Content marketing is a powerful marketing tool. Content marketing is as easy as spitting out piece after piece of content. Content marketing starts by diving into a regular schedule of content, images, graphics…
Not so fast.
Successful content marketing requires planning and a solid strategy. Effective content marketing requires asking questions so the ‘jump’ is a graceful dive—not a belly flop.
Who is the target audience we are writing for?
The tone of your content, types of content, and topics you choose ride on this question. Determine what group your efforts are targeted at; break it down into gender, general age group, interests, etc.
What is the goal?
Don’t dive into content marketing with a general “we just want more sales” approach. Decide on a goal for your content, such as increasing sales leads, building awareness, or retaining existing customer base. Remember as you create content, that no matter what your goal, not all your content should be a screaming advertisement; subtle content with the right call-to-actions can be just as effective and beneficial.
What schedule should I follow?
Once you have determined your target audience and goal, it’s time to put together a strategic schedule that follows your business sales cycle. For example, if you’re an event venue who wants to generate sales leads, your content calendar should follow the sales cycle. Craft content aimed at company managers who book holiday parties before the holiday season and wedding planning tips before wedding planning season.
Who is in charge of meeting the deadlines?
A successful content marketing calendar is broken down into regular, manageable deadlines. Assign every piece of content to a party that can meet those deadlines. The creator of the content does not need to be in-house; if producing content exceeds the capabilities of your company, consider outsourcing the effort to experts who can meet the deadlines.
How can we promote and use the content?
Content should not be produced in a vacuum. Blog posts should be shared via e-mail, images included in your social media strategy, videos posted in your online library. Have a plan for every piece of content created, the deadline for production, and schedule for promotion.
How can we measure results?
Evaluation is one of the most commonly overlooked steps of content marketing. Decide what analytics should be collected and analyzed periodically to decide the status of your current efforts, and what improvements can be made in the future.
Content Planning Questions
What questions do we frequently hear from customers?
The most effective content topics come from your target audience. Compile a list of frequently asked questions on a regular basis, and insert those questions strategically into your content calendar. These topics are relevant to the customer and answer questions, creating an instant connection that can convert readers into potential customers.
What topics do our customers search for?
If you want relevant topics that earn points with customers and search engines, put yourself in the readers’ shoes and use marketing tools that give you insight into online users’ search activity. Optimized content is a valuable tool for businesses that want to be found in search engines. For local businesses, go a step beyond to differentiate your business by including content and topics related to local users’ interests and community.
What images are needed?
Images are not an online luxury; all types of media are necessary for content marketing success. As you map out your content marketing strategy, brainstorm ways to strategically collect the necessary images needed to make your content marketing a success (if you outsource, that brainstorming is up to the marketing agency).