Content marketing is an excellent way to engage and interact with your audiences. It can help you reach your ideal customers, solve their problems, and encourage them to purchase, boosting your revenue. It also aims to keep the customers engaged even after a successful sale.
However, if you’re to get the most benefit from your content, you need an excellent plan to get your message to your audiences at the right time. In addition, it needs to be well balanced to provide value and entertainment while promoting your brand. It also has to be frequent enough to keep the audience engaged. Finding the perfect mix of content is a big challenge for more businesses.
The solution for this is content planning. It is the best way to ensure you’re on track with your content goals. A plan directs you toward your overall content marketing objective. Don’t know where to start? This article discusses content planning and the basics for first-timers.
What is content planning?
Content planning involves taking the appropriate steps to align your content with the marketing strategy. It’s the process of creating a structure that defines the content initiatives you want to take and when. It gives you a clear outline of your content workflow and procedures, helping you overcome the challenges in your marketing strategy.
In addition, it provides a visual depiction of how you’ll create and release content over a set period. This allows you to communicate with your teams, organize resources, and make all other necessary arrangements to succeed in your content marketing strategy. Using a content planner makes it easy to identify any content gaps and ensure that your material is ready for release well in advance of any significant events that you need to consider.
You can achieve this by manually writing down your structure or using an online content planner. The content plan comprises several essential elements, including a type of content, title, description, date of release, distribution channel, and the teams involved, including the writers, editors, and graphics team. If you’ve not used a content plan before, below are the basic steps you can follow.
Basic Of Content Planning
Content planning makes you more comfortable and confident about the material you release on your website, blogs, publications, or the press. While the content plan should be unique to your business, it should ideally take the following basic steps:
- Establish your goals
Before making a content plan, it’s imperative to establish and define your objectives. What do you intend to achieve with the topics you create? Is it to boost engagement or traffic, develop leads, increase conversions, or maybe brand awareness?
The answers to your questions will help you create realistic, achievable, and measurable goals. Having a clear target before you start writing your content plan will ensure that you have a guide and a goal you need to achieve.
- Identify Your Ideal Audience
Whether you choose to share your content on your website, social media, or elsewhere, it must resonate with the people whose attention you intend to capture. This is the way to be successful in your content marketing strategy. The first step you should take is figuring out the reader persona for your content.
You need to collect and analyze data on your audience and break down the average consumer of your content. This will help you create the best voice to reach and engage them in line with their expectations. You can collect this data using the available web analytics tools or conducting market research. In doing this, you’ll learn your target audiences’ interests and curate your content to meet their expectations.
However, remember to match your content to the channels you’re using to publish. For example, the kind of content you post on social media may not work well if you send it through email marketing. If you have various channels, segment your reader personas and address each in the most suitable channel.
- Find Your Best Distribution Channels
Where is your audience found? You might have numerous distribution channels, but not all drive the same traffic and engagement level. Audit your channels to find out where you already have a sizeable level of engagement, and consider those first in your content plan. In addition, your audit will reveal trends on channels that are most suitable for your content.
The best approach is to carry out analytics on your website and see where your traffic comes from. Is the better percentage of your web traffic coming from social media posts, newsletters, blog posts, emails, or organic searches? Identifying the channels your audiences come from will help you plan the channels to put more effort into and those you may let go.
- Decide On Content Types
Content is not all the same, and you need to consider what type of content works best for your business and what you’ll be sharing with your audience. Fortunately, when you decide on the best distribution channels for your content, it becomes easy to plan the type of content you create. Consider which content works better on what channels and plan accordingly.
In addition, some content costs more to create, while some types are easy to create and quick to publish. For example, creating infographics may require a good deal of research, but they’re not as expensive as it would be making a podcast. Some of the common types of content include blogs, photos, videos, podcasts, infographics, and press releases.
- Develop An Action Plan
You have a goal, an audience, where you want to distribute your content and content types to create. You’re now ready to develop a content plan. The first thing you do should be to conduct a competitor analysis. It’s essential to know what you’re up against and how you can make your content shine above the rest.
The second thing you need to do is identify the topics you want to create content about and do keyword research. While you’re at it, also review your existing content. This allows you to see where your content is working and where there are gaps you need to fill. Own content analysis also helps you optimize your current and future content to resonate best with your target audience.
- Plan Your Resources
You also need to determine a budget that will run your action plan. You need to outline a way to achieve the various phases in your plan. Do you have an in-house team, or will you outsource most or any part of content creation? Do you need to buy equipment for video content or set up a place for recording your podcasts?
Ask every question possible to have it all in the plan to facilitate your strategy to success. Common areas to consider when determining your budget include research, content creators, content managers, and the content management system (CMS). While content marketing can be costly, it will pay off in the long run, especially with a good content plan.
- Create A Content Calendar
Your content plan will be useless without a calendar. It’s basically a timetable and tracker for the content you want to distribute, when, and who’ll be doing which task. It helps you schedule all your content for the regular content, such as blog posts, podcasts, publications, media posts, special event and promotional content, and other crucial content.
A calendar helps you visualize the work ahead of you for a particular period and keep up with your deadlines. It also allows you to remain consistent with your distribution and track the performance of your content. There are many content calendar tools available, and all you need is to conduct research and find the one that suits your preferences.
- Create And Distribute Content
When you have everything in place, endeavor to create relevant, quality, and highly engaging content for your audience. Your content must attract and add value to the readers for your content plan to succeed. Fortunately, with a good content plan in place, you don’t need to rush over the process of creating topics, keyword research, or actual content creation.
- Track, Review, And Refine
Your plan needs to be dynamic rather than static. Your audiences can change their preferred channels, or your business can change its offering or add more products. Your content plan needs to change to match the market and your business. Keep reviewing the various steps and look for ways to enhance where required.
In addition, keenly observe and measure content’s performance on each platform you’ve distributed your content. If you identify areas of weakness, adjust your content plan accordingly. Keep refining and updating your plan until it works for you and helps you achieve your goals set in the content marketing strategy.
A content plan is essential for developing meaningful, engaging, consistent, and timely material for your market audience. It’s a visual representation of what you aim to achieve in your content marketing strategy. Regardless of where your consumers are in the sales funnel, you should be able to create content that effectively communicates the positioning of your product and brand. Hopefully, these basics of content planning will help you become better at scheduling, creating, and distributing content more effectively.
Before downloading the canvas, we would like to invite you to our newsletter, from time-to-time we will send you curated content about business strategy