One of the primary goals most marketers in the twenty first century share is driving website traffic. It’s not lost on any of us that the more people we can get our goods and services in front of, the more likely we become to convert anonymous visitors into identified, and qualified leads into customers.
The premise behind content marketing is simple: to share content with target audiences the way they want to receive it, when they want to receive it, that causes a reaction leading to engagement. Maybe that sentence wasn’t as easy to understand as it could have been, so think of it this way:
Content Marketing = Targeted audiences preferred medium + shared at the optimum time + call to action
The media available to marketers today makes content marketing both easier and more complex as the marketer has numerous methods to reach target audiences; however, usually lacks the necessary amount of time that each medium requires to achieve the best possible outcomes. That’s why a content marketing plan is such a necessity in today’s fast paced and complex marketing environment.
So here it is, the brief guide on how to create a content marketing plan that not only works but also is completely doable by even the smallest of marketing teams (i.e., just you).
But before writing anything, it’s imperative to define your target audience(s). Here are a few questions to get you started:
- Who are you trying to reach?
- What does your ideal customer look like?
- Where do they spend time online and what are they talking about there?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you can move on to the first step in creating your plan.
What’s your objective?
Many marketers make the mistake of having too many objectives: increase brand awareness, increase requests for product demos, offer better customer support, create a user community, generate more brand mentions, etc… While all of these are great, it’s typically a better idea to focus on one or two as you get started. I recommend picking two that relate to each other so you do not have to double your work effort (i.e., focus on the lead side or focus on the customer side, not both).
Setting goals can be fun and exciting. Marketers tend to be optimists. We want to see the glass as half full (and even if it isn’t we can usually convince people it is!). To make this step as easy – and honest – as possible, try answering this question: What will success look like in 6 to 12 months?
Determine the content you’ll produce
For me, this is the most fun. You’ll want to pick the type of content you are the most experienced and comfortable with as well as the types of content your target audience prefers to receive. For example, if you enjoy creating and presenting webinars, you could offer a series of webinars on the business problems your product solves to prospective clients. And if your current clients prefer short articles instead of 30-minute presentations, you can offer them short, written tutorials on how to use the product.
Some other types of content to consider for your plan include, ebooks, interviews or Q&A with subject matter experts, infographics, blog posts, videos, podcasts, and nurturing email campaigns.
Create an editorial calendar
Yes, creating a calendar can be a bit overwhelming when you see all of the deadlines laid out before you; but it’s incredibly helpful in holding you and your team accountable to the content marketing plan. By committing to a publishing schedule, you can get into the habit of creating content, and will be able to produce more quality content over time.
Let’s talk promotion
So you’ve got great content, now what? Once you produce your content, the next step is promoting it where your target audience will see it. This involves quite a bit of testing so don’t expect to get it right on the first try. Some promotion channels to consider are email segments and social media channels.
Remember, it’s all about building relationships! You want to create content that is engaging and sparks action from your target audience. In order to get the content in front of that audience, you will likely need to participate in online discussions and earn their trust. Engagement builds relationships, and relationships build revenue.
Now that you know how to create a content marketing plan, get started on a draft. Ask members of your team to make a draft of their own plans to share with the group. You may be surprised by what they come up with! Don’t forget to focus on one or two key objectives and set a realistic goal for each. Give your team time to perfect their strategy and their content.