content pushing them to make a sale.
The example above is a very simplified content plan, but you get the idea.
2. Know Your Audience
In order to create content that is relevant to your audience and adds value to them, you will need to have a solid understanding of who your audience is.
This involves understanding their problems and pain points, knowing their demographics, and knowing what their online behavior typically looks like.
To do this, you should try to create detailed audience personas. This will help you establish what channels to focus our content marketing strategy on, and what topics to address.
The aim of your content marketing plan is to create content on topics that your audience is interested in and searching for.
3. Choose Your Content Marketing Channels
The next step is to establish how you will create content.
As we’ve already mentioned, “content” is a broad term that covers many different formats. While it’s a good idea to create as diverse of a content strategy as possible, it’s important that you do this strategically. You don’t want to spend all of your time creating content if it doesn’t match your target audience.
So, choose content marketing channels that match your business and your audience.
This goes back to understanding how your audience consumes content. You also need to understand what type of content works best on different platforms.
For example, TikTok is all about creating content that is fun and entertaining. This can be a great place to show off your products and create brand awareness. However, if your goal is to educate customers about a technical topic, then you would probably be better off focusing on YouTube videos or blog posts.
For example, here’s a fun TikTok video we created:
And this is the kind of educational blog content we cover:
Both are very different types of content to match the different channels.
Remember that creating content for each different channel requires time and effort. The best approach is to start by focusing on a few essential channels. As you find success at this, you can gradually expand. If you try to cover all of your content marketing bases all at once, you might never see any success at any of them.
You might also waste time getting no results that could be spent on another area of your business.
4. Know What Content Your Audience Wants to See
A vital, and often tricky, part of creating a content marketing strategy is to create the right content.
The idea is obvious, but it can be difficult to execute.
One of the best places to start is to understand keywords. This is essential for SEO content marketing, but it’s also important for understanding your audience’s interests.
You can use a tool like Ahrefs, Semrush, Ubersuggest, or Wordstream to research keywords and search terms. These are the phrases that people type into Google. These are your potential customers’ questions that they need answers to.
If you can answer these questions, your content marketing plan is on the right track.
When researching keywords, pay attention to search volume (how many times people search for these terms each month), and keyword difficulty (how competitive these keywords are). Ideally, you want high volume, low difficulty.
Other ways to find content ideas are to look at what commonly asked questions your customers might have. You should also always look at the results of your content and see what types of content are most popular. Any content marketing plan should be fluid and be adjusted as your business and audience grow.
6. Plan Your Content Marketing Resources
Now that you know what type of content you’re going to create, what do you need to turn this content into a reality?
Maybe you need to write an SEO-friendly blog post, film and edit a video, make funny social media content, or record a podcast. Each of these different forms of content requires time and resources.
Ensure the resources that are required make sense for your business, and that you can hope to get a good return from this.
If the content requires too great of an investment and you aren’t sure it’s the best approach for your business, you can always hold onto that idea for later.
Some content marketing channels that offer the best ROI include email marketing, SEO blog content, and social media. These forms of marketing don’t necessarily require any money, and they can yield awesome results for all kinds of businesses.
7. Plan Your Content Schedule
The next step is to plan out your content schedule.
The more you post, the better. However, there’s no need to be too ambitious here. You don’t want to overexert yourself to create content while other areas of your business take a hit.
The most important thing is to be consistent. If you choose to send three marketing emails a week, stick to this rhythm. If you choose to pot on social media every second day, then stick to this pattern.
8. Create Your Content Calendar
We’re getting close to publishing your content.
The next step in your content marketing plan is to set up your calendar. This will help you to stay organized and ensure you post the right content at the right time.
Relate your content calendar back to the previous step. Plan out your content posting schedule and assign a day to each piece of content that you plan to post. This will help you know when to publish, and it will help you to space your content marketing out strategically so that you have a consistent schedule.
Planning in advance also ensures you post the right content at the right times. This is important if your business has important das that you need to cover, like specials or promotions. It also ensures you post during holidays or any other day that requires specific content.
9. Create Your Content
Now for the fun part – creating your marketing content.
You’ve got everything planned out and you know what you need to do, so now it’s just a case of creating quality content.
Keep your audience in mind when doing this, and try to add as much value as possible. When creating content, think about what the user will be able to get out of it.
Of course, different types of marketing content require totally different approaches. Whatever you’re creating, the more you do it the better you will get.
While you shouldn’t sacrifice quality, try not to get too caught up in perfection. One of the best strategies is to just create and publish content as best as you can without spending too much time on it. As you start to see results, you can always optimize your content and improve the quality of content on your most important channels.
The more you do this, the better your content marketing plan will get.
10. Review Your Content Marketing Efforts
Finally, once you have published your marketing content, the next step is to review your content, check how it’s performing, and adjust your strategy as you need to.
Any good content marketing plan should be open to change. The important thing is to keep your end goal in mind and review your analytics. This should reveal what parts of your content marketing plan are working, what parts aren’t working, and where you can make improvements.
Follow these steps and continually optimize your content marketing plan, and you should start seeing some great results.
Content Marketing Hacks
We’ve unpacked the basis of any good content marketing plan. However, there are endless ways that you can create better content and improve what you offer.
Here are a few things to keep in mind to help you create stronger marketing content.
Republish Your Content Across Different Channels
One of the best ways to develop a diverse content marketing plan is to republish your content on different channels. This is a great strategy because it lets you create more content with less effort.
How do you do this? Let’s say you publish a blog post. You already have that content written, so you can use it to make a YouTube video. You could take points from the blog post and create social media content with it, or turn it into a podcast.
This means one piece of content, many possibilities. It can help you clover more channels and promote your existing content without investing too much time or effort into it.
Here’s an example of a YouTube video we published:
And then here’s a blog post we created from the same content:
Know What Metrics to Watch
Content marketing is something you can always get better at. To do this, you’ll need to know what metrics to monitor.
These metrics should relate back to the original goal that you want to achieve. Your different marketing channels should have options for displaying metrics that you can monitor.
Understand these different metrics, know what influences them, and adjust your content plan according to these results.
Imagine Your Audience
Think about who you’re creating content for and understand what they will get from it.
Is your content actionable? Does it solve their question? Is it interesting to them?
At the same time, consider your channel and make sure that this matches your audience. For example, you might be targeting different audience segments on TikTok than you are on YouTube. This means you shouldn’t necessarily be sharing the same content on these different channels.
The number one rule is that you provide value to your audience with every bit of content that you share.
Content marketing is one of the best ways to grow any kind of business. It requires minimal investment other than a bit of time and effort, and it can make an enormous impact.
As long as you know your audience and add value to them, your content marketing plan can achieve excellent results. Follow the steps above, and your business’s content marketing plan will be on the right track.
Want to implement a better marketing strategy but you’re not sure where to start? Chat to one of our marketing experts and we’ll help take your business to the next level.
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