Content Marketing: Best Practices for a Successful Content Plan
Last update: 28 November 2023 at 11:40 am
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 define 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.
Three 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 effectively generates leads and conversions.
Moreover, between 2011 and 2021, the 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 extensive 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 other customers.
Precisely because content marketing offers so many possibilities, creating a strategy to get by and get results is necessary.
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 will you produce?
- On which channels will you distribute it?
- How you will manage its production.
Three 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
Consider 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 precisely why you’ll 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 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, your choice 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 can 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 writing a blog post, producing a podcast, or shooting a video: creating and publishing content takes time.
So you need to know who will produce your content, quantity, and pace. You have several options:
- Internalize your content production
- Work with freelancers
- Work with an agency
In all cases, you must plan a budget and create an editorial charter that includes all the guidelines to follow for 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 and 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 will you talk about, and when will you produce and deliver content?
Defining the topics to be covered
The biggest content marketing risk is producing content that nobody will consume.
This happens when you start producing content without asking yourself if your audience will be interested in this content.
To have a content strategy that works, you must follow a real methodology of defining the relevant topics to be covered. This is called keyword research.
It consists of researching the topics your audience is looking for information on. This way, you validate that there is an actual demand to consume content related to a specific topic.
Let’s take the example of this article, which you are currently reading and dedicated to 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 “CRO marketing” keyword.
In other words, it lets us know that in the United States, 1700 people search for “CRO marketing” monthly on Google.
Moreover, the keyword difficulty tells us this is a keyword with 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 producing.
As mentioned, you can 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; if you want to produce a lot, several people must be dedicated to it.
The problem is that not all companies have the budget to hire a 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 can always work with external providers to produce content.
This is a more economical solution, but you must check 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 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 beforehand what content you 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 and the content you still need to produce.
This will allow you to better see things and structure your content strategy.
3. Evaluate the results of your content strategy
Evaluating your results is the third and final step to a successful content strategy. In concrete terms, producing content by numbers is insufficient.
You need to put several performance indicators in place to know if your content is effective.
These indicators will let you know which content works best according to your objective and 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 continuously working as a team to carry out a successful content strategy.
Contact one of our experts if you need help developing your content marketing.