Finding Your Ideal Content Planning Solution
The fact that you’re looking for a content planning solution means you’re on the right path. Too many marketers don’t have a content plan. They’re simply producing content for the sake of producing content. We call this “keeping the lights on.” The purpose of this resource is to share a few tips for developing a strategic content plan that supports your most important marketing initiatives.
First, we have two questions.
Why Are You Producing Content?
Our first tip is to ask yourself, “Why am I producing content?” It takes time and considerable resources to create quality content. If your answer is because that’s what my predecessor was doing, pump the brakes. What are the desired outcomes of your content strategy?
Some campaigns can have a very specific goal (e.g., educating seniors about bidets and changing their long-held perceptions). More often, the goal is much bigger and broader: increase brand awareness, increase our owned audience, nurture customer relationships.
Whether your goal is broad or super-specific, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that you have a purpose for creating the content you’re creating. You need a target – ideally, one you can measure.
What Content Supports Your Goal?
If you’re celebrating National Margarita Day on your Facebook page and you’re not in the spirits industry, you’re likely scraping the bottom of the (tequila) barrel. A content strategy should not be random. It should be intentional. Brainstorm all the information that you think supports your goal(s). A good ol’ fashioned brain dump is a great way to get started. Out of ideas? No problem. Keep reading.
Content Planning Tips
Designate a Full Team
If two minds are better than one, then five minds are better than two. Content planning should not be put on the shoulders of one person – especially if they are new to the organization. Start by identifying a diverse group of teammates to help with content planning, creation and curation. Explain what the goal is so content can be developed through that lens. It’s important to include people from different departments, as someone on the front lines of customer service has a different viewpoint from a marketing director.
Create a Safe Creative Space
Get all the ideas down on paper – the good, the bad, the ridiculous. As an agency, Oneupweb has experimented with different concepting processes. Sessions are most productive when everyone contributes ideas to a shared document before the meeting. During the meeting, each participant can pitch their ideas. And even if that idea is half-baked, it must be shared and respected. You never know what other ideas it may inspire.
Not all people have the same creative process. Some teammates may not feel confident pitching their ideas. If the group is holding back, someone should take the lead and break the ice with a ridiculous concept! Show the group that this is a safe place to let it out.
Master Blog Topic Research
Dumping ideas into a shared document is a great start. The list can be further expanded with the help of some online SEO tools.
For example, if your strategy includes writing four blogs a month, you may think of some fascinating topics. However, you are not the Wall Street Journal. Users don’t visit your blog looking for new content on the daily. And while you can share your niche content on social media and via email, that’s a very short-term opportunity.
How do you achieve long-term content value? You cover topics that people are searching for! We prefer taking an organic-centric approach to blog topic research by doing keyword research. This makes content work harder for longer, as users can find it through search engines.
Use Keyword Research Tools for Content Planning
Identify the keywords that support your content marketing goals. Then build content around those keywords. For example, let’s say you work for a house cleaning company. The goal of your content marketing strategy is to fill the bottom of the marketing funnel. Writing about price is a great way to do that!
So you come up with this blog title:
How much does maid service typically cost?
A little keyword research (a la Semrush) will show you that this search query has about 50 US-based Google searches per month. It will also open your eyes to better keywords. “How much does maid service cost?” has 480 US-based Google searches a month. That’s a much better title, in terms of organic search opportunity.
Keyword research can also help shape the structure of your blog post. Include sections for additional keywords:
- once a week maid service cost – 40 US-based Google searches a month
- cost for maid service monthly – 50 US-based Google searches a month
- one time maid service cost – 20 US-based Google searches a month
You may even realize that the topic can’t be covered in one blog. There are 50 searches a month for “maid service Dallas cost” and “maid service Phoenix cost.” This insight may justify building a section on your website dedicated to breaking down cost for each metro that you service.
Your content planning should be creative, yes, but also informed by data. Without keyword research – especially when it comes to blogging – your reach will be limited to your owned media. If you’re new to keyword research, check out these quick keyword research tips.
Look at Your Competitors
You don’t want to straight-up copy your competitors! But take note of what they’re doing on social, on their website and with email. Which posts are fetching high engagement? Which posts are falling flat? Learn from their mistakes. Learn what’s working. And if you produce similar content, just make sure it’s better.
You can also monitor your competitor’s keyword profile. Use Semrush’s Keyword Gap tool to see keywords for which they are ranking but you are not. This type of competitor keyword research is a great way to develop blog and resource topics.
Tap Other Sources of Content Inspiration
- Google My Business reviews
- Yelp reviews
- Customer service representatives
- Consumer surveys
Long-term Content Planning
Now that you have a healthy list of content ideas – informed by experience, data and research – it’s time to get organized. Sometimes it’s helpful to group your content by topic category first. Then determine seasonality of the topics to get them on your schedule.
For example, four pieces of content are related to pricing, and three pieces are related to allergies. Use Google Trends to see when “maid service cost” and “allergies” are most popular. You may find that cost-related content can be sprinkled throughout the calendar year, but allergy-related content is most relevant in April and May and then again in September. That one is obvious; some search-interest trends may surprise you.
Next, start plotting your content on a calendar. For long-term content planning, chart out content for the entire year, but stay flexible. Internal and external forces will always impact your pre-planned strategy. We recommend charting out at least 50% of your content at the forefront and then adding new content quarterly, monthly and spur of the moment. A content strategy should be pre-planned for the sake of strategy but also spontaneous for the sake of relevancy.
Content Planning Solution Options
There are several tools for charting out your content strategy. The right content planning solution depends on your needs. If you have a reliable team of content producers, you may find that Hootsuite or even a Google Calendar works just fine. But if your team is constantly falling behind in content production – or if there are many people involved in your review process – consider a content planning solution that includes some support. Condario is Oneupweb’s all-encompassing content marketing platform. Not only do you get access to a content calendar, but you also have a team that conducts research, pitches concepts and creates content.
But if you want to do it alone, here are some more tips for creating a content calendar (plus a template to get you started!).
Our Content Planning Agency
Doing all your content planning in-house can be tedious. Oneupweb has extensive experience with building content calendars for national brands looking to increase their representation in organic search and drum up engagement on social media. Our process – much of which was shared in this blog – is our recipe for success. It’s not unusual for us to double a client’s organic blog traffic within the first year. As a full-service marketing agency, our content production services include video, interactive tools, email, social media content, blogs, website content, e-books, white papers, brand photography and more. If you need help, we’re ready to talk.