It can seem like magic. How do marketers conjure customers to buy the product or service they’re selling? It’s not hocus pocus or smoke in mirrors. It is far less exciting than any of those side-show tricks.
To reach their target customers, marketers use content marketing tactics like blog posts, eBooks, case studies and social media. All of these channels are part of a content strategy that directs the content creation efforts you execute to meet the company’s marketing goals.
A content plan, on the other hand, is the blueprint that defines the assets and steps needed to implement your content strategy. Let’s learn more about the difference between a content plan and a content strategy.
What Is a Content Plan?
A content plan defines all the marketing assets and content creation that you’ll need to implement your content strategy. That includes all the digital marketing channels and tools that you’ll need to create, publish and manage your content.
Some examples of marketing assets that could be part of your content plan are a content management system, social media platforms, search engine optimization (SEO) tools, analytics, blogs, white papers and other related items. You determine which marketing assets to use by analyzing your target audience.
There are many content channels that can be exploited in your content plan, but each must align with your branding.
Your content strategy also needs to integrate with your marketing funnel. A marketing funnel is generally broken up into four stages: awareness, consideration, conversion and decision. You can direct content to any of those stages, but always with the purpose of lead generation.
Whatever your content plan, as you develop and finalize it, it should be shared among the entire marketing department. Everyone on the team should be on the same page and know how the pieces of the content plan work together and how they relate to the overall content marketing initiative.
What Is a Content Strategy?
We’ve mentioned content strategy, but don’t confuse that with a content plan. The content strategy outlines your company’s content marketing goals and how to achieve them. It’s a high-level view of your content creation efforts, which guides the creation of your content plan.
Yes, that’s a lot to keep track of—strategy, plan and production—which is why marketers invest in work management software. ProjectManager has multiple project views so managers, content creators and designers can all work on the project the way they want. Try ProjectManager free today!
How to Create a Content Plan for a Content Strategy
Before you think about creating a content plan, you’ll need to have a content strategy in place. Ask yourself, “who is going to read your content?” That’s the first step in content marketing: defining your target audience.
Then, determine how your product or service will solve a problem or fill a niche that your target audience has. Then, explore options on how to best communicate your value proposition. Then you’ll need to define which are the best marketing channels and types of content to reach your target audience.
Don’t forget measurements! Ensure that there are tools and metrics in place to keep track of your content marketing data. This is where the content strategy starts to come together.
How to Make a Content Plan
Once you have the content strategy settled, then you need to build the content plan. Follow these eight steps:
- Define Goal: There’s no point in aimless content. You need to create concrete goals, both short and long-term. The goal should be SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-based.
- Know Your Buyer Personas: If you don’t know who you’re writing for, then they’re not going to connect with your content. Create buyer personas by looking at your target audience. Think about their demographic profile, consumer habits, pain points, type of content they consume, etc.
- Develop Topics: Figure out topics that speak to your buyer profile and break them down into smaller pieces. Brainstorm with your team using the target audience as the lens through which you view the results.
- Do Keyword Research: Organic results are all about keywords. What are the keywords your target audience types into their search engine? Embed these keywords in your content.
- Make an Editorial Calendar: Punch this information into your editorial calendar but the name of the project leader, status of the work, keywords to use, length of content, offers, etc. It will also map out the production schedule of the content.
- Choose Content Channel: How will you distribute the content, social media, blog posts or your website? Do you need a content management system? There are many channels, but your target audience is likely only using one or two. Find out what they are, how and when they use them.
- Promote Content: You have to connect your content with the buyer. This can be done in several ways. You can own the channel, such as publishing blogs or using a subscription list. There are social platforms where you have to build an audience. Finally, there are paid methods, such as online ads.
- Measure and Analyze: You’re not done, of course. You want to always be measuring and analyzing performance and use that data to finetune your content plan so that it can be more effective.
How to Make a Content Roadmap
A content roadmap is a tool that helps you implement the content plan. It’s a visual way to organize your goals and objectives. Use a content roadmap to focus on the overall content strategy, prioritize, inform decision-making, visualize your progress and keep everyone informed.
- Set goals: This creates a bridge taking you from the plan to how to execute it. This is followed by creating initiatives, which is another way of saying tasks that must be completed to meet your content goals.
- Define the buyer persona: This is an important step, even if you have already taken it. The most important thing to remember is who your target audience is.
- Start to build campaigns: This is where you take tasks and assign them to members of your team. By incorporating campaigns into the content roadmap you’re making sure they stay aligned with the overall content strategy.
- Monitor and track progress: Don’t forget to share this data with other departments in your organization. This allows everyone to stay current on the marketing plan and how it impacts their own work.
Best Practices for Great Content
A content strategy is all about planning, creation, delivery and governance of the content. Content includes text, images, infographics and design. This is all made to inform and improve the user experience on a website, email, mobile or print platform.
- Create a goal: one that will compel your audience to engage how you want them to. Marketing is all about getting customers to act.
- The audience directs the content: What are they looking for, interested in or want? Those are the questions that will lead you to the right topics to have your content plan work.
- Don’t just focus on the top of the funnel. You want to make sure your content plan addresses all levels of the funnel. The worst thing you can do is plan only to bring in new customers without retaining them. That’s how you build revenue.
- Use both gated and free content: that works as an incentive to get them further into your website. For example, you can use the editorial calendar to schedule blogs that attract an audience and promotes the gated content to encourage them to go deeper.
- Content roadmaps are bridges to customers: You want them to start a dialogue. That could mean inviting user-generated content into your plan. But whatever it is, remember, content is not a one-way street.
- Meaningful content is what makes a content plan work: It must reflect the goals of your company and meet the needs of your customer. Therefore, you need to have a profile of that perfect customer and understand what they want and how to reach them.
How ProjectManager Helps Content Planning
Connecting different departments, sharing with cross-functional teams and creating plans and roadmaps sounds like the work of a dozen apps, but you only need one. ProjectManager is a cloud-based software that helps teams collaborate in real time and gathers data as it happens to keep everyone updated.
Plan Entire Projects on Gantt Charts
Content plans can be complicated. You have to assign tasks to various teams in the organization, provide them with marketing materials and organize all that work so it flows smoothly from start to finish. Our online Gantt chart gathers your work, links any dependencies to avoid delays and even sets a baseline that allows you to track project variance to make sure you’re always on track and not overspending.
Create and Manage Workflows on Kanban Boards
Teams work differently than managers. Gantt charts might not be the right tool for your designers and content creators. ProjectManager has multiple project views so everyone can work how they want to. For example, kanban boards visualize the workflow. Teams can manage their backlog and plan their work together. Managers get transparency into their process and can reallocate resources as needed.
Get Real-Time Insights from a Dashboard
Keeping everyone informed is simple with our software. ProjectManager’s live dashboard captures project metrics and automatically crunches the numbers for you, displaying the time, cost, workload and more in easy-to-read graphs and charts. For greater detail, use one-click reports, which can be filtered to show just the information you want to see. Then share them with stakeholders and keep everyone in the loop.
ProjectManager is award-winning software that organizes content plans, roadmaps and marketing teams. See why tens of thousands of teams are already using our tool to deliver successful campaigns. Try ProjectManager for free today!