Building Your Content Marketing Plan – 8 Steps to Prepare Your Business

A strong content marketing plan can make a huge difference to your company’s fortunes. Learn what you need to do to get more leads and sales – for less money.

 

Many business owners rely on paid search to generate leads. There are several reasons for this, one of the most obvious being that it’s easily trackable.

However, paid search is not the most effective marketing technique you can use.

That’s especially the case when compared to content marketing. For every $1,000 spent, content marketing produces 400% more leads than paid search. And beyond that, 72% of B2B buyers consume some form of blog content before they make a purchase.

The message is clear…

The quality of your content has a huge impact on your business. Content marketing can help you generate more leads and create more sales.

But to leverage it to its fullest, you need to create a content marketing plan.

We’re going to look into the steps you need to follow in a little while. First, let’s take a deeper look at why a plan is so important when it comes to content.

Why Do You Need a Content Marketing Plan?

 

Creating a content marketing plan involves documenting what types of content you’ll create and where you’ll make it available.

There are several reasons why your business needs one. These include the following:

  • It’s practically impossible to run an effective content marketing campaign without a plan. If you try, you’ll find yourself constantly scrambling for new ideas. Your posts will become inconsistent, both in terms of content and when you make them available. And this lack of consistency will affect how prospects perceive your brand.
  • Your plan will define the goals you hope to achieve with your content. This is important because each piece you create should serve a purpose. Some content nurtures prospects who have just entered your sales funnel. Other pieces may make more direct pitches or expand on the benefits of your product. You need to know the purpose of the content to ensure that it reaches the right audience.
  • A good content marketing plan helps you identify your audience’s needs and expectations. It’s something you can revisit and analyse to see which pieces worked and which didn’t. This allows you to refine your content marketing to make it even more effective.
  • Your plan defines every step that needs to happen to get your content in front of people. This proves especially useful if you’re handing your content marketing off to somebody else. Having defined steps in place makes the transition must easier.

And beyond all of this, having a strong plan increases the ROI of your content marketing efforts.

But before we get to the steps for creating a plan, you need to know…

The Key Elements of a Content Marketing Plan

 

There are four key elements that a content marketing plan needs, beyond the content itself. They are as follows:

  • Defined business goals with KPIs attached to them
    • This is where you’ll define what you hope to achieve with your content and what benchmarks you need to hit to succeed.
  • Your audience definition
    • In other words, who you’re going to target with the content and where you need to go to reach them. Note that the definition may change depending on where the prospect is in their buyer’s journey.
  • Your distribution plan
    • This defines where you’ll post and with what frequency. It’s crucial that you maintain consistency here. Large periods of inactivity could lead to prospects disengaging from your content.
  • Guidelines for how you’ll measure the success of the campaign
    • This means you need to have analytics and tracking in place to chart what happens when a prospect hits a piece of content.

Now that you know these elements, it’s time to create the plan itself. There are eight key steps that you need to follow.

Step #1 – Perform a Content Audit

 

Before you can create an effective plan, you need to know where you stand right now.

Perform a content audit to find out how the pieces you’ve already created have performed. This audit will reveal which types of content engage your audience and which types turn them off. You may also find older content that’s ripe for updating or repurposing.

Step #2 – Analyse Your Audience

 

What does your audience expect from the content you produce?

To answer that, you’re going to need to look at several factors. These include:

  • Needs and wants
  • The pain points that are most common among your audience
  • The types of questions your prospects ask
  • Key trends in your niche and how your audience reacts to them
  • What your audience needs to know before committing to a purchase

An added layer of complexity comes in when you consider how each member of your audience is at a different stage of the buyer’s journey. Some are ready to buy, while others are just getting to know your company. And then you have all the people you’re currently nurturing who are in between those two stages.

Each segment should have specially tailored content served to them.

Your CRM may prove useful here. You can use it to segment your existing audience and track its responses to different content types.

Send a task to the Concierge Service if you need help with creating audience segments inside your CRM.

Step #3 – Define Your Goals

 

What do you hope to achieve with your content marketing?

Again, it’s likely that each individual piece will have a different goal… But the ultimate goal will probably be to attract more conversions.

How you define conversions depends on the campaign.

For example, you may have a content marketing campaign that’s focused on getting people into your email list. You may have another that focuses on a specific product.

Each campaign needs to have a goal defined and a plan built behind it.

The key here is to ensure any goal you set is both measurable and achievable. You can’t track what you can’t measure. And going for something unrealistic could lead to you abandoning an effective plan due to your inflated expectations.

Step #4 – Choose Your Channels

 

You can’t do this until you understand your audience and your goals for the content.

Once you’ve defined those, choosing a channel is simply a case of finding out where your audience is.

You may find that most of your prospects use Facebook every day. Or they may respond better to emails than they do to Facebook posts.

You have to get the placement right because it doesn’t matter how good a piece is if you post it to the wrong channel. People will still ignore it. It may not be what they want to see at that time, or maybe they’re just not part of your audience.

Step #5 – Create Your Schedule

 

Now that you know the “who,” “why,” and “where,” it’s time to schedule your posts.

Ideally, you’ll do this for the entire month ahead. For each post, note down the topic you’ll cover, who it’s intended for, and what platform you’ll post it on. It’s also worth noting what resources you’ll need to create the post. For example, you may need a certain staff member to provide content.

It’s also worth mentioning that you should schedule both recurring and one-off posts. Your recurring stuff will usually be what your audience expects to see based on their interactions with you. For example, you may post content to your blog on certain days of the week. Or you may send emails at specific times.

The one-off stuff usually relates to industry trends or unique offers within your business. Or you may need to create a lead magnet for a new campaign.

Once you’ve completed the schedule, you have something that tells you what you need to do for each day. That means you can just focus on creating the content itself.

Speaking of which…

Step #6 – Create the Content

 

It’s important to point out that there are many types of content you can create.

Of course, you have blog posts and emails. But you also have the option to create videos, infographics, whitepapers, and many other forms of content.

It’s likely that you can handle the written side of things yourself. However, visual stuff, such as infographics, may pose more of a challenge. That’s especially the case if you don’t have a designer on your team.

Automation Agency may be able to help you with content creation. We’re able to design both infographics and images that can accompany your blog posts. We can help you design email content campaigns too.

Just send a task to the Concierge Service to find out more.

Step #7 – Figure out How You’ll Publish

 

If you’re running a small content marketing campaign, it’s likely that you can handle publishing manually.

But as the campaign grows, the publishing may become a burden. You may find yourself spending too much time and getting frustrated. This can lead to missed posts.

There are several tools, such as Hootsuite, that you can use to automatically publish posts on social media. We can also help you schedule posts for your WordPress blog in advance, so that they get published at a set time and date.

Again, just send a task to the Concierge Service to find out more.

Step #8 – Measure the Results

 

This may be the most important part of your plan.

If you’re not measuring the results, you can’t have any idea if your strategy has worked or not. You need to track key metrics, such as click-through rates, bounce rates, and conversions.

You also need to track what prospects do after they’ve seen a piece of your content.

Use all of this data to figure out if the campaign generates an ROI. You can also use your results to figure out which areas need improvement.

Start Creating Your Plan Today

 

With your plan in place, your content marketing efforts have a structure behind them. You’re more focused in terms of what you produce and who you target with it.

And that means you’re more likely to get positive results from your content.

There are several areas of content marketing planning that Automation Agency can help you with. These include audience segmentation, creating infographics, and scheduling posts.

Just send a task to find out more.

And if you’re not a member of the Concierge Service yet, chat with our Right Fit Chatbot. You’ll find out if we’re a good fit for your business needs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About The Author

Carl Taylor

Carl Taylor is the Founder & CEO of Automation Agency. For the past 10 years Carl has been building businesses and marketing them online through the use of Sales Funnels, Email Marketing Automation, Landing Pages, and Wordpress Websites. Carl is also a #1 author and highly sought after speaker and consultant whose work has impacted thousands of businesses across various industries worldwide.