Published on September 4th, 2016 | by charliesaidthat5
Content Marketing: How To Plan Your Business Blog Posts For A Year
Content Marketing: An Introduction
Content marketing is the umbrella term for creating and curating relevant and valuable content with the purpose of attracting and retaining customers.
Content Marketing has been a massively growing trend in digital marketing over the past two years. A quick look at Google Trends visually highlights the uptake in the term “content marketing.”
If you give yourself an hour, you can plan over fifty blog posts that will increase website traffic and improve your business: generate leads, capture prospects’ emails, and deliver sales.
The best part about this process is that it is actually pretty easy. Here are the eight simple steps to get you started on planning your business blog posts for a year.
1. Know Your Audience
No doubt you are rolling your eyes, as this principle is common sense, but take some time up front to think about who your customers are. You need to write for them, not just whatever you want to write about.
Who is it you want to talk to: existing customers? new customers?
What excites them? What keeps them up at night? How can you make their life easier?
Bear these questions in mind as we move to the next steps, and keep thinking back to this. It is vital to the success of your business blog.
2. Break Down What Your Business Does In To Bite Size Pieces
This might sound silly. But you really need to know your business’s positioning, tone, and voice before implementing your content marketing plan.
Break down your main business into four categories. What are the four things that you do well that your audience might want to read about?
If your blog is about Coffee in London, you could break down four topics that might be of interest to wannabe coffee aficionados.
- Best Coffee Beans
- Best Coffee Shops
- Best Brewing Equipment
- Coffee Brewing Tips & Facts
Now break each of these categories down into a further three or four topics to give structure to your content plan.
Best Coffee Beans
Best Coffee Shops
- Central London
- East London
- North London
- South London
- West London
Best Coffee Brewing Equipment
- Espresso Machine
Coffee Brewing Tips & Facts
Within five minutes, you have up to twenty topic groups around which to structure your content plan. Don’t worry too much if you have way more (or less) than this number of ideas; this is just a structured planning session.
3. Come Up With Content Ideas
The next step is to come up with five to ten article ideas for each of these topic groups. This should be quite easy given you are an expert about your business and your customers probably already ask you a ton of questions.
Just think: every time a client asks an annoying question, your answer can be a blog post, which not only saves you time for future queries, but turns those annoying questions into a lead generation tool.
Here are some ideas for how to come up with new content ideas:
- Track questions that clients ask
- Monitor social media (what are people talking about or asking?)
- Read competitors’ white papers or eBooks
- Track upcoming conference schedules
- Review a case study
- Write a book review
- Repurpose elements of training sessions
- Tie the topic to a cultural reference like Star Wars, Game of Thrones or The Avengers
You may even want to check out what content is working well for your competitors and in the industry. I use Buzzsumo to find out which pieces of content have been shared most on social media. Whilst you shouldn’t steal your competitors or peers content – you might want to reference them, or reframe what has worked for them in a different way.
If you are still stuck for ideas there are a couple of title generators that might give you some ideas (although I’d recommend you change up those titles once you have the content idea).
4. Think About Evergreen Content Types
Evergreen content is content that is always relevant. It’s good year round and is considered sustainable and lasting. The purpose of such content is that you can promote it anytime, as it is not tied to topical news.
Taking the content ideas from above, you can now easily come up with multiple ideas to format these posts.
Take a look at this list of common evergreen content types:
- Ultimate Guides To XXX – 2,000+ words, incredibly detailed
- Definition Posts
- How To’s / Guides
- Lists: Top 10s / 50s / 100s
- Curated Lists (Best Other Posts, Interesting Facts, Weekly Link Round ups)
- Product Reviews
- Ego-Bait (100 PR experts in London)
- Checklists / Cheat Sheets
- Debunking Myths
- Answer Client Questions (Use Google Autosuggest to help phrase the question)
- White Papers
- Case Studies
- News articles
- Statistics & reports that can change / go out of date
- Articles focused on a current trend or pop culture fad
This is not to say you shouldn’t let your potential customers know that you are keeping up with the news, but by focusing on developing a content calendar which builds a bank of timeless resources means that you have more time to write those reactive blog posts in response to news or trends.
5. Conduct Keyword Research To Help Craft The Best Titles For Your Evergreen Content
Sometimes, as a business owner or expert in your industry, you may know your business too well. What I mean is that clients and prospects may use very different language than you do to describe your services.
To help you discover how customers talk about your services, have conversations with them and listen. Listen to how they phrase questions, their exact wording.
I know that this exercise can be time-consuming to scale, so here are some other tools that should help you determine the best phrasing for your articles. These tools apply users’ internet search behaviour to give you recommendations.
- SEO Chat Tools
- Google Auto Suggest
- Look at your Google Analytics
- Check common searches on your internal site search
- Look at long tail keywords (or what’s left of them)
- Look for opportunities with high bouncing, organic keywords. These show you terms you currently rank for but that users aren’t sticking around on your site for. Look at the pages – what could you do better?
6. Add Your Evergreen Content To An Editorial Calendar
For the best results you ought to add your content to a content calendar.
Be realistic about how many posts your business can generate. A good bet is to aim for one post a week. Maybe you can take the time out once a month to write four posts and schedule them to automatically publish.
Maybe you have a team big enough to write five posts a week. Great! Just make sure that you can spend the time to the make each piece of content as useful as possible to your audience, to ensure organic traffic- both people bookmarking it, and wanting to link to your post as a great resource.
- Use Trello as an Editorial Calendar
- WordPress plugins
- Or if you really must, you could use Google Docs templates:
The one thing to remember is that sometimes you won’t get everything you planned out on time. And sometimes you will ignore your content calendar to respond to a news item. That is OK. The content calendar is there as a prompt, to remind you of the next step.
7. Make Sure Your Evergreen Content Converts
After breaking down your dozen topics, and thinking about the different content types, you should have at least fifty content ideas that will continue to bring in long-term traffic. That is great. But what is traffic without conversion?
Remember your business objectives? The reason you are blogging?
Hopefully you have a vision beyond getting more traffic or becoming a thought leader. So now is the time to start thinking about the calls to action you can put alongside or beneath your evergreen content.
- Perhaps you have a fantastic mailing list that you want people to join?
- Perhaps you have tickets to sell to a relevant event?
- Perhaps you have a free eBook you are offering (to collect people’s email addresses)?
- Perhaps you just want to ask outright for a meeting or a paid service?
Make sure your calls to action are relevant. Don’t go cross-selling something with nothing to do with your great content. It will just annoy your visitors. And for the best results, try to make your call to action stand out.
8. For Best Results Keep Your Evergreen Content Current
Now that you have a conversion machine up and running, you need to make sure your evergreen content is kept updated. There is nothing worse than a guide which ranks in Google but is two years out-of-date and now full of misinformation.
Once you have started creating evergreen resources, make sure to regularly audit your top-performing pages, as this will inform your long-term content marketing strategy.