Do I really need to make a plan for my content marketing strategy?

Joel Course's picture
| 6th December 2018
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In the technological world of pay per click advertising, automation is very much waiting over the horizon. With algorithms and machine learning beginning to push their weight, digital marketers may find more time on their hands to focus on other online marketing channels to support paid search. One of the most prominent examples of this is content marketing. With greater time to contemplate your content, it is important to iron out typical industry mistakes. The most common pitfall, which I myself fell victim to in the past, is haphazardly producing content without a serious consideration for the goal you are trying to reach. Having previously written about the importance of content marketing in terms of branding, I thought in my latest blog I would discuss the importance of constructing a content marketing plan.

By publishing aimless content for the sake of meeting marketing criteria, you risk spending considerable time and effort on content which doesn’t produce tangible results. In establishing a content marketing plan, you can map out where certain content will be most effective and will directly contribute to some form of return of investment.

This will be most successful when you set a specific goal or goals to work towards. For example: what do you want your content to achieve when the year draws to a close in 12 months’ time? Once you have this established, begin laying out the steps towards achieving your goal.

Implementing this process will then give the content you produce a purpose and will positively impact your marketing strategy and business outcomes. In this vein, I’d like to take a look at some of the most important aspects your content marketing strategy should consider.

The importance of focusing on your audience

Arguably one of the most important elements of your content strategy is outlining exactly who your audience are, as it will help better focus the content you produce. Your businesses should have a comprehensive customer profile already, so establishing an overall view of your audience shouldn’t be difficult. The skill comes in determining what stage of the purchasing funnel each customer finds themselves at. Depending on how far down the line they are, certain groups of customers will require different kinds of help and your content should reflect this.

A prime example is taking two potential customers, each at different stages in the process. The first has purchased your product or service and is an existing customer. The second is firmly in the research phase - merely considering your brand as a potential option. Without an established plan, your marketing team could go ahead and produce an evergreen blog post about industry news.

Although this may resonate with our researching customer by demonstrating your extensive knowledge of the market, it could be deemed irrelevant or useless to the existing customer. An example of a more useful piece of content for the existing customer is, for example, a troubleshooting guide. Part of your content marketing strategy therefore should lay out your customer’s journey, determining at what stage your customer would benefit from a specific type of content to ensure that you cater to their needs.

Establish your best performing channel

With the prevalence of social media in today’s modern age, there’s no wonder that many companies believe having a presence on all social media networks is the best approach to engaging with their customer base. As discussed, a content marketing plan should focus the content you produce, and this same approach should be taken when deciding which channels to publish the content on. How is your audience finding you? A regular LinkedIn user could be a very different user to a Facebook user, and the content you use on each channel should emphasise this. Where your content is going to be published should be directed to where your audience is actively searching for you or your offering.

If for example you typically publish your blog posts and then share on all major social media networks - Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn - you are not making any significant strides towards finding the customers who will matter to your business in the long-term by converting. Taking the time to analyse each of your channels to understand your best performing medium will help you put a systematic process in place for reaching your audience in the right way.

These optimisations will ensure that when you focus on your best performing channel, you will be able to yield results. Rather than challenging your competitors on all fronts, focus on where your brand can carve out an unrivalled presence on a specific channel, to be complemented by the content you produce.

What content should you produce?

This is the key element of your content marketing plan - the bread and butter of your strategy. You can make all the plans in the world, but without effective content it’s useless.

The first consideration should be what content you produce. In a highly saturated online market, you can be competing with many similar products and services. Your content should therefore reflect what makes your offering different and should support customers at each stage of their customer journey. It is not about how much content should be produced, it is how the content you produce can engage your audience - quality over quantity.

A good place to start in this respect is to conduct an audit of your existing content. Lay out what content needs updating, which content is out of date and what content is successfully evergreen. This will aid in finding any gaps which could be filled in the coming year.

The second element to consider is what form the content will take. Having established the subjects you would like to focus on, how can you utilise a touch of creativity and ingenuity to create engaging and unique content?

It is important to take into account the resources and skillset currently at your disposal - don’t run before you can walk. In conjunction with your content audit you can map out where you need to upskill and develop other types of content throughout the year. From your generic blog posts and case studies to ebooks and infographics, taking a step out of the norm will only benefit your company’s brand.

Weaving these three major elements together will help no end in creating a solid and realistic content marketing strategy as we go into the new year. It is crucial that you establish reasonable goals for the year and agree on what metrics you will use to measure your strategy’s success.

If you need help creating a content strategy, schedule, or help with writing engaging audience targeted content, please get in touch with us on 01536 316100 or email info@silverdisc.co.uk.

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