Do you have good content ideas? Do you think that they will bring about leads? If the answer to these questions is "yes," then the next step is to create a great content marketing plan.
In this article, we are going to assume that you already know your business needs content, and that you already have a few clear ideas about what that content should include.
With that in mind, we will lay out a step-by-step guide to creating a formal plan to solidify your content strategy with the goal of boosting your business leads. With no further ado, let's jump right in!
Behind every great plan is a great strategy. The perfect content strategy involves clear instructions that are to the point, so make sure you keep yours short and sweet. Later on, you can add to it as you see fit, but when starting out, stick with the basics.
Protip: Refine over time. Make your strategy as clear as you can. Failure’s not an option here!
Your content marketing plan won’t be much of a plan if you don’t establish key objectives. After all, you’ll need something to work towards. Include quantified figures so that your targets are crystal clear, e.g. "generate 400 new leads by December 1st." Ambiguous objectives leave you without any indication of success.
So how can you define your leads? Will a lead equal a subscription, a download, a survey completion or an email response? In lead acquisition, it's vital you spell this out, as you’ll need to do a lot of measuring. Include a short statement, e.g. "Leads will be new email opt-ins".
Once you have objectives, you’ll know what to chase, but how exactly are you going to measure your leads? Once again, it’s important to keep things simple and refrain from ambiguity. You’ll want to write this plan so that a middle-schooler could pick it up and follow through.
It’s important for your content strategy to consider further points:
- What measuring tools are you using?
- Over what period of time?
- Where are you keeping records?
Let’s put all our examples together to create objective statements:
“Generate 400 new leads by December 1st”
“Leads will be new email opt-in’s”
“We will use MailChimp to record new leads every month and record findings in our growth database”
Now that you've hit the bases of an objective, you’re getting closer to lead acquisition. Can you feel it? Perhaps one objective isn’t enough and you’ll have others in mind; after all, there’s got to be more than one single source of leads in online marketing.
Your Target Audience
If you want to plan your content marketing plan, you’ll need to know who your potential customers might be. You should then tailor your content strategy to an ideal customer. You’ll want as many leads as you can, but you need to find out who you want to target and what makes them ideal customers.
Have a brainstorming session, and gather information about who the ideal customers will be. Create a profile of a particular person including key information about them. When creating additional content, you’ll need to know what these customers will relate to and how you can bring them value.
Tell a Story
What exactly is your story here? There’s no need to wax poetic, but the next stage will be to consider the following three questions:
- What makes your company unique?
- What value do you bring to people?
- Why should people want to do business with you?
If you think about the answers to these questions, then you can create a short and sweet marketing story to tailor your content around. For example:
“Soandso Industries put people’s minds at rest providing technology which prevents them from having to re-input their credit card details over and over again to make online payments”.
So how will this relate to your marketing objectives? Think about how the content will be useful for those who consume it:
“Soandso Industries publishes content for busy online shoppers to show them how online shopping can be a lot more hassle-free”.
Content marketing may involve tactics, but in reality, it’s much more than that. It’s more of a philosophy, helping offer quality content to people who are searching for the answers - this is the way that your content can truly connect with your audience and drive through leads. In the words of top advertising executive Leo Burnett, “What helps people, helps business.”
Protip: No more than half of what you publish should be about the products you’re selling.
How can your brand help?
It’s great that you’ll be able to inspire so many people, but how can you convert that inspiration into leads? Any online marketing strategy needs to address this question.
Consider the buying funnel and how you’re going to transform your content viewer into a potential customer. Understanding the customer’s journey will tell you how you can tailor your content strategy for customer acquisition.
A stranger should be able to advance through the buying funnel in these three steps:
- You’ve sparked a stranger’s curiosity and have raised awareness in your brand.
- You’ve offered solutions to their problems and have made them interested.
- You’ve helped them out with evaluating their concerns.
- Your content has convinced them that you can offer a solution.
- Your content has inspired a transaction with a customer.
Upon planning the funnel you can audit your content and see what performs well, what needs to be developed further and what won’t work.
Protip: Remember to include a Call to action to help guide people through the buying funnel
Deciding on A Format
With a wide array of content formats to choose from, it’s time to think of what your customer will want to see.
It’s important not to overwhelm yourself and try too much at once. Take one thing at a time and see what works best for you. Hubspot has claimed that 53% of marketers prefer blog content creation in marketing. But make sure to do your own research when choosing between:
- Blog articles
- Social Media posts
You can always start with a few different content types and build upon your plan to include more. From YouTube videos to blogs, ebooks, podcasts and webinars - there’s a lot to choose from and remember that you can’t do it all at once!
Protip: Start with just two sources of content and test.
There’s no point in producing content if you don’t know where it’ll go.
You may have the best content but without a content distribution plan, you’re unlikely to generate leads. Within your content marketing plan should include ways to “market your marketing”, i.e. plan exactly how your content is going to reach the target audience. As award-winning strategy Andy Crestodina puts it, “It’s not the best content that wins. It’s the best-promoted content that wins.”
Each type of content could be shared throughout different means. You’ll need to think about budgeting, paid advertising, guest posts and distribution via social media. Use various content management software to help you distribute software in an automated manor.
Protip: Remember the saying, “Plan, Produce and Publish”
There’s no point in producing content if you don’t know what’s happening with it.
Measuring what matters is crucial to refining your content marketing plan. Use the objectives that you’ve written to inform the metrics you’ll see.
As you want to gain many leads, you’ll need to know how these leads are generated. How many are you getting? Where are these leads coming from?
Answers to these questions will determine which content will work best for you. Analytics software will be your best friend here. Come up with key metrics to track and record their progress. Make sure that your plan details the ways in which you’ll track progress.
To learn more about developing a content marketing strategy optimized for lead generation, check out our classes on the following topics: