Content marketing is the backbone of SEO. This is exactly why a report from the Content Marketing Institute showed 80% of B2B marketers have a strategy in place for it. Regardless of whether you’re a novice or you’ve had years of experience, creating a proper content marketing plan should be a priority in 2016.
Here are 17 useful tips to help you draw up a successful content marketing plan this year:
1. Identify Your Purpose
What do you plan to achieve with content marketing? Are you aiming to generate more leads? Do you wish to improve brand loyalty and increase retention rates? Maybe you want to build more awareness about your product or establish your brand name. Before you start drawing up a content marketing plan, you need to determine the reason driving your need for content.
Takeaway Tip: Start simple with two or three major goals that you wish to achieve through your content marketing.
2. Set Your Priorities
What should you prioritize in your content marketing plan? Do you wish to tell your brand story? Do you want to understand your audience better? The Content Marketing Institute stated that creating more engaging content seems to be the top priority for B2B marketers. Take time to establish your priorities so that you can tailor your content marketing strategies accordingly.
Takeaway Tip: Note down your top five priorities and draw up a plan for addressing each of them.
3. Determine Your Organizational Goals
Your content marketing plan should be integrated in such a way that it helps you achieve your overall organizational goals. Whether it’s to drum up more sales or improve customer loyalty, your content marketing strategy should always be in sync with what you want to achieve as a brand. Lead generation is typically the top organizational goal for B2B content marketing.
Takeaway Tip: Draw up short-term content marketing goals to fulfill your long-term organizational goals.
4. Know Your Audience
Before you simply churn out content by the hundreds, you need to determine whether or not your audience will value the information. Ask yourself questions like which channels do my potential readers use the most? What do they normally talk about? What do they need from me? What sort of content will they find most appealing?
Understanding your target audience is especially important for those who are new to the content marketing field. The idea is to produce relevant content that your target audience would want to share.
Takeaway Tip: Conduct thorough research through analytics, social media, direct conversations, and surveys to understand your audience.
5. Define Your Audience
Developing an effective content marketing plan requires you to clearly define your target audience or “buyer persona.” It’s important to remember that you’re not targeting yourself. Once you have a better understanding of your target audience, you can model them based on different buyer personas.
Instead of throwing them all in one group, try to define at least two or three different groups with a catchy name and description for each. For instance, one group could consist of customers who are price-conscious and looking for the best deals. Another group may be the people who look for top-quality service, such as faster delivery and premium support. Below is an excellent example of one of Single Grain’s buyer personas known as “Frank Founder.”
Takeaway Tip: Identify at least two different customer personas, write a proper description for each, and then act to satisfy them.
6. Choose Your Content Type
Now that you know what your audience needs and values, you can move on to picking the type of content you should produce. Your personal strengths are important to consider here. What are you good at? Are there any fields in which you have superior knowledge? Are you great at giving instructions? Perhaps you have a knack for collecting data that your audience could find useful.
If you’re having trouble determining which content type to produce? Here’s just a few of the different content types you could use:
- Custom illustrations
- How-to articles
- Industry news
- Q&A sessions
- Product updates
- Case studies
Takeaway Tip: Focus on producing original, evergreen content that maintains its usefulness over time.
7. Find Your Uniqueness
What’s the one thing that will set you apart from your competitors? There’s a glut of content being produced by marketers around the world every day. That means it’s challenging for content marketers to stand out in the the crowd and get their work noticed. What’s unique about you? For instance, maybe you could use humor when your competitors are being too serious. You could tell real-life stories instead of offering generic information.
Takeaway Tip: Study your competition and come up with something unique to offer your target audience.
8. Research Trends
Whether it’s in content marketing or any other marketing field, trends constantly change from time to time. For instance, Impact Branding & Design said 71% of marketers use broad keywords for capturing leads. On the other hand, Demand Gen Report stated 86% of buyers want interactive/visual content on demand. Researching trends like these can help you identify ways to develop better content. It can also let you decide which content types to include in your marketing plan.
Takeaway Tip: Follow leaders in content marketing to get updates on the latest trends and changes.
9. Identify Challenges
Like every other type of marketing, content marketing has its share of challenges. According to the Content Marketing Institute, producing engaging content is the biggest B2B content marketing challenge (60%). Other big challenges include measuring the effectiveness of content (57%) and being consistent in content production (57%).
Once you’ve identified your biggest challenges, you’ll be able to set up strategies for tackling them. Develop a proper strategy that can help you in avoiding these issues in your content marketing plan.
Takeaway Tip: Make sure your overall strategy involves methods to tackle the major content marketing challenges.
10. Set a Budget
No content marketing plan can be complete without a proper budget. B2B marketers with the most effective content marketing strategies allocate 42% of their marketing budget for content. How much are you willing to spend on content marketing? Do you plan to pay for promoting your content? How much will you allocate for content creation? Having separate funds for your content marketing will help you cut costs and spend wisely.
Takeaway Tip: Allocate your budget based on the priorities you set in tip No. 2.
11. Optimize Your Content for Search
According to Imforza, search is the biggest source of traffic for content sites. Your content marketing plan needs to include a strategy to optimize your content for both readers and search engines alike. Many Internet users conduct searches to find useful content. You need to make sure that search engines like Google help these users locate you easily through keyword-optimized content.
Takeaway Tip: Use the following keyword selection checklist from the Content Marketing Institute to brainstorm ideal keywords for your content marketing plan.
12. Map Your Content Correctly
You should have several buyer personas among your target audience. Now the challenge is to deliver the right type of content at the best time to the most ideal people. Each type of customer goes through various stages in the buying cycle, so you’ll need to map your content correctly to answer the questions they have at each stage.
As you can see, there’s a way to map your content for specific personas at three different stages: awareness, consideration, and decision. You can develop the right type of content to guide different buyers through their purchase journey.
Takeaway Tip: Ask questions to analyze the doubts and problems of each persona at various buying stages.
13. Brainstorm Content Ideas
You’ve determine the type of content you wish to produce and what keywords you will use for optimizing them. You also have a proper content mapping system that will guide you in creating the relevant content at the right stage. Now is the time to determine the topics you wish to cover in your content.
This is perhaps one of the most challenging parts of your content marketing plan. You’ll have to decide on how to answer your audience queries and guide readers to a purchase decision using the right topic.
Takeaway Tip: Utilize tools like Buzzsumo to begin listing unique content ideas on trending topics.
14. Create Content
The actual content creation stage is crucial in your content marketing plan. Are you planning to write the content yourself? Do you have an built-in content team? Do you intend to hire a third-party content writer? Regardless of your choice, you need to make sure that your brand voice can be heard through your content.
Takeaway Tip: Ensure that the core values of your brand are expressed through your content to keep your brand identity. If you’re a newbie to this, then the Skyscrapers technique would be a great weapon for you.
15. Craft a Distribution Plan
How will your audience consume your content? Where will they access your information? Will you be sending out newsletters or posting blogs? You may even want to publish your content through digital magazines. Either way, your content marketing plan should include developing a proper content distribution strategy.
Takeaway Tip: Use the buyer personas you have created to determine the best distribution method for your content.
16. Commit to a Schedule
As mentioned earlier, producing content consistently is a major content marketing challenge. Quality and consistency should be your core focus when producing content. Whether you publish content every week or twice a month, commit to a publishing schedule. You need to deliver content regularly for your captive audience to follow.
Through Sprout Social’s publishing calendar, you can schedule and plan your social media posts to keep your content fresh and consistently in users’ feeds.
Takeaway Tip: Have an editorial calendar complete with topics and ideas to avoid missing any deadlines.
17. Draft a Promotion Strategy
So you’re churning up content on a weekly basis or maybe even daily. How will you get your audience to actually find the information? Maybe you’ll be promoting your content through social media or through influencers in your industry. Include a proper strategy for promoting your content within your content marketing plan.
Search engine marketing is the most popular method (66%) for content promotion. Print or offline promotion methods are also popularly used (57%).
Takeaway Tip: Draw up a proper content promotion strategy within your budget based on your buyer personas. Use tools like Ninja Outreach to make promotion outreach easy and find relevant influencers for sharing content. This can light a social fire for free.
There are a number of challenges you will face before you can successfully implement your content marketing plan. The idea is to learn from your failures and use them to your advantage. Determine what works best for you by measuring and testing your results. Making changes to your content marketing plan along the way is healthy. Try Sprout Social’s social media publishing tools to stay organized with content tagging, message approval and social media scheduling features.
Hopefully these tips will help you draw up a more effective content marketing plan that’s just right for your brand. If you have any questions or comments, let me know in the comments below.
This post 17 Tips for Creating a Content Marketing Plan in 2016 originally appeared on Sprout Social.
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