It’s a common question. There’s a lot of chat around the internet about how everyone needs a content marketing plan, needs a blog, needs social media, needs to be the next HubSpot or Moz.
But what does a content marketing guide actually look like? Here’s a quick and dirty content marketing guide to get you up and running quickly, effectively, and in a way that’s easy to maintain in the long run.
The first thing you want to do is take stock of where you are. List all your digital assets – do you have a blog? What social media channels are you on? Which ones are strongest? Do you have a newsletter and an email list? Write it all down, including what each bit is good at and what each thing sucks at (personally I like a SWOT analysis but do what your heart tells you).
Now that we know what we’re good at and what we need to work on, we need a way to measure success. Write down a high level goal for your strategy, and the sub goals for each of your assets. For example, let’s say you want to use content marketing to generate leads. Your goal for Twitter might be to drive people to your website. Do that for all your channels (PS if the goal is the same for all your channels that’s perfectly fine).
Now we need to establish how we’re going to measure that success. What we need to do is write down some key performance indicators, or KPIs. A KPI needs to be a few things. It needs to be trackable, objective, and it needs to be really clearly defined. Basically, it needs to be a number that can be tracked with analytics, like Google Analytics or bit.ly. Your KPI should be as granular as possible – write where you want it to be in a month, three months, six months, and a year. If you can, base it on what you did last year; if not, then base it on how many resources you’re putting into it. Remember: clarity is key here. For example, a bad KPI for the goal ‘drive Twitter traffic to the website’ is ‘number of Twitter followers.’ A great KPI for that goal is ‘how many clicks did we get on each trackable link that led back to the website?’ That’s a far more accurate way to measure your efforts.
Next, we need to build out a list of content we’re going to produce. You need to know how many blog posts are going to be produced, how much social media is going to be produced, what larger content pieces are going to be produced, and how it’s all going to link together. For example, let’s say you’re going to produce two blog posts a week, and you’re going to promote each post with two social media updates per platform. That would be a good plan at this stage.
Finally, you’re going to take all the content plans you’ve got and map it out. There are dozens of calendar programs to use, or you can do it in Google Docs. Pick one program and schedule when each thing is going to be published.
So now that you’ve got your program all sorted and a really detailed timeline, start cranking out your content. Write it yourself, hire a freelancer – however you want to generate your content, do it. Just remember two things: there are always going to be revisions, and good content will pay for itself. Try and work a week to two weeks in advance of what you need to, so you have some wiggle room if things go wrong.
And that’s it! Schedule, publish, and respond to comments (even if it’s just to say thanks!) Always watch your metrics and track your KPIs. Try and track each piece of content individually, so you get a clear idea of what’s working. Refine and iterate on your content as you go in response to what people like. For example, if you write a blog post on design principles and it does super well, write more about design principles! Easy tweaks like that are going to help you build a content empire.
Evaluate your plan in 6 months, see if you’re hitting KPIs, and build upwards from there. You’re now a content marketer. Welcome to the club.