How do you set up a content marketing plan?

Peter Desmyttere
February 6, 2019
⏱ 9 min. read

Marketers can no longer underestimate the role of content marketing. Content marketing means that a company translates its knowledge into relevant information for the target group via posts, blogs, videos, white papers, webinars etc.

The result? The authority of the company within the target group increases, Google indexes the content and sends surfers to it, and there is a substantive basis for setting up interesting online ads. But how do you start? How do you set up a content marketing strategy or plan? In this article, I will give a 7-step guide, including examples and templates.

Step 1. Set your objectives

Every professional plan starts with determining a direction. What do you want to achieve with your content marketing? The answer to this question largely determines the form and subjects of your content. In practice I distinguish three fundamental objectives for which content marketing is used:

  • Branding

    Through content marketing, a brand, product, service, company or person wants to strengthen its position or authority in the market. Brands that share their knowledge with surfers, prospects and customers are more convincing than brands that only communicate in call-to-actions.
     
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

    Via content marketing (posting text on own or external media) a brand name wants to be picked up faster in Google search results. Google loves websites that contain a lot of content and will place it more prominently in the search results.
     
  • Online Ads

    Through content marketing, a brand wants to set up ads on online media. This strategy is a nice counterbalance to the many strangling company and product advertisements. The advertisement then leads the surfer to an interesting document or download on the website, to the registration page for a webinar, to a relevant article or an interesting e-book. 

The objectives above should then translate into measurable goals and KPIs. We need these in the content marketing plan to set up results dashboards. 

Step 2. Determine your content themes

Content marketing is knowledge sharing. But in which themes do you want to divide that knowledge?

Answer this question before you dive into the content media. A common mistake in a content marketing strategy is to focus too much on popular media such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or the website. Marketers will then concentrate, as it were, on posting content on those media, without considering whether they communicate in a diverse enough way.

For those who start with content marketing, this is not a simple exercise. After all, you have to think about the question "what can I tell my target group?" Below you will find some inspiration and ideas. You see that there is more to it than content that narrates about the company or the product. It is therefore essential for you to think carefully about the themes or subjects for your content marketing strategy. Does this seem a bit abstract in the beginning? No worries. The more you get to work with content marketing professionally, the more productive you become regarding themes and subjects. 

About the companyFrom the mediaSeriesRealisationsUser cases
About products and servicesTips & adviseHelpBooksPhotos and videos
On our websiteDemosNewDid you know?Ads/Promos
HumourEventsDownloadsResearch/SurveysEmployer branding
LinksSharingQuotesContestsHashtags

 

Below is a content marketing plan in Husky that uses the different themes as a starting point for the planning. When you click on a specific item in the calendar, you can enrich it with information about different target groups, the type of media your content should be posted to, the responsible person, the content of the post or content contribution, accompanying images, etc. 

Content planning with themes

Of course, you can also build the same logic in Excel. But, you are more limited concerning extra info. Filtering according to specific scenarios is therefore not possible. 

Step 3. Determine your content media

Producing content is only the beginning. The next step is distributing it, for which you have several platforms at your disposal. These platforms can be managed by you (such as your website, Facebook page or blog) or by external parties (such as a portal site, forum or website).

The same applies here: spreading is better than focusing on one medium. When your content strategy is limited to your blog or a daily post on your Facebook page, you are missing out on a lot of possibilities. It is vital to distribute content marketing multimedially, copying or slightly adjusting the message per medium. An Instagram post may look different from a Facebook post for the same message, while the blog post contains the most information.

Below is an example of a content marketing plan in Husky where the planning starts from the different types of media. Again, you can expand the items with information about target groups, the theme of the post, the responsible person, the content and accompanying images.

Content planning according to media

Step 4. Create your content planning

The content marketing plan merges themes, media and timing. It answers the questions 'When do we deliver content about Theme X?' or 'Which themes did we post on Medium Y at what time?' Above I gave two examples of content planning: one that starts with the themes and one that starts from the media. Schematically that looks like this: 

Option 1: Planning per medium

In such a setting you will schedule a content post per medium and on a specific day. For each post in the planning, you will decide which theme you will publish on and what the content of the post will be. For this, you can use colour codes per topic, especially for who does such planning in Excel.

Option 2: Planning per theme

In this setting, you will schedule a post per theme and on a specific day. At each post in the planning, you will decide on which medium you will publish and what the content of the post will be. You can use colour codes per theme again.

Option 3: Planning with tags

This technique is the 'nec plus ultra' for content marketers. It requires the transition from Excel to a digital marketing planner (like Husky).

In this example, content planning is built around the media. The posts are then scheduled at the correct timing. This way you can correctly plan the content marketing for the upcoming weeks, and you have an excellent overview of your planning at any time. You will then discover more quickly which media remain underexposed. 

The next step in this planning is to assign tags for each post. Tags are digital labels that are 'fixed' to planning information so that you can filter the digital content calendar better afterwards. In the example above, a language (NL) and two themes (Communication and Promotion) have been added as tags. Working with tags is easy when you want to set a lot of criteria per post. Think of target groups, regions, countries, languages or themes you want to assign to a message.

The last step in this digital content planning is to fill in the correct data such as description, budget, administrator, status, tasks and files. This way you have a flexible planner at hand where you zoom out in one movement (for an overview) and zoom in (for insight).

Step 5. Choose a planning tool

Some marketers know their content planning by heart, but I don't envy them. Of course, I recommend a tool to manage all planning data. The most obvious is Excel or its cloud variant Google Docs. 

A second option is to use a digital planner like Husky. Using a planner gives you wings because you can handle data much more flexible concerning input and filtering. 

A third option is to use a social media planner (such as Hootsuite or Buffer). Attention: it gives a false sense of planning. After all, you do nothing more than preparing social media posts for sending to the different social media channels. What about non-social content such as webinars, blog posts or white papers? What if you want to share the planning with colleagues or if you want historical data via filtering (e.g. all Facebook posts within a particular theme in Dutch)? A social media planner won't help you any further. I summarised the pros and contras of the three options below. 

Excel (or Google Sheets)
ProsContras
FreeLimited filtering
Low thresholdShareability
100% custom madeIndependent of other plans
 Risk of 'information overload'

 

Digital marketing planner (like Husky)
ProsContras
FiltersPrice
ReportsLearning curve
Standard frameCan't post on external sites
Shareability 

 

Social media planners (like Hootsuite)
ProsContras
Time-savingPlanning according to posts
OverviewIndependent of other plans
ReportsOnly social media planning
 100% focus on media

 

In an ideal world, you can use a digital planner such as Husky to plan your entire content strategy. You can immediately put your other schedules into it. As an extension for social media planning, you need a planner such as Hootsuite or Buffer, who can prepare a post for sending to the various social media.   

Step 6. Prepare a content organisation 

Do you have your content marketing plan at hand? Awesome!

But now wait before you take the next step. After all, within your content marketing strategy, you will still have to answer some questions, such as:

  • Who will come up with the content?
  • How are we going to get inspiration for content?
  • Do we write all the content ourselves?
  • Are we going to outsource content production to external partners?
  • Who makes the content planning?
  • Who will monitor the content planning?

You see: a good content plan needs ownership. Just a few posts have no lasting effect. So think carefully about building your team. That may sound big, but it isn't. A solo marketer in a company surrounded by an editor and a social media marketer can form an excellent content team. 

Few marketers have such a talent that they can do everything themselves concerning ideas, planning, writing in-depth blog posts, creating short one-liners for Facebook, designing Instagram posts and video marketing. Know where your passion, strengths and talents lie and complement your weaknesses with external specialists.

Step 7. Measure your results

As I said at the beginning of this article, setting goals is your very first job. Have you been launching and executing your content marketing plan for several weeks or months now? Then perhaps arises the moment when you want to measure the results of your work or the success of your investments. 

Together with your objectives, you may have set very fine and measurable KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). Common KPIs in a content marketing plan:

  • number of content items (e.g. blog posts per month)
  • visitors to the website
  • visitors on the content pages (e.g. blog)
  • downloads van content (vb. whitepapers, templates)
  • newsletter subscribers
  • fans on social media pages

If these numbers go upward, you know the approach works. It is therefore essential to find a procedure to monitor these KPIs continuously. Monitoring can be done in an Excel file, directly in the content plan in Husky (see example below), via the dashboard of a social media planner (such as Hootsuite or Buffer) or a separate result dashboard such as Klipfolio.

A content KPI dashboard in Husky

A content KPI dashboard in Hootsuite

This way you not only stay on top of your results, but you also have an excellent reporting tool for colleagues or management.

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