Every business wants more leads, and it could be simpler than you think to start generating more of them. In fact, a carefully constructed content marketing plan could quadruple your leads or better.
There are many different ways you can generate leads for your business online, but content marketing should certainly form a major part of your strategy. Not only is it very affordable, but it’s also highly effective and integrates naturally with all the rest of your digital marketing campaigns. In fact, if you thought the title of this article was clickbait, think again — research has shown that content marketing generates three times as many leads as paid search and outbound marketing.
But to get these results, you need to have a plan. A mind-blowing 63% of business don’t have a documented content strategy. Don’t be one of them. If you’re at the beginning of your content marketing journey and want to make sure your time and effort turn into plenty of leads, use this guide to help you on your way to creating a stellar content marketing plan.
- Your plan should include standard steps for research, outlining, producing, scheduling, and promoting content.
- All these steps should be consistent with your goals and strategy.
- Regular analysis and optimization are also vital for content marketing success.
1. Keyword Research
Thankfully, we’ve come a long way from keyword-stuffed articles written specifically to rank highly in Google. Search engines have become more sophisticated and employ complex algorithms as well as human agents to judge each page for its relevance and user experience.
Despite this, keyword research should still be an integral part of your content marketing plan. This helps you to figure out what your audience is actually searching for, so you can create content to meet that need.
Keyword research can get very technical, but it’s best not to get too bogged down in the complexities of competition and search volume – you can leave that to the SEOs. Instead, use your research to help you to come up with content ideas, outlines, and article titles. You’ll often find a group of related keywords together, and you can use these to essentially set out the subheadings for your content. This not only helps you to structure your content, but it also means that you’re providing your audience with comprehensive information, so they don’t have to go and look elsewhere.
2. Content Goals
Each piece of content you produce should have a specific goal. In some cases, you might have more than one goal. Some examples of goals might include:
- Establish authority in your niche
- Build brand awareness and trust
- Convert readers into mailing list signups
- Convert readers into sales
- Attracting social media shares.
By keeping these goals in mind when you create your content, you have a better chance of achieving them. For example, if you want the reader to sign up for your newsletter after reading your blog post, you’ll need to mention the benefits of doing so and make sure there are clear CTAs in the article.
3. Content Outline
When you have an article title in mind, don’t just sit down and start writing or send it off to your writer without any further thought. To maximize your content effectiveness, it’s important to plan each piece carefully. These means taking a few minutes to create an outline that can be used to form the basis of a full piece of content.
You can use your keyword research to create the structure of your outline, as discussed above. Your outline should also include your content goals, the format of your content, internal links to include, the target audience, and how you will promote it.
It’s helpful to decide on a few standard formats for your written content. This helps to standardize your style and makes your content production more efficient. Some ideas for content formats might include:
- Long-form pillar articles
- Step-by-step guides
- Roundup article or lists
- Thought leadership pieces
- Short news pieces
- Case studies
The exact formats you choose will depend on your industry and your individual organization. It can be helpful to research and see what sort of content your competitors are publishing to get not only content ideas, but also format ideas.
4. Publication and Promotion Schedule
Once you’ve planned and outlined a few months’ worth of content, you should schedule it. To build a loyal reader base, you must publish consistently, so decide on a publication frequency depending on the resources you have available and the type of content you will be producing. This may be daily, weekly, or monthly. Although you’re likely to see quicker results from more frequent content publication, it’s better to put out high-quality content consistently than to fill your site with lots of low-quality blog posts.
If any of your planned topics are seasonal or related to product launches, marketing campaigns, or other specific dates that are important in your business, make sure you schedule them accordingly.
Your editorial calendar should include dates for content production, editing, publication, and promotion. Make sure you allow slack time for deadlines running late and unforeseen events.
If you’re promoting your content by email or social media, it’s important to choose the best times to post for the highest engagement. There is plenty of research into this you can use as guidance, but you should also experiment with your own audience to find the best times. You can also use automated tools to schedule content in advance at the optimal times for each platform.
To make the most out of social media you can promote one piece of content several times, so be sure to factor this into your plan. Your followers will get annoyed if they keep seeing links to the same article, but make sure to promote your old content as well as your most recent pieces.
5. Analysis and Optimization
After your content is published and promoted, that doesn’t mean you can tick it off the list and be done with it. The final step in your content marketing plan is really not a final step as it’s ongoing. Continuous analysis and improvement of your content over time will make sure it’s evolving with your audience and industry and help to inform your future content strategy.
Set a regular schedule for reviewing your analytics and seeing which content is performing and which isn’t. If one piece of content is producing quadruple the leads, try and figure out why that is so you can replicate it.
Always take the time to go back to edit and update older content. This takes a fraction of the time of producing a new piece of content, but it can dramatically increase content performance. Make sure you factor the time for this updating and optimization into your content marketing plan.
If you are ready to get more traffic to your site with quality content that’s consistently published, check out our Content Builder Service. Set up a quick consultation, and I’ll send you a free PDF version of my books. Get started today and generate more traffic and leads for your business.