9 content marketing plan essentials

Small Business Guides

7 min read

Content marketing is a great way to connect and engage with potential and existing customers. And it’s particularly good if you’re a business that doesn’t have a large advertising budget.

By developing a great content marketing plan, you can set the foundation to create content that inspires, engages and drives awareness of your brand.

This plan will help in driving your overall content strategy, setting clear goals and outcomes that you want to see from your content. We’ve put together nine simple ways to get started.

One: Ask yourself what your purpose is

Nailing down your purpose can be a hard thing to do, but it’s important to get this right in order to shape your content plan. Once you have a clear purpose and mission, you should be able to avoid distractions and really focus on your main aim.

Ask yourself, what is your overarching goal with digital content marketing at your company?

Do you want to be seen as the industry expert? Are you trying to bring in potential leads? Do you want to boost your position in search engines? Are you trying to raise awareness of your brand?

Setting a goal and a mission statement is crucial if you want to stay focused.

Two: Know who your content is for

A well-considered content marketing plan will clearly identify who the content is being written for. Knowing who you’re speaking to is vital if you want your hard work to resonate.

Invest time in market research to help you build up a clear picture of your target audience. Identifying the typical customer for your business will be very helpful when you’re writing.

For example, if your target audience is under 30, has expendable income and is technology savvy, then talk to them on their level and use their language. Use what you know about your customers to help them relate to and engage with your brand.

Three: Do a content audit

You’re probably itching to just start writing, but doing a content audit first is an important part of crafting a great content marketing plan.

By mapping out all the content you already have, you’ll be able to see where the gaps are that need to be filled. You might already have a lot of articles on one topic, so you can always consider repurposing it.

By giving content a rewrite, you’ll be able to refresh and update your site to better fit your needs. Plus, you’ll avoid running into the problem of duplicate content, which can harm where you rank in search engines.

Four: Choose your content types and assign a priority level

Once you’ve identified the topics you want to focus on, have a think about the type of content you want to create.

There are countless different content types that might resonate with your audience, including:

  • infographics
  • guides
  • webinars
  • Informal interviews
  • ‘how to’ articles
  • industry news
  • quizzes and surveys
  • Q and A sessions
  • case studies

If your intention is to gain traction, it’s important that what you’re writing about is well researched. Do some competitor analysis for each piece of content to find out what already exists in this area. Identify what’s missing from competitors’ content, and what could have been done better.

“Nailing down your purpose can be a hard thing to do, but it’s important to get this right in order to shape your content plan.”

Five: Create a content calendar

Creating a content calendar will help you to map out the aims of your content marketing plan.

Start your calendar with one or two related themes. Focusing on specific topics relative to your business will help you to build up site authority, both in the eyes of your readers and for search engine algorithms.

A monthly content calendar and an annual one will help you to plan effectively throughout the year. Be mindful of any key events occurring throughout the year. Do you need to consider these within your planning? For example, this could include creating relevant content around the financial year or writing specific content for the build up to public holidays.

Six: Build in keywords so your content can be found

An important thing to consider when you write content is incorporating keywords, as this will help will search engine optimisation (SEO).

Pages that have quality SEO appear higher in Google and other search engines. There are a number of different things that a search engine looks at to decide how high up your content should sit, including keywords.

Take a look at Google Keyword Planner to see keyword volume (in other words, how popular certain search terms are). Look at Google Trends to see what people are searching for and take a look at the kind of content that ranks highly on page one of Google search.

By understanding what people are searching for, you can tailor your content to fit their needs. And by figuring out what’s missing, you can then create a content strategy that fills those gaps.

It is best to incorporate these keywords into your writing as you go – don’t try to add them later. Read our guide on SEO writing for small business to understand more about using keywords.

Seven: Plan to measure, and track obsessively

Once the content is written and out there, you’ll want to know how well it’s working.

Use link shorteners like bit.ly or goo.gl to help track your readers. You’ll be able to see where they’re coming from, where they go, which articles are popular and which aren’t.

Google analytics is a more in-depth way to have a look at what’s happening on your website. You can see if people are finding you through search engines, or whether social media is working better for you.

Review your performance and adjust your content strategy as needed. The great thing about digital content marketing is the ability to measure progress and change tack if you need to.

Eight: Choose your method of amplification and distribution

Make it easy to share your content. Add social buttons to your content to allow your readers to share it easily with their networks.

Target top social networks to actively spread the word about your business. Spend 15 minutes each day highlighting your content on social networks, let your work contacts know and invite them to share anything they find interesting.

Creating a social media marketing plan will help you to consider what your objectives are. Find out how social media can work for your business with tips and tricks on the best way to talk to your customers.

If you have budget, then consider paid amplification of your content. Advertising on social media will allow you to direct content specifically to your target audience.

Nine: A few ideas to get started with now

If you’ve never done a content marketing plan for your business, you might think you don’t have much to write about. But any business can start their content journey with a little creative writing. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  1. Interview your customers. Ask them what they look for in a product or service.
  2. Write about what you've learned from working in your industry – be an expert.
  3. Collate relevant news articles, with a short introduction and conclusion. Make sure you avoid breaching copyright.
  4. Publish some industry data, perhaps with your own comments. Make sure you acknowledge the data source.
  5. Choose some of your clients to interview for case studies.
  6. Review any books, movies or magazines that are relevant to your business.
  7. Check out a few tools and sites such as Wordstream, Copyblogger, Content Marketing Institute and the Google Keyword Tool (you will need a Google account). A great content marketing book is ‘Epic Content Marketing’ by Joe Pulizzi.

Avoid making your content all about your business and instead focus on topics that your target audience will find interesting. For example, ‘Harriet’s ice cream shop is the best!’ sounds like a sales pitch, but ‘11 surprising facts about the history of ice cream’ is relevant, engaging and not a hard sell.

Producing content that your readers are genuinely interested in will help you build trust with your audience. By keeping them entertained and engaged, you can start to position your company as an authority on the subject matter.

Great content is the gift that keeps on giving

A quality content marketing plan is the foundation of effective content. And effective content makes for a successful website.

If you can produce a content strategy that ensures you’ll always have a calendar of interesting content in the pipeline, your readers will reward you by coming back for more. And more traffic to your website will lead to higher sales and free word-of-mouth marketing.

By creating a solid foundation, with a plan in place, you’ll never lose focus and be well on track towards becoming a content guru in your own field.