Developing Your Content Marketing Plan: What To Consider As An eLearning Marketer
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What To Consider For Your Content Marketing Plan Development

Before diving into the wonderful world of content marketing, it’s important to take a step back and evaluate your current operations.

Odds are that you are already creating content to some degree. According to the Content Marketing Institute [1], 91 percent of marketers already do some form of content marketing. Your new content marketing strategy should build upon the foundations of the existing one.

eBook Release: Digital Content Marketing Strategy For eLearning Marketers: An Essential Guide
eBook Release
Digital Content Marketing Strategy For eLearning Marketers: An Essential Guide
Find out what to consider as eLearning Marketer when developing your Content Marketing plan.

Whether you have a single blog post or a rich history of content development, you’ll need to operate within clear strategies and solid infrastructures. So before you start churning out content, you need to get a few things in place.

The Key Components Of Content Creation

For starters, every company needs a documented content strategy. We’ll explore this in more detail later on, but know that a written strategy is far more valuable than a strategy that only exists in the heads of the people following it.

Next, every company needs a website that's capable of hosting content. Your site should include a blogging space, a few landing pages, and a process that allows your sales team to follow up with prospects. Update your blog regularly, and use landing pages to capture contact information from leads. With this website structure in place, future content initiatives have a much easier job.

Once you have a website, you’ll want to have an SEO plan in place to bring people to your homepage. Content marketing is one of the best ways to improve organic search rankings, so use your new investment in content to galvanize your existing SEO tactics. Do some keyword research before you start brainstorming topics, and create content that plays to your strengths.

You will also want to invest in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, assuming you don’t have a system already. Content strategies align sales and marketing teams to magnify the effectiveness of both parties. With a CRM in place, marketers are able to nurture leads and make it possible for sales teams to know which prospects to target and how to talk with them.

With those items in place, designate a person who can oversee your content strategy. You don’t need an army of content experts, plenty of successful brands outsource this work, but you do need one person who understands your strategy and can guide it.

Finally, no content marketing plan is complete without a distribution strategy. You might create the best content in the world, but that’s pointless if nobody knows it exists. Nurture your social followings and email databases to create opportunities to distribute content. In order to break out of your own circle of reach and conquer audiences much larger than what your own word-of-mouth has achieved, seek to qualify one or two trade publications that focus on your niche. Those can drastically amplify your messages and distribute your content to reach audiences you could not manage on your own. Then, talk to your own sales force and identify external influencers and PR outlets to leverage, aiming to benefit from their circle of influence as well.

Sound like a lot of hassle? Perhaps. But if you want to execute a successful content marketing strategy, you do not want to skimp on the setup. Word to the wise, start publishing first with a recognized online trade publication, that would expose your content to their already established online communities faster and will give you leverage when talking to influencers and PR networks.

Building Out Your Documented Content Marketing Strategy

You’ve taken stock of your current situation. Excellent. Now it’s time to hammer out a documented marketing strategy. You’ll want to ensure it includes the following components:

  • Company Profile
    Gather information that describes what you do, where you fit into your industry, how your target audience perceives you and general details about members of that audience.
  • Customer Journey
    Don’t make content that you think people will like. Map out the actual journeys your customers take, which will enable you to design content that hits them in the right situations.
  • Editorial Process
    Make it clear who is responsible for what and when. Set up an editorial calendar and publishing schedule, with your point person leading the charge. Outline roles for everyone on the content team, including any freelancers and follow the process from ideation to distribution.
  • Content Creation
    Begin with a mission statement. Content should reflect your company’s values, but the people working on your content need to know those values. Create a style guide that covers things like tone, keywords and distribution strategies to ensure your content creators know what they’re doing and why.
  • Defined Success
    Establish a standard of success, including benchmarks for KPIs, to transform your strategy from a nice idea into a full-fledged business plan. Outline the budget and resources you will need to track the ROI of the project.

No two documented strategies are alike, but the best ones include the aforementioned pieces. With your documented strategy in place, you’re ready to move ahead with your new content marketing initiative.

How To Execute A Content Marketing Strategy Successfully

If you followed the advice of the previous two sections, you should have a great start on a content marketing strategy. With the planning done, it’s time to set things in motion and realize the untapped potential. Follow these five steps to establish a creation process that consistently delivers on-message, effective content.

1. Brainstorm And Investigate

Every piece of content starts with an idea. To drum up ideas, do some research on your own company. Talk to people within the organization, analyze patterns in web traffic and keywords and look back through your blog to see what has resonated in the past. In addition, several online publications that focus on your niche have extreme depth and knowledge to help you here. Since you will need their distribution process, it might be a good idea to reach out to them for advice on which narratives would fare better than others. They typically are very active in monitoring which stories are trending, which topics are showing fatigue, what your peers are promoting that might compete with you and so on. Editors in such B2B publications have an industry honed DNA and can be laser focused in your vertical, so why work with generalists?

2. Share knowledge

Your brand doesn’t have ideas, your brand can’t even talk. Instead, talk to the experts within the company. Even if you don’t have a piece of content in mind, interview people who are working on exciting projects or who have their fingers on the pulse of what’s happening in the industry, again here any industry focused editorial team would gladly help you, another opportunity to leverage experts to make your work more effective. Stockpile those interviews in a knowledge bank, and then lean on that knowledge bank to create insightful content.

3. Create content

With a topic on hand and expert insight at the ready, it’s time to actually create your content. As you work on each project, keep the personas of your audience members in mind. What’s the best medium to engage your target audience? What do you want people who see this content to do? An infographic with a call-to-action for B2B buyers has little in common with a social media post aimed at millennial music lovers.

4. Edit and adjust

Even if you used to write for The New York Times, you can still make mistakes. Review your content to correct grammatical errors and ensure it aligns with your company’s goals. Get another set of eyes on it by asking your colleagues to review the content and offer feedback.

Keep in mind that you need to pay attention to different details when you are creating content to be hosted in your site, where visitors have already ‘emotionally committed’ to engage with your brand, versus content you will create with the intent to be published, distributed and amplified in other publications. There, the visitors have not yet committed to your brand and your content needs to compete with other brands for a share of voice.

5. Distribute.

At long last, it’s time to take that polished piece of content and send it out into the world. Follow your distribution strategy to ensure it debuts in the place where it can do the most good. Use multiple channels — for instance, email your newsletter subscribers about your new blog post, but also leverage industry trade publications that are a go-to resource for your buyer personas. Stick to your calendar, and continue to regularly produce content to keep interest high.

Transforming an existing content strategy from an afterthought into a powerhouse doesn’t happen with the snap of your fingers. But even if you didn’t manage to get things right the first time around, it’s never too late to correct course. Analyze your existing infrastructure, put the right pieces in place, and follow a comprehensive strategy to create content that delivers serious results.

Content Marketing serves the purpose of improving conversions using a very strategic approach, connecting and supplying leads and potential customers with real value. Download the free eBook Digital Content Marketing Strategy For eLearning Marketers: An Essential Guide to delve into an excellent method to start building long-lasting relationships by establishing trust, and see conversions skyrocket by giving users the information they need to make an informed purchasing decision.

References:

[1] 2018 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends-North America

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