With potential benefits that include doubling website conversion rates, content marketing has proven to be an indispensable tool for those looking to grow their businesses.
But while all small businesses understand the value of a killer content marketing plan, many are intimidated by the idea of creating one.
Doing simple things like posting informative blog posts, videos, and podcasts is a good start point, but there’s much more to content marketing than creating high-quality content.
So how do you create an effective marketing plan?
Read on to find out.
What Is a Content Marketing Plan and How Is it Different from a Content Marketing Strategy?
The terms content marketing strategy and content marketing plan are often used interchangeably. Yet, they are not to be confused.
A content marketing strategy’s main focus is to develop and launch an effective content marketing plan. The plan, on the other hand, provides a roadmap for all the content your business wishes to create. This content can be written or presented in visuals such as videos or images.
Basically, content marketing is the “what”, while the content marketing plan is the “how”. Despite their different meanings, they both work together to increase website conversion rates.
The 7 Steps to Creating an Effective Content Marketing Plan
Successful content marketing should have a plan. You just can’t post content without a clear direction of where you’re going. Here’s how to create a killer content marketing plan:
1. Clearly Define Content Marketing Objectives
Before you even figure out what plan you’re going to create, you need to determine why you’re creating it in the first place. The “why” is your goal, and will direct the process of creating a plan. Without a clearly defined goal, even the best content marketing plans won’t cut it in today’s market.
To best define your objective, make S.M.A.R.T goals:
With a S.M.A.R.T goal in place, you will have a strong foundation for your content marketing plan. Your team will know what your business seeks to achieve within a given timeframe, a feat that’s instrumental in developing an effective content marketing strategy.
Defining your objectives doesn’t end with identifying your goals. You also need to come up with ways to measure the effectiveness of your content marketing campaign.
You can use indicators such as traffic generation, app downloads, new subscribers, sales, video views, conversions, podcast downloads, and social media shares. It’s okay to use one or a combination of these measures depending on your business goals.
2. Identify and Research About Your Target Audience
It’s important to have a clear understanding of your target audience when creating a content marketing strategy. They’re the people who will be reading and viewing your content. So, you need to customize your content to suit their needs.
You can get your audience’s age, gender, income, location, and education from social media interactions and surveys. While this can help tailor your content to their needs, a good content marketing strategy goes beyond basic demographics.
It researches what the target population does on the internet.
To create audience-tailored content, find out where the people you’re targeting look for answers on the internet. The kind of questions they frequently ask will help you create relevant guides or how-to blog posts. Sites such as Reddit and Quora might help, but it all comes down to the kind of audience you’re targeting.
While doing research about the commonly searched questions, observe the main pain points (also known as information gaps) in your industry. Regardless of how much content is out there, these exist in every industry.
Identifying existing information gaps will help you create content that bridges them and solves industry-wide issues. You can even capitalize on those gaps by using sales-oriented content to show your audience how your company can solve their issues.
Investigating the preferred social media platform of your target audience can also add value to your content marketing strategy. Although their demographics might influence their preferences, knowing the type of social media platforms your audience prefers can help you channel your content marketing plan to platforms they use most.
While exploring your audience’s interactions on social platforms, you’ll notice that they respond to certain types of content marketing. This will help you create a content marketing plan that best connects with your target audience.
You might also notice that your target audience trusts certain individuals on social media platforms. These are known as influencers, and every industry has them. Partnering with such people can add a lot of value to your content marketing strategy.
3. Create Audience Personas
With all the necessary information about your target audience at hand, the next step is to create buyer personas.
By definition, a buyer persona is a generalized, fictional profile of the ideal customer. Creating such a representation helps you internalize the personal traits of your ideal customer. It also gives you useful insights on how to relate and connect to the real customer.
For every audience persona you create, note down all their psychographic and demographic attributes in bullet points. Next, try to visualize how this individual looks like. You can use stock photography sites such as Pexels and Unsplash to locate a photo of the individual you’ve profiled.
Lastly, write a brief story about the fictional character. In this story, try to capture the kind of environment they live in, their feelings, and their daily activities.
With this story in mind, think of how your content can be found by this person, and how they can relate to the kind of content you plan to post. This should help you better customize your content to suit the needs of your target audience, as well as increase conversion rates.
4. Research Keywords and Topics
Having identified and profiled your audience, it’s time to create content that really speaks to their needs. This begins with keyword research and choosing topics that grab the attention of your readers.
Start by writing down all the words and phrases that describe your products or pain points you wish to address. These will be your keywords and will direct customers to your website when they enter queries on a search engine.
If you’ve been posting content on your blog, this is the time to revamp your published content and bring it to par with your new content marketing plan. And don’t just change the format. Rather, come up which topics which you’ll be posting about on a regular basis.
With your keywords and topics chosen, you’ll want to make sure that your content hits the 3E’s. That is Engagement, Evergreen, and Events.
To make your content engaging, use a conversational tone in your content and give personal opinions on popular topics. For your content to be evergreen, you’ll need to base it around topics that will remain relevant in your field for a long time. To hit the third E, post content about key occurrences and big news in your industry.
This way, you’re leading your audience in the right direction.
5. Decide What Type of Content You’ll Be Posting and Who Will Create It
Deciding whether to use audio, video, or written content isn’t the only decision you need to make here.
With your audience personas in mind, establish your optimal content modalities. Keep in mind that your target audience will respond to different content types depending on the funnel stage. Taking all this into consideration, create a plan for what types of content you’ll post on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.
Since consistency is key in content marketing, ensure that you source all your content from one individual or company. That way, your audience will always know what to expect from your posts.
6. Decide Where You’ll Publish Your Content and How You’ll Manage It
When it comes to content publishing and management platforms, you have three options. You can use WordPress to create and manage your own blog or a pre-existing content management system such as Squarespace. You can also use external domains such as Apple (for podcasts), Youtube (for videos) and Medium (for written content).
While creating your own blog gives you the freedom to customize it as much as you want, it demands a significant investment in terms of time and development costs. It also makes it hard to get through to your target customers because you start with no audience.
On the other hand, pre-existing platforms and external domains don’t offer much customization and control. However, they need much less upfront investment and offer instant access to a pre-existing audience that’s actively searching for content.
It all comes down to what you value most in a content marketing platform. Is it instant access to an active audience or freedom of customization?
7. Create and Nurture New Leads
Now that you have great content on your preferred content management platform, it’s time to get it out there. While SEO might get you a few hits on your website organically, you can’t depend on this to generate leads for your business.
You need to leverage social media platforms and emails to generate new leads and increase conversion rates.
To do this, you need to use:
- Your preferred social media channels
- An email marketing software
- Insightful and informative content
- A retargeting pixel
- A lead magnet such as a free consultation, free app download, a free report, or a limited trial for a product or service.
First, use your high-quality content and free lead magnet to create brand awareness’ and qualify your prospects. To maximize exposure, share your content on social media platforms. On your posts, ensure that you provide a link to your lead magnet.
Once prospective clients subscribe to your lead magnet, use the retargeting pixel on your website or email marketing to sell them a complementary service/product. This will be easy because the client will have to provide their email address to claim the free lead magnet you provided.
It’s important to match the product or service your selling with the topic of your informative content. For instance, if your post is about safely boarding a pet, your service should be something like pet boarding services.
Take Your Business to the Next Level With Content Marketing
You’ll notice a significant change in terms of lead generation and website conversion rates if you create your content marketing plan using these seven steps:
- Clearly define your content marketing objectives.
- Identify and research your target audience.
- Create audience personas.
- Research keywords and topics.
- Decide what type of content you’ll be posting and who’ll create it.
- Decide where you’ll publish your content and how you’ll manage it.
- Create and nurture new leads.
However, you should keep in mind that even the best content marketing tips won’t work without great content. Thus, it’s important that you make an effort to consistently post informative and insightful content.
Also, don’t forget to invest in SEO. Remember, it’s one thing to post great content, and another to be visible to your audience on search engines.
Do you need help developing a killer content marketing plan?
Leave your questions in the comments below!