It was Benjamin Franklin who once said that if we fail to prepare, we prepare to fail. And this is certainly true when it comes to developing a content marketing plan that’s going to bring you a return on your investment – whatever that may look like to you.
In our experience, there are three main things you need to consider when developing a successful content plan:
What do you want – or need – to say?
When is the best time to share your message?
How are you going to present it to your audience?
The answers to these questions will be key to making sure your content marketing strategy generates real results for your business.
What kind of content should you be putting out there?
Let’s get real for a second: there is an unfathomably huge amount of content in cyberspace, and more is being added every day. How much of this is really valuable and how much is just fluff? Content for the sake of content becomes nothing more than noise. It benefits nobody, and from a marketing perspective, it can be a waste of time and money.
So, what does ‘good’ content look like? Put simply, it is content that your visitors will find useful, interesting or entertaining; it’s stuff they willingly want to consume.
It sounds obvious, but unfortunately, so many businesses fall into the trap of posting the content that they want to promote instead of sharing a message that their potential customers want to read.
Your great new product or service offering might be exciting to you, but it won’t be of any interest to your readers unless they have an understanding of how it relates to their lives. They need to know exactly how your latest innovation can meet their needs or solve their problems.
Clearly, then, understanding your audience is the first step towards creating ‘good’ content. You need to really drill down into who your potential customers are, and what they expect to gain from interacting with your business.
Perhaps they’re looking for something tangible, such as advice on how to fix a leaking tap or file their tax return. Or maybe they just want reassurance that you’re an authority in your field before they contact you for a discussion. Either way, the content you produce needs to be entirely tailored to meeting their needs, not yours.
When should you be sharing it?
How often should you post new content online? It’s one of the most common questions we get asked as a content development agency – and as you might expect, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Some businesses post something to their blog or social feeds every day, while others might only publish something fresh every month or so. Deciding how frequently to share new content depends on a variety of factors, including the type of site you’re running, the number of visitors it gets, and the topics you want to cover.
But there is one overarching rule that applies across the board. Once you have created a content calendar for your business, you need to stick to it!
A content calendar will keep your plan on track by encouraging you to manage your pipeline and publish each piece on time. You can set publishing reminders to flag up any gaps in your schedule, and you can plan to produce tailored content that coincides with something relevant that’s happening inside or outside of your industry.
A content calendar will also help you to create a uniform content marketing strategy across multiple channels. For example, you can make sure you support the launch of a new blog post with a series of tweets or Facebook posts that promote it.
Getting organised in this way isn’t just a case of improving efficiency and cutting down on admin, though. Your visitors need to know what to expect and when to expect it. If your audience gets used to you publishing something weekly, they’re more likely to re-visit your site for this information.
How should you be presenting it?
Content comes in many forms. We’re not just talking about landing pages or blog posts – we’re referring to anything on your site that a visitor can consume. To maximise engagement, you should make the most of a variety of formats to make your message easier, and sometimes faster, to digest.
Some people won’t have time to skim-read a 500 word blog post, but will be happy to sit through a 60 second video. Others will prefer to listen to a podcast during their daily commute. Creating this kind of content may seem daunting to those who have never tried it before, but you don’t need to be a technical whizz to produce something that looks and sounds professional. A phone camera, a cheap microphone and some decent lighting will often suffice, or you can send out short, lo-fi Facebook live videos if you find you have an idea for content on the fly.
If you’re sharing something that’s rich in information and contains lots of data, you could consider creating an infographic, or putting together a more in-depth ebook or whitepaper.
Not sure if your latest idea will lend itself well to a blog post? Keen to kick-start your content marketing strategy, but not sure where to begin? Contact Indy. We will happily guide you through the what, when and how of creating market-busting content!