How to Make a Content Marketing Plan That Actually Works
is the Head of Marketing at Lean Labs. His experience ranges from higher education to SMBs and tech startups. When not doing digital marketing, he's sure to be enjoying some kind of nerdy pastime.
Content is the foundation on which inbound strategies are built. Anyone can create "content." But what separates good content from bad, or even just mediocre, content?
A kindergartner can create a simple depiction of their family with a handfull of crayons. Chances are their creation won't be displayed in a prestigious art gallery. Vincent van Gogh, on the other hand, has created works of art that are highly sought after and are displayed in galleries and held in private collections around the world.
Which artistic creation is better?
Interestingly enough, the average parent is going to find the child's rendering more meaningful than that of van Gogh. If a masterpiece by van Gough and a kindergarteners drawing can both have more meaning depending on the viewer, what truly makes the difference between great and mediocre content?
Great Content is content that has meaning to your audience. You can have a masterpiece of a blog post, but if it doesn't address the needs of the people you are trying to reach, it is essentially worthless. You must learn to create Audience Tailored Content, or ATC. In order to continually produce ATC you need a great strategy structure to support it. The structure of your plan is paramount when it comes to creating a successful content marking campaign.
Creating an Effective Content Marketing Plan
Combining theses key ingredients will result in a "Killer Content Marketing Plan" that will help you break free from the ruts of mediocrity, and spur you down the road of great results.
Here is how its done:
Do Persona Research First
First and foremost in every marketing strategy is your Buyer Persona data. If you have not yet created a Buyer Persona profile, do it!
There are many great resources to help when is comes to creating the a great Buyer Persona including. This is vital to the quality of your content. Again, you are writing to your audience and if you don't know who your audience is, you will never be able to truly connect with them.
It may seem strange at first, but while you are writing you should keep in mind who you are writing to. Think about who your target persona is, what they like, how old they are, and their goals. Having these things in mind will help you write as to a friend rather than the faceless public.
A persona will also help you discover important topics to write about. There is no greater content to me than the content that meets needs and answers my questions. Identify the areas that are a source of pain for your potential buyers. What are some of the problems they face, concerns they have, or needs they need met? The answers to these questions are a goldmine of useful and effective content.
Do Keyword Research Second
Keyword research is very important to development of you content marketing plan, and the supporting strategy structure. Through keyword studies you can discover what questions are being asked, what products are being searched, and most importantly, how your target personas search for them.
This is the beginning of your roadmap to your potential customers. The goal should be to Identify 4 to 5 root keywords on which to centralize your strategy. These are the golden, "short tail" keywords that bring in massive search volume and will be very difficult to rank for.
From there identify as many long tail keywords as you can, prioritizing by search volume and ranking competition. These long tail keywords are your ticket to a lot of traffic and leads.
Now that you have identified what your target personas are searching for, and how they are searching, it's time to build a structure to get your content in front of them.
Create Anchor Pages Third
Here is were the structure begins to take form.
What is an anchor page? It's the one page on your site SEO optimized for one short tail or root keyword. This will be the base page that is focused on ranking for that super-valuable, highly competitive search term. Getting one of your anchor pages to rank on page 1 of Google can make your traffic absolutely skyrocket. But it's going to take a lot of work and support, which is why structure is so important.
What should be on my Anchor Page? This should be your prime page that discusses how your product or service applies to the chosen keyword. So if your company offers fresh produce, you may want an Anchor page optimized for the keyword, "lettuce." This page should describe in detail, your lettuce offering - it's your sales information page for that product. But it needs to be singularly optimized for that prime keyword.
The goal is to create content around each root keyword that all points back to the anchor - much like a thought map. In a thought map, the main idea goes in the big, centric circle. All other ideas and topics branched off of that. This is essentially what we are creating.
If setup correctly, each page that has branched off the anchor page will be optimized for an easier-to-rank long-tail keyword. For instance, "how to get fresh lettuce in february," might be a question your personas are asking Google. If so, you should write a blog article to answer that question and grab that long-tail search term.
When you rank highly for that term, you will be drawing in organic traffic. But, you will also be pushing SEO power to the anchor page by linking to it in the article when you start talking about lettuce. You have now begun the process of building the authority of each anchor page. Over time, with consistency, you can give enough authority to rank your anchor pages even for those hard to reach short tail keywords.
Create a publishing Calendar Fourth
Consistency. The purpose of the publishing calendar is consistency. With out a consistent publishing calendar all of the previous work will be severely hindered. One very important note that you must remember is that consistency builds authority.
Use the information you have gathered through your persona and keyword research to list your ideas for upcoming posts. Choose your publishing frequency and map out what content you will create and when it should be published.
If you're still having trouble coming up with enough content ideas, interact with people who need your product or service on a regular basis. Listen to their complaints, needs, and problems, and you will start to ideas from them.
Step 1: Take your list of ideas and create titles for each post.
Step 2: Now set a schedule. Whether it be once a day, once a week, or once month, make sure you can commit to it.
Step 3: List your articles in order of importance and set deadlines for each post that will help you stay on schedule with your posting calendar.
Step 4: Meet those deadlines and get those posts out on a consistent basis.
It is in this fourth stage where most began to fail. The cares of business can often distract from maintaining such a schedule over long periods of time.
Another common roadblock to success is lack of quick results. You're not buying a boatload of traffic - you're building your own boat so your traffic will eventually be free. There is no immediate results - and a half-built boat won't do. You have to build for the long-term success of your company - and that takes investment and dedication to the process.
Why This Works
This really does work. The content you create based upon the needs of your potential customers will help you gain trust. Trust is a key ingredient when converting leads to customers. Once you begin creating the content the people want, this tested and proven structure for getting your content out there will help you reach the next level of results.
Remember, it all comes down to quality, consistency, and authority. The stronger structure you build the greater authority you will gain. You may want to open up a quick content shop and thats fine, but you will never get the attention and authority that is gained by building the structure overtime into a tall and noticeable skyscraper.