10 Questions to Consider When Creating Your Content Marketing Plan
When creating your content marketing plan there are some specific factors to consider. Ask these important questions to help nail your process and strategy.
There are several content marketing plan types that marketers use today. Some are focused on writing on-page content and others are focused on guest blogging to generate strategic inbound backlinks.
In addition to various techniques, innovative content management platforms have also risen over the years, providing more opportunities for reaching out and engaging with customers in the various stages of the buyer’s journey.
However, drafting a successful content marketing plan means a lot more work than what marketers and businesses usually expect. There are several factors that need to be considered and assessed to make sure you get it right.
Whether you’re planning out your next content marketing plan or you’re trying to re-strategize your existing one, a layout plan and strategy is always in your best interest.
Components of a Powerful Content Marketing Plan
In order to establish a clear direction for your business growth, you need a strategic content marketing plan that has specific goals, unique strategies, innovative tactics, defined key performance indicators, and proven evaluation techniques.
Creating a content marketing plan should empower you to differentiate what is and isn’t working—and adjust the strategy as necessary. Failure to do this will result in costly mistakes. Worse yet, you won’t find out which strategies are working, so you won’t know how to take advantage of these promising initiatives. Knowing what content your content marketing plan should entail will provide you with the leverage that you need in this increasingly competitive world.
To make sure you’re heading in the right direction, let’s look at some of the components of a top-performing content marketing plan.
Digital Content Marketing Goals
A strategy can’t be considered a strategy without a goal—or goals. Having a goal gives your strategy direction, facilitates planning, helps motivate your team, and enables you to assess performance. Setting goals for your marketing campaign makes decision-making a lot easier and more straightforward. When it seems like you’ve hit a brick wall, just go back to your goals and allow them to guide you on what to do next.
Key Performance Indicators or KPIs
Key performance indicators (KPIs) evaluate the effectiveness of your company’s content marketing plan. They help to make the intangible seem tangible. You’ll be able to see which techniques work and which are less effective.
Before you create your content, it is imperative that you know who you are talking to, why you are talking to them, and what they need from you. It is an absolute must to define your ideal customer profiles (ICPs) so you know what to say to these people.
A content marketing plan is not complete without buyer personas. It is a snapshot of your regular (ideal) customer. It can also be a composite customer generated from surveys and studies about your existing customers.
With this step, you want to get detailed. Name them (”Salesperson Sam” or “Marketing Manager Margaret,” etc) and bullet point characteristics about them. How old are they? How long have they worked at their current job? Who do they report to? Do they have decision-making authority? If not, who do they need to get approval from?
It’s also a good idea to define whether they check the BANT boxes:
- Budget: Do they have the budget for your product or service?
- Authority: Do they have the authority to make the decision to buy your product or service?
- Need: Do they have the need for your product or service?
- Timeline: What is their timeline to buy your product or service?
Digital Content Marketing Plan
Knowing what type of content you should create must be part of your overall content marketing strategy. Determine the types of content you want to make, what topics you want to discuss, and the publishing platform you want to use.
Content Management Software
There are several content marketing programs designed for various purposes on the market today. You can use a content management system (CMS) to publish your articles, a video platform for publishing your videos, a social media tool for organizing your social media content, and analytics to track your results.
Is your digital content marketing missing any of these components? If not, then you’re ready to fine-tune your strategy.
Content Marketing Plan Questions to Guide Your Strategy
Crafting a digital content marketing strategy that delivers results does not happen overnight. It is a long process that requires a lot of planning, researching, and asking questions. Yes, you need to ask yourself some questions to help you define your strategy.
Be honest with yourself.
Not answering truthfully or answering partially will be counterproductive. These questions will be the basis of your digital marketing strategy and you don’t want it to be based on half-truths or wishful thinking.
Here are some important questions to consider when creating a tailored content marketing plan for your business:
1. What is Your Story?
It might sound like a simple question but it is one that leaves most brands confused. Put simply, this question asks you to look back to how your brand came to be.
If you don’t feel nostalgia or a sense of passion when thinking about the answer to this question, then it would be impossible to communicate your story to your target audience. Or worse, your audience might not understand it, connect with it, or believe it.
Your story makes your business more human, which is something that people can relate to.
- Think about when your business first started and what you wanted to do then.
- Write down or record your answer, then dedicate a place on your website to feature your story.
- Share your story with everyone—your customer, your staff, your friends. Just don’t hide it on your About Us page.
2. Who is Your Target Market and Where Do They Hang Out?
You need to know the people you want to reach out to and what platform they spend their time on. Throwing your digital content marketing campaign out there without knowing who it is aimed at or where they are is like casting a net in the middle of the ocean. You don’t know what kind of fish you’ll get or if you’ll get any fish at all.
You need to create buyer personas and segment them according to demographics, needs, and behavior. These personas may just be fictional representations of your typical customers, but they can help you target the people most important to your business.
3. Which KPIs Are Important to Your Business?
Establishing benchmarks is a critical element of any online marketing strategy. KPIs are crucial for keeping everyone in your business on track, in sync, and motivated. Do you want to get more sales, improve conversion, boost engagement, or reach more people? You need to define your KPIs.
For instance, knowing that a 1% increase in organic search traffic results in $1,000 more sales motivates your team to layout an effective and consistent content marketing strategy that everyone won’t hesitate to play a role in.
- To find out which KPIs to measure, go back to what your business goals are.
- Use your website analytics to check which channels deliver the most results.
- Choose your KPIs wisely because measuring the wrong metrics can instead hinder your business growth.
4. What is Your Content Marketing Plan Strategy?
If you don’t have a content strategy in place, it is easy for you to get lapped by your competitors. Content is a fundamental component of your marketing that dictates the success of your entire marketing strategy. Content is about storytelling that educates your audience, helps your customers, builds your authority, and attracts people to your website.
It is no wonder that the most successful businesses dedicate a chunk of their marketing resources to their content strategies. Find inspiration from top content marketing examples.
The process for developing a content marketing plan strategy involves the following steps:
5. Is Your Content Shareable?
Having a content marketing plan strategy is a step in the right direction, but it does not end there. If you want your content to really perform and get results, then it must be promoted.
For maximum results, the promotion should be done by you and your audience. Creating quality content and distributing it online is the core concept of digital content marketing.
When crafting content for your target market, think about why your readers would share it. You should also consider how the content is shared. Most of the time, creating quality content is just the first step of the process. You need to spread it across the internet by making it shareable.
- You don’t need a huge budget to pull off a powerful content marketing plan strategy.
- Focus on generating content that is unique, interesting, and helpful to your audience.
- See what others are doing online, but don’t follow in their footsteps.
6. What Resources are Available?
It can be frustrating coming up with a great strategy, only to find out that you do not have the resources to implement it. This issue stems from not really understanding what is actually involved in the campaign or not knowing what resources you have.
What do you need to implement your content marketing plan strategy? What tools should you use and who should be doing what? These are the questions you need to consider when creating your strategy. It is important to be conscious of your available resources while creating your content marketing strategy so that you don’t bite off more than you can chew.
But in most cases, a large team is not necessary to pull off something worth sharing. In fact, a lot of viral marketing campaigns came from small businesses that were innovative and creative with their existing resources.
An ideal content marketing team usually consists of the following people:
- Content Strategist
- Content Manager
- Operations/Production Manager
- Research Specialist
We understand that not all businesses have all of these resources, particularly startups and small businesses. If you’re lacking resources, it doesn’t hurt to look for help. For instance, if you have a technical team, but no content creator, you can either hire a writer or work with a content marketing agency with a reputable content team.
7. How Long is This Going to Take?
One of the final steps in drafting your content marketing plan is to establish the timetable for the execution of your plan. Depending on your marketing goals, your timeline could be as short as a month or a year.
But for the overall content marketing plan, it is recommended to take the timeline as far out in the future as you need to, at the same time focusing on a continuous 90-day cycle so you don’t lose track of your priorities.
- Every stage on your timeline should include clear goals and timing.
- Assign a good project manager for the campaign, if you have the resources.
- Mix short-term and long-term goals.
8. What Platforms Work Best?
There are three categories of platforms that content marketers love to use: Strategic, Emerging, and Experimental.
Refer to the networks that you must use today. Facebook is a good example of a strategic platform because most of your target customers are probably on Facebook, expecting you to be on Facebook as well. Plus, it’s the largest social network right now, so it only makes sense to use it.
Channels with a large concentration of your target market. Although investing in this type of platform is not a requirement, exploring and testing should be done to determine whether it is worth including in your strategy. TikTok is a good example of an emerging platform.
An emerging category that should only be considered when you think there may be value there and you’re looking to test the waters. TikTok, Snapchat, and Meerkat all belong to this category. Have a clearly defined test so you don’t end up spending too many resources there in case it doesn’t work out. If you think your target market is there, you should monitor the developments of that platform and find out how other brands are using it. Experimental platforms should be considered as an experiment.
Mixing these different types of platforms allows you to maximize the opportunities provided by each one of them. However, your focus should always be on strategic platforms.
9. What Content Works Best?
Once you know who your target audience is and how they consume content, you can then consider what type of content would be best to use across each touchpoint. If your target audiences are fans of visual social platforms, such as Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, or Facebook, you need to think of a different approach that matches the platform they are using. It should be different from audiences who prefer PDF guides or those who want to participate in webinars or podcasts.
- Instead of doing all things across all channels, focus your efforts and produce high-quality content designed for the unique characteristics of each platform.
- Tailor your content according to the consumption behaviors and preferences of the target market.
- Take advantage of user-generated content or influencer-generated content that might be more interesting or valuable to your market.
10. How Much Will it Cost?
At the end of the day, this question is what any business would be interested in. No marketing program is complete without a budget.
What do you need to successfully execute the content marketing plan? Take into consideration your priorities based on your timeline.
Focus your resources on your immediate needs but don’t forget to allocate a budget for long-term strategies. You need to make sure that you have enough funding for a marketing program so you can see it through otherwise you may get a false negative and ditch what could be a very good marketing program.
You also need to consider your manpower. Take an inventory of the resources you have and list what you’re lacking. Do you need to hire more people to execute your strategy? Do you need to hire a professional or a digital marketing company to do the job for you? Are you doing advertising?
Once you have the total expenses needed to make your content marketing plan work, the next questions you need to ask yourself are: Is it realistic? Do you have the budget for it? If not, you should try to cut down the cost by adjusting your strategy.
- The main factor that should eat up a huge portion of your budget should be the cost of producing your content. This refers to the people who will be creating the content for you—whether internal or external.
- You also need to invest in the tools necessary to manage your project, edit videos, create images, schedule posts, measure performance, boost reach, and research topics.
- You should consider all these factors and determine whether you need to cut down on some costs or reallocate other resources to your content team.
Final Thoughts on a Content Marketing Plan
The main difference between a business with effective content marketing versus a business without content marketing is the amount of effort that is invested in a content marketing plan.
It is not about the number of output published on the internet, but more about the quality of the content.
These questions can serve as a guide in creating or adjusting your content marketing strategy so you can maximize its benefits.
Knowing the answers to these important questions could spell the difference between running directionless marketing and not getting results or getting high returns from highly targeted, well-planned, and creative campaigns.
Answering these questions should not be difficult for most businesses, especially those who have been doing content marketing for some time. The process of trying to answer these questions can sometimes be more enlightening because there are important things that you may deem unworthy but are actually vital for the success of the entire digital marketing campaign.
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