How To Create A Engaging Content Marketing Plan

No one can argue how important it is to have the right content marketing strategy when blogging. The art of content marketing is changing the way people engage with a website. Through content you’re able to provide value, and sell products to your readers which helps achieve your bottom line Profit. However, many new bloggers fail to incorporate content marketing as a way to increase engagement with their readers. Over the years, while working with different clients, I was able to ask this question to some of them Why haven’t you started to incorporate content marketing into your blogs growth strategy? And here’s what many of them said…

They didn’t know how to implement content marketing because they had trouble creating a clear cut plan to get it done. I couldn’t believe this was what a majority of them had to say. I’ve been working with different clients for the last 5-6 years helping them build an online presence. My strategy includes different avenues to help them, however content marketing has been my main focus in recent years. Next,

I believe content marketing is becoming more important now than ever before. First, search engines like Google loves this type of marketing because it NOT only provides value, but increases the user experience. For example, the content includes a combination of target, long-tail, and LSI keywords which are specific in what the user is looking for. Next, it’s evergreen meaning very rarely does it have an expiry date. Third, It’s very engaging meaning through a solid content marketing plan, you’ll see an increase in social shares, comments, high-quality links, and reduce bounce time. These all fall under Google’s 200 rankings factors showing them where it belongs within the SERP’s.

Today, I want to provide a breakdown of a solid content marketing plan, and how you can start incorporating one into your business by making a few tweaks in the way you create content. Let’s get started, and your feedback will be appreciated going forward.

Research and Purpose

It doesn’t matter what niche you’re in because you have to always start with solid research. In order for you to write content which resonates with your readers, it’s important to find out what’s been trending in recent months. I have a certain procedure I follow to find out what’s been happening within my niche. For example,

I’ll research forums because the information is always in real-time. The amount of people asking and answering questions is amazing. The solutions are provided by people who are experienced, and MOST likely contain up-to-date information about the topic. Next,

I’ll reach out to a handful of bloggers I’ve worked with in the past. These bloggers are guru’s in my niche, and I know they are always up-to-date with the changing trends. It’s their business to be fully in-tuned with what’s happening so they can share it with their readers. My approach is very simple,

I’ll get shoot 5-6 of them an email with my question, and ask them the following:

  • The question
  • How I should approach the answer
  • Where I should look for additional information
  • Is it a common problem within our niche?

From my experience, the more common the problem, the more quickly it’ll gain momentum once published.

Through research you’ll be able to determine what you should focus on, and it will give you a clear idea of your purpose. For example, if I choose to write about Top 2016 Link Building Tools, it’s much easier to focus on my objective which is to provide people with a tools that’ll help them build quality links.

Type of Content

It’s important to know what type of content resonates with your readers. You have several options, for example:

  • Infographics
  • Text
  • Video content
  • How-to
  • Workflow guides
  • Many more

If you’ve been blogging for several years, and have a stable flow of readers, then you’ll know where to focus your attention. However, for those of you just starting out, it’s going to be tough because you have to find out what works, and what doesn’t. For example, there’s no point in writing text content then MOST of your readers don’t speak English fluently, right? In this case, your better of creating a video tutorial or infographic.

However, if you know anything about marketing, then you know it’s all about trial and error. It’s always good to test out what resonates with your readers. This is easy to figure out once you know what call signs to look for when i.e. comments, shares, bounce rate, retention, etc. We’ll discuss tracking metrics later, however these are the fundamental call signs which will differentiate a successful content marketing campaign compared to one which under performed.

Next,

It’s important to use the tools available to find out as much as you can about your audience. Here’s a few ways to streamline your content type research.

Competitor Analysis

One way I like to find out what type of content resonates with my niche audience is to explore my competition. Some of my competitors have been in the niche for several years so know EXACTLY who to market to, and where to find their audience. I like to skim through the top bloggers, and find what type of content they are focusing on MOST of the time. For example,

If you notice a growth in video content, then you know there’s a reason why they shifted their focus. It might be because their audience can follow through on video’s better than text. Video content is also evidence that how-to tutorials are gaining dominant because tutorials are best displayed in video format.

Forums

This is an old school method which still continues to be one of the MOST overlooked strategies online. Did you know forums have been around way before search engines became sophisticated? One of the very first forums was online way before Google was even a company, and this is why they still are a popular real-time portal for answers. In order for you to use them successfully to find out more about content type, it’s important you read in between the lines. For example, it’s all about finding the right forum then looking for common problems within your niche.

I like to start by heading over to Google, and doing a search top niche + forums. I’ll visit the top 3-4 forums looking for the following information:

  • Todays posts
  • Total members
  • Activity
  • com ranking

Next,

Skim through a see if I can find a pattern. I like to find questions which are commonly being asked over and over again. This means it’s a popular problem people are having within your niche, and a solution can create a serious buzz online. However, you need to find out more the solutions already posted like how in-depth or what content type. For example, I’ll find a solution someone has written, and click on the link they provide to find out if it’s an infographic, video, text, or even podcast.

If I click on 5-6 solution, and notice all of them provide a video then it’s safe to assume I should focus on creating a video, right? However, when I create a video, I’ll make sure it’s more in-depth, and contains more value than all my competitors. This will ensure I get more shares, comments, and generate more traffic than everyone else.

Google Trends

Not as popular as the other methods, but if used correctly it can provide some great insight into future searches. Google Trends is a tool which gives you a breakdown of the rising keywords, and what the general public is typing into the search engines. For example, when you head to Google Trends, and type in a keyword, you’ll generate a list of keywords which include little clues into a user’s preference. In the past, I’ve had results with the following:

  • Paper airplane video
  • How to start a blog video
  • Quicksprout
  • Neil Patel
  • Etc

You can see from the results above that some include the word video, and even the name of an authority blogger. Going forward I know to direct my attention to creating videos or even visit the authority blogs to gather topics or find out about content type.

Next,

I’ve been noticing a huge trend developing since the internet has connected people from all over the world. Some of the countries which visit my blog won’t be from English peaking countries, and videos will resonate with them better. This has increased my overall engagement, focus, conversions, and profits. Understanding your audience, and creating the right type of content can be vital to your success if you know how to fit all the pieces in correctly.

Writing Content & Structure

The way you write, and structure your content is very important to your readers. If words are correctly highlighted, and there is proper spacing, then content becomes easier to read. The easier the content to read, the more value readers can pull out which leads to a higher conversion rate. I’m surprised at the amount of bloggers who don’t pay attention to content structure which slows down their growth going forward. Personally, I believe there are a handful of structure elements you should keep a close eye on. Let’s explore the top 4-5.

Paragraph length

Case studies have proven paragraphs should have no more than 5 sentences. Anything higher will start to cause too much clutter which can push the reader away. For example, think about the amount of times you’ve left a website because all you saw was condensed text everywhere? I know I’ve left numerous times, and I don’t think I’ve gone back because it left a negative (x) in my mind.

Make sure you have no more than 5 sentences per paragraph, and the spacing is 1.15 as outlined below.

Spacing

Each sentence or line within a paragraph should have a spacing of 1.15. When talking about spacing, I’m referring to the gap between the lines above, and below. Here’s an illustration. This is important because it makes it easier for people to follow through as they read. It also reduces clutter.

Keywords

New readers arrived on your website because they are looking for specific information. They went to Google, typed in a specific keyword or phrase, then skimmed through until they found an attractive listing. I think it’s very important when structuring your content to include a few target keywords within each paragraph. These keywords serve as reinforcement for the reader that they are reading relevant content. For example,

When I search in Google for make money online and click-through to a website, I hope the keyword phrase will be embedded within the content. If not, I’ll feel the content won’t provide a solution to the problem I’m having.

Text Decoration

This includes the following: H1, H2, H3, Bold, Underline, and Italic.

The common practice is to decorate target keyword phrases to put emphasis on them. They serve as reinforcement for readers, and is important during the indexing process. Search spiders will skim through your page looking for common keywords because it helps them determine where to place your page within the SERP’s. By bolding text, your putting emphasis on that keyword, and indirectly telling search spiders you would like to rank for that keyword.

Now that you understand writing structure, you can keep a close eye on these elements as you complete your content.

The Writing Process

Writing high quality content can be attributed to understand what your readers are looking for. If you can solve a common problem within your niche, then you’ll build momentum online quickly. However, the less common the problem, the fewer readers. However, writing high quality content doesn’t just happen through research because you need a clear plan. For example, after research it’s important you create a list of keywords, then outline your entire process. For example, it important to know:

  • What to write in introduction, and what keywords to focus on
  • Subheadings, and keywords
  • The Body
  • How to structure conclusion
  • Images to add, and where
  • External, and internal links

Before I start writing, I’ll take a piece of paper and write down in point form what will go in all of these sections.

The Introduction

I like to write this section last because I find this makes the process easier. When you know what’s in the body, and conclusion, it’s very easy to put an introduction together.

Subheadings

These should include your secondary target keywords, and should be decorated with H2-H3 tags. By adding keywords within the sub-headings, readers assume the content is relevant to those keywords. Next, the H2-H3 play a crucial role in indexing.

The Body

You’ve done your research, and know what your readers are looking for s stay focused. Scatter your target and related keywords throughout the body. Keep a 2%-4% ratio in keywords vs. length of content. Remember, you are trying to solve the problem within your niche so make sure you are in-depth, and cover all corners when writing.

Conclusion

This section is NOT tough because you are summarizing what you discussed within the content body. It’s also a good place to add action steps for your readers. Many of them will be new readers, and need a walkthrough on what to do next. This is especially important if you wrote how-to content which showed them how to solve a problem moving through various steps. Give them a breakdown of what to do, and even include call-to-action buttons.

What about links?

It’s a good idea to link target keywords to other content published on your page. This will decrease bounce rate, and increase conversions through value provided throughout your site. External links are a good idea, but only to credit sites because some of them get alerts when you link to them. This increases the chance of them linking back to your if you’ve provided relevant value.

Analyze Content Marketing Strategy

This is where you fine tune your content marketing plan for optimal conversions. I believe anything you do online has to be tested, and fine tuned so you can increase profits. This is why when selling products, it’s always a smart idea to split test landing page, and marketing platforms because some will work better then others. However, testing a content marketing strategy is a bit different. With content marketing, you are testing user engagement, and the approach is a bit different. Here are the fundamental metrics of user engagement:

  • Time on page
  • Comments
  • Opt-ins
  • Social shares
  • Conversions
  • CTR to internal pages
  • Profits

By analyzing all of these, you can figure out if you have a winning content marketing strategy. In point #1 I talked about your purpose, and what you are trying to accomplish through your content marketing. You are analyzing if the plan you incorporated brings you closer to your objective. Let’s get started:

Google Analytics

Much of what you need to track can be done through Google Analytics. They provide the following information:

  • Location
  • Bounce rate
  • Referral source
  • Landing page
  • Search queries
  • Outbound page

Google Analytics also provides a heat-map so you can see where most of the users spend their time on a page.

Pay close attention to:

  • Location – this will help you create content catered to people depending on location. If majority from non-English countries, then language will be a problem so video or image content will be best.
  • Bounce rate – A high bounce rate means they don’t like the initial landing page. Keep this number around 35%. Anything higher means you have to make tweaks to your page.
  • Search queries – Understand what keywords bring people to your content. Focus marketing efforts around these keywords. Edit content to highlight these keywords or include more going forward.
  • Outbound – this data shows you what page user was on before leaving. If they left from different page, then you know internal link was clicked in content.

Next,

Social Shares

Social media is changing the way people find content. The top 3” networks: Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ account for over 50% of a sites traffic. A content marketing strategy is only successful when users share your content because this shows you have provided value. For example, let’s say you visit a website, and did NOT find value in the content will you share the content on social media? You most likely answered No. If readers actively share your content, then you know you have a successful content marketing strategy in place.

To test social engagement:

  • Make sure you have buttons on top and below content
  • You need social profiles on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+
  • Tracking can be done using BIT.ly (URL shortener) provides clicks, location, content, time, etc.

Opt-in Form

Depending on your content marketing strategy, you might be selling a product or service. In order to generate leads, you’ll have opt-in forms through your website. With opt-in forms, it’s important to test different locations, forms, headlines, and the conversion rate. It’s been stated the opt-in is higher when you provide value beforehand so with higher conversions, you can determine successful of a campaign.

However, split testing does take time and it’s important you try different locations while giving it enough time to collect data. Here’s are some things to keep a close eye on:

  • Location: try different locations i.e. footer, sidebar, top of content, and embedded within content.
  • Split test forms for conversion rate: change headlines, buttons, images, bullet-points
  • Test follow-up email sequence

Collect data for 3-60 days to get a good idea of conversion rate, and winning opt-in form.

Comments

The higher the comments, the higher value you’ve provided. I’ve only left comments or feedback when the content I read provide in-depth value. When the content is low quality, no one will take the time to leave an engaging comment. The reason I love comments is because of the value you can pull out. For example, through comments, I can find:

  • What readers liked
  • Questions they have about a product I’m selling
  • Gather more content ideas
  • What they didn’t like
  • If they don’t understand some in content (I can then edit to correct)

Many people downplay the importance of comments, but it’s feedback which provides great insight into your content. Here’s something I want you to do:

Visit this website, and scroll to the bottom: https://www.quicksprout.com/2014/04/07/your-content-marketing-campaign-will-fail-without-these-10-features/.

You’ll notice over 20-30 comments. Read some of them, and you’ll get an idea of the diverse comments people leave. It’s amazing.

Final Thoughts

No matter what type of niche or business, it’s important you have a solid content marketing plan. Understanding your purpose will guide your marketing strategy, and this will be reflected through your research. It’s when you’re under your purpose that you’re able to focus on your competitors, right? Otherwise, you would have NO clue who your competition is and where they are focusing their energy. Analyzing my competition is one of the MOST effective marketing strategies to date, and it’s very cheap. By visiting their blogs, I’ll have a better understanding of the following:

  • Keywords
  • Audience
  • Resonating content
  • Trending topics
  • Social media platforms to focus on

Next,

Once I have a clear cut game plan, I’ll jump into writing content using the format and structure above. Remember, it’s important to use the right spacing, decorative text, keywords and sub-headings. In the end, it’s all about understanding the analytics and how your marketing can be better optimized. Look for the visible signals like:

  • Landing pages
  • Bounce rate
  • Search Queries
  • Referrals
  • And others

The success of your business depends on your ability to test what’s working for you. Creating a solid content marketing is the foundation when getting started. After, it’s all about reading over the data, making tweaks, testing, and then optimizing until you reach optimal results.