The first week of January is nearly over and my resolutions to get up earlier and drink less coffee are a distant memory. But I hope you’ll join me in sticking to one resolution this year, and that’s to be one of the smart marketers planning for success in 2015, and not just jettisoning content into the void.
With the number of marketers planning on launching content marketing campaigns at a ceiling smashing level of 85% (up from 60% last year) it’s clear that you’re going to have to pull out all the stops to create gleaming gems in a rising tide of content competing for prospects and page views.
This is why planning for success is so important. It’s no coincidence that 60% of B2B marketers with a documented strategy were successful last year, compared to a mere 32% who drove their strategy on verbal claims alone.
If you don’t plan for success, you plan to fail.
4 steps to content planning and 11 tools to help you do it
If you’ve yet to download my Inbound Marketing in Two Weeks eBook, here are four steps that will help improve your content marketing planning and my recommended toolkit for each one:
1) Assess your current progress – Tally up your social media fans and followers, links to your site, ranking for keywords, daily and weekly traffic, leads generated per week and other juicy numbers you’d like to see flourish and grow this year.
2) Define your objectives – Be more strategic than just writing down ‘to make money’. Before you can generate sales, you need to create leads, which should be your first objective.
Consider the buyer’s journey and the content you’ll need to take a prospect from curious to convinced and eager to buy. This spans from the information gathering stage through to providing them with trust building case studies and white papers and then making an offer at the end. Consider what you want to achieve with each piece of content and what KPIs to track towards your goal.
3) Get content ideas – Don’t assume you know what’s going to interest your readers. Take the due diligence to find out.
Do some snooping on your competitors to see what content performed well for them, and see what posts attracted the most social shares and links which translated into more traffic and leads popped into the sales funnel. Then plan how you can use the ‘skyscraper method‘ to create content that’s going to stand tall as the best in the industry.
- Alltop – identify most popular blogs in your industry
- Moz Open Site Explorer – find out which are your competitors’ most popular articles
- Ahrefs or Majestic – identify who linked to popular posts for followup promotion activity
- Topsy – Find the most popular articles of all time in your niche on Twitter
- Track Maven – additional competitor research
4) Create a timeline – Don’t allow 2015 to be another year of uncertainty living with a posting schedule you can only rely on from one week to the next. Setup a publishing calendar for at least the next three months which covers content creation, publishing, distribution and promotion for every stage in the buyer’s journey
- Excel or Google Docs – bit clunky, but gets the job done
- CoSchedule – a WordPress editorial calendar that’s ideal for sharing with clients and small teams
- DivvyHQ – An entire content planning and workflow tool for managing lists of content type, assigning team members and tracking production
Every project now requires long-term planning
Whether you’re a dyed in the wool copywriter or a Hubspot certified inbound marketer, you’re going to have more balls to juggle than ever before this year as our job description expands. The disciplines of SEO, marketing and copywriting are merging. Clients are going to be looking for freelancers that can supply all three.
This is why long-term planning is vital to success in 2015. Even providing copywriting for a brochure shouldn’t be a one off gig. It now slots within a lead generation strategy.
So whenever starting a new project, consider how you can implement the four steps outlined in this post, and join the ranks of smart B2B marketers planning for success in 2015.