Content marketing plan template: A 10-step guide
With such enormous growth, it’s safe to say most organizations have dabbled in producing at least some content by now. But guess what? Only 29% of organizations report being extremely or very successful with content marketing in the last 12 months.
One of the main problems we’ve found is that many companies jump into content marketing without a solid plan, posting things willy-nilly and with no clear purpose.
Why do you need a content marketing plan?
A content marketing plan takes your overall content goals and lays out a course of action to achieve them — kind of like a game plan or blueprint.
A 10-step guideline to using our template
Now that you’re armed with a content marketing plan template, we’re going to walk through the guidelines step by step. Let’s get started.
Step #1: Determine your overall content marketing goals and KPIs
You can’t achieve content marketing success unless you understand what success means to your organization.
That’s why the first step is to determine your overall content marketing strategy and goal(s). Why are you creating content at all? What’s your end game, so to speak?
Some of the most common content marketing goals include the following:
- Driving organic search traffic
- Building brand awareness
- Increasing audience engagement
- Generating new leads
- Nurturing leads in the middle of the sales funnel
- Fostering customer loyalty
- Boosting sales and profitability
Once you’ve identified what you’re trying to get out of your integrated marketing campaigns, you need to figure out how you’re going to measure success. CMI recommends using multiple Key Performance Indicators, otherwise, you could negatively affect other metrics without realizing it.
Here’s a helpful list:
- Email: Open rate, conversion rate, unsubscribe rate, click-through rate, delivery rate
- SEO and website: Website traffic, unique visitors, time on site or page, bounce rate, page views, traffic sources
- Social media: Amplification rate, number of followers, fans, and likes, return on engagement (ROE), post reach
- E-commerce: Sales, sales growth, conversion rate, website traffic, average order value, shopping cart or checkout abandonment rate
Step #2: Lay out what you need to achieve your goal(s)
Once you’ve outlined your content marketing strategy, it’s time to figure out what you’ll need to achieve your goals. For example, do you have enough staff (or the right staff) and tools to implement your strategy?
Identify exactly what you need to achieve your goals. This may sometime mean going to the higher-ups to pitch a budget increase.
Step #3: Identify the topics that’ll attract your audience
One core purpose of planning content is to attract your audience by creating useful, relevant content. To figure out exactly what’s useful and relevant, it’s important to identify some key pieces of information:
- Who is your target customer?
- What problem is your target customer trying to solve?
- What are their pain points?
- How does your product or service solve this problem?
- What kind of information will your target customers find useful?
- Where do your customers typically look for information? Do they go to search engines? If yes, what are they searching for? Why are they searching for those things?
Then, start brainstorming topics that would be of interest to your audience.
Step #4: Factor in topics that can drive search traffic
It’s now time to hone in on specific phrases that can drive search traffic.
Figure out what questions your customers are asking by plugging your topics into an SEO tool. This will give you a list of keywords and phrases around each topic, and more.
Talking about the meal prep business, for example, you’ll probably find that customers are using some of the following keyword phrases in search engines:
Topic: family-friendly recipes
Keyword phrases: lunch ideas for kids, kid-friendly casserole, how to make a smoothie, recipes for toddlers, easy dinner recipes, 30-minute meals
Step #5: Determine your distribution plan
Content distribution can be divided into four main buckets — owned, earned, shared, and paid. Here’s a quick recap of what each one includes:
- Owned media – Channels that your company owns, like your blog, your website, your email list, and so on.
- Earned media – Unpaid mentions by influencers or on channels like podcasts or blogs.
- Shared media – Social media channels and other online communities. Examples include user-generated content, product reviews, shares, retweets, and more.
- Paid media – Paid advertising for content promotion.
To determine which bucket to focus your marketing efforts on (and you can always do a combination), it’s important to consider both your business type and your audience.
Step #6: Determine your publishing schedule
Now that you know what you’re publishing and where you’re publishing it, it’s time to figure out when — which means determining your publishing schedule.
When determining your content calendar, it’s particularly useful to have some technology behind you.
Welcome’s software, for example, allows you to visualize all work in a single, easy-to-use, and flexible marketing calendar. Here are a few specific perks:
- Leverage our marketing calendar software for a single view across all planned and in-flight campaigns, with updates in real time.
- Track the execution of all content activities and provide visibility across teams to encourage collaboration.
- Monitor campaign progress at a glance and get a detailed view of who’s working on what, and when, to ensure teams meet necessary deadlines.
- Filter the calendar to focus on the work that matters most. Surface relevant activity for specific teams or individual contributors.
Step #7: Assign the right people to each task
Once you have your publishing schedule outlined, it’s time to assign the right person to each job. Before you can do this, though, you need to break each piece of content down into individual tasks.
A blog post, for example, is typically broken down into the following tasks:
- Keyword research
- Create title and outline
- Write the post
- Edit the post
- Approve the post
- Publish to distribution channels
Step #8: Determine the owner and collaborator(s) for each piece of content
Collaboration has become increasingly vital to content creation over the past few years, so it’s important to identify the owner and all the collaborators for each piece of content.
If you wait until the end to ask for input, it often results in lengthy revisions to the piece.
Step #9: Have a conversion optimization plan for each piece
In content marketing terms, a conversion rate is the percentage of people who visit your website and convert into customers or do the desired action.
Let’s say 100 people find your blog post in the search results and then visit your website to read it. If 10 of those people purchase your product while on your website, your conversion rate would be 10%.
Here are a few solid strategies to include in your plan:
- Write strong headlines
- Deliver on the promise made in the headline
- Solve for search intent
- Include case studies as evidence
- Create original graphics and/or charts
- Design a clean layout
- Focus on readability
- Drop in as many relevant, internal links as possible
- Include a clear, compelling call-to-action (CTA)
Step #10: Launch!
You made it! It’s finally time to put your plan into action. Strategists can start strategizing, writers can start writing, and so on.
If you haven’t already, it’s a good idea during this phase to build automated workflows for marketing. One way to do this is by setting up workflows in your project management system that automatically route content to the next appropriate person. Take the case of Pure Storage, for example.
In early 2020, the Pure Storage content team was struggling with inconsistent workflows and offline docs that created confusion and made approvals difficult.
So, they partnered with Optimizely to build workflows for all of their most common content and creative tasks — whether it was a blog post, a thought leadership piece, technical web content, or another type of request.
The results? Pretty amazing. Pure Storage now produces 200% more content while spending 50% less time in team meetings.
Content marketing strategy FAQs
How do you lay out a content plan?
Once you’ve developed your content marketing strategy, you can lay out your content plan. Start by listing the following items on a spreadsheet or other organizational tool:
Budget and resources
Then create the following fields plus anything additional that helps you achieve the goals laid out in your content marketing strategy:
Content name or title
What are some elements of a good content plan?
A good content marketing plan is detailed and specific. It identifies the who, what, where, when, and why of content creation:
Who’s consuming your content? Who’s creating your content?
What type of content are you going to create?
Where are you going to distribute your content?
When are you going to publish your content?
Why are you creating content in the first place?
What does a content marketing strategy look like?
A content marketing strategy is similar to a plan but is more broad. For example, a content marketing strategy might be to use email marketing to boost engagement. But a content plan lays out exactly how to do it.
With your content marketing strategy and plan in place, you’re well on your way to joining the 29% of organizations that are extremely or very successful with content marketing! Yay you!
Now it’s time to get down to the business of creating useful and relevant content for your audience. Welcome can help you do that and bring your entire team in a single workspace.