It doesn’t matter if you’ve been working with content marketing for a long stretch or if you’re just starting out, if you’re operating without a content marketing plan, it’s going to be like trying to play catch in the dark. Sometimes you’ll be successful, but more often than not, you’re going to be missing the target – sometimes by a lot.

It’s easy to get caught up in the moment when it comes to content marketing. We all know that we need to do it to help generate leads and build a solid relationship with our intended audience, so we tend to jump in, head first and eyes closed. While that’s the way companies start their content marketing journey, it’s not efficient, and it makes it harder to outsource when necessary.

So what needs to go into a content marketing plan? In a sentence, your content marketing plan should contain the information necessary to make your content strategy successful.

Identify Your Content Strategy.

Identifying your content strategy is important before you move into the phase of creating your content marketing plan. You’ll want to define the goals you want to reach with your marketing, you’ll need to create buyer personas, and you’ll probably want to conduct a content audit, if you’re already creating content for your company. This will all help to ensure that the content plan that you come up with is relevant to the goals you have for your company’s marketing efforts.

Establish Your Content Marketing Goals.

When developing your content strategy, it’s important to be clear about what your content marketing goals are. To do this, you’ll want to make sure that your goals are S.M.A.R.T. – Specific, measurable, action-oriented, relevant, and time-bound. In so doing, you increase the chances for success of your content marketing efforts.

Create Your Reader and Buyer Personas.

Once you’ve set your goals, it’s important to create at least one buyer persona. This is a profile of your ideal customer or reader. The reason you want to take the time to create a persona is that it makes it much easier to create content that speaks directly to him or her. You’re going to use the demographic information you’ve gathered to put together a short biography of an individual within your target market’s demographic. Once you’re armed with this information, you’re ready for the next step.

Conduct a Content Audit.

With your goals and persona in hand, it’s time to perform a content audit. You’ll want to go through the content that already exists to see where it falls in terms of your goals and your created persona(s). This will help you to see the holes that need to be filled and what content is extraneous. This is valuable once you sit down to work on your content marketing plan.

Assemble Your Content Marketing Plan.

Now that you’ve done the background work, you’re ready to put together your content marketing plan. Here are the elements that need to go into the plan.

1. Content Alignment to Goals

You’ll want to make sure that your content aligns to the goals you’ve set. You should have some sort of call to action on each piece you create, and that means you should ensure that each piece of content ties in with the call to action and moves you closer to the goals you’ve set. Thus, a part of your content marketing plan will discuss how you will go about doing this.

If you have already-existing content that doesn’t align to these goals, you’ll want to figure out whether that content can be altered so that it fits into your company’s content strategy or if you should delete content that does not fit.

Your plan will need to list out any categories for content and how that category of content fits into your overall strategy. If you like, you can list out any pillar content – that’s the content that’s going to be the in-depth information that will answer big questions for potential customers that relate to your business’s niche.

2. Editorial Guidelines

How long will the articles on your site be? How many sentences should be in a paragraph? Will you use H2 or H4 for headers? How many sections will each piece have? How many outbound links? How many crosslinks? All the answers to these questions need a place in your content marketing plan. In addition, will you accept guest posts? If so, you’ll want to work out what your site’s guest posting guidelines will be and what sorts of guest posts you will accept.

3. Content Calendar

How often will you post? Will you post once a week? Will you post twice a week? Will you have different “themes” for different days of the week? Even if you don’t wind up planning out the specific content now, having an idea of what and when you will post will help you to keep on task and keep up with your content. It will also make it easy to outsource content should you find that you need to do so.

4. Cross-Channel Plan

Will you post solely on your company’s blog? Will you guest post across the Internet? Will you create YouTube videos? You’re going to need a plan for each channel upon which your content will appear. You’ll want to also include social media platforms in this. Where will you share your content once it’s posted? What kinds of things will you post there?

5. Actionable Editorial Plan

There are two key things to remember when you’re putting together a content marketing plan: It is a living document, so if something isn’t working, you can change it, and it needs to be actionable. Your team should be able to look at the plan and know exactly what needs to happen next. If it’s not clear, create a section that delineates exactly what tasks need to be completed.

6. Budget

Every good content marketing plan needs a budget. How much money will you put toward ensuring you meet your goals? Will you be able to promote posts? Will you have the money to outsource content if you need to? By putting together a rough working budget for content marketing, you will know what revenue you will need to break even. If you are not generating what you need, you may need to scale back on your plan until you are able to. Consistency is more important than quantity.  A post every Monday is much better than four sporadic posts throughout the month.

Takeaways

It’s really important, if you want to have long-term success with your content marketing efforts, to put time into creating an actionable content marketing plan and to be clear about what your content marketing strategy will be. By taking the time to do this, you’re going to increase your return on investment in content marketing and you’ll start creating content that is aligned with your overall marketing strategy and company goals. This, in turn, will make your content marketing budget stretch further as you’ll be getting the most out of every dollar spent marketing.

Ronda Bowen – Content Creator

Want help with creating a content marketing plan? EnVeritas Group can help you manage your content. Reach out to us today to find out how.

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