set goals for effective executionWith every new year, there comes new trends. Every 12 months (or 12 minutes) there’s something new grabbing our – and our clients’ – attention. Based on these new channels, methods or trends, we can start to shape our marketing goals to be more effective and profitable.

When’s the last time you created an annual content plan for your website, blog, email and social media channels? 

With so much out there competing for your audience’s attention, you need to have a plan in place that includes all of your marketing efforts. You also have to keep in mind that plans can and will change – keeping us on our toes and forcing us to capitalize on opportunities that were unforeseen during initial content planning stages.

A Blog Content Plan

Writing a blog on your website is one of the best ways to attract new visitors to your site and educate them on your brand’s unique positioning. Pair a blog post with a good call to action, links to other pages on your site, and useful content, and you’re on your way to becoming a thought leader in your industry – and to making more money with your website.

But first you need a plan…

1. Know Your Audience.

What do your clients or customers look for? Who are they? What will compel them to read something you have written? What topics will encourage greater interest in your products or services? Knowing who you’re writing to is the first step in creating a successful blog content plan.

How do you figure out who your audience is? Talk to your salespeople, read what people are saying about you on social media and in forums, have a focus group, do a survey, dig into your Analytics

2. Know Your Business and the People in it.

Sometimes we get tunnel vision at work and only think we need to talk to people who are in the same department as us. The truth is, to have a successful content plan, you have to know what’s going on at your company as a whole.

Communication is key – Talk to other departments about what their yearly goals are, what events are happening, trends, or if they have any ideas for blog posts.

3. Plan According to Seasonality, Events, and News.

Have a column in your marketing plan that is designated for events that you know will be happening throughout the year. Your blog can be a great place to inform people about your accomplishments, or where they can find you. Also be aware of seasonality. For example, you might have a lot to write about during the winter months if you are selling snow gear. Plan to write articles 4-6 weeks in advance for event specific or seasonal topics.

A simple blog post about a company event or accomplishment is a simple way to keep content fresh on your site.

4. Optimization.

Include a column in your content plan for “keywords.” Optimizing your blog posts is essential. Sometimes keywords can change throughout the year or might be different according to the topic of your article. Writing out the words that you need to focus on will help you and your writers create a post that is web-ready instead of having to have your SEO person go back through and optimize on every single article. This will also help you lay out your keyword strategy, targeting different keywords on each article and avoiding cannibalizing your own rankings.

Do keyword research every so often to see how people are searching for you or the topics you are writing about. Google Trends is an easy tool to see this information.

5. Supplemental Material.

As you are creating your content plan, add a column for supplemental material. Supplemental material can be anything from a video idea, an image, links, or other articles.

Always include internal and external links in your blog posts. You want people to navigate around your site through the blog post and you want to encourage link building by providing external links to other quality websites. Make sure that all links make sense, and are sprinkled throughout the text. A good rule of thumb is to have 70% links internal and 30% external. Avoid linking to generic words/ phrases like “Click Here” or “Check Out.”

6. Bringing in Social Media & Email.

Write example Facebook posts or Tweets that go along with the blog post you have written. Also plan to engage with your audience about things that your email marketing team is sending out, and make sure you let them know to feature a blog post in their next email update.

Social media and emails are some of the easiest ways to get people to see your blog posts. But you can’t simply Tweet a link to the article, you have to have give them a reason to click on the link, and you want the most people possible to see it, which is why using hashtags is important too.

7. Be Prepared for Changes and Additions.

Since our attention is being fought for 24 hours a day, be ready to modify your content plan at any time. During the 2013 Super Bowl blackout, brands were capitalizing on the 15-minute event using clever images, tweets, and posts to further expose their brand (a much cheaper way to communicate with the masses than paying for a Super Bowl commercial time slot).

Don’t expect your content plan to stay the same throughout the year. You can’t predict the news and you can’t predict industry trends. It’s okay to modify, but stay consistent and prepared. 

The bottom line is that no matter what’s going on on the outside, your business should be prepared and working together on the inside. Having a plan of action is essential, and being able to think on your feet is vital. When your staff is working like a team, you’ll be able to pick up on trends quicker and know how to communicate to your audience better. You’ll also be able to optimize your content to not only make sure that lots of people see your content, but that the right people are seeing what you have to say.