How to Make a Content Marketing Plan That Works

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Businesses can’t afford to guess and check their content marketing strategy. By learning how to make a content marketing plan built around your goals and within your capabilities, you can create a road map that leads you from where you are to where you need to be.

Before creating content, bring your stakeholders together and plan a content marketing strategy that works for your business. Here’s how.

1. Establish Content Marketing Goals

Why have a content marketing plan? A strategy creates guardrails and builds accountability into every piece of content you create—this way, every person knows their role, time isn’t wasted on frequent pivoting, and you know how to measure success. The first step in developing a digital marketing plan is to create a goal. Quite simply, what defines success?

These goals should be unique to your business. They don’t have to be dollar-driven, but you should have ways of evaluating success. Some possible content marketing objectives include:

  • Increasing sales leads (e.g., form completions and/or clicks-to-call)
  • Increasing website sessions (e.g., in all channels, organic search, etc.)
  • Increasing site engagement (e.g., average session duration, more pages/session, etc.)
  • Increasing brand awareness (e.g., direct website sessions, branded search interest, etc.)

Here are tips for deciding which marketing KPIs should really drive the ship.

2. Riddle You This: Who Are You Talking To?

Content marketing is all about joining a conversation. Know your audience to create content that matches their needs, hopes, and lifestyles. Many brands work hard to establish their customers’ most common likes and dislikes and keep close tabs on their audience’s age, gender, income, and general interests.

Remember that your audience is who it is—not who you wish it was. While you can certainly establish personas you aspire to sell to, it’s important to nurture those already in your circle too. So, who are they? Look for clues on social media (who’s engaged?), targeted paid campaigns, and demographic-related website data in various channels. Finally, and consider market research to really define your audience.

3. Remember That Keywords Are Better Than Buzzwords

In addition to understanding who your audience is, learning how they search and shop also drives your content marketing success. Contact an SEO marketing agency or invest the time yourself to determine what keywords drive traffic to your website and what keywords your competitors are using as well.

For example, Oneupweb’s SEO team uses keyword research and competitive keyword gap analyses to shape content strategy for our clients and respond to changing search behavior.

4. Focus on What You Can Do

Before you produce content, know what you and your team can handle. It’s better to focus on avenues of content marketing that you can create and deliver consistently than to manage multiple platforms inconsistently.

So, what are the types of content marketing? Here are several effective ones:

  • Organic website content (blogs, case studies, product pages, service pages)
  • Gated website content (white papers, ebooks, research pieces, templates)
  • Multimedia/interactive content (checklists, tools, infographics)
  • Social media
  • Email marketing
  • Videos
  • Webinars and courses
  • Podcasts

With third-party cookies dwindling away, this is a great time to prioritize content marketing efforts that are so intriguing, users can’t help but to opt in. Building your CRM and email newsletter lists are both excellent investments of your time.

If there are elements of content marketing you can do well, keep it in-house. Otherwise, reach out to learn how a content marketing agency can help. (We are literally content marketing right now, by the way. Let’s talk.)

A Content Marketing Strategy Example for a Totally Fake Brand

Take a deep breath before you spend hours putting together a 15-page content marketing plan. Here’s an example of a one-page plan and how you can stick to it.

Let’s say Oneupweb was getting into the jam-making business. We’ll use our hypothetical brand, That’s My Jam!, for this content marketing strategy outline. If you’re following along, this brand is a not-so-secret dream.

Lucky you – you can have a PDF version of this content marketing plan template to reference later.

Want the PDF sent to your inbox? Fill out the form below and we’ll send it to you:

Section 1: At Least Two Big Goals

These are pie-in-the-sky aspirational goals.

Big Goals for That’s My Jam:

  • Increase revenue of our jam by 10% in the next 12 months
  • Establish a brand presence in one local grocery store chain

Section 2: Short Audience Description

Use all available marketing analytics to create a snapshot of your current customer.

That’s My Jam Target Audience:

  • 56% female, 45% male
  • Primarily city dwellers in the Midwest
  • Bachelor’s degree
  • $40,000-$80,000 average annual income
  • More left-handed than the general population
  • Likes: music festivals, farmer’s markets, food co-ops
  • Pain points: not enough jam

Section 3: The Road Map to Get There

What actions will you take as a business, and how will that be reflected and supported in your content?

A content marketing plan template should include:

  • Smaller objectives that contribute to the Big Goals. Pair these with example messaging to guide the content you’ll create.
  • Guidelines for tweaking messaging and tone, depending on the platform and content type.
  • The content you’ll create, when, and how.
  • Your team’s workflows for getting stuff done.

Let’s break that down with more That’s My Jam examples.

Smaller Objectives

  •  Tell a story that entertains and inspires customers while elevating our brand.

Action and messaging: That’s My Jam will donate 5% of all sales to savethemusic.org, a national non-profit dedicated to keeping music education as a part of the public school curriculum.

  •  Differentiate our jam from competitors.

Action and messaging: That’s My Jam will only use environmentally and socially responsible sources, emphasizing farms that utilize renewable energy and recycled packaging.

  • Partner with trendy local restaurants to access their customer base.

Action and messaging: That’s My Jam will provide free products and competitive pricing to trendy local restaurants.

Messaging and Tone by Content Type

Articles, blogs, and links fit just about everywhere, but you may need to tweak messaging based on different social media platforms, email newsletters, and video-centric platforms like YouTube. The plan might look like this.

Website product pages – More formal (but still approachable) tone. Focus on dedication to sustainable practices and customer satisfaction.

LinkedIn – Match website tone in shorter format. Focus on community-related and sustainability topics (brand-centric) versus instructional/educational (product-centric).

YouTube – Less formal tone than website. Focus on influencer content to show customer experience with our products, as well as educational and engaging content such as recipes.

And many more content types… especially if Oneupweb is your vertically integrated digital marketing partner.

Content to Create

Finally, we’re cooking up some content. Reduce every piece of content into what it is, how long it will take a user to digest, how often you’ll publish it (and where), and how you’ll promote. Here’s a taste:

Consumption TimeContent TypePublishingAdditional Promotion
10 seconds or lessSocial postDaily – Facebook, Instagram Weekly – Instagramn/a
2-5 minutesBlog, product page, infographicWeekly – websiteFacebook, Instagram, Email Newsletter
5-15 minutesLong video, longform article, and/or checklistMonthly – website, YouTube, VimeoFacebook, Instagram, LinkedIn
20 minutes or moreIn-person event (include brochure), ongoing sponsorshipMonthlyEmail Newsletter, Print Ad, Website Banner

Sell It!

Think of your content as being split into two categories. This will help you strike the right tone and avoid messaging that will turn off your prospects:

A ‘soft sell’ is passive exposure to the brand. This includes social posts, blogs, or short videos. Think of soft-sell content as telling a story; the conversation is a little one-sided, but you’re communicating something you know your audience wants to hear.

A ‘hard sell’ gives your audience something to do. This might include signing up for an email list for a coupon or, for That’s My Jam, it might be inviting your audience to stop by and sample your product at a local grocery store.

Team Workflows

Now, you’ve got something to do. Knowing how to develop a content marketing plan is good, but staying consistent can be a challenge. Assign content production tasks to people on your team, including all stages of review, publishing, QA, and follow-up. Make quality, cadence, and accountability integral to your marketing efforts. Use collaboration software and project management systems to stay on track.

Here’s an example of a workflow for a single content type: 

Blogs:

  • Brenda: Topic identification and keyword research
  • Ops team: Topic and keyword review, approval
  • Juniper: Writing
  • SEO team: Content review, approval
  • Todd: Copyediting
  • Ops team: Final approval
  • Jared: Publishing
  • Tara: QA and promotion on social + email
  • SEO team: Performance monitoring, recommendations for future optimization

Check in often to evaluate what’s working and what needs work; even if business is improving, there are likely ways to improve. Be sure to listen to your team and give them the content marketing tools they need to succeed.

Content Is King. Work with Marketing Royalty.

We’ve been making internet for two decades at Oneupweb, and until That’s My Jam takes off, we’re committing to helping clients achieve their digital marketing goals. Let our content marketing experts develop, execute, and analyze your organic, social, and email marketing efforts. Contact Oneupweb today and let’s jam.

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