Do you have a documented content marketing strategy? According to Content Marketing Institute, marketers with a documented content marketing plan consider themselves more effective with each communication channel, including social media, and are able to justify a higher percentage of their marketing budget to be spent on content marketing.
So while your company’s content marketing plan may be safe and secure in your head, I challenge you to get it on paper for 2015 and share it with the rest of your team. Here are a few tips get you started:
Elements of a solid content marketing plan
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all template for content marketing plans, but there are key questions that can guide you as you work to put your strategy together. Above all, consider your business goals–what do you want to accomplish in 2015 and how can you utilize content marketing to help achieve those goals? Additional high-level components of your content marketing strategy may include:
- Business goals
- Persona development and target audiences
- Brand mission, vision and voice
- Content channels to utilize (current and prospects for future channel growth)
- Key performance indicators (KPIs) – how will you track success?
- Ownership and responsibility – who will execute elements of your content marketing plan?
Once you have outlined your content marketing strategy, it’s time to get into the details of the actual content. Utilizing tools to support you in this process is key to keeping everything running smoothly.
By far the best tool for keeping content straight is a content calendar. Designed to track all of your content and status updates for multiple platforms, a content calendar not only allows you to plan ahead, but also affords you the ability to:
- Plan your content days, weeks or months ahead of time
- See all of your content, keywords and themes at one time
- Find any holes related to company news or promotions
- Keep track of important dates, upcoming holidays and events
- Manage cross-promotion via multiple channels and/or multiple departments within your organization
Resource lists and content calendars go together like cookies and big glass of milk–you can’t have one without the other (or at least things don’t go down as smooth without one). Resource lists provide vetted sources that you can go to to curate content or get ideas for future blog posts, social media updates and shared information. At minimum, your go-to resource lists should contain the name, website and social media channels for organizations such as:
- Like-minded or like-valued organizations/companies
- Partners and supporters
- Top influencers on social media (who has already done a great job of spreading your content for you? Make it a point to also spread theirs!)
- Trusted news sources
- Industry magazines, blogs, websites
Asking for help, whether it’s from your team, from an outside agency, or from additional tools is never a bad idea. There are many options when it comes to third-party resources that can help with content development, curation and analytics (more on that in the next section). Just a few to consider adding to your content marketing mix:
- Google alerts: If you’re not using Google alerts, start now. It’s free and helps you keep tabs on keywords such as your company name, leadership, competitors–the sky is the limit.
- Sprout Social: A great social media analytics tool, Sprout Social allows you to search trending topics, schedule posts across multiple social media channels and look at your top content rankings and audience demographics.
- Crazy Egg: This app uses heat mapping on websites to see where your users spend their time. The data on Crazy Egg is sortable by referral site as well (including social media platforms).
Building a content marketing plan is all for nothing if you don’t have the stats to back it up. Set KPIs (key performance indicators) within your content strategy and benchmark against those throughout the year. In order to do this successfully, you should also set up a system for tracking your success (and opportunities) when it comes to content. Spreadsheets work great to show a snapshot of trends over time. By utilizing Excel, for example, you can set tabs for each of your content channels–enewsletter, Facebook, Twitter, your website, blog–and update with stats for those channels, at minimum, on a monthly basis. Be sure to also account for any online advertising or sponsored content that may alter your monthly statistics. A short-list of suggested items to track (depending on the channel) include:
- Bounce rate
- Engagement percentages
- Mentions or tags
- Referral sources or referral traffic
In order to be great at executing a solid content marketing strategy, you need resources and support. Depending on the size of your company or organization, that may require help from an outside agency (and there are some great tips on how to get the most from your content marketing agency on the June UX blog). Regardless of if you hire out your content marketing or keep it in-house, keep the following in mind:
- Content marketing takes time to see results. There is no quick-fix here.
- The person(s) in charge of your content marketing should have a solid understand of your business goals and expectations.
- Content marketing is not about the ‘likes’; it takes solid engagement to build trust with your audiences. Be careful not to fall into the “guaranteed ‘X’ likes in one month!” trap. Again, it takes time.
- Not every channel will be for you. Your content marketing manager should assess what is working, what is not working, and opportunities for moving forward. This involves looking at your current revenue and lead generation processes as well.
- Content marketing IS marketing and should always have a budget. Even if the tools are free, the time, energy and content creation is not; start small so you can grow accordingly.
Get your team on board with content in 2015
Once you’ve established your content plan, share your strategy with anyone and everyone within your organization that has any part in content marketing. Additionally, share your content marketing plan with your leadership team, sales department and customer service reps. The more people who understand your goals and objectives, the easier it will be to execute. Likewise, these individuals will be able to provide insight and feedback as your content marketing plan is executed. Annual evaluations of your content strategy is also helpful to do as a team: What worked? What didn’t? How can you make improvements?
Are you ready? What are you excited for when it comes to planning your content marketing strategy for the new year? What areas still seem like a struggle? Comment below; we’re here to help!