[Intermediate – 107] How To Build Your First Content Marketing Plan

As marketing has moved away from the brain-hammering, lights-flashing, banner-advertising days of yore, and as consumers have developed an eagerness for companies that are willing and able to deliver value beyond their product or service, a new player has stepped into the marketing game: content marketing. Now a buzzword in all digital marketing campaigns, content marketing offers a way for you to tell the story of your brand in a value-adding manner through blogs, video, social media, and more. Truly effective content marketing uses a genuine voice to tell creative stories that inspire consumer trust and build a positive brand reputation.
If you’re looking for ways to promote your brand or business online, you simply can’t afford to ignore the power of content marketing. And in just a few steps, you can quickly and powerfully establish a content marketing plan to guide your marketing efforts and help you establish a creative, invaluable, and unique online presence.

1. Find Your Audience

Before you start blasting your content into the virtual world, you need to consider who you want to target. This audience should include your primary customer base, but you should also think about ways to reach new consumers through content. Dream big: What does your ideal audience look like? Where do they spend time online? By taking even a few minutes to decide who you want to reach, you’ll have a much better shot at creating a content plan that will be effective for your audience.

2. Learn Your Audience Patterns

Once you’ve determined who you want to target, the next step is finding out where – and how – they spend their time. By learning more about their patterns and interests, you’ll be better able to make a strong impact. Explore social media networks where your target audience is active, and ensure you have active profiles on those sites. If your audience is active on other publisher pages, consider content distribution networks like Outbrain that can populate your content across those sites. Fill your content with SEO-rich keywords that target your exact audience base. Make sure that any SEO tactics you employ are organic – both search engines and consumers are becoming more difficult to fool.

Your content marketing strategy should be multi-faceted – no one avenue will be able to hit all your audience base. Diversify and then make sure you’re tracking the play of your content with analytics programs that can tell you even more precisely how to speak to your content consumers.

3. Set Goals for Your Content

What are the aims of your content marketing plan? Do you want to increase your customer base by 20%? Attract a younger demographic? Build your social media followers? If you spend some time now articulating your aims, you’ll have a much better sense of what kind of content you should focus on. And, the more concrete your goals are, the easier it will be to act on them.

4. Define Your Content

Now that you have a target audience and clear goals, make sure that all of your content aims to check those boxes and yield positive results. You want to meet the needs of your audience while also producing content that has integrity and will build your brand’s profile and reputation. Your content should also help define the “voice” of your brand, be it professional, off-the-cuff, quirky, etc.
Remember: marketing isn’t limited to written content. Make sure you’re building a room for diversity. Include interviews, podcasts, videos, infographics, animations, and more. This may sound overwhelming, but not all of your content needs to be original. You can source related content from other industry blogs or ask other leaders and innovators to curate or guest post. This will also help you build relationships within your online community, and get access to yet another audience base.

5. Set a Content Schedule

A strong editorial calendar will make it much easier for you to manage your content marketing plan on a day-to-day level. You should aim to map out your content 6 to 12 months in advance (leaving room for flexibility, of course!). Think about how to time-peg your content to important company events, such as sales or product launches. In addition, map out major holidays and think about how your content might capitalize on these. You’ll also want to build in room for evergreen content, which is more shareable and has a longer shelf-life.

6. Start Writing!

You’re ready! Now get to work.
Bonus tip: once you’ve created your killer content, we’ve collected some great ideas for distribution in our posts on increasing website traffic and tips for blog marketing.

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