If you’re searching for tips, tricks and advice about content marketing, you’ll find a wealth of information — I mean a LOT of information. But if you’re not entirely familiar witht the concept of content marketing then how can you know what you don’t know? How can be sure you’re covering all the angles? Simple — you need a plan.
You know that annoying little saying, “fail to plan, plan to fail”? Annoying or not, it’s an old adage for a reason–because it’s true. All too often, I see businesses jumping on the content bandwagon with little to no thought about the big picture approach to content marketing. They hear buzz words and phrases like “content is king,” so they rush down to the marketing department and announce, “We’re going to start blogging!”
Right idea — wrong approach. Better still, it’s an incomplete approach. You can’t just “write blog posts” and expect to see a return on your investment. In order to see a positive ROI, you need a strategy. And every good strategy needs a checklist. I love checklists, I really do. I have a ton of them, and I use them all the time.
Rather than trying to keep all the information I need inside my already full memory, I rely on my checklists for technical and on-page SEO, algorithm updates, social strategy, pre- and post-launches, site migrations, local search, mobile friendliness, and so much more. But the one I turn to most is my content strategy checklist.
Here’s a quick ‘n dirty checklist of things to think about when building your content marketing strategy.
I use this list as a guideline. I typically open up an Excel spreadsheet (ya, I love those too!) and start blocking out pieces of information based on the following questions:
- How many posts will you create per week? Per month?
- If you’re going to put the time and effort into published content, try to do it on a regular basis to keep things up to date, fresh and interesting for your readers.
- Think 1/week as a minimum goal.
- Who will write them?
- Do you have budget to hire a professional writer?
- Will you call upon staff to do the writing?
- Can your staff write? I mean really write… one of the worst mistakes you can make is to call upon employees to write your copy when they’re … a-hem … not writers. I’m not saying everyone has to be the next Hemmingway, but at the very least they need to be able to craft well-rounded thoughts and have a solid grasp of grammar and spelling. If you can’t afford to hire writers, consider a less-expensive editor to clean up copy.
- What will be the topics?
- Don’t write about what your business does.
- Write about what your busienss can do for the reader. Identify a need/problem/challenge, offer solutions/answers.
- Keyword research can be a great way to get a better understanding for what your readers are searching for online right now, so be sure to poke around before choosing topics.
- How many words will articles be?
- This will depend on the purpose of the piece, where it will be promoted, and who the audience will be.
- Shorter pieces work well for B2C blogs, while longer pieces are better suited to B2B how-tos for example.
- Who will they be geared toward? Who’s our audience?
- If you haven’t already done so, take some time to create a few reader personas.
- If you’re not sure where to begin, there’s a great article over here about how to come up with the right personas.
- What’s the purpose of the piece?
- Think about the buying cycle: awareness, research, comparison, purchase, retention. Once you know who your audience is, you can better understand what type of content they’ll want to consume.
- How will you promote your content?
- Do you have a PPC budget?
- How about a social media ad budget?
- Or will you simply go organic?
- Which social media channels will you use to promote the pieces?
- If your audience is B2B, you might consider using Twitter & Linkedin.
- If your audience is B2C, you might choose Facebook.
- If your in travel or photography, you might choose Instagram or Pinterest.
- Which KPIs will you track?
- You can’t measure success until you decide what success looks like.
- Jot down some goals you’d like to achieve with your content. For example: drive more organic search traffic to your website, increase blog interactions, build an email list, promote a sale, improve CTRs from search, social or PPC.
- How will you handle the success?
- Be prepared! You are, after all, putting in all this hard work with the goal of being successful.
- Think about how you’ll prepare for an influx of orders, customer service inquiries, social media interactions, etc.
- Rinse, repeat
- Measure what worked and what didn’t. Then rinse and repeat the good stuff, toss out the bad, and come up with a new strategy to test against what’s working.
- Never stop testing. Testing lets you continually uncover new and effective ways to reach your online goals.
That’s my quick ‘n dirty content marketing strategy checklist. At the end of all this, I have a brain dump of information scattered all over my spreadsheet. From there I can begin to enter the finer details into my content calendar template. If you don’t have one already, you can snag one for free over at Hubspot.
If you have any additional points you think should be added to this list (and I’m sure there are!), we’d love to hear them. Join the conversation by adding a comment below!
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