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How to Build a World-Class Content Marketing Plan #semrushchat

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How to Build a World-Class Content Marketing Plan #semrushchat

Becky Shindell
How to Build a World-Class Content Marketing Plan #semrushchat

Whether you are just starting out with content marketing or you are a seasoned veteran, building a solid content marketing plan should be your number one priority. During our latest SEMrush Chat, we discussed the first step to a successful content marketing strategy: how to build a world-class content marketing plan with special guest, Julia McCoy, CEO of Express Writers, host of The Write Podcast, content marketer, and entrepreneur. Below we have some tips on creating an effective content marketing plan.

Q1. What are the steps a company can take to build a data-driven content marketing strategy for 2017?

Great content marketing is a mix of both creativity and data. These five steps can help a company to develop a data-driven content strategy in 2017:

1. Discover Your Audience Personas

To draw up an effective content marketing strategy, you need to clearly define your target audience persona(s). Once you have a better understanding of your audience persona, you can create more relevant content that will add value to your readers. Perform research to define several personas with different pain points and goals. Then write a detailed description for each of these audience groups and produce content that can satisfy their needs.

2. Use Data Visualization for Content Marketing

With so many brands and bloggers creating blog posts, articles, and infographics, only the highest quality content will stand out from the crowd. Bill Slawski‏ recommends building an effective team that is responsible for data visualization. Whether it is static infographics or more complex and interactive graphs, data visualization is something that an increasing number of companies are experimenting with. This content element helps marketers to craft their content in the form of visual storytelling. By translating your message into a visually appealing form, it is easier to get people to listen to you.

3. Know Your Content Goals

Before you even start to create your plan, it is important to set clear goals for your new piece of content. Your content marketing strategy should be synchronized with what you want to achieve as a company.

With different goals comes different types of content, different marketing channels, and targeted messages that are focused on specific audiences. Setting goals benefits both you, as a content marketer, and your audience and it helps you to better understand what results you want to get with your content, how you want to achieve them, and the messages you want to communicate. 

However, you should never create content for the sake of creating content; it will get you nowhere. To fulfill your long-term business goals, you can define your short-term targets first.

4. Use a Data-Driven Approach

Data can guide your content marketing strategy and help you mold your content. A data-driven approach helps you understand which content resonates with your audience most and what you should avoid. By implementing data-driven analysis into different areas of content marketing you can understand the preferences of your target audience, improve your content, and increase its efficiency and effectiveness.

5. Revise and Update Your Content

Fresh content is crucial, everybody knows that, but not everybody knows how important it is to update your old materials. Outdated content equals bad content, even if it still drives traffic you need to make sure that it is up to date to provide your audience with relevant information and the right answers.

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Implementing a data-driven content marketing strategy can be challenging. Follow the tips from our chat participants and make sure to test your results to determine what works best for you.  

Q2. What are the most important fundamentals of a content marketing strategy? Where do you start?

Content marketing is about creating and sharing useful content to build a strong, long-term relationship with your audience. However, if you are a novice, where should you start? Our chat participants shared the basics of content marketing:

  • Your Place of Authority and Differentiation

In the time of content overload, it is more important than ever to differentiate yourself from the rest. A well-planned and implemented content marketing strategy will help to build trust with your audience and establish authority in the industry. You need to become a thought leader in your niche and share your knowledge with your audience in the most meaningful ways.

  • Your Audience’s Needs

To achieve higher success in content marketing, you need to put people first, which means that your content strategy should cater to your audience’s needs and wants. By knowing which channels your potential readers are on, what they talk about, and what motivates them most, you can create relevant and valuable content that your target audience will want to share.

In order to learn as much as possible about your audience, conduct thorough research through direct conversations with them, surveys, and social media listening.

You can also gain a wealth of information by monitoring your visitors’ behavior on your website using the tools, like Hotjar, Inspectlet, and Crazy Egg

  • A Cohesive Brand Message and Content That Adds Real Value

An inconsistent brand experience means that your content is lost amongst the many other voices and tones in the digital marketing environment. Therefore, it is critical for any company to provide a consistent brand image that will be reflected in your content. Stacy Jackson provides several tips for achieving branding consistency, including:

  • Selecting the right topics for your content calendar.

  • Keeping your brand’s tone and personality consistent across all channels.

  • Using platforms and channels that align with your brand’s identity and your customers’ preferences.

Always keep in mind that content marketing is about providing something of real value to your audience. Give them a reason to read your content until the end and then share it.

  • A Content Calendar

A content or editorial calendar helps you organize all of the pieces of content you produce. It is a very helpful tool for those who have to create and curate a wide variety of content through multiple channels. A well-planned calendar provides you with a system to keep track of your content marketing efforts. You need to commit to a publishing schedule because consistency is key. 

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Although these tips won’t make you a content guru overnight, understanding these basic concepts will help you start your new content marketing strategy. Create a plan and follow the steps outlined above to set your efforts on the right track.  

Q3. Let’s say you’re a small business with a small budget. What are some low-cost content marketing ideas you would suggest?

For companies with a limited budget, content marketing can be even more challenging. Small businesses need to invest money intelligently into their marketing strategy to reach their audience and achieve their goals.

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Specials thanks to everyone whose tweets we used to make this image: @JuliaEMcCoy@iqseo@chevd80@NickAtHootsuite, @CardozaGab@gcmedia123, @viabledigital, and @GuideTwit.

What other low-cost content marketing tactics do you use on a shoestring budget? Don’t hesitate to share your ideas in the comments!

Q4. How could a company plan an effective content marketing strategy with less content initially?

Start with a content gap analysis by reviewing your existing content to find out what content is needed to fill the gap between the current state of your brand and its future state.

An in-depth analysis of your competitors enables you to answer various important questions, like who your rivals are, which strategies they use, and their strengths and weaknesses. A glance at your competitors will help you to see where your own product fits in the overall market.

It goes without saying that every piece of content should be brilliant. There are many ways to create great content even in the “dull” industries. You can try posts based on collecting tips from niche experts, best practices, and lists with top recommendations for your niche.

Focus on creating shareable content. If you can get your users to share your content, you will gain access to a much wider audience and links that will boost your domain authority. People tend to share content that is useful, entertaining, or inspirational. 

It is important to note that less doesn’t necessarily mean bad. Focus on the quality of your content and maintain consistency in publishing. This helps to establish authority and credibility.  

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Never stop learning and searching for new opportunities and ways to improve your content. Also, try to experiment with different content types, formats and lengths to find your path to success.  

Q5. What are the best steps to take to plug SEO and high Google rankings into your content marketing strategy planning?

Previously, SEO was all about tricks and tactics, but in the past few years, it has evolved to the point where it blends and overlaps with content marketing.

Here are a few tips on how to integrate SEO into your content marketing.

  • Research Long-Tail Keywords

The competition to rank for short keywords can be a daunting challenge. If you want a significant return on your investment, you should focus on implementing long-tail keywords which will help you to attract the right audience. Although long-tail keywords drive less search traffic, they are more specific and, in turn, have a higher conversion value.  

  • Take a Closer Look at Your Audience

To produce content that your audience will find useful, you need to gain more information about them like which keywords they type in the search box and the terms they use to describe your products or services.

You can also find more information about your audience by using various analytics tools, researching LinkedIn groups, and looking at various blog posts and comments.

  • Use Proper Tags

Tags allow you to create the structure of your webpage and enable searchers to easily find useful posts and articles. Relevant title tags and heading tags with keywords is crucial for your SEO because they help Google to better understand what your webpage is about. Title tags also ensure users that they have found a page that may be valuable for them, which helps with user experience on your site.

Many of our chat participants suggest focusing on your site usability and providing answers and solutions that your audience is looking for:

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In order to grow a successful campaign, content marketing planning takes time, effort, and creativity. To be successful, determine what works best for you and, when necessary, don’t be afraid to make the necessary changes.

To become a certified expert in Content Strategy, discover more about Julia McCoy’s new content strategy course and get an exclusive SEMrush 20% discount here

Many thanks to everyone who helped us make this discussion interesting and productive! See you this Wednesday as we do a real-time website analysis for Online Rockers Hub!

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Becky Shindell is the US Social Media Manager at SEMrush and host of the weekly #SEMrushchat. Connect with her on LinkedIn and follow her on Twitter. You can find Becky at many of the US Digital Marketing Conferences, feel free to say hi!
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