Content planning and content marketing can drive results for companies that far outpace other marketing tactics. Companies of all types see content as a core piece of marketing strategy because well-executed content plans drive organic traffic. In fact, one study showed that content marketing drives three times the number of leads and costs 62% less than other tactics.
But content planning is more than just typing up a blog or two. Many steps are taken before the first word of an article is ever written. Without thoughtful research, content creation isn’t worth the time it takes. However, with the right research and the right project tools, website content can be a powerful business engine.
Content Planning Steps
1. Build the Right Content Team
Impactful content teams don’t just have great writers. Team members with an SEO background are vital in the research phase of any content plan. Designers help bring great content to life through visual assets like images, infographics and graphs. Finally, social media managers and content marketers help to get more eyeballs on your content through promotion.
Without the right team working on your company’s content, the rest becomes a moot point. Make sure your content team has complimentary skills, and shares a common vision of how content should be developed with the end goal in mind. When everyone is working together with a similar mindset, great content is the result.
To improve their productivity even further, give your team a project collaboration software where they can work together on content plans from start to finish. That way, there’s a thread all the way from the beginning of keyword research to the final push on social media.
2. Know Your Target Audience & Niche
Companies who succeed with content planning always have their audience in mind. Understanding your audience and the type of content they like to read is essential for making sure your content team creates the right content.
One great way to effectively target your desired audience is to create reader personas. A reader persona is a “sketch” of your average reader, made up of demographic, psychographic and behavioral factors. Demographics are describing characteristics that include age, gender, income level and so on. Psychographics are statistics that classify people according to mindset, like attitudes, fears and desires.
Once you start to sketch out personas, it’s also important to consider how people behave. Some questions to consider:
- What type of content do they like based on what you’ve seen from previous traffic numbers?
- What type of information causes them to take the desired action?
- Does their behavior match up with who they appear to be on the surface?
Now that you have a persona in mind, it’s important to determine how that persona fits with your niche. How did you see a reader in your niche prior to developing personas? How do you see that reader now? Do those align? Are they different? What are the traffic numbers telling you?
Answering these questions will help to frame content in a way that truly reaches your reader, and engages them with your company, leading to the end result you desire.
3. Content Planning With a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Mindset
Content planning should always have SEO in mind. Whether it’s putting together a content planning calendar, doing keyword research, or evaluating competition, proper SEO techniques are an invaluable component of a content plan.
Article topics which make up your content plan should have a high global search volume and a manageable competition level. Determining these metrics is possible using free tools like Google Search Console, or a variety of paid tools including Ahrefs and Moz.
When you’re picking out new keywords, it’s vital to make sure you do not cannibalize existing website content—especially content that’s already ranking well in organic search. Content cannibalization occurs when the same keyword is targeted across several website pages. The unintended effect can often be that multiple pieces of content begin to rank in Google for the same keyword. On occasion, lower-quality content can also become ranked above higher-quality content due to cannibalization.
Having an SEO mindset when planning and creating content can be challenging, but the work is well worth it. Consider using a project planning tool to help with your content strategy. It’s important to track progress as content pieces are being written, coordinate the release of your content pieces and launch promotional campaigns upon publication. ProjectManager.com has task lists, kanban boards, calendars and even Gantt charts so you can manage your content engine at every phase.
4. Content Planning With a Funnel Stage in Mind
If your company sells a product or service, there is a marketing and sales funnel your potential customers pass through on their way to making a purchase decision. Content planning which takes funnel stages into consideration can not only drive traffic, but conversion.
There are three typical funnel stages to consider:
- Top-Funnel: Content created for the top-funnel stage has more to do with general interest topics, and educating an audience about what you do. Often these topics aren’t directly related to your primary topic, but associated. Content targeted for top-funnel visitors is more entertaining, and perhaps less formal than content down the funnel, and typically shorter in length.
- Mid-Funnel: Mid-funnel content is more informative and designed to attract potential customers who are starting to shop around for options, and have some degree of intent to buy what you are offering.
- Low-Funnel: Low-funnel content is targeted to potential customers with high buyer intent. People who consume low-funnel content are often very close to making their purchasing decision, and are searching for content using keywords that reflect this.
A central part of content planning should always be considering why you need traffic. Do you need more traffic to drive more people into the marketing funnel? Or, do you need more highly-tailored content that drives traffic which convinces interested people to convert? The answers to these questions should help target the content you produce going forward.
5. Content Planning Isn’t Only About Writing
Planning the content that your website will create is only half the battle. The promotion plan for that content is just as important. The best content plans in the world that lack planning for traffic acquisition are still hollow plans.
There are three tactics worth considering once your content is published to drive more traffic to those articles:
- Link Building: There are a variety of ways to build links that can provide a good return on your time investment. The most common is guest blogging on other high domain authority websites in your niche to drive links back to your website. A quick Google search for something like “websites that accept guest posts” can put you on the right track to finding sites to write for.
- Social Media: Promote any content you publish on the major social media channels including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest. This is a sure-fire way to drive some free traffic back to the articles you have produced.
- Video: Converting high-performing written content into video is a core content marketing concept. It’s an easy way to get more life out of a piece of written content that’s received good traffic, and allows you to find a new audience that leans toward checking out videos instead of articles.
Content planning can be complex and time-consuming, but made substantially easier when using the right tools. One way to streamline your content planning is to use lists and Kanban boards to organize your content calendar, and see what lies ahead. ProjectManager.com is a cloud-based project management software that makes these types of workflows seamless and easy for teams of all sizes, across industries. See how we can make your content planning a breeze by taking this free 30-day trial today.