4 Steps To Plan The Ultimate Content Strategy

You’ve already heard of the content marketing hype. You probably even had a few attempts of using it for your business. Yet the results did not justify the time and efforts spent.

Here’s the deal: any content marketing campaign success is based on a solid plan. By following the next 4 steps, you’ll have a ready-to-use, step-by-step content strategy road map that brings results.

Step 1: Do Your Research

Before you even attempt composing an editorial calendar and start crafting the content, you have to do some background research. Start with answering the following questions:

  • What questions do my customers have? What’s their biggest struggle right now?
  • What are my most successful competitors publishing? What type of their posts gets the most hype? How can I make them even better?
  • Are there any knowledge gaps in my industry?
  • What topics are always trending in my niche? What is the core knowledge my customers will always be interested in?

Now, to help you get better answers for these questions, here are some essential tools and strategies:

  • Buzzsumo – allows discovering massively popular posts on social media, track and connect with people who share them.
  • Quora – search for popular, commonly asked questions/answers in your industry.
  • Google Keyword Planner + Pinterest – uncover long-tail keywords your competitors are not targeting yet. Search your keyword on Pinterest e.g. “organic recipes”, paste the url you get into GKP in “your website” tab. Get a lot of new keyword suggestions with low competition and decent search levels.

Got the notes and some ideas. Leave them aside for a while, as first you’ll need to…

Step 2: Develop a content plan for different channels

Most people associate content marketing with blogging solely, but that’s nowhere close to the truth. A solid content marketing plan covers multiple channels:

  • Blog posts
  • Expert round-ups/interviews
  • Webinars
  • Video content – tutorials, guides, webinar records
  • Case studies
  • Industry researches and presentations
  • Contests/Giveaways
  • Infographics
  • Resource libraries
  • Online communities/forums/Q&A platforms
  • Guest posting, outreach campaigns
  • Podcasts/audio clips

See? There are a lot of other options than plain old blog posts.

Certainly, you should not tackle all the channels listed above, unless you have enough budget and resources, of course. To get the best results, focus on the 3-5 most relevant to your business. To identify those, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are my competitors doing? Which type of content performs best for them? Which channels don’t they use? Why?
  • What is my objective with this channel? What benefits can it bring to me – traffic, leads, revenue, extra industry authority etc?
  • What do I want people to do after consuming content from each channel? Which CTAs should I use? What’s the value of publishing it?

Add these answers to your previous notes and move on to the next step.

Step 3: Brainstorm the right ideas

You have the “what” and “where” components, now it’s time to give the exact word shape.

Get a big piece of paper and a pen and write down at least 20 content ideas for each channel you plan to pursue.

At first your ideas might be a bit weak and raw, but you can update them later on. Here are a few handy tools to help you with the creative part:

  • HubSpot Topic Generator helps to come up with punchy ideas and topics to write about.
  • Banjo finds the most talked-about news items on social media and the web, based on location.
  • Help Me Write is a community of writers sharing their ideas and get upvotes for those topics the community is interested in reading. It’s a great way to test-drive your ideas.

Step 4: Plan your content execution

To craft the ultimate editorial calendar for content execution you need to consider a few points:

  • How far in advance should you plan? This certainly depends on your niche. In most cases certain topics will remain evergreen for months, however if you run an online marketing agency, SEO strategies tend to change rather fast.
  • Who will execute your strategy? Do you have an in-house team you can brief during meetings or do you plan to outsource everything to a content creation agency? Add up the respective costs and time in both cases.

Pair this information with all your previous notes to work out the exact number of pieces you plan to produce for each channel. Take all the ideas you’ve brainstormed and fill in the spaces in your calendar.

Next, just do the work.

Make sure everyone on your content team is aware of the deadlines and encourage all the discussions to have well before the assigned publishing dates.

Once your new piece is published, make sure you promote it in all ways possible to gain the maximum bang for all your efforts. Remember, no one will know how awesome your content is unless you tell them!

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Written by:
Dianna is a former ESL teacher and World Teach volunteer, currently living in France. She's slightly addicted to apps and viral media trends and helps different companies with product localization and content strategies. You can tweet her at @dilabrien
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