Content Planning: How to Create an Effective Plan

Content planning determines the content you want to create and sets expectations for how it should be created. Your content plan will outline who is responsible for creating the content, what the purpose of the content is, and how the content will impact your overall content strategy.

Content plans support your marketing activity and help you target potential customers at all stages of their buying journey.

To understand your customer’s buying journey, check out our content funnel article.

Why You Need a Content Plan

Consistently creating engaging content is one component of successful marketing. Planning your content makes it easier for your team members to collaborate, create and share content.

A good content plan helps you create content that drives traffic and sales. Popular content — regardless of type — can generate buzz long after it’s created.

Content plans also help you manage important business strategies, such as preparing a budget or requesting resources. You’ll know what you need to develop and share your content, making it easy to avoid unnecessary costs or delays.

What is the difference between a content plan and a content strategy?

If you’ve ever created a content strategy, you may think you’ve already done all the right things. In reality, content strategy and content planning are two different concepts.

Your content strategy directs all of your marketing channels to where your content is. This is where you define your various marketing goals and how you plan to achieve them.

When your strategy is ready, you move on to content planning to determine how you will execute that plan. Your content plan will outline all the resources and data you need to achieve the goals you set out in your strategy.

You’ll use your content plan to research, create, publish, and track your content. Each step of the content creation process should be addressed in your content plan.

Content planning: How to create a content plan that gets results

According to a study by Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs, companies that have a content plan are more likely to feel their content is performing well than those that don’t.

Of course, companies’ content plans take different forms and functions, but the fact remains that your content plan must meet some common requirements.

Also Read: How AI and Machine Learning Will Impact Future SEO?

A content plan template that works

To create a content plan that works, you need to answer six questions:

  • Who is your content for?
  • Where will you publish your content?
  • What problem does your content solve?
  • Why is your business different?
  • How will you spread your message?
  • How will you create content?

1. Who is your content for?

Whatever the channel, your content needs to resonate with your audience to be effective. The best first step is to understand who is already consuming your content.

Gather as much data as possible about your customers to better understand them, know what they expect and how to engage them. There are many ways to collect customer data, including conducting market analysis or using web analytics tools, like Google Analytics.

To find audience information in your Google Analytics dashboard, select Audience in the left navigation panel. The Audience report offers insights into your audience’s age, gender, education level, and even interests.

Understanding your customers’ interests is a great way to anticipate the content they want to see. If your customers are interested in affinity categories, like pets, you can plan to post content that includes or features dogs.

Remember that one type of content will not necessarily work on all platforms. An article about dogs might work on social media, but it might not be suitable for an email.

If you distribute your content across multiple channels (email, social media, and blog), your content plan may need to include more than one type of audience.

2. Where will you publish your content?

Figure out where your audience hangs out. You now have data about your customers, which lets you know their interests and demographics, but it doesn’t tell you what channels they use to find you.

To get this information, you can use the Traffic Analysis tool. Select “Traffic Analysis” from the main toolbar on the left panel. Then enter your domain in the search field.

The tool returns a wealth of information easily organized via report tabs. You will have information on the number of monthly visits you receive, the marketing channels that drive traffic to your website and the countries your traffic comes from.

You’ll also be able to track which websites users visit when they leave your site, which can help you determine if you’re losing traffic to your competitors.

Traffic data doesn’t tell you where these visitors are in their buying journey. A customer coming from the organic search may already know about your product, while another coming from the same channel may never have heard of you.

When creating content for a marketing channel, you need to plan for all stages of the marketing funnel.

3. What problem does your content solve?

Successful content should not only reach your audience but also inspire them to take action by illustrating how they can benefit from your product or services.

Ask yourself what problems your products or services help customers solve. You used your customer data to understand what they like and what interests them. You’ll also need to understand what they don’t like, what issues they face, and what they hope to avoid.

One of the ways to collect data on the problems encountered is to study the questions that people ask about your product or your sector. Various keyword research tools help spot common search queries or questions, such as Keyword Magic Tool.

Open the tool and start with a target keyword related to your product or service. In this example, we searched for the term “leather shoes”.