What is a content marketing plan and why do you need one?

Your content marketing strategy decides what content you should create for your audience. Your content marketing plan is what you’re going to do with that content.

Once you have your content marketing strategy in place, it’s time to put your feet to the ground with a solid plan of action. Having a plan in place will help you succeed, meet your content marketing goals, and stay organized.

Elements of a content marketing plan

One of the most important rules in content marketing is to stay consistent. Stay consistent with your plan, your publishing frequency, and of course, the value you provide to your audience. By staying consistent, not only are you able to set up your business to see long-term results, but you also build trust among your audience. As you explore the following elements of a successful content marketing strategy, keep in mind how you can apply consistency to each one.

Editorial calendar

One of the first tasks you want to complete after identifying the content to create, is to build an editorial calendar. An editorial calendar (also known as a content calendar) is a document that maps out each piece of content you plan on publishing, and when. You can include specific variables to help you stay on track, such as topic, draft due date, publish date, publish location, or review status. You can even add a section to track performance.

Creating an editorial calendar, even if you’re the only one that is going to see it, helps keep you accountable and on track. Editorial calendars work as a great project management tool, and you can easily create one in Excel, like this one from the Content Marketing Institute, or even on a piece of graph paper.

Distribution plan

After you build out your editorial calendar, you want to create a content promotion plan. This plan determines how you should promote your content, in order to reach as many people as possible.

How does your target audience like to consume content? Do they read the paper? Are they glued to their phones all day on Instagram? Whatever you decide, build it into you distribution plan.

Here is an example of a content distribution plan:

  1. Content creation and finalization
  2. Send to internal marketing team and employees
  3. Schedule to publish on Facebook
  4. Schedule to publish on Instagram
  5. Using email marketing to send to subscribers
  6. Publish to blog
  7. Brainstorm ways to repurpose

By creating this plan, you can simply go down the checklist of content distribution channels each time you launch a new piece, keeping your marketing efforts consistent and efficient.

Publish frequency

Once you have your distribution plan set up, establish a frequency for publishing your content. This is an important element, because whatever you decide, you need to stay consistent. For example, if you plan on posting a blog once a week, make sure you do it on the same day, at the same time, every week. This way, your blog subscribers know when to expect fresh content from you, and it teaches them to trust you. Your business then stays top-of-mind when they’re in need of the information, products, or services you offer.

Analysis frequency

Once you get your content strategy rolling, it’s easy to get caught up in content development. Trust me, I know. But it’s extremely important to take a step back every once in a while to measure how your strategy is performing. This way, if a piece of content isn’t working, you can adjust, brainstorm new ideas, and move forward.

Do this on a consistent basis, whether it’s once a week, month, or quarter. Don’t just look at your content performance, but also your content marketing strategy as a whole. Does anything need to be changed or fixed? Maybe the research you initially did no longer applies, or has become outdated. Take this time to explore how things are going.

Tips to plan for content marketing success

By combining these elements, you are covering all your bases for setting up your content marketing plan to succeed. But there are still a few more tips you can use to max out the effectiveness of your plan.

Establish a review process

As much as you want to be consistent with your audience, you should also strive to be consistent with your internal processes. For example, establishing a consistent review process to feed all of your content through closes any opportunities for spelling and grammatical errors, inconsistencies in messaging, or any other brand-tarnishing mistakes that may occur.

You always want to create content of the highest quality to your audience, and because it’s never going to be easy to find the time to proofread your content 20 times, a strong review process makes it possible to deliver value consistently through your content assets.

Here is an example of what your review process could look like after content curation:

  1. Create content draft
  2. Proofread draft
  3. Edit draft
  4. Read draft aloud
  5. Edit draft
  6. Send draft to person you trust for review
  7. Edit draft
  8. Final review of draft (Make sure you’ve had time away from it to clear your head)
  9. Finalize content
  10. Publish content

By following the same review process every time, you can create high quality content that speak to each of your buyer personas on a consistent basis.

Collect feedback

You have probably noticed we talk a lot about “providing value” with your content. That’s because this is the reason why content marketing exists. To produce valuable content for your audience, which influences behavior over time. Well, in order to ensure you are consistently providing value, you need to check in with the people for whom you’re building the content.

You can do this a few ways. A great way to collect feedback on the value your content marketing efforts provide could be to email a survey out to your email subscribers asking them what they think about your content. This survey could ask simple questions, such as:

– Are you finding our emails helpful?

– What could we do to better provide you with valuable content?

– What questions do you have for us?

You could also post questions like these on your social media and blog platforms. Record what people are saying, respond to comments in a timely manner, and make sure you take their feedback into account. You can use this feedback to adjust your content marketing efforts and really hone in on what your target customer is looking for when it comes to content.

Track results

If you’re tracking your content marketing performance on a consistent basis using digital marketing tools such as Google Analytics (which we encourage you to do!), it’s easy to look say, “Great!” if you’re doing well, and maybe “Whoops!” if your results aren’t what you expected, but then go about your day. Instead, record these results for future reference.

Remember, content return on investment does not appear overnight. By recording your content’s performance and metrics over time, you can see how long it takes your business to see the fruits of your labor. You can also use those reports to improve your strategy in the future in order to meet your marketing goals.

Repurpose existing content

Just because you created a blog post, that doesn’t mean it has to remain a blog post forever. If you have a particular piece of content that is performing really well, try repurposing that content to reach a wider audience.

For example, if you created a blog post that generated a lot of great feedback and conversation, try turning it into a video and then share it on social media. Video is known to have one of the highest engagement rates across content types, so repurposing already well-performing content into a visually stimulating, and easily shareable, video only increases the reach of that content.

The best part? You didn’t have to recreate the wheel. You used messaging that already existed. Forget the guesswork — you know this content rocks. That’s how you save time and max out content effectiveness.

Launch your content marketing plan into action

Now that you know the key elements to building an effective content marketing plan, and the tips you need to stay organized, you’re ready to put your plan into action. Just remember to stay the course, remain consistent, and always put value first. By keeping these three things top-of-mind when creating content, you will surely achieve your business goals through content marketing.