Content Marketing

Creating a Content Marketing Plan to Support Your Marketing Efforts in 2018

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In a world of millions of websites and a huge number of brands, it can be tough to stand out and find your place in the market. It has become quite challenging to differentiate yourself from the competition, which is getting bigger and stronger each day. However, one of the steps you can take to make sure you stand out is creating a good content marketing plan.

Content is important, but a lot of brands still don’t understand it, which is something you can use to your advantage. Since you’re reading this, it’s safe to say that you do realize its importance and the impact it can have on your business.

A content marketing plan can make or break your business, so how can you make sure that you develop one that’s effective and brings you lots of customers? What can you do to drive more people to your website and convert them into purchasing customers, generating more sales and revenue?

You may already have a content marketing plan that has proven effective, but it couldn’t hurt to revisit it and make sure you’re on the right path to achieving your goals. With a new year comes new trends and, given the fact that the digital marketing landscape is constantly changing and introducing us to innovations and improvements, it’s only natural that we embrace all the good changes if we want to stay relevant and enjoy success.

Taking the following steps one by one will ensure that you create an effective content marketing plan to enhance your marketing efforts this year, so read on.

Determine the Goals and Purpose of Your Content Marketing Plan

Before gathering your team and sitting down to work on your tactics and strategies for crafting great content and attracting quality leads, you need to stop and think about what it is that you want to accomplish with your plan in the first place. Knowing your ultimate content marketing goals before you start planning will help you develop the best content strategy.

So, what do you want to achieve? Do you want to generate more leads? Are you looking to increase your sales and generate more revenue? Do you want to raise brand awareness and show that you’re a trustworthy brand? Do you want to improve customer loyalty and retain a greater number of customers?

Talk it over with your team and thoroughly go through every goal you may have; the main purpose of your content marketing plan will appear right before your eyes. Only then will you be able to fully understand which path you should take toward an effective plan that will help you reach your goals.

It’s important to start small so you don’t become overwhelmed or waste your efforts trying to achieve too many goals; when you are pulled in too many directions, you may not achieve any of them. Also, make sure you always work on short-terms goals first, because they will eventually lead to your long-term goals.

Identify Your Top Priorities

Many business owners don’t quite see through the blurred lines of the previous step and this one. They tend to think that they are sort of the same things, which makes them pretty confused later on, when they have no idea which steps to take first and everything is a big pile of

mess.

Setting top priorities for your content marketing plan will help you create a great content marketing strategy based on those priorities. Is your top priority crafting content that will be more engaging and interesting to your target audience? Do you want to improve your storytelling and be able to convey your unique brand message? Are you looking for better ways to repurpose your content? Do you plan on creating more visual content that will capture the attention of your target audience?

Identify several top priorities that you want to work on and develop a plan for properly addressing each and every one of them. Outlining each of them will give you a clear insight into what exactly you need to do in order to realize your vision and hit a homerun.

Define Your Target Audience

Defining your target audience is one of the most important steps for creating an effective content marketing plan. You need to know who you are going to target and why, because you are not creating content for yourself.

Try and define several demographic groups and carefully identify their buyer personas. If you don’t do that, you will not know how to create content that will attract the right type of audience you need in order to generate more sales and revenue. All of your efforts, including your precious time and money, would only go down the drain and you would be back at square one.

Understand Your Audience

Now that you know exactly whom you are going to target with your future content, you need to take the time to fully understand them. You need to dive into their interests, needs and preferences regarding to the products or services you offer, so that you can know precisely how to address their pain points and satisfy their needs.

What do your target customers expect from brands in your niche? What kind of content do they like engaging with? What channels do they prefer? What is it that they essentially need from you?

Answering these and many more questions about your target audience will help you really get to know them. Learning more about them and truly understanding them is the only thing that will help you craft content that they will resonate with. Only then will you be able to provide them with exactly what they need and not only make them want to read your content, but also compel them to keep coming back for more.

Therefore, conduct audience research by creating surveys, as well as through various analytics and even by engaging in direct conversations with them, and don’t forget about social media, since you can find out quite a lot about your target customers’ interests and preferences there.

Research the Industry Leaders and the Latest Trends

Diving into what the industry leaders are doing will help you better understand how you can grab the attention of your target audience and make them interested in what you have to say and offer. Of course, be sure not to copy anyone or steal their ideas, but knowing how they came to be the leaders and how they are managing to stand apart from their competition will help you understand how you can do the same.

The same goes for following the latest trends in content marketing. Trends change all the time, and what worked this year may not be so relevant next year so, if you want to stay relevant, you need to keep up with the trends. Therefore, make it a part of your plan to get updates on the latest changes in content marketing, so that you can dive out of the vast sea of competitors and make your voice heard.

Set a Budget for Your Content Marketing Efforts

You need to set a budget for your content marketing efforts in advance, so that you don’t end up spending more than you originally intended and disrupting your other business processes. Estimate carefully how much money you are able and willing to invest into your content marketing and stick to that budget, until you start making more money and become able to invest more and enhance your efforts.

Think about how you will create your content, that is, who will actually create it. Is it going to be someone from your in-house team or are you going to outsource your content creation process? Do you plan on paying for your content promotion? Consider these and other related questions in order to estimate a proper budget that will enable you to create, publish and promote your content effectively.

Determine the Type of Content You Will Create

Since you know your target audience and understand exactly what they need, you can start working on the types of content that you will create. You can choose from how-to articles, guides, product updates, company news, case studies, webinars, interviews, industry news, infographics, eBooks, podcasts, videos, FAQs, templates, press releases and many other types of content.

For instance, if your target audience prefers visual content, you can start planning the creation of infographics and blog posts with lots of graphs and eye-catching images, as well as various types of videos. If they prefer guides and how-to articles, you can start working on those.

However, you cannot simply start creating the type of content that your target audience wants before making sure that you can provide them with high quality. If you or anyone else in your team don’t really have the knack for that particular kind of content, you need to make sure that you find someone who can do it perfectly.

Consider your strengths and weaknesses and, if you are not good at something, find someone who is. Don’t shy away from asking for help, because your ultimate goal is satisfying your customers.

Find Your Unique Brand Voice

Before you start creating your awesome content, make sure you find your unique brand voice that will differentiate you from your competitors. Your voice should be original and unique and make people instantly recognize your brand. It should help you convey your value proposition and make your audience fall in love with your brand.

This can sometimes be a bit difficult, simply because there is so much content being created and published every single day. There are thousands of topics being covered by a great number of marketers from all over the world, which makes thousands of blog posts sound pretty much the same.

This is exactly why your voice is so important. It is the one thing that can help you stand out and show that you are different. For instance, if your competitors are using too much technical jargon and have a very serious tone of voice, you can try and leave out the jargon and simply be friendly. You can use humour if and when appropriate and make your content entertaining a bit.

This is precisely what people love when reading something online. Make them feel as if they are talking to their best friend when interacting with your content. It is what will grab and hold their attention. Of course, if you plan on writing about your product features, for instance, you cannot exactly use humour or crack a joke, can you? But, you certainly get the point. Find your voice and make it heard.

Brainstorm Ideas for Your Future Content

Now that you know what type (or types) of content you are going to create, you can start brainstorming ideas and thinking about which topics you want to cover. Looking at your competition may help you come up with something interesting, as they may inspire you to cover particular topics in a completely different way.

There are also a lot of tools that can help you find some great ideas for your content. For instance, Buzzsumo can help you find out what the trending topics are and what content performs best for various topics, so make sure you check it out.

Creating in advance a list of content ideas and topics that you will tackle will help you stay on schedule. Perhaps there will be times when you come across a creative obstacle and cannot think of any new ideas, which is precisely why having them planned in advance is a smart thing to do.

Craft a Plan for Content Creation

The content creation stage is absolutely the most important one in your entire content marketing plan. Taking every single step that comes before it with utmost care will enable you to create relevant content that your target audience will resonate with and that will meet their every need.

What will determine the effectiveness of your content marketing is the quality of your content. You need to make sure that you provide real value to your target audience and that you truly engage them with every single word you write.

The most crucial thing to determine is who is going to create your content. Are you going to do it yourself? Is there anyone in your team who is perfect for the job? Will you hire an entire team of content writers? Will you perhaps hire freelancers who are experts in covering particular topics?

Whichever option you decide to go for, you need to make sure that your brand voice always remains consistent. This can be a bit challenging if a lot of different people are working on your content since, after all, everyone has a different voice. However, with just a little bit of training, consistency is more than possible to achieve.

The most important step for quality content creation is proper keyword research, because implementing relevant keywords into your content is what will help your target audience find you easily. Google Keyword Planner is one of the best tools that you can use for conducting keyword research, but there are plenty of more tools to choose from.

Keyword research is also what will help search engines learn what your website is about and whether or not your content is actually relevant. If they estimate that it is, they will direct more people to your website, increasing your traffic and online visibility and helping you generate more leads and conversions.

Create a Plan for Content Distribution

Content distribution is also one of the most crucial stages of your content marketing plan. You need to determine how you will present your content to your target audience, so that you can properly plan your distribution channels in advance.

Where are you going to publish your content? Are you going to create a blog? Do you plan on creating eBooks that you will distribute via emails? Do you want to use digital magazines for publishing everything that you write? Will you create a knowledge base filled with FAQs and product features, for instance?

In order to figure out what the best method and strategy for distributing your content is, you should carefully consider your ideal customer persona that you have created when defining your target audience, because that will help you know exactly how they want to access the information that you provide them with.

Develop a Strategy for Content Promotion

Creating a strategy for promoting your content is yet another one of the essential stages of your content marketing plan. Without promoting your content, how will you let your target audience know about it? What’s the point of crafting it in the first place if you are not going to share it across various channels?

In order to reach out to your target readers, you need to market your content. However, you need to do it on the channels that they prefer to use. Otherwise, you would only be wasting your time and efforts. For instance, if your target demographic are teens who spend most of their time on Instagram, you wouldn’t do your brand any good if you shared your content on Pinterest, would you?

Therefore, share your content on social media networks that your target customers are using, but you can also create paid ads (social ads, display ads, banner ads, ads on SERPs), reach out to influencers, guest post on various blogs, engage in email marketing, as well as use print and various other types of offline content promotion.

Nevertheless, social media still remain the best channels for promoting content, because not only can you easily reach out to your target audience and communicate with them on a daily basis, but you can also significantly raise brand awareness and reach a global audience, since people will share your content and become your brand ambassadors.

Conclusion

After taking all of these steps for creating a content marketing plan, you will be more than ready to put everything into practice and start pulling in the right kind of audience through the awesome content that you will create. Since you will fully understand what and how to provide to your readers, making it happen will be a real piece of cake.

Remember, in order for your content marketing plan to bear fruit and help you make your every effort pay off, you need to frequently measure the results and implement proper changes for improving your content, and there is always room for improvement.

If there are some hiccups on the way, reassess your plan, identify key areas where you can be better and do everything you can to truly stand out. If you evaluate that your plan and all the strategies are working perfectly, keep pushing forward and always try and find new ways for stepping up your game and reaching higher levels of success, because creating content is not a one-time job, but an ongoing process.

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