Guide to content planning: 5 steps to creating a successful content strategy

Guide to content planning: 5 steps to creating a successful content strategy (Unsplash/Marten Bjork)

Content planning is the process of defining what content you're going to publish, when and where. It's a crucial step in any content strategy, no matter the types of content you create or the platforms you use to distribute it. By creating content relevant to your target audience, you can ensure that the message is seen by those most likely to be interested. 

When people see consistent, high-quality content from a business, they start to associate that business with expertise and credibility, building brand awareness and trust. 

A well-written and informative content can help to drive traffic to a business's website. This can be done by optimizing search engine content or sharing it on social media and other channels. 

When content is optimized for search engines, it can help to improve a business's ranking in search results. A higher ranking means more traffic to the website, which can lead to more sales. 

Content planning helps businesses stay relevant and adaptable by keeping up with trends and audience preferences. Here’s how you can start.

1. Defining your goals, audience and topics

First of all: define your goals. Some common ones are to have more sales leads, increase brand awareness or drive traffic to your website. Your goals should be SMART - Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant and Time-Bound. 

An example would be increasing traffic to the company website by 50 percent in Q4 by posting three weekly blogs.

After defining your goal, find out your target audience. As you create content for them, you need to tailor it based on them. It might be based on their interests or their pain points. 

There are many methods to know your target audience. These include market research, internal customer data, reaching out to customers, comparing with competitors or using social media analytics. Use methods that are relevant to your business.

Your target audience will guide you during topic brainstorming for your content. This way, your content is relevant to them and fits your goals. Online tools like BuzzSumo and Google Analytics can help you find trending topics and see what content is performing well with your competitors.

2. Create a content calendar

The next step is to schedule and keep track of the content you produce. This is where a content calendar comes into use. It is a document that outlines your content marketing strategy. 

With a content calendar, you can decide when and where to publish every content. It can also keep track of your progress so you can see what is working and what is not. A calendar ensures you're creating content relevant to your target audience and enables you to avoid publishing too much or too little content.

There are many online tools to help you create and manage your calendar. You can collaborate with others during this step. Get input from team members, colleagues or customers on content ideas. This way, you can adjust your calendar to achieve your goals.

3. Create high-quality content

With a clear content schedule, you can start creating your content, which should be informative, engaging and well-written - something that will make people want to read it from start to finish. 

Good content generally requires you to use clear and concise language, avoid jargon and tell relevant stories to your audience. You can also use humor, suspense or other literary devices to keep your readers interested. Collaborating with content writing services is also an option to consider.

In addition to blog posts, you can use various other content formats to reach your audience. Infographics are a great way to present complex information in a visually appealing way. Videos can be used to tell stories or explain concepts. 

Social media posts can be used to share news, updates and other content.

It's also important to be consistent with your content publishing. Publish new content regularly so your audience knows when to expect new information. It also helps to build trust and keep your audience engaged. This is when a content calendar will be helpful.

4. Promote your content

Once you've created and published your content, you must ensure your target audience sees them. There are many ways to promote your content, including social media, email marketing or submitting to relevant directories such as Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools. 

Writing guest posts on other websites can help promote your content and reach a new audience. Meanwhile, pay-per-click advertising can get your content seen by people searching for specific keywords.

Optimizing your content for search engines is also essential to getting it seen by your target audience. When you optimize your content, use the right keywords and phrases to appear higher in search results. Optimized content can help you attract more visitors and generate more leads.

5. Measure your results and adjust

One of the most essential steps in content planning is to see how your content performs. Track their performance with tools like Google Analytics to see what is working and what is not to improve your content plan over time. 

You can also conduct a content audit to assess your existing content and identify areas of improvement. 

A content audit can help you:

  • Identify outdated or irrelevant content
  • Find content that is not performing well
  • Identify gaps in your content coverage
  • Optimize your content for search engines

Content audits can be conducted regularly or as needed. The frequency will depend on the size and complexity of your content library. Regular content audits will ensure that your content is up-to-date, relevant and effective in achieving your marketing goals.

Origin Hope provides any content operation with newsroom efficiency, powered by its optimized processes, AI technology and excellent customer service. We work with marketing departments, independent creators, publishers and media groups around the world. Get in touch here.