“If you read it, you wouldn’t vomit…”
I’m relatively certain you wouldn’t use the line above at the top of your content marketing plan. But if you take a look at most of the content and businesses publish to the web, you’d think that was their guiding principle.
In the video above, our friend Rand Fishkin (CEO and Co-Founder of SparkToro) goes on the offensive against another great marketing cliche, “good unique content.”
Specifically, why it’s not enough just to “do” content, but to really invest the energy required to produce content that is engaging and extremely valuable to the folks you’re speaking to. Try to think about your content generation efforts as living on a sliding quality scale—you should always be shooting for 10. I won’t go into a highly detailed recap on the video above, so feel free to scoot back up and check it out (I think you’ll really enjoy it).
Here are 5 questions you need to ask yourself before embarking upon a content marketing strategy
Q: Have I defined my target audience?
I’m writing to other marketers. We appreciate humor, perhaps some of us are a bit cynical. Maybe some more still need a bit of a wake-up call that some of those old marketing zingers like “fresh content” and “content is king” need to be retired.
In any case, I’ve defined a target audience here (I’ll prove it below), and you should too.
And even if you don’t go so far as to generate fully-baked marketing personas, having a few bullet points on audience, demographic, needs/wants, voice, and tone are critically important for any successful marketing strategy.
See, I know you love this gif. Target audience? Nailed it.
Q: Have I conducted keyword research?
So you’ve defined a target audience and crafted a thorough, thoughtful piece of content. Great! For some of us, it’s probably okay to stop there.
For those of us that are driven at least partially by the organic ranking of your content, you need to conduct keyword research.
Here at Solid Digital, we’re huge fans of SEMrush’s suite of organic and keyword research tools. The Keyword Magic Tool in particular is a great way to:
- Discover related keywords
- Determine which keywords will be easier to rank for
- Generate ideas for related content in the future
Q: How many pieces of content do we need to produce each month?
We all know content marketing is hard. There are probably a few reasons you’re just looking at creating a content marketing plan now, after all. But there is some data to suggest that you should be producing a certain amount of content each month.
According to Hubspot customer benchmark data, companies that published 16+ blog posts per month got about 4.5X more leads than companies that published between 0 – 4 monthly posts.
Now, while you may not be in a position to publish 4 pieces of blog content each week, you can begin to see the potential return on that investment. If you’re starting out with a part-time copywriter or plan on designating a team member or two content producers, we recommend starting with at least 1 piece of content per week.
Q: Who will truly “own” this project in my organization?
So many things don’t get done (or aren’t done properly), without proper ownership and accountability. Every team needs a quarterback to lead the team to victory.
In your content planning efforts, make sure you assign an owner, not necessarily someone that’s going to be doing all the work, but someone who will ensure tasks are being completed and things are on track. For us, this wonderful person is Diana.
Say hi, Diana:
This is important, because we can assure you one of the first challenges you’ll face as a team is deviating from your planned content schedule. And trust me, you’re going to need a “Diana” in your organization to send out reminders and keep that content machine humming right along.
Q: How will I measure the success of our content marketing efforts?
I suppose now’s a good time to ask how you’re reporting to your team internally. Do you pop into Analytics and set up custom reports? Are you using a reporting software solution like DashThis or Cyfe? PowerPoint presentations and Excel spreadsheets?
Clearly communicating the impact of your content marketing efforts is not only important for your own strategic decision making, but it’s important for your team as well. When something’s working well, it’s an excellent motivator! When something isn’t having as great of an impact, it’s a potential learning opportunity.
Here are some metrics we recommend you report monthly to determine the impact of your content marketing strategy:
- Engagement (CTR by channel, content bounce rate, and pages/session)
- Impact (Social shares, backlinks, assisted conversions)
- Results (Paid CPA, leads generated, e-commerce revenue earned if appl.)
So, are you ready to create that killer content marketing plan?
The right amount preparation is key, and I hope this post has motivated you to hit the ground running and start generating high quality content for your organization. But please do keep in mind that a winning content strategy takes time, patience, and a level of dedication to experimentation and analysis.
Your content marketing efforts likely won’t catch fire overnight—things can certainly feel like a slow-moving train at first. But over time with highly targeted, regularly published, well-managed content you’ll start to build more and more momentum taking you from content lightweight to 10x powerhouse!