Whether you're just starting out with content marketing or you've been using the same content marketing strategies for a while, your content marketing plan needs to be better than ever for 2015.
Why? This year, you've got even more competition -- according to Content Marketing Institute, 70% of surveyed marketers say they are creating more content than they did a year ago.
The first step to getting a leg up on the competition is to have a solid, smart content marketing plan in place. If you're having trouble planning for next year or need some fresh ideas to include in your plan, read on.
The Content Marketing Plan Basics
Every content marketing plan should include the basics. Think of them as building blocks for the foundation of your content marketing. Make sure you outline the following essentials in your marketing plan:
Goals or Mission
What's your aim for developing a content marketing plan? Why do you want to produce content and create a content marketing plan? Know your goals before you begin planning, and you'll have an easier time determining what's best for your 2015 strategy. (Want help figuring out the right goals? Download this goal planning template.)
If you recently started your business, avoid producing content just because you think you should. You may not be using content effectively -- and you don't have time to waste on tactics that aren't delivering results for you.
If you've been in business for a while, review your content marketing efforts and the results from it in 2014. Figure out what you can do differently in the upcoming year and set new goals to reach. (Pro tip: Now is a great time to align your team's goals with the rest of your organization's goals.)
To develop a successful plan, you need to clearly define your content's target audience -- also known as your "buyer persona."
This is especially important for those who're starting out and are new to marketing. By knowing your target audience, you can produce more relevant and valuable content that they'll want to read and convert on.
If you're an experienced marketer, your target may have changed. Do you want to target a new group of people or expand your current target market? Do you want to keep the same target audience? Revisiting your audience parameters each year is crucial to growing your audience.
If you want help answering these questions and more, check out this buyer persona template.
Types of Content
Most people start out with blog posts, but if you want to venture out and try producing other content pieces, consider which ones you want to make. For instance, if you've been doing weekly blog posts for the past year, creating an ebook for all your blog posts would be a one way to offer information in a different format. We'll go over a bunch of the different types of content you can use in the next section.
Have a system in place where you can manage your content. A few vital parts of content management include content creation, content publication, and content analytics. Later, we'll go over tools you can include in your content marketing strategy to help you manage content.
Content Ideas for Your Content Marketing Plan
Maintaining a steady stream of content that's unique and interesting to your target audience is a challenge. But with a big dose of creativity (and a little help from content idea generators), you can create content that's not only valuable to your market, but also stands out from the sea of information.
44 Fantastic Types of Content
There are tons of options out there for content you can create. Forty four content types are outlined below, so look through the list and see which ones would make a perfect fit in your marketing plan.
Brainstorming Content Ideas
Though the list of content types will help you determine what content pieces you want to create, coming up with topics for your content is another challenge you'll face. Content creation takes time, lots of brainstorming, and research. To help you get started, here are a few brainstorming tips to remember:
1) Let your mind wander.
Brainstorming shouldn't be restricted; you never know when a great idea is going to come your way. Let your mind be free and relax. Avoid stressing out during the brainstorming session. If you do, it's time to take a break and come back to brainstorming later.
2) Brainstorm with others.
From your team to consultants, you can brainstorm with other people and bounce ideas off each other. You don't have to come up with creative ideas on your own, and it's best if you don't. When you brainstorm with others, you can see your ideas at different angles as well as your team members' ideas.
3) Use tools to help you come up with content ideas.
If you don't have the luxury of brainstorming with others or you'd like another way to brainstorm content ideas, tons of tools are available to help you create content topics. Several ones include:
- HubSpot's Marketing Grader: HubSpot's Marketing Grader is a great tool to use when you want to see where you're at with your marketing. From your blogging efforts to your social media marketing, Marketing Grader grades vital areas of your marketing and sends you a detailed report to help you optimize and improve each area. With this tool, you can figure out how to make your website more SEO-friendly and discover new content ideas.
- What To Write: Get your mind gears going with What To Write's unique content idea generator! This tool asks you questions that will help jumpstart your brainstorming. It also generates several blog post ideas for you after you've completed the questions, so you can use those ideas in your content marketing plan.
- HubSpot's Blog Topic Generator: Get blog post ideas for an entire year with HubSpot's Blog Topic Generator. All you need to do is enter general topics or terms you'd like to write about, and this content idea generator does all the work for you.
- Feedly: This popular RSS feed is a wonderful way to keep track of trendy topics in your industry and find content ideas at the same time.
- Buzzsumo: Discover popular content and content ideas at Buzzsumo. Buzzsumo uses social media shares to determine if a piece of content is popular and well-liked, so this information will help you see which content ideas will do well.
- Content Forest: Content Forest offers free tools, which include TopContent, KeywordKiwi, and ContentIdeator. These tools will help you find popular content from your competitors, effective keywords to use in your content, and great content ideas all in one spot.
Important Marketing Dates to Remember
After you've come up with a bunch of ideas, you need to slot them on an editorial calendar. Many of the ideas you think of will be evergreen -- they're just as relevant months from now as they are today.
That being said, you shouldn't ignore timely topics either. While they may not be the bulk of your editorial calendar, they can help you get spikes of traffic.
Most people count on incorporating popular holidays such as New Year's and Thanksgiving in their marketing efforts, but you don't have to limit yourself to these important marketing dates. Other noteworthy holidays and dates can be included in your content marketing, and you can base your content off these special days. Check out the SlideShare below to see which popular holidays you can incorporate in your marketing:
Organizing and Managing Your Content
Knowing how you'll organize and manage content should be part of your marketing plan, not only the types of content you'll create.
If you're a HubSpot customer, you can plan, produce, publish, and measure your results all in one place using HubSpot.
If you aren't, another option you can use to organize content and manage your campaigns is Workado -- this is a product I built to manage multiple marketing campaigns. If you're working with a team, everyone can be part of this platform, stay on top of assignments for projects, and communicate with each other regularly.
Another great organization tool for content marketing is WordPress plugin CoSchedule. A handy editorial calendar, CoSchedule makes it easy for you and your team to organize content and even social media posts.
From building the foundation of your content marketing plan to adding tools to better manage your content, setting up your strategy for the new year won't be a hassle with this guide. Here's to your marketing success in 2015!