A Content Marketing Outline to Plan Out Your Campaign
Content marketing is a rapidly growing marketing strategy that has become increasingly popular over the past couple of years. Content marketing allows you to educate and engage with your audience in a way that builds trust and develops relationships. While this strategy is emerging quickly, many marketers are still finding it difficult to create and manage relevant content in a timely manner.
The reason behind the majority of content marketing struggles lies in the lack of a plan. Creating a content marketing plan allows you to create, manage, and measure all of your content marketing efforts in order to make sure your company is producing the most effective and relevant content consistently to its various audiences. It’s much more effective and manageable to create smaller content marketing plans more often, so it’s recommended to update your content marketing plan at least once per quarter. Use this content marketing outline as a guide to ensure future success for your company as you dive into the world of content marketing.
- Set Goals: As with any marketing or business plan, the first step is to set goals. Before creating any content or even drafting up topics, address the goals that you would like to achieve. Maybe you’re trying to break into a new market this year, increase sales by 10% for a specific product or service line, or gain x amount of referrals for your business. Whatever your overall goals are, it’s important to be as specific as possible and state them clearly. Once you know your goals, it will be easy to derive content that supports your goals and objectives and measure success rate.
- Determine Your Audiences: With each goal comes a target audience. Which market are you trying to break into, and what is the audience for that market? Which product line do you want to expand, and who will be purchasing the products? Who will you be trying to reach when promoting your content? You need to be able to answer these questions before creating and promoting any content. Each piece of content needs to be specific and targeted to some industry or vertical. According to TMG Custom Media, 90% of consumers find custom content useful, so it’s vital to segment your target groups.
- Research: Once you know what your goals are and who you’re trying to target, it’s time to do some further market research. Before you create your content calendar, take a look at trending topics, industry news, and pain points for your audiences. It’s vital to know what your audience is interested in so you can be sure you’re creating relevant content. Don’t be afraid to reach out to customers and industry professionals to see what they’d like to learn more about as well!
- Content Calendar: Before you create your actual materials, develop a content calendar. In your content calendar, lay the following out:
- Topics for each piece of content
- Types of content (white papers, eBooks, infographics, presentations, etc.)
- Where each piece of content is going to be distributed and/or repurposed
- Which piece of content is going to which audience group
- Timeline with dates for content creation and distribution
- Expiration date for content (if necessary)
There are no limits to your content calendar. Keep track of each piece of content and where it’s living, so you don’t make the mistake of sharing to the same target audience more than once, or sharing irrelevant content to a particular audience. Your calendar will keep you organized and serve as a great resource and tool to manage all of your content. Remember, keeping this calendar up to date is another best practice for content creation and distribution.
- Content Creation: Once you’ve planned out your strategy, it’s time to begin creating the actual content. Take the content that you planned out in the content calendar (including topics and content types), and start creating! Develop content as time allows, making sure to follow your schedule and consistently generate strong and relevant content for your audiences. If it’s becoming too difficult to keep up with creating the content you’ve scheduled in your content calendar, you can outsource the development as well. There are many companies and resources out there that you can utilize to help create content, just find choose the one that is right for you.
- Distribution and Promotion: Now that you have your content all created, it’s time to distribute and promote it! Again, you already did the difficult part in your content calendar, so here’s where you make it all happen. Distribute the content to relevant sources. There are plenty of forms of distribution, including:
- Corporate websites
- Online publications
- Email blasts
- Landing pages
- Social media
- Online forums
- Print advertisements
- Cross-promotion tactics
Methods of distribution will be different for each piece of content based on each particular audience. Also, don’t forget to repurpose! You spent the time planning and creating all of your content, so make sure you get the maximum usage out of it. As always, don’t forget to keep track of where it’s being used in your content calendar.
- SEO Strategy: Creating a search engine optimization strategy is extremely important for promoting the content you create. Not only do you want to be distributing your content, you want it to be showing up in search engines as well. You won’t reach every single member of your target audience with your various distribution methods, but you do hope that if your target market is searching for a topic that you’ve written about, your content will appear. You can also use paid search methods to further promote. This will introduce your brand to a new audience, giving you brand recognition and deeming your company as knowledgeable throughout the industry. Appearing high amongst search engines is crucial for your content marketing efforts, so be sure to have a strong SEO strategy in place.
- Measurement: You’ve heard it before, without utilizing metrics and analytics, your marketing is worthless. Understanding your content efforts, what is working, and what is not, will allow you to make informed decisions about future campaigns. Some of the metrics that content marketers utilize to help measure and monitor their efforts include:
- Engagement (open rates, click rates, conversion rates, bounce rates)
- Reach (unique visits and geography)
- Page views
- Comments, replies, and discussions
- Social sharing
Your metrics will differ depending on your distribution method. After analyzing these metrics, it’s then time to put your analysis to use for your next content marketing plan. Come up with actionable recommendations for improvement and work on implementing them.
Use this outline to help you plan out your content marketing campaigns. Remember, the overall goal is to educate your audience, engage them, and become a thought leader in your industry. Eventually, content marketing will result in bigger things for your company, but it will take time, and each step in a content marketing plan needs to be given the appropriate time and consideration to make your campaign a success.
John Foley Jr. is the CEO of interlinkONE and Grow Socially. John and his team help printers get on a strong path to marketing success. Their approach includes software solutions, consulting, Website development, marketing audits, and strategic marketing plans. interlinkONE’s software solutions for the print industry include their marketing automation platform, MAX, and ilinkONE V8. Learn more about MAX: Marketing Automation. Executed. by visiting MarketWithMAX.com, John at JohnFoleyJr.com, and his companies at interlinkONE.com and GrowSocially.com.