A good content marketing plan helps you create an ongoing relationship with customers and prospects. When it’s done well, this ultimately converts to sales and referrals.
What Is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is different from traditional marketing. It’s a strategy that puts the customer’s needs first. Successful content marketing allows you to sell to customers without them feeling like they’re being sold to.
It can take several different forms.
Providing high-quality content on your own website gets customers in the habit of going to you for information or advice. Google’s algorithm likes websites that are updated regularly with quality long-form content, so having a blog can boost your search engine optimization (SEO), driving more traffic to your company website.
Email marketing lets you connect regularly with customers by providing reliable information directly to their inbox.
Writing an informative article for a known publication can be helpful with brand recognition and trust. If your intended audience reads industry trade publications, having a byline in one of these outlets can help position you as an industry expert.
Videos can be used to demonstrate how to solve a problem using your product or service. In some instances, they can even use humor to allow customers to connect more closely with a brand.
Create the right graphic and it can spread like wildfire on social media. These can be simple or more detailed infographics that offer a creative way to display important information or statistics.
These free downloadable guides can be used to build trust and increase a customer’s willingness to receive future marketing materials. But they need to include enough helpful information.
A case study provides an example of how a particular product or process helped solve a problem. It offers a great opportunity to tell a story that shows potential customers how someone like them used your product or service as a solution.
Why Planning Is Important
People are constantly bombarded with content as they scroll through social media or check their email inbox. That means competition for customer attention is fierce. In order to stand out, you have to provide something of high quality that sparks their interest and offers information they were looking for.
Doing this well requires some planning and research.
Know Your Audience
Before you can provide valuable content that your customers can connect with, you’ll need to understand who they are and what they want. What problem do your customers need to solve? Know their pain points and demonstrate why and how you can help.
Go Where the Audience Is
Part of understanding your audience is knowing how they want to hear from you. For example, do your customers prefer to open weekly email newsletters, or are they more likely to engage with your brand on Instagram?
Take some time to research the online behavior of your customers, and put your resources into developing content marketing materials for the platforms where you can best reach your target audience. You don’t have to be on every social media platform. It’s better to invest in creating solid content for a select few platforms–where you know the audience will be-versus getting on every platform just to be there.
Once you’ve identified the type of content marketing you’d like to create and how to best communicate with your audience, you’re ready to start planning a content strategy.
Creating a Content Calendar
Making a content calendar can help you stay organized. Map out how frequently you intend to publish blog posts or send emails along with which topics might work best for each month. Some content is evergreen–meaning it can be published at any time of the year–and other content is timely and must be published at a specific date because it’s connected to a current event or season.
There are a few different ways to decide which topics to cover in your content marketing plan. Conducting research through surveys and an analysis of how your customers engage on social media can provide insight into what they want to read. SEO tools, such as Keyword Tool, allow you to identify customer search patterns for specific words or phrases. If you’ve already published content, think about what did well and what didn’t. Consider expanding topics that got high engagement.
Not sure where to start? Skip the testing phase by working with a marketing agency that already understands your industry and its customer behavior.
Beets, Lisa Murton. (2018). 2019 B2B Content Marketing Research: It Pays to Put Audience First. https://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2018/10/research-b2b-audience/
Bowman, Matt. (2018). Content Strategy vs. Content Marketing: What's the Difference? https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2018/10/17/content-strategy-vs-content-marketing-whats-the-difference/#79163e77e7b7
Two Overlooked Tactics That Will Ensure Your Digital Marketing Campaign Reaches the Right Audience. (2018). https://www.hanoverresearch.com/insights-blog/two-overlooked-tactics-that-will-ensure-your-digital-marketing-campaign-reaches-the-right-audience/