Develop A Content Plan For Your Content Marketing In 6 Steps
Updated: Apr 25, 2019
In content marketing, trying to move forward without a content plan is a recipe for disaster.
Thousands of companies try themselves in content marketing. They create articles of 500 words each week and are placed in social networks, a blog and on third-party sites.
After a few months nothing happens, they give up and stop doing publications.
This situation is due to the lack of a plan and goals. In order not to fall into this trap, you need to know the target audience, the goals, and how to reach them.
This guide will help you with:
The value of the content plan
Development of goals and KPIs
Target audience of content marketing
Content ideas formation
Selection of content type
Development of content calendar
89% of B2B marketers and 86% of B2C marketers use content marketing.
37% of B2B marketers and 40% of B2C marketers create a content marketing strategy and content plan.
34% of B2B marketers and 35% of B2C marketers consider their content marketing strategy effective. The percentage of B2B and B2C marketers who created a content marketing
strategy is almost identical to the percentage of those who believe that the content marketing strategy is effective.
It's not a coincidence.
Strategy and planning determine the process and degree of success of content marketing.
The value of the content plan
The content plan is more than an editorial calendar, it is a map of achieving business goals through content marketing. Let's highlight several advantages of developing a content plan before creating and distributing content.
A quality content plan determines the points of application of efforts. It reflects the position of the brand, the target audience, topics, the tone of the authors and the voice of the brand, the sites on which content and key metrics will be promoted to measure the effectiveness of content marketing.
Such a plan helps participants in the process shape the brand image, providing resources for managing all factors of content marketing. This is an instruction to develop content. The plan forms an understanding of the content marketing process in the company: from writing and publishing materials to sharing and tracking metrics.
You will have a manual that you can share with the company's employees. This ensures that the marketing objectives of the content match business objectives.
Sharing the content plan with employees allows you to create new ideas and develop content together with other departments. This will help to assemble a team of employees
from different departments who are ready to share content about the brand and the company.
6 Steps to Develop an Effective Content Plan
To implement or optimize content marketing, you need a plan.
Now let's see how to develop it.
1. Content analysis
You cannot tell where you're going, if you do not know where you were. Therefore, the first step in developing a content plan is the analysis of the current state.
We collect all the materials of the company that are used: posts in the blog, news and site content, entries in social networks, videos, white papers and so on. Then we enter the results in a summary table to determine the effectiveness of each of them.
We analyse what content was most effective and what did not meet expectations.
We mark in the materials found content that can be reused. Also find untapped topics in existing content that you can fill with new content.
Content analysis helps determine:
• How to avoid search engine filters related to content.
• Content that requires revision or editing to improve quality.
• Content that needs to be updated and made more relevant.
• Content that needs to be merged because of overlapping themes.
• Content that must be removed from the site.
• Determine the priority of the content for editing or deleting.
• Unreached topics.
• What content is ranked by the selected keywords.
• Which content should be ranked by the selected keywords.
• The most powerful (in terms of search engines) pages of the site and the scenarios for their use.
The analysis of content on the site includes 5 more steps:
• Collection of indexed URLs. To do this, use the Screaming Frog's SEO Spider Tool.
• Collection of additional indicators. In addition to the URL and internal factors of page optimization, we collect information about internal and external links, traffic, uniqueness of content.
• Forming a table with results. The best option for creating a table with the results is Excel or Google Sheets.
• Analysis of the table. In the table we find problems related to content that can lead to the overlay of search engine filters. If you need additional information that is not in the table - look at the site.
• Compilation of a report. The report summarizes the conclusions on each item, contains recommendations and describes the following steps to improve the ranking of the
site in the search engines and improve usability.
The process seems long, but it is a necessary step for a new content marketing plan to become effective and bring revenue to the company.
What to do if there is no content on the site
If there is no content on the site and on third-party resources we analyse the content of competitors.
To speed up this process we use several tools:
• Screaming Frog's SEO Spider Tool - gives the same information as when analysing the site.
• BuzzSumo - gives information about the main content of competitors and shows what content is most like to be hushed and reposted.
The purpose of analysing the content of the site or the content of competitors' sites is to get answers to 5 basic questions:
1. What kind of content (video, articles, infographics, etc.) gets the most links and reposts?
2. What are the trend topics in the industry?
3. Does the target audience prefer content that refers to the product / service you are offering or do they prefer something else?
4. How and how often does the target audience consume and share this content?
5. What content is most relevant to the audience?
2. Development of goals and KPIs
The basic stage in the development of the content plan is the definition of business goals that you need to achieve with the help of content marketing.
We divide the goals into 5 main ones, which can be achieved with the help of content marketing:
1. Increase brand awareness.
2. Attract traffic to the site.
3. Increase sales.
4. Leading the customer through the sales funnel.
5. Increase customer loyalty and repeat sales.
Each goal is divided into 4 main content marketing metrics that will answer the question about the effectiveness of the strategy and plan:
• How many people consume content?
• What channels does the target audience use to consume content?
• What is the frequency of content consumption?
• What is the depth of content consumption, 1-2 articles or 10 articles per visit?
Indicators of social networks:
• What content does the target audience like and repost?
• Who likes and reposts your content?
• What social networks do they use?
• How often does the target audience share your content in social networks?
• How does the content affect the formation of the product demand (the middle of the conversion funnel)?
• How does content marketing affect the bottom of the conversion funnel (purchase)?
• How does the content increase the company's revenue?
4 additional performance indicators
In addition to the main performance indicators, we distinguish 4 additional metrics (two focused on the client and two focused on the company). They give more details and
clarity regarding the profitability of content marketing:
Retention indicators (subscriptions):
• How effectively do you keep the audience's attention after the first contact?
• What percentage of users returns to the site?
Indicators of involvement:
• How does the intersection of consumption and social networks converts into involvement?
• Do users perform actions with content?
• What actions do they do (tell friends, leave feedback, write reviews, etc.)?
• How often do users take action with your content?
• How does the team cope with the terms and objectives of the drafting plan?
• How long does it take to convert a content idea into a publication?
• How much content does the company publish for a certain period of time (week, month, etc.)?
Indicators of cost:
• How much does the company spend on content marketing?
• How much does the company spend on creating 1 publication?
Each metric from the list above is measured by several channels: social networks, blogs, third-party sites, etc.
Measuring the effectiveness of content marketing will require 3-10 tools to cover all the indicators.
Site metrics are measured through Google Analytics. To navigate through the links use Bitly or Google url shortener. Indicators of social networks are analysed in analytical tools of social networks or displayed on a separate platform. The retention indicators are measured in the mailing platforms such as MialChimp, etc.
3. Target audience of content marketing
Marketing does not work without the target audience. It is necessary to determine precisely whom to target content marketing. Ben Sayler, author of CoSchedule, identifies 3 reasons for determining the target audience:
1. Make sure that you create content for the right audience that can buy the company's products.
2. Understand how content connects the benefits of products and brand with the needs of users.
3. Increase the conversion points 1 and 2.
To analyse the target audience in content marketing, we use:
• Demographic characteristics.
• Psychographic characteristics.
• Features of behaviour.
The analysis begins with basic demographic information:
• Marital status, etc.
During the analysis of the target audience, we highlight:
2 primary segments - the core of the target audience.
1-3 secondary segments - interested in the product, but not ready for purchase
Focusing on a small core of the target audience allows you to see what is important for them, where they communicate, how they spend time, how to interact with them. Based on
this information, a general picture of the behaviour of the core of the target audience is built up.
Psychographic characteristics help to choose the right tone of communication with the target audience.
An easy way to analyse psychographic characteristics is to look at the profiles of the target audience in social networks: what they repost, who they follow, what they like, and so on.
By collecting information about the target audience - we form the indicative topics of the content.
After the portrait of the target audience is drawn up - you just need to find where they spend time and publish the company's content there.
4. Formation of ideas for content
The next step is the formation of content ideas. This collected data in this step will also help in the analysis of competitors and one tool that can help you in this process is the Google keyword planner.
Google keyword planner
Google keyword planner is a tool for finding content ideas. The competition and cost-per-click metrics help determine whether the selected topic is promising for sales. The keyword planner does not generate new ideas by itself, so it all depends on the original words that you feed in.
To search for content ideas, enter a keyword in Google keyword planner that broadly describes the topic of the article, for example, "Monitors." If you need to narrow down
the number of ideas, then we take a narrower keyword, for example, "Full HD Monitors".
Example: you start an online coffee shop and want to write an article about the benefits of organic coffee. The word "Coffee" is too wide, and "The influence of organic coffee on health" is too narrow. In this case, we stop at the word "organic coffee".
Enter the word in the "Your product or service" field and click on the options:
The first thing to do is look at the names of the ad groups listed in the "Ad group options" tab.
Sometimes on it you can find great themes for niche content. Then go to one of the names of the ad groups and see what keywords are suitable for articles.
The second place to search for content ideas in the keyword planner is the "Keyword Variations" tab. Look for topics that can be "revealed" in an article, video or other
What words to choose for content ideas
Evaluate the topics based on 3 factors:
1. Number of searches per month: the higher the average number of searches per month, the better the keyword.
2. Commercial intention: the higher the competition and the recommended rates, the easier it will be to convert this traffic to customers and orders.
3. The level of competition in the search: we check the websites that occupy the first lines of the SERP and see how difficult it will be to surpass them.
Q & A Services
In questions and answers, you can find topics that excite the target audience.
You can start a search with Quora. The search algorithm is simple - look for questions about your topic, see the answers, pick up interesting topics in the list of ideas.
Content of competitors
Companies have 2 types of competitors:
• Traditional competitors - offer the same products and services as your company or are aimed at the same target audience.
• Competitors in search results - are shown on the same keywords related to the products and services of your company.
As a rule, these are the same companies. But it can be indirect competitors, which have high search traffic: media sites, portals, forums, etc.
Therefore, before concentrating on the main competitors, we pay attention to the sites that occupy the first lines in the search results for inquiries related to your goods or services.
Search for trend topics in the industry
To find trend themes, answer the following questions:
• What topics of competitors get a lot of repots in social networks? If the topic "organic face mask", shows a large number of reposts from competitors, then this may be a good idea for your content.
• Which content formats get more reposts? If the video content receives more views and social interactions - then consider the possibility of creating your own video on the same topic.
Do not copy the effective content of competitors. The purpose of the analysis of competitors is to get an idea of the popular topics and formats in your industry in order to better understand your own content development process.
To search for content ideas, the "skyscraper" technique suggested by Brian Dean is appropriate. On the sites of competitors you need to find content that has collected many
reposts, likes and comments. Then take the topic of content, but do a better job of it than competitors. For example, if a competitor has a popular article "15 Ways to Increase
Productivity at Work", you need to write an article "80 Ways to Increase Productivity at Work."
The meaning of the technique is to create the most complete, detailed and understandable material on the selected topic. To find popular articles, you can use the BuzzSumo service . It helps to find popular content, focusing on the number of reposts on social networks.
To do this, enter a phrase or domain and click on the "Search" button. As a result, a table with popular materials is displayed. Also shown will be the number of links from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.
To clarify the phrase used:
• Minus (-) before a phrase, word or domain - excludes them from the search.
• The OR preposition between phrases or words is the simultaneous search for several queries.
• The phrase in quotation marks is a search for an exact match.
In BuzzSumo, you can search for posts for the selected period of time, select the content format and export the results to Excel.
• The discrepancy with real results is 5-20%.
• The lack of instagram.
• Conditional free of charge service.
Despite this, the service helps to analyse competitors and popular materials, as well as to compose ideas for the content strategy.
5. Select content type
Now that a list of topics and keywords is ready, you need to select the appropriate content type for each idea.
• Email list
• Illustrations, cartoons
• Book Review
• Tool overview
• Day of life
• Mind map
• Online Games
• Related Resources
• Survey data
• A photo
• Press Releases
• Own research
• company's news
• User Content
Do not try to create each kind of content. Instead, you need to use information from the analysis of the target audience and competitors to determine the types of content that will work.
Now it remains to find out that the selected content type fulfils the goals of the strategy.
Strategy One home run per quarter
If the goals of the content marketing strategy are built around increasing brand awareness, driving traffic to the site, creating interest in the company's products, converting potential customers into buyers and retaining customers, then you need to create content that fits each goal.
For this, there is the strategy "One home run per quarter". This strategy is based on the creation of electronic books and white-papers.
One home run per quarter does 3 things:
• Has a high profitability.
• Increases the effectiveness of other content.
• Releases from the need for rigid promotion in the search engines.
To receive e-books or white paper, interested users should leave an email address and other information in exchange for downloading the book.
Jason Miller, senior marketing manager at LinkedIn, applied this strategy by releasing an extensive marketing guide on LinkedIn, titled "An Experienced Marketer's Guide to
To download an e-book, the target audience provides extensive information about themselves, which is used to turn them into service customers.
The e-book has been downloaded more than 3000 times. This means that the target audience is ready for such an exchange.
Changing the strategy format One home run per quarter
The content that is used in electronic books or white papers can be divided into several parts. This separation helps fill the rest of the content calendar and present content in new formats.
Rebecca Lieb, an analyst with the Altimeter Group, uses the analogy with the turkey cut for this strategy:
I like to use the turkey analogy ... you start with turkey for Thanksgiving, and this is the main event, and then everyone knows that after Thanksgiving you eat turkey sandwiches, and then you have turkey in a salad. Journalists (and content creators) quickly learn to relate to their stories and their sources in the same way as to a turkey.
Thus, you get an e-book or white paper (in analogy it's a turkey served on Thanksgiving day).
Now you can create many small pieces of content using white paper or an e-book (turkey for sandwiches and salad).
Jason Miller of LinkedIn made 60 pieces of content based on the "An Experienced Marketer's Guide to LinkedIn." He used webinars, infographics, presentations on SlideShare
and blog entries.
6. Development of the content-calendar
Once we have analyzed content, target audience and competitors, set measurable goals and collected ideas, it remains to create a content calendar.
To do this, there are several tools: CoShedule, a table in Excel or Google Docs.
I suggest using the Excel template or Google Docs:
Download the calendar template for publications
The calendar of publications is the main communication tool for marketers and performers. It's not enough just to put the publication of materials by the day. In the calendar, you mark the deadlines for each material, the authors responsible for the development of the material and distribution channels.
Tasks of the calendar of publications:
• To help control the process of work.
• To help control costs.
• To help control results.
• Coordinate the performers.
I follow the basic rules of the calendar of publications:
• Understand the participants of the process.
• Answers to all questions on content.
Your content plan
Now you have all the necessary tools for developing a content plan for the year. Start working with the content plan today.