Content marketing is one of the best ways for businesses to improve branding and acquire quality organic traffic. Newly launched businesses often have a limited budget, and content marketing offers a low-cost yet effective strategy to boost ROI.
70% of businesses are already investing in content marketing in 2020. If you have launched your startup, then you shouldn’t lag.
Before you start, you need a robust content marketing plan to ensure you are heading in the right direction and not wasting your budget.
Here is the six-step content marketing plan that businesses can use to reach their target audience and increase conversions.
1. Specify Your Target Audience and Content Marketing Goals
The first step to create a successful content marketing plan is to define your target audience. Ask these four questions to yourself:
- Who is my ideal customer?
- What are their pain points?
- Where do they look for solutions to their problems (Google, Bing, Facebook, Instagram, or any other channel)?
- What type of content do they prefer (blog posts, infographics, video, etc.)?
These questions help create content that addresses your audience’s issues. It will also enable you to distribute the content on your customer’s preferred format and channel.
At the same time, you should also set content marketing goals. What is that you want to achieve from your content marketing efforts. Check out Adobe Spark’s free marketing templates for one that aligns with your goals.
Some of the most common goals of content marketing for startups are:
- Increase organic traffic.
- Boost brand awareness.
- Increase social media engagement and get more followers.
- Improve the website’s position in search engines.
- Get new email subscribers.
Also, set a deadline by when you want to achieve each of the goals.
2. Decide on Content Types for Each Stage of the Sales Funnel
In the previous step, you determined what format of content your target audience prefers. Now, dig a little deeper to decide what types of content you should be creating for each stage of sales funnel.
Blogging is the most common type of content marketing that every business does. To get the most out of content marketing, you need to create different content for each stage of the funnel.
Here are the three stages of the sales funnel and best content types for each of them:
In this stage, prospects are looking for solutions to their problems. This is when they become aware of your brand. The best type of content for this stage include:
- How-to guides: This article from Moz about “improving domain authority” is a good example of a how-to guide. It provides steps by step instructions to increase your website’s domain authority.
- Informational content: This article on “birthday gifts“ from MyUKMailBox is a great example of informational content. Anyone looking for ideas to give something to their loved ones might land to this page.
- Infographics: For example, Oberlo publishes infographics regularly to increase shareability and drive more traffic to its website.
In this stage, prospects have identified a few solutions to their problems. They want to ensure whether you are the right choice for them. The best type of content for this stage include
- Case studies: This case study by Hootsuite is an excellent example of the consideration stage’s content. The post highlights how Amway used Hootsuite to harness the power of social media to generate sales. It also includes the numbers to entice prospects into considering their platform for social media marketing.
- Webinars: For example, Slack conducts webinars that talk about their product and how to make the most out of it. This way, Slack is able to demonstrate what customers can get from their product to entice them to convert.
The customer has decided to purchase from you and needs a last piece of information before converting. The best type of content for this stage include:
- Competitive comparisons: This comparison article by Hubspot is a great example of the content for the last stage of the sales funnel. The post shows the top CRM tools for businesses while keeping Hubspot in the best light possible.
- Detailed specifications: For example, Mailchimp has a separate landing page highlighting each feature of the product and why you should be using it. The specifications are divided into different industries and businesses. This increases the chances of conversions as the specs are explicitly catered to each industry.
3. Determine Your Content Creation Process
The next step is to define how your brand will create content. This would be something that all your content creators need to follow every time they are writing for your company.
Every step in your content creation process should be in sequential order. For example:
- Decide the content type (blog, infographic, video, etc.)
- Choose a topic and its length
- Research keywords
- Prepare an outline (it should include an intro and all the subheadings)
- Get the outline approved
- Write the content
- Forward it to the editor
- Edit the content as per suggestions from the editor
- Forward the final content to the marketer
Designing a content creation process ensures everyone in your organization stays on the same page.
4. Create a Content Calendar
It is essential to publish content regularly to get the best possible results. If you don’t have a dedicated team of content creators, it is easy to go inconsistent.
Therefore, make sure to create a calendar that includes what type of content you will be publishing and when.
For example, you can create a Google Calendar and add due dates for each piece of content.
If you want advanced tools to create a content calendar, you can try CoSchedule or Trello. I use Trello for content management. It allows adding team members who should be creating the content, write detailed descriptions about the topic, and tag the due date.
5. Identify the Best Promotion Channels
You are producing amazing content, but it won’t be of any worth if you don’t promote it effectively. It is crucial to identify where most of your target audience is spending time online.
For example, if you sell women accessories, Instagram might be the best channel for you as it has 43% female users. But, if you aim to advertise to the older generation, YouTube might be a good choice as 70% of 50-64-year-olds use the platform.
Some of the best ways to promote your content include:
- Use email marketing to distribute content to your subscribers.
- If you mention any influencers in your content, notify them about it to spread the word about your brand.
- Repurpose your blog to multiple small contents and promote it on social media. For example, Social Bakers, an AI-powered social media marketing tool, uses Instagram to advertise its content and drive traffic to its website.
- Leverage Q&A sites like Quora to share your content to the audience that is interested in your industry.
- Promote your content on different groups on social media. For instance, join industry-specific groups on Facebook and LinkedIn to widen your reach.
6. Measure and Optimize
It is essential to measure the results of your content marketing plan. You will need to go back to the goals you specified in the first step.
Check whether you have achieved those goals or are at least near to accomplishing them. If not, it’s time to revisit your content marketing plan and determine where you are going wrong.
Apart from your goals, focus on these metrics to determine the success of your content marketing success:
- Organic traffic
- Website ranking on search engines
- Lead quality
- Social media engagement
- Conversion rate
- Quality and quantity of backlinks
Compare these metrics to the previous period (before you started content marketing) and see if there’s an increase in them. If yes, you are going in the right direction. If not, optimize your plan.
Content marketing is a constant process that every business must invest in to gain a competitive edge. For startups, employing the best content marketing plan is key to increasing sales and establishing an excellent online reputation. Follow the six steps mentioned above to create a robust content marketing plan to take your startup to the next level. Last but not least, follow the best practices of content marketing to get the most of it.