We cover everything from defining your goals, developing content ideas and topics, and mapping out the production process from concept to completion.
January 27, 2023
Read in 10 mins
Use our jump links to find the information you’re looking for! If not, sit back and enjoy our full post.
I’m sure you’ve heard it before… But content really is King. It’s the master-key to introducing new users to your brand, building communities, providing engaging and informative information, and last but not least – driving conversions.
While content marketing has its place in any marketing strategy, it’s important to understand that it can’t be approached haphazardly. Like any other marketing efforts, content must be planned, executed and managed with precision – this is where the strategy comes in.
In this guide, I want to share my process for creating a comprehensive content marketing plan from start to finish. With a thoughtful approach, we’ll cover everything from defining your goals, developing content ideas and topics, and mapping out the production process from concept to completion. Let’s get started!
While effective content marketing has a wide reach in its ability to impact performance for brands – we need to be realistic. Unless you have a bottomless pit of budget and resources that you can dip into, we need to be reasonable with what we want to achieve – we’re all limited by resources, so we need to think thoroughly about how we can best use them. Focusing our strategy efforts on just a few key objectives is, in my opinion, the most effective way of making the most of your resources.
Whether it be increasing newsletter signups, encouraging users to watch a product demo video, or increasing leads – we need to have a truly FOCUSED strategy. Once we have our main objectives pinned down, everything else will follow much more easily.
Our content pieces, whether they’re blogs, landing pages, or anything else, should all align with our key focus. They need to be compelling and interesting, sure – but more importantly, they need to be built specifically to achieve our goals. This is what takes us from individual marketing efforts to a full-fledged strategy.
Okay, now that everyone’s clear on that… Something to consider before we dive into the creation of our action plan.
Since Google’s 2022 algorithm updates, user experience and engagement has been a major factor in ranking websites on Google.
Now more than ever, we need to think about our users first – what’s the most compelling content for them? What will encourage them to stick around the page longer, click through more pages, or even complete actions like signing up for a newsletter subscription or making a purchase? This is all part of creating an effective strategy that is focused on the user – we’re not here to create content for the sake of creating content, we want it to be read and enjoyed by audiences. With every single piece of content that you create, always think – how does this service the user?
“Content marketing should be customer focused, not brand focused. Users aren’t particularly concerned with how great you think your brand is, they just want to know what’s in it for them! And rightfully so, it’s our job to inform users how we can service them and fulfil their needs.”
Now, the hard work. A comprehensive action plan – it’s time to put everything into motion.
We’ve pieced together an 8 step action plan to help outline the most effective way to create, deliver, and measure your content marketing strategy.
As I mentioned, before we even begin our strategy creation – we need to outline our main objectives. We need to establish both clear micro and macro conversions to be able to measure the success of our campaign. Content marketing can’t solve every problem – but targeted content can improve certain aspects of the overall digital strategy.
By having definitive goals, our lives become much more simple. We have a more concentrated strategy for the type of content we should be creating in order to engage audiences and with any luck, encourage them to take action.
Our objectives and content output to meet those objectives should always align with the overarching goals of the business. That’s not to say that creating a “best ways to fertilise your garden” blog won’t accomplish your overarching goal of selling more fertiliser on your Garden Equipment e-commerce site by the way. We can find meaning in informational content further up the sales funnel. Not every piece of content needs to explicitly promote your product or service. Sometimes you need to capture new users and attention in order to achieve your main objectives.
Your mission, while it may sound similar to what you want to accomplish in terms of objective setting, is different. Your mission is more about the overall purpose of your content marketing campaigns. Which stage of the consumer journey do we need to fix or improve to encourage users to take action? Do you need to acquire new attention? Do you need to convert more of your existing customers if you have sufficient traffic?
Your mission statement should clearly outline why you are creating content – what is it meant to do? Is it meant to engage, inform, entertain or all three? You need to decide on a clear mission so that when you’re creating content down the line, you know exactly whether or not what you’re writing fits in with your aims and goals – if it doesn’t, why are you writing it?
The AIDA (attention, interest, desire, action) framework is a great way to ensure your mission statement is comprehensive enough to cover all aspects of a successful content marketing campaign. Take a look at the chart below and decide at which phase the problems are in your existing content efforts, and which new pieces of content can be created to improve it.
The ideation phase of a comprehensive content strategy should be collaborative – look within your team for ideas or have a brainstorming session with the wider business. You may be unaware of the pain points of your existing or potential customers until you ask the right questions.
Research competitor content and build upon what works well – take inspiration from them but don’t copy! Your content should be your own content, the competition won’t have the exact same audience, goals, or mission as you. The key here is to find a balance between creating new content that stands out as original, creative and entertaining while still being within scope of the industry.
Content calendars are a great way to help keep track of all ideas in one place, which can be updated continually over time – a good strategy is one that remains agile and changeable. It’s important for everyone to be on board with the planning process, including management teams and those who will be executing the strategy itself. Get everyone involved so that you establish an effective workflow that the entire team understands and can contribute to.
Finally, always remember that content audience relations are key in any successful campaign – know who would be interested in reading or learning from said pieces of content before you create them, this will aid in how you write and which topics to write about.
Once you have a clear mission statement and a good list of topics in mind, the next step is identifying who your target audience is. Knowing this will help immensely when it comes to creating content that resonates with them.
Your audience should be broken down into clearly defined personas – these are created from real people who can provide insights as to what kind of language they use, how often they interact with content and which channels they prefer for consuming information. You can refer back to your persona at any stage of the process – whether it’s deciding on topics or tone of voice for example.
You also need to determine where your audience hangs out online so that you know where to direct your attention when it comes to distributing content – is it on social media, blogs, forums or other channels? Knowing where your audience is will make distributing content more successful and its reach greater.
Consider the type of content they would be interested in reading – which formats are most popular? Which topics get the best engagement? Think about what kind of language you should use when writing for them too – will a chatty style work or do you need to take a more professional tone depending on your industry?
Ultimately, when it comes to audiences – how can we use content to support audience’s through the buyer’s journey? Do they need to know where to find products? Do they need more information about a product?
This is particularly important. How do you translate your story into content that supports your mission? Content is a powerful tool in telling your story – it can be used to build an emotional connection with the audience and ultimately create relationships and even a sense of community.
The types of content you create should be relevant to your story and reflect who you are as a business. Developing an authentic voice will have an impact on how people perceive you and connect with your brand, so ensure that you keep this consistent throughout any content created.
Example: A dog shelter charity.
A dog shelter charity’s story is one of wanting to help dogs find new forever homes – a story of compassion. Shorter pieces of content could be used to communicate the importance of adopting and how it can change a dog’s life. They could include stories from those who have adopted, interviews with people who work at the shelter or even tips on how to look after a pet.
By leveraging content that speaks to their mission and values, this charity would be able to build relationships with their audiences and encourage more adoptions – which is ultimately what they are aiming for.
A great way of delivering your story through content is by looking at the Hero, Hub & Hygiene framework. This is the idea that you have content that educates, entertains and engages audiences (Hero), pieces of content that support existing campaigns or brand initiatives (Hub) and pieces of content that help to maintain existing relationships with audiences (Hygiene).
By creating a balance between these different types, your story will be told in an informative and engaging way.
So, we’ve established our objectives, our mission, who our audience is, and how we can tell our story. But how do we deliver it?
That’s where a content distribution plan comes in. A good content creation & distribution plan will include the channels and platforms you’ll use to reach your audiences, the type of content you’ll post on each platform and when, as well as how much time and budget is allocated for that channel. This helps to ensure that your message is seen and heard by the right people at the right time.
One of the most important things to consider when it comes to content distribution is timing. Identify the best times for your audience based on their online habits and also look at industry trends – what are other competitors in your space doing? Look at average engagement rates too so that you know when and how often your content should be published.
Timing is crucial when it comes to things like product launches and seasonality. You can boost the performance for new products by creating engaging content pieces in the lead up to the launch, informing potential buyers about why that particular product is worth buying. Also, if you’re in an industry that might see seasonal peaks and troughs – planning your content publication during the lead up to the peaks will prove beneficial – it’s all about creating hype at the right times.
You may want to also consider repurposing or recycling certain pieces of content, this is a great way of getting more reach without having to create new content from scratch each time. Updating older pieces of content can prove to be more cost-effective while also introducing the information to new audiences.
Finally, you also need to consider how often you should be posting – it’s not enough just to create great content all in one go, it needs to be consistently distributed over an extended period of time if it’s going to have an impact. You may wish to look into automation tools here – they can help with scheduling posts, so you don’t have to worry about manually posting them each day or week.
Content NEEDS to be amplified to maximise its reach. You want your content to be read by as many people as possible, and that’s where the help of platforms like social media come in.
Leverage different platforms and make sure to tailor your content to the platform you’re posting on. You might also want to use some form of paid promotion – it can help further amplify your message, reach new audiences, increase user engagement and ultimately drive more visitors back to your website.
Posting content on your website is great if your aim is to convert more of your existing traffic into leads, however you should also leverage platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter to further distribute your content and reach new audiences.
You can always test different forms of amplification on each platform to see what works best for you – this data can then be used to refine future campaigns and inform future content creation.
A good strategy is one that can be measured and evaluated. Without having a way to track the effectiveness of your efforts, it’s hard to know if you are making any progress at all.
It’s important to keep an eye on key metrics, like visits and engagement rates – this will help you understand how well your content is resonating with audiences. You should also be measuring conversions such as sign-ups or leads generated from your content. If your content isn’t satisfying your objectives over time, it might be time to rethink your strategy.
Analytics tools like Google Analytics can be extremely helpful here – they provide insight into how users are engaging with your content, so you can track the performance of each channel and adjust your plan accordingly.
Content distribution is an ongoing process, so it’s important to keep an eye on your metrics and refine your approach as necessary. By understanding what works best for your audience, you’ll be able to get maximum impact out of every piece of content that you create.
This data can then be used to inform future campaigns and refine existing ones – what worked? What didn’t? Why? Were there any surprises? All these questions should be asked in order to effectively improve results over time.
So, that’s that. The 8 step action plan that places you in the best position for your content efforts to succeed. Just remember to be patient, stay consistent and leverage different forms of content and platforms for maximum reach.
Now let’s take a look at some final considerations to finish things off.
To fully reap all of what content marketing has to offer, it should be used as part of a wider strategy. It needs to be integrated with other elements, like SEO, PPC campaigns and social media in order for it to reach its full potential.
Content should also be used to supplement your other marketing efforts, such as email campaigns and events. It’s important to think of all the different ways that content can support, in addition to its role as an independent element of your strategy.
Going back to one of our previous points. Content is created to be read by audiences. If you’re creating pieces that you’re not interested in creating, or that you yourself wouldn’t be interested in reading – chances are, users won’t either. So, it’s important to experiment and be creative in order to find the right tone and angle for your content.
With so many different forms of content, from blogs and guides, to podcasts and videos – there’s an opportunity to bring more value to audiences that can be tailored to their specific needs.
The bottom line is, content marketing should never feel like a chore – it’s a great way to engage with an audience and help them build trust in your brand. So get creative and have fun.
While it’s always a good idea to look at the competition as to what works and what doesn’t – there are no hard rules as to what will and won’t work for you. Don’t be afraid to test different approaches, as experimentation can often lead to unexpected, positive results.
Content marketing is constantly evolving, what worked last year may not be the same this year – so don’t be afraid to try something new or take a risk. By staying up-to-date with industry news and trends, you’ll be in an even better position to create content that resonates with your audience – helping you stay one step ahead of the competition.
“It’s important to remember that content marketing is all about understanding your audience and creating valuable experiences that draw them closer to your brand – that’s how great content should be measured.”
Hopefully now you feel more confident about taking the plunge and getting started with content marketing. A great strategy can be an incredibly powerful tool for driving growth and success for your business. If you’re looking for help with your strategy, our team at Onelink is available for consultancy, so don’t hesitate to get in touch – we’re always happy to help.