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How to Develop a Content Marketing Plan For Your Business

Content marketing is one of the most effective strategies to grow your brand today. Consequently, more companies are competing to take advantage of the opportunities that content marketing has to offer.

Needless to say...

Growing your business through content creation goes beyond publishing a few articles on your blog. It’s a complex process that requires lots of planning and flawless execution.

In this guide, we’ll answer the most important questions you have about content marketing. We’ll also share with you a detailed, step-by-step process to creating a content marketing strategy that delivers.

Ready?

Let’s jump right in.

What is Content Marketing?

Content marketing is a modern marketing approach that focuses on creating the right content for the right audience. One of its key aspects is providing value to the customer through relevant content that is consistently created.

Content Marketing Plan

This helps businesses attract quality customers and keep them engaged with their brands.

That's why the biggest companies have adopted content marketing as the ideal strategy to enhance customer loyalty.

What is a Content Marketing Strategy?

A content marketing strategy answers all the questions surrounding your content creation. It goes beyond the type of content you’ll create and focuses on helping you automate the process in the future.

Creating an effective content plan can be a long process and may be hard to accomplish. It will take time, effort, and lots of trial and error.

But once done:

Your content strategy will be much more practical and bring you measurable results.

Why Is a Content Marketing Plan Important For Your Business?

A solid content plan serves as the roadmap that will guide you to succeed with content marketing.

Here’s the deal:

It's always better to start with a bad plan than to proceed with no plan at all. And it's essential for any business to be clear on its goals and set KPIs it can track right from the start.

Why?

Because having a content strategy helps you focus on what matters most for your business. It allows you to track and optimize your progress while gathering and implementing feedback continuously.

Content Marketing

That's a vital step to producing better content.

Also:

Your content strategy will help keep everyone in your company in alignment with the vision. It will provide you and your team with all the answers you need when creating new content.

So, that will save you a lot of time in the long run.

Does Content Marketing Really Work?

Let's be completely honest here…

Content marketing used to be a lot easier because there wasn't much competition as there is today. Also, people were new to the internet. So that made them hungrier and more willing to consume any type of content that comes their way.

However:

Things have gotten a bit more difficult.

More and more content is being created every day by companies and individuals all over the world. And customers are more hesitant to consume anything while their attention spans get shorter.

Successful Content Marketing

Despite all that, content marketing is still preferred by online consumers.

70% of businesses are actively investing in a content marketing plan (Hubspot). And those efforts are generating 3x more leads compared to other forms of marketing (Demand Metric).

So, yes…

Content marketing works!

There's still room for your brand to adopt content marketing and use it to succeed. It's a sustainable approach to growing a business today because it can still yield results for long years to come.

What is an Example of Content Marketing?

Any type of content you publish online to attract new clients is an example of content marketing. For instance, the post you're reading now is an informative article we created to generate interest in our brand.

The most famous examples of content marketing are:

  • Blog articles
  • Ebooks
  • Infographics, Images, and GIFs
  • Podcasts
  • Videos
  • Webinars
  • Case studies
  • Email newsletters
  • Social media posts

There's a wide variety of content marketing options available for your company today. So, you can use any type of content you want to boost brand awareness.

What Should a Content Strategy Include?

The answer to this question depends on many factors — including your target audience, industry, type of content, marketing channels, etc...

And guess what?

There’s no universal template for all businesses to use when making their content strategy. In fact, it’s important for your content creation strategy to be unique to your goals, objectives, and target demographic.

Content Marketing Strategy

Your content marketing plan should detail your:

  • Marketing and sales goals
  • Target customers and their needs
  • Marketing channels
  • Biggest competitors
  • Content types and formats
  • Editorial calendar
  • Approach to results tracking and evaluation
  • Feedback implementation strategy

In the rest of this guide, we’ll cover these steps in more depth and explain why each one is important to your strategy.

How to Create a Content Marketing Strategy For Your Business

1- Set Your Marketing/Sales Goals

This step helps you focus on what matters in the long haul.

If you know your goals first, it will be easier to develop an efficient strategy to get you there. But if you have no idea where you're going, you'll never get anywhere.

Businesses strive for different aims based on their business model and execution.

For instance, your company may set the following goals:

  • Hit a certain level of revenue
  • Boost conversions and sales
  • Increase profit margins
  • Cut costs on marketing and advertising
  • Grow website traffic

No matter what your goals are, be clear on them from the start. That allows you to stay on the path and implement feedback later on.

And remember:

Keep your objectives quantifiable with tangible metrics and precise numbers.

Instead of saying, "we want to boost conversions", you might say, "we want to increase email sign-ups by +50% before 2021."

This approach allows you to compare your results with more precision later.

2- Identify Your Target Audience

You can't succeed with your content marketing without identifying your target audience.

Why?

Because value-first content is all about relevance.

If you don't know who you're making content for, you'll never understand their needs and struggles. So that will keep you from creating noticeable work that attracts and converts.

Now:

If you're just getting started and don't have much data, identifying your audience based on interests is enough. You'll target a broader audience that's likely to engage with your brand.

As you gather more insight, you can take this to the next level by breaking down your customers based on demographics.

Content Marketing Target Audience

One way to go about that is by using Google Analytics to find out more through the "Audience" tab. You'll get all sorts of details — including age, gender, location, interests, device, etc.

Another way to identify your focus group is by asking for feedback from your customers. That's an excellent way to tap into their minds and understand their needs and challenges.

3- Choose Your Marketing Channels

There are dozens of marketing channels you can focus on when developing a content strategy for your brand. Each one is different in the audience it offers and the preferred content format.

At first sight, it might seem like a good idea to do them all at once.

After all, that should maximize your chances of success and yield better results... Right?

Wrong!

A content marketing strategy is a long-term plan with real investments involved, including time and money. So, you should develop a sustainable, results-oriented approach that will guarantee the best outcomes.

SEO is a critical marketing channel for most businesses as search engines remain the biggest source of traffic on the internet today. Therefore, you must publish quality content regularly on your blog.

Social media marketing can be powerful as long as you choose the right platforms to be on.

However, it is hard to tell that from the start. And it's never the case that your target audience is present in equal portions across all platforms.

So, try different ones for some time, then stick to the ones that bring the best results.

Email marketing works wonders for lots of businesses as long as it's well implemented. And although it takes time, it can guarantee the highest conversions from your most loyal customers.

4- Analyze Your Competition

You'll face many doubts as you continue to move forward in your content marketing journey. There is a lot to keep track of and too many unanswered questions at the start.

You might be wondering:

  • What topics does my audience want?
  • What type of content is most preferred by my target customers?
  • Which marketing channels should I use to maximize my results?

The thing is:

You can't reinvent the wheel on your own from the beginning. There are too many variables in play, making it impossible to hit all the right nails in the head.

That's when having competitors becomes a blessing!

There are lots of tools and techniques to identify your competitors and analyze their processes. But as a start, we prefer sharing with you free strategies to keep your costs low.

Our favorite approach to this is simple:

Let's look at your competition in terms of "attention" instead of "profits."

Think about that for a moment...

What you'll realize is that anyone creating content similar to yours is your competitor. They don't have to sell your product or services. They just need to focus on your content marketing goals.

So, you'll use that to study your competition and identify what's working for them.

You can check who's ranking at the top of the SERPs using your target keywords. This step should give you a clear picture of who you're competing against in your content creation.

Also:

Be sure to look into your competition on social media to see which posts generated the most interactions. What type of content is getting the most shares? And what topics are getting the most comments?

5- Pick Your Content Types

This step is directly tied to your marketing channels, as that defines the type of content you'll create in the future.

The most popular content types today are:

  • Blog articles (how-to guides, listicles)
  • Infographics
  • Ebooks
  • Email newsletters
  • Videos

Each of them will require specific skills to create and publish — whether it's research, graphic design, copywriting, etc.

For example:

If you want to create an infographic, you'll need thorough research on the subject.

You must then give the content to a graphic designer who'll turn it into an eye-catching visual you can share with your followers.

Or maybe you're starting an email newsletter.

It takes a lot of planning and writing before you can send an email. You must then have someone integrate that into an automation tool, schedule the campaign, etc.

Content Types

So, be sure to detail in your content plan answers the following questions:

  • What type of content will I publish?
  • Does it involve a copywriter, a graphic designer, or a virtual assistant?
  • Is my goal sustainable in the long term?

We suggest that you get started with blogging because it's a must for any business today.

Publishing fresh content helps increase your authority in the SERPs and improve your SEO rankings. And since it's hosted on your website, it's also an efficient way to boost your conversions and sales.

6- Create An Editorial Calendar

You’re almost there!

You’ve identified your target customers and the type of content you want to create for them. You know where to find them online and what topics they’re most interested in.

Now, it’s time to get everything in order.

The biggest challenge you’ll face when creating content for your brand isn’t outshining your competition or connecting with your audience.

It’s lack of structure…

Not knowing what to do next is the reason most content plans fail.

That’s why this step is more than necessary.

A content calendar is an organizational document that details everything about your content strategy.

It answers questions like:

  • What content will I publish?
  • When and where will it be published?
  • Who will be responsible for creating that content?
  • Who is going to share the piece of content once completed?
  • How often will I repeat this whole process?

Content Schedule

Having such a schedule will provide precise answers to help you stay on track. And taking the time to do that will save you a lot of headaches in the long run.

To help you and your team stay organized, we suggest using free content management tools — such as Google Docs, Google Sheets, or Trello. They’ll grant you all the clarity you need to keep the team more motivated to work consistently.

7- Monitor Your Results

It’s now time to sit back and watch.

You’ll use the marketing goals you set at the beginning to assess how your content is performing. And through that, you can make educated guesses on how your content plan could improve.

But how do you track your results effectively?

Monitor your content marketing results

Here’s all you have to do:

You must set up a Google Analytics for your website at the beginning. Then you’ll use its reports to evaluate your progress and track your key metrics.

Read our comprehensive beginner’s guide on how to get started with Google Analytics.

Also:

You must pay attention to how your followers are reacting to your content on social media.

Are they interacting with your posts and leaving comments? Do they click on your links? Are they reaching out to you through direct messages?

More importantly:

Your SEO rankings will also tell you a lot about some critical aspects of your marketing plans. That includes your targeted topics, keyword research, link building strategy, etc.

Is your content ranking high on the SERPs? Did you notice an increase in organic traffic after implementing the new strategy?

8- Implement Feedback

If you're waiting for your content to be perfect before you can share it, you'll never publish anything. You'll fall for analysis paralysis and never take any action to move your business forward.

The biggest brands in the world understand this very well. That's why they've decided to incorporate feedback implementation as part of their content marketing plans.

You'll never know 100% what works and what doesn't, but your audience does.

So, why not learn from it?

Start creating content and watch continually how your audience is interacting with it.

After that, implement the feedback by improving what's not bringing the best results and doubling down on what's working.

Conclusion

So this is it… You’ve now created a rock-solid content marketing strategy for your business. It will help you keep on track and execute your marketing plans successfully.

But don’t forget:

Flexibility is essential when implementing your content plan. You never know what works for sure or what results to expect. So, be adaptable to change and listen to what your customers want to tell you.

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Updated 6/11/21

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