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How to Create a Content Marketing Plan

As Content Marketing becomes bigger and better (if you’re not sure what that is, check out What is Content Marketing?) it’s becoming essential to incorporate it into your marketing plan.  At SocialNicole, we help clients put together marketing plans, including content marketing, all the time.  Whether or not you have a plan of your own, we thought we would share some tips we’ve picked up along the way to help you create your own content marketing plan.

Here is a 7 step guide to creating a content marketing plan:

1. Establish a budget – Too often businesses view content marketing, social media marketing and other digital marketing opportunities under the impression that these types of marketing are free. While in some cases this may be true, many times it requires money and plenty of extra time. One huge monetary cost comes with hiring someone with expertise and experience in the area. Chances are that if you don’t have an expert on your team who specializes in content marketing, bringing on a new team member is a necessity to do it correctly.There are some ways to cut costs and corners, though! Oftentimes companies use outside content marketing experts to help with keyword research, topic selection and writing/editing posts. Surprisingly, it takes a lot of time and energy to keep even a small content marketing program running. So hiring a qualified person, or team, that has the time will make a ton of difference. 2. Audience Evaluation – Who is your target audience? Though this may seem like an easy question to answer, it can actually be quite challenging to accurately determine. The typical business has many facets, which makes it even more difficult to identify whom you are intending your message to reach. Take some time and really reflect on every audience your business could possibly reach. Then narrow down your audience to suit each message you wish to have them receive. Once you’ve identified your target audience(s), create a persona for each target.A persona is a detailed description of your target which includes demographics, geodemographics, psychographics, etc. The point of content marketing is to target these segments with the content you create. You need content that is creative, intriguing, informative and keeps them coming back for more.  In marketing the customer comes first, so always be thinking in their mindset. 3. Select Content Outlets – Ask yourself some simple questions: Where does your audience get the majority of their information? What platforms match up with the customers’ wants and needs? Each answer will change depending on the target audience. If you are looking to address kids who are between the ages of 12-18, chances are they are heavily interested in visuals, probably not ready or willing to read long blog posts and most likely using Facebook (but mainly for friends) and Twitter to share information. If your audience is 65 year old women chances are they have email, may read blogs, may be on Facebook and these days, depending on their background and interests, may also be on Pinterest. Also, if you are looking to connect with B2B your outlets will be very different than B2C. As you can see, it’s essential to identify the audience you want to capture and to understand how they take in information. This is essential in leveraging a content marketing campaign. 4. Conduct Keyword Research – In order to effectively market to your community you need to conduct some basic keyword and keyword phrase research. You can do this using Google Keyword Tool which is free. Once you identify the hot keywords you will want to identify the competition and try to find topics with high search volume but low competition. This takes time and effort and must be done correctly; otherwise it’s not a good use of your time. Although keywords are not everything, your content is the meat of it all, they will give you a sense of what people are looking for online. 5. Create a marketing and editorial calendar – This is an essential tool and a must-have for even the smallest content marketing plan. Without a calendar to keep you and your team on track, you won’t be able to keep up with everything and it’ll only be a matter of time until you stop creating. Marketing and editorial calendars ensure deadlines are met and content is being pushed out. If you’re starting from the ground up with this, read Creating a Content Calendar for Your Blog to get started. 6. Outline the actual plan on paper–  Identify who will be creating the content, who will be publishing the content and who will be ensuring that it is all done on time. Also outline what the cycle of content will look like, what outlets will be used and how often each outlet will publish. Decide on how you will share the content you create and who will share that content. Staying organized and writing every duty down is a huge step to creating a content marketing plan that will be successful. You must report all your research, findings and the actual plan so that you have a benchmark of where you started and how you got to your decisions. 7. Decide on how you will track your success and tweak your content for further success – This requires setting goals and appropriate metrics to track them. We usually use a spreadsheet so that we can track from month to month and, sometimes, from week to week depending on the client and the budget. Make sure you setup a metrics spreadsheet right away and benchmark where you are starting so you have a way to look back at your success. Photo Credit

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