11 Steps to Create a Content Marketing Plan to Improve Your Business

Content Marketing is one of the biggest strategies businesses use to grow their traffic, profit and brands online. Having fresh, relevant and engaging content is the key to rank your sites on 1st Page of Google!

In 2021, relevant and quality content is the key to succeed in any business and build your business to the next height. But creating 100% unique content is a huge pain in the ass, right? No more worries!

Did you know that 63% of businesses don’t have a documented content marketing strategy? That’s according to the latest research from the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and Marketing Profs.

Here are the steps for easy reference:

  1. Step 1.Set your Mission and Your Goals
  2. Step 2.Establish Your KPIs
  3. Step 3.Know Your Audience
  4. Step 4.Assess Your Current Position
  5. Step 5.Figure Out the Best Content Channels
  6. Step 6.Decide on the Content Types
  7. Step 7.Identify and Allocate Resources
  8. Step 8.Create a Content Calendar
  9. Step 9.Create Content
  10. Step 10.Distribute and Market
  11. Step 11. Measure Results

Step 1. Set Your Mission and Your Goals

A good starting point for your content strategy plan is to set out a content marketing mission statement. This is a brief statement that makes it easier to focus on what’s important — and what’s not — in creating your content so your content marketing strategy stays on track.

A content marketing mission statement outlines:

  • Your target audience
  • The content you’ll use to reach them
  • The benefit they’ll get

Step 2. Establish Your KPIs

The best way to achieve goals is to make them specific and measurable. That means setting key performance indicators (KPIs) for your content marketing strategy.

The KPIs will help you know when you have achieved your goals by providing milestones you can check off. They’ll include what you plan to achieve in terms of revenue, sales, traffic, SEO, traffic and different aspects of digital marketing like email marketing and social media metrics.

Step 3. Know Your Audience

As mentioned earlier, for a successful content marketing strategy, you’ll need to be clear about who your audience is so you can create the right content to reach them. There are three actions you need to take.

Collect Demographic Data

The first step is to collect demographics on your visitors, email subscribers, and social media followers.

Web analytics, social media analytics, and email subscriber analytics will give you the data you need on your audience’s:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Education
  • Income

You’ll also get insight into their key interests. To find this information in Google Analytics, go to Audience » Interests » Overview. You’ll see the market segments your web visitors fit into.

Get Customer Feedback

To learn even more about your target audience, try collecting feedback from your current customers. That’ll give you insights into:

  • How they feel about the content you’re currently producing
  • What their most urgent needs are
  • How you can address their problems with your content

Getting the right customer feedback can help you:

  • Understand your readers’ and subscribers’ priorities
  • Decide on the best places to reach your customers.

Step 4. Assess Your Current Position

Many businesses already have content out there. This will include content that’s on your blog, as well as social media content, podcasts, videos, and so on.

That’s why the next step is to figure out whether that content is helping you to meet your goals.

To do that, you’ll need to carry out a content audit. That means:

  • Logging all the pieces of content, such as blog posts, guest posts, and so on
  • Assessing their usefulness or success
  • Identifying the gaps

You may also want to look at how your content compares with that of your competitors, and see how any new content will fit in the market.

Let’s look at one example of how this would work for your content marketing strategy.

How to Log Your Content

If you want to log all your site or blog content, Screaming Frog is an excellent starting point. It’s a URL crawler that will:

  • List URLs
  • Analyze page titles and descriptions
  • Find duplicate pages
  • Create sitemaps.

Step 5. Figure Out the Best Content Channels

As you work through this process, you’ll start to get a sense of where your audience is hanging out, and where you already have a successful online presence . It’s best to focus on what’s working and expand from there, rather than try to do everything at once.

But to be absolutely sure, you’ll need to take another look web analytics. When you’re in Google Analytics, go to Acquisition » Social » Overview to see the main social networks where your content is being shared. For example, in our screenshot, most of the social activity takes place on YouTube.

Step 6. Decide on Content Types

Next, think about the types of content you need to create. There are some content types that every content marketing strategy will include.

Most successful content marketing strategies rely on having a central core of content published on your own site (or home base) which can then be repurposed and shared on other sites (outposts).

So blog posts are an essential part of your content marketing mix, and they still deliver strong results. Ideally, your blog posts will be actionable, valuable, and shareable, and may include a range of article types.

Step 7. Identify and Allocate Resources

Now that you know what type of content you’re planning to create, who it’s for, and where you’re planning to share it, it’s important to make sure you have everything you need to deliver on your content marketing strategy. That involves answering questions like:

  • Who’s in charge of producing and maintaining content?
  • What human, physical or digital tools and resources do you need to create the content?
  • What will your publishing workflow look like, including content scheduling?

Let’s look at each of these in more detail.

Who’s in Charge of Content Production?

This question is about allocating roles. You’ll need to think about who’s in overall charge, as well as who is responsible for delivering individual content items.

This will depend on the size of your company and content team, and on whether you’re doing everything in-house, or farming out content production.

One example of how this might look would be:

  • The CEO or chief marketing officer has overall final approval over content and content strategy.
  • Your content marketing manager will be in charge of delivering on your content marketing strategy on a day to day basis and will work with the content team.
  • Individuals will create content, according to their expertise.

Step 8. Create a Content Calendar

As part of your content strategy, you’ll need to know exactly when you want to publish your content on each of the platforms you want to use.

Lack of planning is a key content marketing mistake, so it’s essential to use a content calendar to get all your content scheduled. There are several ways to do this.

For example, you can use Google Calendar and simply put the due dates for each piece of content there. That works pretty well, especially if you’re not publishing a lot of content.

That’s the simplest approach, but if you’re publishing a lot of content, and have to manage a content team and the production workflow you’ve decided on, then you’ll likely want some more features.

Options for managing this include productivity and task management tools like Asana (shown below), or a purpose-built editorial calendar tool like CoSchedule. Both of these will allow you to schedule different parts of the content creation process.

Step 9. Create Content

As you’ve seen, there’s a lot of prep work in your content marketing strategy before you actually create a piece of content. But now it’s time to do just that. We’re going to use a blog post as our example, but these tips will work for almost any type of content creation.

With the research you’ve already done, you’ll have an idea of what type of blog post to create. For example, we know that list posts and how-tos are popular with our readers.

Now it’s time to pick a title from the content calendar and start working on it.

Research Your Content

When you’re ready to write, you’ll need to find out :

  • What’s already out there
  • How your new content can add value for your audience

This means doing a Google search, checking out the top content for your topic, and seeing how you can improve on it. That’s called the skyscraper technique.

Original research also does well, so consider this as an option if you’re collecting the right kind of data.

Include keyword research to identify the key terms to use for better SEO and improved search ranking.

Create the Content

Finally, start writing or creating your content. At this point, you’ll have to think about how to reflect your brands personality in the content you write.

You may want to be super-professional, very casual, or something in between. And you’ll have to manage the balance between showing your expertise and not patronizing your audience. Here’s Sprout Social’s advice on creating consistency with your brand voice, and keep in mind important SEO ranking factor to optimize your content.

Step 10. Distribute and Market

The next key part of your content strategy is distribution and marketing. That’s because you won’t get the results you want unless these are handled correctly. For example, you will likely:

  • Set a schedule for sharing your content on social media, both immediately, and through a drip campaign via a tool like Missinglettr.
  • Use email marketing to distribute your content to subscribers.
  • Notify any influencers mentioned in your content to spread the word even wider.

Step 11. Measure Results

Finally, it’s time to assess the success of your content marketing strategy. To do this, you’ll return to those KPIs you set at the start of the content strategy plan, and see what’s changed and whether you’re hitting your targets.

To do this, you can:

  • Check Google Analytics as described above to see how your content is performing
  • Measure social sharing activity via Buzzsumo and other social analytics tools

Other tools for tracking content marketing success include Google Alerts and Mention. Both of these will let you see if your content is being mentioned and shared, helping you hit those KPIs for awareness and engagement.

Tools like SEMRush will help you to assess KPIs for the search rank of your content. And you’ll be able to track email signups through the analytics in your email marketing software.

By monitoring your progress, you’ll be able to tweak your content marketing strategy at regular intervals, so it’s always up to date.

That’s it! Now you know how to create a successful content marketing strategy from beginning to end.

Professional digital marketer, Writer and Tech enthusiast