Content Marketing: Best Practices for Creating a Successful Content Plan
Understanding the best practices for content strategy is a key element for the success of your digital marketing strategy.
Whether it’s to gain visibility and awareness, reach your target audience, generate leads, or optimize your conversions and increase sales: having a good content strategy will always help.
In this article, we give a definition of content marketing and present the key components and best practices to follow to create an effective content marketing strategy from start to end.
Introduction to Content Marketing
Content marketing: definition
Content marketing consists in
creating high-quality content on topics related to your company and its industry.
This content is intended for your customers and can be distributed on several communication channels.
Content marketers’ goal is to answer all the questions your customers may have. Additionally, moving them along the sales cycle.
3 key figures for content marketing
Today, we know that content creation is a priority for 28% of SMEs. And rightly so: according to 72% of marketing professionals, creating content is effective in generating leads and conversions.
What’s more, between 2011 and 2021, the amount of time spent online increased from 75 minutes to 192 minutes per day per individual.
These numbers tell us three things:
- The audience to be captured on the Internet continues to grow
- This audience is giving an increasing share of its attention to content on the web
- Nearly 3 out of 4 marketers say that content creation is effective
Faced with this observation, we understand why more and more companies want to create a content strategy.
Why create a content strategy?
The problem is that content marketing is very broad and requires a lot of investment.
Indeed, it is possible to create content for multiple platforms:
- Social media
In addition, the content formats a company can produce are also very diverse:
- Blog posts
- White papers
- YouTube videos
- LinkedIn / Facebook / Instagram posts
Finally, each of these contents can meet different objectives, for different companies, which address different customers.
Precisely because content marketing offers so many possibilities, it is necessary to create a strategy to get by and get results.
3 Steps to Build a Content Marketing Strategy
1. Define the editorial line of your content strategy
The first step of the content creation process is to define your editorial line. This one explains:
- Why do you want to create content? To achieve what objective?
- What type of content you will produce.
- On which channels you will distribute it.
- How you will manage its production.
3 examples of objectives that content marketing can help you achieve
Content Marketing can help you do three things:
- Improve your brand awareness and visibility
- Generate leads
- Help your customers use your product/service
Take the time to think about your objective, as it will determine the type of content you will produce and the channels you will use.
As you might expect, you won’t use the same content to generate leads as you would for helping your customers use your product/service.
Define the type of content you will produce
Once you know exactly why you’re going to create content, it’s time to choose the format you’ll use.
If your goal is to drive traffic to increase visibility and brand awareness, here are three formats you can use:
- SEO optimized blog posts (an SEO agency can help you with this)
- YouTube videos (it’s the second biggest of all search engines, behind Google)
- Online advertising (SEA and Social Ads)
If your goal is lead generation, here are the three formats we recommend:
- White papers
- Two-part content (e.g., a blog post that provides access to downloadable content)
- Webinars (which your prospects will have to register with their email address in order to attend)
Finally, if your goal is to help your customers use your product/service to its full potential, you can :
- Create video tutorials
- Set up FAQs
- Write a sequence of emails that explain the different uses of your product/service
At this point, you should already have a clearer picture of your content marketing strategies. You know what you want to achieve and you know what relevant content to produce to get there.
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Choose your communication channels
As digitalization progresses, the number of available digital channels keeps growing. We have an article dedicated to this subject. We present all the communication channels you can use.
Here, the choice you will make depends on the content you have decided to produce and your audience. Specifically, answer the following two questions:
- Where will your content be most suitable?
- Where does your target audience pay the most attention?
Also, consider your content marketing budget and production capabilities. Creating content takes time and you need to be able to produce a lot to get results.
So choose a channel (or several) that meets these criteria:
- Your target audience uses this channel to consume content
- Your contentofferings are adapted to it (e.g.: written content on a blog, by email, or even in a thread on Twitter)
- You have the capacity to produce a lot for the chosen channel
Manage the production of your content
Finally, the last element of your editorial line: how will you manage the production of the content?
Whether it’s writing a blog post, producing a podcast, or shooting a video: creating and publishing content takes time.
So you need to know who is going to produce your content, in what quantity, and at what pace. You have several options:
- Internalize your content production
- Work with freelancers
- Work with an agency
In all cases, you will have to plan a budget and create an editorial charter that includes all the guidelines to follow in order to have coherent brand content.
2. Build your content plan
The objective of this step is to help you clearly define the topics your content will cover, but also to have a production and distribution schedule.
While the first step serves to define your objective and the format of your content, the second step aims to clarify the implementation of this content.
More concretely, what are you going to talk about and when are you going to produce and deliver content.
Defining the topics to be covered
The biggest risk in content marketing is to produce content that nobody will consume.
This happens when you start producing content without asking yourself if your audience will really be interested in this content.
To have a content strategy that works, you need to follow a real methodology of defining the relevant topics to be covered. This is called keyword research.
It consists of researching the topics on which your audience is looking for information. This way, you validate the fact that there is a real demand to consume content related to a certain topic.
Let’s take the example of this article, which you are currently reading and which is dedicated to the subject of content strategy.
When we wrote it, we didn’t just “guess” that it was a topic that would interest our blog readers. Instead, it’s a purely objective, data-driven choice that we made using a tool called Ahrefs.
As you can see in this image, Ahrefs shows that the volume search is 1.7K for the keyword “CRO marketing”.
In other words, it lets us know that in the United States 1700 people search for “CRO marketing” every month on Google.
Moreover, the keyword difficulty tells us that this is a keyword on which there is little competition. In other words, few blogs have existing content on this subject.
Based on this observation, and considering that we had already published articles related to CRO marketing, it made sense for us to write about that topic.
You should adopt the same logic for your business: find topics related to your product/service and to which your audience is looking for information.
Launching the production
Once you have defined the topics of your content, it’s time to launch its production.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve decided to do blog articles, podcasts, videos, or social media posts: you need to know who will be doing the production.
As mentioned earlier, you can either bring your content production in-house or outsource it. Each of these two solutions has advantages and disadvantages.
Internalize your content production
The advantage of this solution is that your producer knows your company, its value proposition, its customers, and the tone of voice to use.
The disadvantage is that you will have to build a team 100% dedicated to content production. This is a full-time job, and if you want to produce a lot, several people will have to be dedicated to it.
The problem is that not all companies have the budget to hire an entire team of content managers. The second solution then comes into play.
Outsource your content production
Whether it’s working with freelancers or an agency specializing in content strategy, you always have the option of working with external providers to produce content.
This is a more economical solution, but you will have to spend time checking the content produced.
- Is it consistent with your brand?
- Is the content of good quality?
- Does the tone of voice adapt to your audience?
- Does it respect your editorial charter?
You can also opt for a mix of both: appoint an internal content production manager, who will be in charge of collaborating with external partners.
In any case, we advise you to have a look at this article dedicated to content writing.
Once your content is produced, it’s time to schedule its publication. The idea is to know at least a week in advance what content you will publish.
The objective is to avoid stress related to the publication and to never run out of content to share.
For this, we can advise you to use a tool like Airtable, which allows you to create a shared editorial calendar.
Ideally, you should give access to this calendar to your entire content marketing team, so that everyone knows which content will be published on which channel, and when.
To make it clearer, we also recommend creating a mind map. This should keep a visual record of all the content you’ve already published, but also of the content you still need to produce.
This will allow you to see things more clearly and to better structure your content strategy.
3. Evaluate the results of your content strategy
The third and final step to a successful content strategy is to evaluate your results. In concrete terms, it’s not enough to produce content by the numbers.
You need to put in place several performance indicators to know if your content is effective or not.
These indicators will allow you to know which content works best according to your objective and your audience.
This information will allow you to know which content to put more effort into to increase your return on investment.
To conclude this article dedicated to content marketing best practices, we want to remind you that content marketing is a team effort. Indeed, a successful content strategy requires a whole range of skills, time, and investment.
For example, if you opt for a blog, you will need skills in content creation but also in SEO to optimize your articles. In addition, knowledge of link building will be necessary to improve your SEO.
Finally, don’t forget that your content can also be recycled and used by other departments in your company. Hence the importance of always working as a team to carry out a successful content strategy.
If you need help with developing your content marketing, contact one of our experts.