So, you know that creating content is important to your marketing efforts…you wouldn’t be here if you thought otherwise, but when it comes to actually creating a content marketing plan that works, you are probably feeling a bit overwhelmed.
The amount of content about content creation is vast and yes, we are self-aware enough to realize that we are throwing another piece of content about content into the endless abyss of articles that have been written about digital marketing.
Now, let’s get down to business. A content marketing plan essentially has several basic parts – we say basic, but each part is pretty complex when you really get down to it, but we don’t want to scare you off just yet.
1. Determine the Purpose of Your Content Marketing Plan
Determining the goal of your content marketing plan is a step that some content marketers unfortunately skip. Ask yourself why your content exists and what value it brings to your organization. There isn’t a huge laundry list of goals to choose from, but you do need to figure out if you want your content to:
- Drive leads
- Bring more traffic to your site
- Get a ton of social shares and engagement
- Build brand awareness
- Improve customer loyalty and retention
The trick here is to choose a goal based on where you believe your business is struggling most.
2. Find your audience personas
If you don’t already have a few marketing personas created, now is the time to dig in and figure out exactly who you are creating your content for. Personas are essentially 3-5 profiles for fictional customers that are a representation of the real-life people you want with your content.
There are a few places where you can gather the data you need to create these personas. We have conveniently outlined these places below because we want you to stay and hang out a little bit longer.
Check your analytics: Look at what keywords people are searching in order to find your website, what pages they are landing on, how long they stay on those pages, and if they clicked on any call to actions or filled out forms.
Ask your team for their input: More specifically, ask the sales and customer service teams for their input. They are the ones who interact directly with customers and prospects every day and can give you some pretty great insight.
Send your current customers surveys: Is it kind of old school? Yes. Is it effective? Also, yes. Sending out customer surveys will help you find out what their goals were/are when using your product or service, their pain points, and much much more. They will be happy to tell you the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to their experience.
Check reviews and social media: If you have a lot of reviews and/or a solid social media presence, you can dig in there.
3. Perform a content audit
If you have been creating blog posts, white papers, and other pieces of content already, you should perform a content audit. If you do not have anything like this on your site, disregard this step.
So, how do you perform a content audit?
- Create a list of all of the content on your site in a spreadsheet with title and corresponding URLs.
- If you have a small site, you can do this manually, but you can also use software like to generate your list if you have a larger site with a lot of content.
- Find out how your content is performing
- How much traffic is coming in from each URL? What is the bounce rate? How many backlinks has that piece of content garnered?
- Use the information you have gathered to inform your new content marketing plan. Ex. Have a few blogs on a particular topic? Gather that info into a white paper that people can download on your site or condense it down into an eye-catching infographic that you can share on social media.
4. Keyword Research
Once you know what content is performing well and what you might want to repurpose, it is time to dig in and perform keyword research to determine what people are searching for relating to your product or service in order to create new content.
Although it would be wonderful to write about whatever you wanted, that isn’t beneficial to your business. You will need to do some keyword research to see what people on the ol’ world wide web are looking for in relation to your product or service.
The goal should be to answer questions and provide valuable information to your target audience. Think top of the funnel.
The best and most efficient way to perform keyword research is to use a keyword planner. A keyword planner has all of the info you need for a chosen keyword including search volume, difficulty, how much people are paying to use the keyword in their ads and more.
Put the keywords you want to use into a spreadsheet with the metrics and leave columns open for topic ideas and the type of content you want to create using the keywords – we will get to that next. We also always add a column for additional notes.
FYI: We made up the keywords and metrics for the example below to save time.
Your spreadsheet should look something like this:
5. Brainstorm Your Content
Okay, now for the fun part: coming up with your content ideas and topics and figuring out how you want to execute them.
Take all of your research. Yes, all of it. From your buyer personas down to your keywords, use all of this data to come up with engaging and unique content ideas that benefit your clientele.
Types of Content
You don’t want to put all of your eggs in one basket when it comes to your content marketing plan. The types of content you can create include:
- Blog Posts
- Case Studies
- Social Media Posts and Messages
We briefly talked about how you can repurpose existing blog posts to create white papers and infographics above. You can also use your new content in the same way.
For example, let’s say you want to do a podcast. You can use what was talked about in the podcast to create a blog post, infographic or video. This is beneficial because you save time and provide valuable information to potential customers in a variety of ways. Win! Win!
Topic ideation is where you can really start to get creative. It is possible to come up with killer topics on your own, but if you are feeling stuck, a simple search for your keywords might be exactly what the doctor ordered.
Google your keyword and see what questions are being asked in relation to that keyword. Google has a specific area where you can find these queries.
You can also go back and talk to the sales and customer service teams again and see what topic ideas they might have! Teamwork makes the dream work right?
The goal here is to come up with topics that you know will inform, engage, or entertain potential clients or customers.
Once you have your topic ideas, choose the best medium for distributing your content, and put that info into your spreadsheet. This will be the foundation for a killer editorial calendar – you will just need to add columns for publishing dates and potential linking opportunities.
6. Creating Your Content
Will you be writing, filming, and publishing your content? Do you need to bring in a third party to do this?
It is vital to figure out how your content will be created. A content strategy plan is great, but if nothing ever gets produced what is the point?
This is 100% the most time-consuming part of content marketing so, if you already feel like you are pressed for time, it is probably best to outsource some of your content marketing efforts. Click here to learn more about outsourcing.
7. Track and Measure Content Performance
This isn’t necessarily part of creating a content marketing plan, but it is critical to the success of your future campaigns.
You need to track how well your content is performing using analytics and data to ensure that it is driving conversions and traffic, and bringing value to your business.
Set up dashboards in Google Analytics or find a campaign tracker that works for you and use the information for future campaigns.
If you want to know more about how content marketing can help your business grow and thrive in the digital landscape, contact the experts at RSM at 877-272-7810 or fill out the form below.