23 Oct, 2016

Content Marketing Plan Template – Myths and Best Practices

Content marketing is the best gateway to market your business. The term refers to creating and sharing free content to convert visitors into customers. There are other things you should do like Facebook marketing or email marketing. But content marketing is where it all starts. And, to get started you’ll need a content marketing plan template. That’s what this post will talk you through. To get your first visitors you need to provide them with great content for them to learn about who you are. Content marketing is a good start in gaining traction. It’s also a great way to earn SEO among search results and trust among potential customers.

A good content marketing plan template will be divided into easy to digest section. We’ll go over each section one at a time and tell you what it’s best used for.

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Set up goals

In order to gauge the success of your campaign, you need to set yourself some goal. Make sure it can be easily measured. Quantitative goals can be tracked and improved upon. But, it’s also clear when you’ve reached them! The other thing to note is to be realistic, otherwise, you’ll set yourself up for failure.

The strongest content marketing strategy has both short and long term goals. Long term goals can relate to traffic, i.e. 10% month over month, or to increase visitors to 500 a month. Another good long-term goal is to improve your SEO. Short term goals should relate to leads or email subscribers. Do you want to reach 100 email subscribers in the next 4 weeks? Do you want to get 100 leads in a week? Whatever your goals may be, just be realistic. Don’t forget that they need to be easy to track.

Target audience

Developing a successful content marketing plan requires an understanding of your target audience. It’s generally going to be the target audience of your business. You do have some wiggle room, though. It can be a campaign geared towards a specific subset of your audience like college kids who are going back to school. If there is a demographics within your business’ target audience that doesn’t make as many sales as you’d like, you can target them with your campaign too. Knowing your target audience is important to create relevant content to them. If you need help there is a free template from HubSpot on identifying your buyer personas.

Social media

Now that you know who your audience is, you’ll need to figure out on which social medias they hang out. If your audience hangs out on Instagram, gear your content marketing towards Instagram. Otherwise, you won’t be as successful.

Content types and ideas

Oh, where do I start with this one? The most basic content type is a blog post. This post that you’re reading is part of Oberlo’s content marketing. The only thing that the content needs to be is useful and relevant. (Okay, it should also be free.) The type of content is up to you. It can be a video, a guide, a podcast, a meme, a photo essay, a how-to, a listicle, an interview, an eBook, a book, a case study or even your own research. Convince & Convert has a list of 105 content type ideas for you to choose from. Additionally, think about the types of topics that are relevant to your target audience. Choosing a topic might help you settle on the type of content you should be producing.

Audit your past campaigns

If you have previously done content marketing you should take inventory to learn from your past efforts. There are a few steps you’ll need to make in order to audit your inventory. The goal here is to measure what worked in the past and what didn’t. This way you can strengthen your next campaign.

  1. Figure out what works. Take a look at your past campaign and see what worked well. Which posts received the most traffic or the most subscribers? If you can identify the type of visitor it resonated the most, do so. It will help you target your audiences better in the future.
  2. Figure out what could be improved. Here you want to list things that were semi-effective but not a total failure. Make a note of things that could have been done better. This can mean making sure your campaign is more relevant to your target audience, to adjusting the timing or types of posts you make. Be constructive. This will help make your next campaign stronger.
  3. Acknowledge what didn’t work. Some things are just a miss. You don’t want to waste your efforts again. The best way to do so is to avoid things that didn’t work. Here is your chance to list them out. Again, this can vary. For example, if some posts saw no traffic, why was it so? Were the posts not shared? Where they shared at a time where your target audience wasn’t online? Or, was the topic completely irrelevant to your audience?

The reason you want to do take inventory is to gauge your past social engagement. It’s how you’ll know the impact and success of your content marketing. If you haven’t done an official campaign but have created content, that’s still useful. Just because it wasn’t part of an official marketing campaign doesn’t mean you can’t learn from it either. See how well the content is doing with traffic, social media or overall engagement.

Mapping your calendar

When planning your content make note of upcoming events. It can be big national events like Halloween or Fourth of July. Or it could be little silly things that your target audience might appreciate like National Siblings Day. Either way, use this to your advantage when planning your content! It’s a great way to be relevant.

With all this in mind, it’s time to start mapping your editorial calendar. Once you settle on the type of content you want to produce, you’ll have to figure out who will produce it and when. As well as when the content will be published and where and when it will be shared. There are tools out there to help you deal with that.

Content management

You’ll need to select a tool to help you with scheduling and publishing your content. A pen and calendar can do the trick if you’re really tight on budget. And, only if you’re organized. For the not so organized, there are tools like CoSchedule, Trello or even WordPress. There are lots of social media-specific tools as well, such as Later for Instagram. Although Later only helps with scheduling to Instagram.

You want three things out of a content management tool: who is creating what content, its status and when will it be published. If the tool can help you schedule the social media posting that is a big, big bonus.

Content marketing plan template

Now that you’ve made it all the way through, here is a Google Sheet for your content marketing plan template. It does have multiple sheets, so don’t overlook that. It contains the gist of this walkthrough. It is a downloadable content marketing plan template. To use it make a copy otherwise you won’t be able to edit it.

Next steps

That’s basically the gist of a content marketing plan template walkthrough. We have another blog post on how to use content marketing to attract customers. It will teach you how to make the best use of your newly made plan.

Want to learn more?

Is there anything else you’d like to know more about and wish was included in this article? Let us know in the comments below!

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Paula Borowska: Paula loves working with small businesses to help them gain more new customers, and retain their current ones longer.