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Insight and strategy: The key to successful content planning
Content marketing is an essential tool for any brand that wants to reach out to its customers, start conversations, and offer insightful answers to their questions. However, to truly draw people to your business and get the results you want, you need to ensure your content tackles suitable topics in the right way, making it appealing to the relevant audiences.
This is where good planning comes in. By creating an effective content plan, comprised of compelling titles and ideas, you can refine your approach and focus on activities that will attract leads and guide them through their buyer journey.
Your content planning must be fuelled by insight and strategy to work. Through careful research, you can learn more about the people you are targeting, helping you to tailor your content, so that it addresses their needs and stands a better chance of captivating them. This insight also allows you to define a suitable strategy, through which you can also ensure that your content matches your other marketing activity, allowing you to create consistent customer experiences and showcasing your brand in an attractive light.
This guide explores in more detail the role of insight and strategy in your content planning and why it is paramount to success. We’ve also listed some of our own top tips for content planning, to give you a point of reference and solid head-start.
Why are insight and strategy so important?
The aim of brand content is to drive people towards your products and services. To do this, you need to educate and inform your audience so that they understand how your brand can help them overcome the problems they face with their life choices and decision making. Doing this effectively will improve the chances of their decision to purchase from your business – and then the cycle repeats.
Your content, therefore, needs to address every stage of the buyer journey by covering the customer’s requirements at each step.
Before you can create content across the buyer journey, you need to understand what that journey might look like. Insight allows you to do this, learning more about your target customers and identifying the thoughts, pain points, preferences and desires they may have. This makes it much easier to select content pieces that align with the behaviour of the user, which will help you to engage them and add value.
Other useful and Insightful information to include, can be gleaned from social listening and keyword research. This will help to uncover what the your audience is talking about, their topics of interest, the language they’re using, and the specific questions they are asking.
This type of insight is invaluable, since will it enable you to address the answers to their all-important questions within your own content, and will further provide the perspective you need to help you capture their attention and stand out from the crowd.
Armed with insight, you can create a strategy that accounts for all parts of the buyer journey and trending topics relevant to your brand. This will enable you to drive traffic and convert it. Your strategy should also consider the various channels you will be using, allowing you to populate each with compelling content that is fit for purpose and creating consistency across all your customer touchpoints.
Ad hoc content that is unplanned is unlikely to drive the same results, instead culminating in disjointed brand experiences, missed opportunities or the creation of content that simply isn’t of interest to your audience. This will drastically reduce your chances of securing traffic or engaging leads to make a purchase.
By utilising insight and strategy, the most significant benefit is a streamlined approach to your content that you know will work because it addresses your audience’s needs. You will be left with smarter content plans, with activity placed on the proper channels at the right time and value offered to your audience that drives them towards a purchase.
This also means your efforts will be more effective, with time spent crafting content that delivers results, improving return on investment and efficiency.
Our six steps for using insight and strategy in the content planning process
Implementing insight and strategy into your content planning is easy once you get into the habit. Below, we describe our six-step approach for creating intelligent content plans aligned with your customer and brand.
The first step of your content plan is understanding your target customers. Use audience insight and buyer personas to learn who your customers are, what challenges they face and how they best like to digest content and interact with brands and information sources.
Once you have gathered this insight into your audience, you should create a content plan that is connected to their behaviour and needs. This means answering their questions, posting content on the channels they use, and discussing topics they are actively interested in.
This will empower you to deliver value that makes a customer want to take the next step towards a purchase while enabling you to become a trusted voice of expertise that they listen to.
Keyword research and social listening
Next, utilise keyword research and social listening to explore the trending topics and the questions people may have that are relevant to your brand. This should also uncover the language that people are using to discuss specific areas and the attitudes they share, so you can ensure your wording and commentary aligns.
Keyword research is helpful in identifying what people are searching for around a set topic. By using popular search terms, you can boost your SEO efforts, creating content that ranks highly in search engines and drives traffic to your website. It will also help you match searcher intent so that the traffic you receive is people you can genuinely help through your products and services, increasing the chances of conversion.
On the other hand, social listening enables you to identify popular, timely topics online and jump into the conversation. This promotes brand visibility, so users can interact with you and become aware of your brand. It should also refine your social media approach, so you can post the best content to your social profiles to captivate your followers.
By using both, you can create appealing content across multiple channels, targeting the topics your audience is interested in – whether it’s recent, newsworthy stories or more evergreen, blog content that answers common questions.
Competitor analysis is an essential part of content planning as it allows you to see what other brands are talking about. If they are writing about the same topics as you, you need to consider how to deliver additional value to make sure a reader comes to you instead.
A great way to undertake competitor analysis is to run a search for a term you are looking to target – for example, ‘how to get rid of ants’. We can see that the top result talks about 20 ways to remove ants from your home – so how could we offer more value?
We might want to talk about 21 ways to remove ants, giving the reader an additional option. Alternatively, we may speak about fewer ways to remove ants, but ensure that the ones we do discuss at easier and effective: ‘the 5 BEST ways to remove ants from your home forever’. The content title should make it clear what value you are offering.
By finding an edge over your competitors, you can beat them to the top spot of the search engine, where you will get the lion’s share of clicks. Remember, other factors do play into this – such as domain authority – but focusing on that added value will enable you to strengthen your content and detract from your competitors.
Another integral part of content planning is ensuring it connects to your brand and broader marketing efforts. It is essential to deliver consistent brand experiences, so that customers learn what to expect and trust you as a genuine voice.
The content you put out into the world must represent who you are as a brand. Ensure it matches your brand narrative, personality and the reputation you want to build. Having a tone of voice document will assist you here by setting out the voice of your brand at all times and ensuring you push the same key messages in every piece of work you do.
By considering your brand image and tone of voice always, you will ensure everything you craft, including content and any other marketing, is true to the heart of your business while enabling customers to understand who you are and get a great experience, no matter where they encounter you.
Another consideration to make when planning content is where it will be posted or published after it’s written. Different platforms have specific purposes and USPs, which means that different types of content work better on each. To get the most traction, you need to make sure the content you post to that channel matches user expectations and engages them there.
By paying consideration to the channels you will be publishing to, you can refine your content so that it is fit for purpose.
It will also empower you to repurpose content for various channels, such as shortening blogs for social media posts or videos. This will help you get more mileage from the content you create, and you can populate all of your channels with minimal effort and cost while still driving engagement and traffic.
Finally, your content plan should account for timing. Most content plans will have a scheduling aspect defining what will be posted, when and where.
If you are creating topical pieces, you need to strike while the iron is hot, making timing essential. In some cases, this will require you to be agile when a news story or trend emerges, so you can jump into the discussion while it’s still popular and deliver relevant brand commentary.
In other cases, it may mean having content ready to go at the opportune time. For example, you might have an evergreen piece of content, such as a recipe for Nutella brownies, featuring some baking equipment you sell. When World Nutella Day (yes, really!) rolls around, it would be a great time to share that recipe on social media using #WorldNutellaDay and capture the interest occurring at that time. In the graph below, we can see that the search term ‘nutella’ peaks around February, when ‘World Nutella Day’, takes place. This shows the correlation between events and interest in related topics.
Start by making a list of key dates that matter for your business. These could be internal (such as product launch dates) or external (like seasonal holidays or event days). It’s also worth utilising Google Trends to identify how search behaviour for relevant terms change through the year, so you can ensure you are pushing content at peak times.
By incorporating trending news alongside critical dates, you can create a timely schedule of content that shares the right message at the best time, so you maximise your traffic potential.
Every business wants their marketing plans to work for them as much as possible, and your content planning shouldn’t be any different. By incorporating insight and strategy, you can ensure your content achieves the result you want by attracting, engaging and converting customers effectively and constantly.
This means that time and effort you put into creating content will always pay off, capturing attention across all the relevant channels and audiences with optimised content and trending topics.
It will also bring your content in sync with your other brand marketing activity, helping you to carve out your position as a trusted voice, there to guide customers along their journey and growing your sales.