By: Mary Ellen Ellis
Content marketing is an important aspect of promoting any business, but you can’t do it well without careful planning. Just starting a blog and writing about what you think your audience might enjoy or setting up social media accounts and occasionally posting about relevant topics doesn’t really cut it in the competitive online marketplace. According to survey data, only 35 percent of B2B marketers have a content marketing strategy that is documented. To get ahead of the curve and to be more effective with your content, you need come up with a plan first and then start writing.
1. Start with goals
No plan is worth anything if you don’t know what the purpose is. Why do you want to implement content marketing? Is it to get more eyes on your website? If so, you’ll want to include email content to get more viewers to head to your landing page or home page. Do you need a better conversion rate? If increasing conversions is your goal, you will spend more effort on selling with your content. List your goals and be specific so you can start heading in the right direction from the get go.
2. Target and get to know your audience.
Any kind of marketing, whether it is content marketing or not, requires research into the target audience. You need to know your audience if you are going to direct content to them. Paint a picture of your target consumer. Is it a middle aged woman with empty-nest syndrome? Is it a young professional living in the city and worrying about career advancement? Who needs your product or service? Find this out before you go any further.
3. Know your brand.
We live in a time in which the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well. Anyone with Internet access can start up a business and sell. Chances are what you’re selling is already being sold by someone else. This means you need to figure out what one thing sets you apart and how that will help you develop a unique brand. Find out what it is that your customers need from you that no one else is offering and make that central to your plan.
4. Create sales funnels.
A sales funnel is a road map for how viewers of your content will be funneled toward an actual purchase. Draw this out and figure out just how your content will lead people to buy your product or service. For example, you might start with a social media post. It attracts attention and readers click on your link to check out your blog. There they find more useful videos or tutorials. You might have a pop up asking for email addresses, maybe in exchange for access to more content or a free eBook. Now you can send emails to these readers and offer them the chance to buy something you have convinced them they need. You need one or more funnels so that you have a concrete plan for your content and how it will help you.
5. Make an editorial calendar.
An editorial calendar is a tool that will help you plot out—day by day, week by week and month by month—what content you will present to your audience and how you will do it. This is the time to consider the information you want to present and the formats. Vary both, but make sure the content is relevant and useful to your target audience. Formats could include blog posts, social media posts, eBooks, podcasts, memes, infographics, quizzes and polls, press releases, contests, newsletters and emails, just to mention a few.
6. Amplify your content.
Finally, you want to make sure your content reaches as many people as possible, so come up with ideas for spreading the word. You can request guest blog exchanges with other similar businesses, use social media to reach people, post on YouTube or send content out via email lists. It’s not enough to just post content to your website; you have to get it out there and find your audience.
Having a strategy for your content marketing is so important. Without a plan, you’re just writing and producing content for the sake of it. You need goals, a target audience, a plan, a calendar and ways to amplify your efforts. Take the time to do this before you ever start typing out that first blog post.
Mary Ellen Ellis is a former high school science teacher and holds degrees in both chemistry and biochemistry. She is currently a freelance writer and the Content Manager for Coqui Content Marketing.