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5 steps to creating a marketing plan with intelligent content

Did you know that only 1 in every 5 pieces of online content produced is ever seen by the target audience? That means 4 out of 5 are never returned in the 4,000,000 Google searches queries that happen every minute of every day.  

Why content marketing fails?

Five of the most common reasons we come across for failure of content are:

  1. There is no plan
  2. The plan is not data driven
  3. Content is inconsistent
  4. It’s not amplified enough
  5. It’s not measured
Why a marketing strategy matters

It is frightening to think almost 50% of Irish businesses do not have a written content strategy. It is completely understandable too. We are all too busy working in our business to work on our businesses.  

Although 80% of Irish businesses understand the value of their online marketing, for many, there isn’t as much as a whiteboard or scribbles on the back of an envelope on the kind of content they are publishing and who it is aimed at. 

If you recently watched our video on this topic (which you can find below) you will find more information and links to the tools mentioned in this post.

Who needs content marketing?

If you have a business and need more customers then you could benefit from content marketing. Almost every audience is represented online. Research from Eurostat showed Irish adults are spending €8.5million online every day that is leaving the country.  

If you want to capture some of this audience creating a marketing strategy tailored to your business could be your key to success.

How Intelligent Content helps create your content marketing strategy

Creating intelligent content involves a data driven process which when documented step by step will help you define a clear online marketing strategy for your business. 

So what are the steps I hear you cry? Well they are nicely summed up in the graphic below but I will also detail the points further below:

Intelligent content framework

1. Researching marketing strategy

This is one of the most critical areas when it comes to developing a marketing strategy. Although it is time consuming, it is worth doing well. Well targeted content will pay dividends further down the line. 

To begin set SMART goals for your content that are aligned with your business goals. For example, your business goal is to double sales across the board. If online equates to 50% of sales at the moment, a SMART marketing goal could be to increase online sales of a particular product by 10% in the first quarter.  

Setting a goal like this gives you something to measure against. So if you have not increased sales by 7% or so by end of month 2, you might have trouble hitting your target!

Develop personas: use the data you have on existing customers, from previous campaigns or through speaking to sales to understand the type of people most likely to need your product. 

Name them, give them an age, job, some hobbies, where they are online (social media platforms, mobile, etc.) and list the problems they have that your product can solve and you are on your way to a successful digital persona. Having this person in mind is a great way to keep the content you create relevant and focused.

Understand search intent: understanding what your persona is searching for online is critical to success when it comes to generating content. In fact, answering the questions your target audience have for Google is a great place to start with content.

There are some tools that are really useful in establishing what your audience are searching for. Our starting points are always Google Keyword Planner for search volume, although be wary Google are now combining some synonyms in the results so they may not be as accurate. 

Once you have found a keyword or words you think will resonate with your audience move over to Answer the Public  a free tool that helps you see the related questions people ask Google around these terms.  Filter out the queries that are most relevant to the content you are creating and answer them!

2. Planning your content marketing

When it comes to planning content there are three things to be particularly aware of:

i. Resources: how many people do you have who can create content? Try and think outside the box for this one – are there any budding writers or film makers outside of the marketing department who might be willing to contribute? 

ii. Time: finding time to create content is challenging especially with the pressures of your day to day role. Be cognisant of this and try to give those who are helping out reasonable lead in times.

iii. Access to creative: to create quality content whether it is written, videos, infographics or something more sophisticated you are going to require creative. It may be as simple as access to images or creating a video

If budgets are tight there are inexpensive options but there is sometimes a learning curve around using this so allow for that in the planning stage.

3. Plan for creating content

Create a bank: having a number of pieces prepared before you begin publishing takes the pressure off initially and may get you out of a bind some time when you don’t have time to create new content

Be consistent: people don’t like change, if they are used to receiving your blog on a Wed morning they will disappear quickly if it isn’t there every Wednesday. So when it comes to content success, consistency is key.

Be inspiring: we hope you love what you do as much as we do. Let that enthusiasm show in your content, whether you are writing a blog or recording a video show your audience:

-Why it matters 
- How it impacts them
- What you want them to learn

Don’t forget a call to action at the end, subscribe to our YouTube channel, follow us on Facebook or call us if you need more information.

4. Plan for amplification of content marketing

In a cluttered online world, one of the biggest challenges we face as businesses is getting our content seen by our target audience. Including amplification in your marketing strategy can help with this. How are you going to get the content you spent so much time creating in front of the right people? There are three main ways.

Owned: owned media are your business’s pages on platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter where you already have a following of customers or potential customers following. Share all newly created content through any social media space you have. 

You can share some content multiple times with different posts that appeal to a slightly different audience, this is particularly applicable to Twitter where a single post won’t be picked up by everyone.

Earned: we are aiming to create great content and great content is going to be loved by other publishers too. Creating something that gets shared by others in your industry or those with a similar target audience is an amazing way of getting your content in front of new people. 

Make contacts and reach out to online publications or social media sites in your niche. Why not create something in their style that they might be willing to share?

don’t be afraid to put spend behind great content. There has been a move towards ‘pay to play’ by many social media platforms when it comes to commercial posts as a way of monetising social media. Amplifying content through paid social allows you to target very specific audiences. 

You may come across others who match your persona who may not already be engaged with your brand. There are other paid options like Outbrain for written content or native advertising where a paid piece of content looks like it is a piece of editorial content. 

5. Measuring success

There can be a feeling that it is difficult to measure content success but it can and should be measured in the same way as any other element of a business. The only difference is what we measure.  There are a number of free tools like Google Analytics which provide you with information on how a piece of content is performing. 

The first step is to have a goal for a piece of content, don’t always make this sales, it could be signups, downloading a document or phone calls. Then add annotations as you upload content to your website. Then when reporting on content look at more than the traffic to the content or your website; ideas for measurement include:

  • The pages visitors are viewing.
  • Where do they come from?
  • What landing pages do they arrive on?
  • How long do they stay?
  • Do they share the content?
  • How many pages do they look at per session

Finally the key sign of content success is when there is a change in behaviour as a result of content. Have you been encouraging customers to contact you through your website rather than by phone – if there has been a reduction in phone calls you know that content is working! 

If you are seeing results keep doing what you are doing, if not try something else, the access to data really does make digital worth wile. Never again will you wonder which half of your advertising is working for you!

Documenting this information and reviewing it regularly will help you and your business create content that resonates with your target audience while improving your bottom line.

It is worth noting that content marketing is a long game, success is unlikely to be overnight but persistence and planning should deliver success in time.

If you want to fast track the process or have more questions we will be at this month’s Learn Inbound event. Pick up a ticket here would be delighted to answer your questions on the night and make sure to check out the video below.