Content is here to stay. According to recent estimates, the content marketing landscape in Asia is growing at a steady pace of five to 10 per cent per year.
Now, you might have a few assets on hand — a collection of blog articles, some customer case study videos and perhaps an infographic or two. The next question is to ask: what am I going to do with them to maximise their use?
The short answer is a plan. Without it, your content strategy is like a faulty gun that misfires all the time, missing targets and falling short of ROI targets. Today, only 32 per cent of B2B marketers have a documented content marketing strategy. Having a plan, therefore, will put you a head above the rest.
A plan brings the best out of your content
There are three main reasons why your content marketing needs a plan.
#1. Your brand stands out
A plan adds confidence and clarity to your message. By ordering the distribution of your content in a pattern, your assets will come together to construct a larger, coherent and engaging narrative. Your Point of View and opinion as a company can be easily heard from the crowd of brand voices, drawing your target audience to you. Customers will have an easier time to engage with the story you’re trying to tell.
#2. Speak to different customers directly
Not all customers are the same, and the expressions of your brand message should take this fact into account. Apart from firming up your voice on a top line level, a plan identifies your different audience segments—along with their unique needs, customer journey stage and styles of communication. A plan will customise your messages and advise on the ideal channel and assets to target different customers.
#3. Measuring impact
The unexamined content plan is not worth running. A good plan is able to reflect on itself and give you an indication of its performance. The plan will give you the insights into where you succeeded—and more importantly—where you failed. It will answer burning questions, such as:
• Did my headlines speak to a particular group of customers?
• At what point did I lose my customers’ attention?
• How can I optimise my content for the next campaign?
Five steps to a plan
Putting together an effective plan might sound complex, but it does not have to be. Here are five easy steps to get you started.
Step 1: Know your objectives
When starting the campaign, make sure you know your business needs. Do you need more leads? Do you already have an existing pool of customers ready to convert? Did you find an opportunity in a new target customer group? Sit down with your different stakeholders—from the C-level to the sales team—to clarify the objectives. The type of content and message will greatly depend on how you answer these preliminary questions, so it’s critical to start on a clear, firm footing.
Step 2: Determine your story
Based on your objectives, ask yourself what is the big story your content should be telling. This is the most enjoyable part of the process, in which you can come up with creative ways to get your message across. Your story should consist a theme, a Point of View, a campaign statement and tailored messages for your audience groups. If you’d like to know more about how a Point of View drives your content, here’s a helpful article.
Step 3: Build your calendar
With your big story and customised messages in mind, it’s time to create your plan in greater detail. As a start, divide your campaign duration into equal time periods and focus on a key topic for each segment—based on the audience types or any initiatives your business might have. Then, figure out what sub-topics you would like to cover for each month, and the type of assets, posting frequency and channelsto guide your content distribution. Leave room for time-sensitive events, such as breaking news and festive seasons, so that you can adapt your content for more impact.
Step 4: Mix the right content cocktail
Carry out a deep inventory of the assets you have and need to create. Your inventory should give you a clear view of the type of assets you have, a brief description of each, where they sit in the content marketing funnel, and the period in your calendar they should fall under. Use tools like CoSchedule to plan when and where you would like to publish your content. My favourite rule of thumb is the 80/20 rule. Of all the assets, 20 percent should be original content, while 80 percent should be repurposed from existing literature or curated from third-party sources.
Step 5: Measure, measure, measure
Based on your objectives, make sure that you have worked out the right metrics and set up check points on your calendar to assess your results. If you’re purely into leads, measure the number of clicks from Google searches or ads, click-through rates and the number of people who downloaded your assets. To measure engagement, put tracking tools in place that can help you see how long they spent on your web page or heat maps that tell you where customers begin to lose interest.
Your content is nothing without a vision and direction. Use these handy tips to become a content marketer with a plan and be disciplined about optimising your calendar for maximum results.