7 Elements of Every Successful Content Marketing Plan

Jun 7, 2024

Every business needs an effective marketing plan to build and sustain a healthy bottom line. Unfortunately, people often confuse a marketing strategy with a marketing plan. While both are essential components of marketing, they are not the same thing. 

It’s important to first understand the difference between these two terms. A marketing strategy is often referred to as the “why” of your marketing efforts and outlines basic questions about your business goals and target audience. On the other hand, a marketing plan defines the “how” of your marketing efforts, meaning how you will execute each step of your marketing efforts to achieve your goals. 

1. Campaign Goals

So, when it comes to marketing plan versus marketing strategy, which comes first? Before you can build an effective marketing plan, you must identify your marketing campaign goals. These goals will guide each and every action you take as you work toward achieving your marketing plan. Some common business goals include: 

  • Increasing sales
  • Enhancing brand awareness
  • Generating more leads

Whatever goals you select, implementing an effective content strategy can help you achieve them. However, aligning your content strategy with your campaign goals is easier said than done. That’s due in part to the various factors content creators (or managers) must consider to make the campaign successful.

2. SEO and Keywords

Building great content is useless if people can’t find it online. Selecting the right keywords, especially those that are high-volume and trending, is a great way to help your content perform well in search engines. Without the use of relevant keywords, potential customers won’t see your content which will cause your campaign to be a failure. If you don’t know how to properly vet keywords, hiring a professional SEO content manager can help you use keywords to drive the right type of traffic to your website. 

3. Competitor Analysis

Regardless of your niche or industry, analyzing your competitors is a must. You want to understand what they are doing well and what you could do better. Here are some things you may want to identify and consider when completing your analysis: 

  • What topics has your competitor covered as part of their content strategy? Feel free to cover the same topics but make your content unique or better. 
  • What keywords is your competition using? Are there better keywords to use? If not, how can you make your content rank higher than theirs?
  • How reader-friendly and helpful is your competition’s content? You might choose to include additional information that is helpful to the reader or go into more detail to make the content easier for your readers to understand.

4. Diversified Content

Not everyone in your target audience will enjoy the same types of content. Avid readers may prefer blog posts, while people with short attention spans might engage better with infographics or videos. Your goal is to create a diverse range of content that will help you reach the widest range of readers. By incorporating social media, audio (for example, a podcast), or video into your content marketing strategy, you can amplify your reach and ability to connect with your greater audience. 

5. Content Schedule

When you post content is often just as critical as what you post. To make the most out of your content strategy, you’ll want to publish your content at the optimal time and frequency. This might mean posting certain types of content on certain days or publishing blog posts earlier than you publish social media posts. The ideal content schedule depends on when your target audience is most likely to engage with your content. Finding the “sweet spot” may involve extensive research or trial and error. Feel free to adjust your publishing schedule and frequency, paying close attention to the results until you find the perfect schedule. 

6. Distribution Methods

It’s important to select the right distribution for your content, target audience, or niche. There are three main types of distribution – paid, owned, and earned. Paid distribution includes paid avenues such as advertisements. Owned distribution channels are ones you control, such as your blog on your website. Earned distribution involves distribution you receive from taking a certain action such as a popular social media post or positive behavior that captures the media’s attention. While using one distribution method may yield some results, a combination of all three is most likely to help you reach your goals faster.

7. Performance Targets

At the end of the day, you need a way to determine if your marketing plan was a success. This will tell you whether your approach is working or needs improvement. Start by creating clearly defined performance targets. You can then monitor your progress by tracking Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). These include, but are not limited to: 

  • Increases in social media followers
  • Changes in newsletter subscriptions
  • Number of article views
  • Ranking on Google

While having a marketing plan is important, the business world is dynamic. It is not uncommon to make changes to your marketing plan from time to time, especially when you aren’t achieving your performance targets. Changes to your strategy may also be needed when there is an external factor that necessitates the change, such as a new competitor or a change in the economy.