Content marketing is a marketing strategy that enables brands and individuals to reach out to the audience through different types of content such as written content, audio, video, and images. The objective, however, is to attract, engage, and convert the audience into paying customers. A content marketing plan is a strategy to ideate, create and publish content to execute content marketing. All this happens when you create content and put it out there.
If you haven’t had a chance to create a content marketing plan or want to polish up your current content marketing plan, this is the perfect opportunity to tweak your content plan right away.
Before digging deeper into the steps of developing a content marketing plan, let’s touch on some basics.
Core Elements of an Effective Content Marketing Plan
There are three fundamental elements of developing an effective content marketing plan. Not only do they strengthen the content marketing efforts, but they also bring clarity to the process.
1. Identifying the Audience
One can’t build an effective content marketing plan without knowing the audience. If you aren’t sure who you want to reach out to, then it’s useless to spend your time, energy, and resources on creating content. So figure out who the right audience is and hone your content strategy accordingly.
2. Setting the Goals
If someone jumps in and starts creating content without deciding its purpose, then it won’t do any good. Goal setting determines the direction of the content marketing plan. It clarifies whether you want sales, subscribers, downloads, or anything else from your content.
3. Leveraging the Content
A clear sense of direction would always pay off. Therefore, one of the benefits is that you can leverage your content to find a new audience, solve the audience’s problems, build a connection with the prospects, and engage the existing customers. Many companies use content to grow their social media followers just because they publish a ton of content; it helps them communicate with the audience.
How to Create a Winning Content Marketing Plan (Step-by-Step Guide)
Let’s dig deeper and take a look at the step-by-step process of creating an effective content marketing plan.
1. Clarify Your Purpose
Content marketing is a good way of starting a conversation and helping out the audience through your content. However, the biggest mistake you could make is to turn a blind eye to your purpose.
It’s essential to clarify the purpose before planning your content strategy. You need to know what problem will you be solving for your audience. That way, you can tailor the content according to their needs and wants. For example, suppose you’re targeting a group of people in the 25-35 age bracket who live in the United States and are looking for information on yoga retreats in India. In that case, that is the audience profile that you would create when developing your content strategy.
The goal is to offer them something that they want and need to solve their problems.
2. Choose a Market Segment
Marketing is indeed a perception-building strategy, but it becomes ineffective when you aren’t clear about your market. No matter how much you spend on content marketing, if you’ve taken the wrong turn, you would lose track. So it’s essential to know the target audience before starting any content creation.
The market segment doesn’t have to be complicated. However, it’s understandable that it requires some due diligence before anyone jumps to a conclusion. So here are some of the critical indicators one should consider analyzing before presuming the market segment:
- Who are you?
- What do you do?
- How does your product work?
- Who is your customer?
Once you figure out more through the indicators mentioned above, you’d be in a better position to identify your market segment.
For instance, we at ContentStudio know our audience. Therefore, we create content on our blog that is specifically relevant to our target audience. There are vital elements that you should learn from ContentStudio’s blog:
1. Know Your Audience
As mentioned before, we know our audience. So we create content that helps people understand content marketing, social media management, and content promotion. In addition, since ContentStudio is a social media management tool, we look out for the attention of the entrepreneurs, influencers, brands, small businesses, and online marketers who create and share content on social media.
2. Content Relevancy
You may notice that we stick to our niche when it comes to content creation. For example, have you ever read an article on cars or cameras on this blog? You didn’t because we know what readers expect from us and what content we should create to attract and engage the audience.
So the point is that specify your market segment and create content for them. Unfortunately, many of us don’t pay attention to this and bypass this step instead.
3. Select Content Formats
Before developing an effective content marketing plan, you need to know what makes you unique. As mentioned earlier, your goals are vital in determining which type of content will work best for your business. It can be text, audio, video, or images. Next, you’ll need to decide which format will work best for your target audience.
In other words, a brand must know what kind of content could help the target audience and why it will impact them positively. When a brand figures this out, the rest of the process gets easier.
For example, if you’re a bakery and want to sell more desserts online, you could create a post on how to make the perfect cupcakes for all of those upcoming holidays. This content would be excellent for attracting new customers who love baking and don’t have time to do it themselves. Or, if you offer consulting services, you could make a video showing people how to set up their company’s social media accounts. Again, your goal is to attract more customers and use the content to convert them into paying customers.
4. Select Publishing Channels
Before developing your content marketing plan, you need to know the channels where you’ll publish your content. The channels are Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Medium, LinkedIn, and blog posts, just to name a few.
The channels that work well for your company depend on which types of content your company produces. For example, if you create videos, YouTube would be the best channel for you. On the other hand, if your company writes blogs about cooking recipes, then Medium would be the best platform for publishing these recipes.
5. Create a Content Calendar
To have a successful content marketing campaign, you need to have a content calendar. This will ensure that your content is fresh and relevant all year long. This also ensures that you are always in the process of creating new content.
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6. Create Valuable Content
Creating content is the first step to developing an effective content marketing plan. But just creating content isn’t enough in content marketing. Instead, it should be valuable for the audience too. Unfortunately, some bloggers and SEOs make this mistake; they often get carried away by the keywords selection process and pumping out content so much that they ignore its quality.
Sustainable content delivery is necessary, but the value in the content is imperative to content marketing.
There are four aspects of cementing deliverability of value through content:
1. Relevant Topics
Relevant topics seem apparent when it comes to creating content, but bloggers and brands often go off the track. To specify your target audience and decide whether or not the topics are best for them. The reason it’s important is that content creation takes time, money, and energy, so you might not want to waste all those things.
2. Providing Solutions
The best way to create valuable content is to provide solutions. There could be many options in content creation, such as how-to tutorials, listicles, product reviews, and case studies. The purpose should be to give away the solutions.
3. Well-written Content
There are many pillars of creating valuable content, such as a great topic, clarity of message, providing a solution, but if the content isn’t well-written, it won’t work. The reason is that the readers won’t continue to read if there are grammatical errors or the content is stretched up just to fill up the pages. So make sure that the content is well-written.
4. Audience Engagement
One of the essentials of delivering value is audience engagement. Sometimes, the audience needs to talk to you after consuming your content for further explanation. Engagement through blog comments and tweets can help convey the crux of the message. Don’t underestimate the power of audience engagement.
7. Plan Your Content Promotion
Content marketing is incomplete without the promotion of the content. Therefore, to reap the benefits at its core, the brand that has been busy producing high-quality content for the target audience to help out somehow should also focus on content promotion.
ContentStudio is a platform for researching, scheduling, and sharing meaningful content with your audience. It’s an integrated social media management platform that helps you discover the right content for curating it on your blog or social media.
Content curation consists of a compilation of own content and the industry’s best content. It plays a vital role in your content promotion strategy. It’s necessary to develop a content promotion plan to cash in on your content creation efforts. The reason is that content marketing remains incomplete without promotion of the content.
8. Engage through Every Medium
Content marketing doesn’t only mean creating and publishing content; instead, the audience’s engagement has a huge role in it. So now, we’ll look at the audience engagement, especially what we can do to get started with engagement and where to begin.
You don’t have to do anything extraordinary to pull this off. Instead, it requires communicating more, talking to people, responding to their queries, and using multiple mediums to interact.
Many people share their content on Facebook pages and Twitter accounts, but they don’t think of starting a conversation with their followers. To make your content marketing campaign effective, you have to engage people so that your content gets more attention on the platform.
Here are three simple ways to start engagement:
1. Start Conversations
Starting conversations may look tricky at first, but it won’t affect you much once you get used to it. I’d highly recommend sharing your content with a proper explanation and starting a conversation with people who like or comment on your content.
2. Answer Queries
If someone asks a question through a DM or a comment, it’s a great way to start a conversation, especially if the question is being asked in the comments section.
3. Thank Loyal Fans
Thanking fans who show up to consume your content and respond to your questions could be an excellent way to start a conversation.
You can also submit your articles on websites like Medium or Quora if they meet the eligibility criteria of that website. This will get you exposure, increase your brand visibility and make people more aware of the existence of your business.
9. Analyze the Outcome
It’s important to analyze the outcome of the strategy or the investment you’ve made after a specific period.
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Certain things must be analyzed, such as:
Keywords Selection: Go through your website statistics and see for yourself how your selected keywords are performing. It’ll help you comprehend whether or not you chose the right keywords to use in your content. It doesn’t necessarily mean keywords only matter in the content; keywords influence lots of things such as topics, meta tags, image tags, and URLs. If you understand SEO, you’d know all these things. If things are looking better from the keywords standpoint, then continue using those keywords, but if they aren’t, consider testing new keywords.
Content Strategy: Content strategy is a content creation plan that encapsulates the ideas, keywords, and topics that are suitable for the audience. If you feel that there is something that needs to be fixed in the content strategy, then go ahead and alter a thing or two.
Conversion Rate: This is one of the crucial things to be analyzed. The conversion rate is the ratio of sales as compared to the total clicks. If the conversion rate isn’t impressive, you might want to make a few changes here and there. You don’t get to the perfect combination of keywords, topics, and market segment immediately; it always takes time to achieve that.
Customer Acquisition: Customer acquisition is a necessary element of content marketing, but the ultimate goal of content marketing is engagement and attraction. It doesn’t mean sales aren’t important in the process. What content marketing does is that it builds your loyal fan base, which eventually paves the way for more paying customers.
Outcome analysis is important because it provides you with a chance to analyze what’s working for you and what’s not working for you. If things aren’t going well, it’d be better if you alter your strategy after a period rather than keep pushing the same strategy. So outcome analysis is pretty much like a short break when you’re on a road trip and pull over for a cup of coffee and refueling.
The idea of this blog post was to give you a roadmap for getting started with content marketing. Many of you might not be creating content at all—some of you might be doing it wrong.
So developing an effective content marketing plan requires steps like:
- Clarity of your purpose
- Identification of a market segment
- Creation of suitable content
- Connecting with the audience
- A thorough examination of your plan
Once you go through all these steps, you’d be able to take your content strategy to the next level.
Wasiq Naeem is a content and digital marketing veteran who is passionate about his writing. Extensive research and producing high-quality content is just another day at the office for him.