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How to Develop a Content Marketing Plan

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Peter Dickinson


Welcome to the workshop today, which is all about how to develop a content marketing plan. 

We often speak to clients and they say, ‘Oh yes, well, we post an article every so often. Well, that may have been okay, maybe a few years ago, but what’s happened since COVID, is there’s been a lot more digital marketing noise. 

And we’ve got one client who pre COVID, pre lockdowns – well since pre lockdown, their cost of acquisition has doubled. And so it means you’ve got to be a lot more systematic. And as we all know, failing to plan is planning to fail. 

We all know that no plan’s executed as originally envisaged, but what it does do is, puts your thoughts to paper, puts down your intentions, identifies your priorities. And at least when the plan’s implemented, when things do change, which they always do, you’ve at least thought through the consequences and the choices that you will have to make. 

So for those who don’t know me, I’m a digital coach with qualifications, and the founder and managing director of KUB. We’ve been around for 20 plus years, mainly as a coaching business and digital specialists. And then, Charleh, my daughter joined six years ago. And the agency grows from strength to strength. 

We’ve worked with over five hundred companies across a wide range of sectors over the last 20 years, which means that when people ask me stuff, I’ve generally worked with that kind of business before. And I’ve had the pleasure of working with technologies since 1984. So I’ve seen huge amounts of change. And it’s not going to stop. 

We’re working on things, artificial intelligence, more bot support through customer services, and so forth. And for some of you thinking ‘Oh, that’s not good.’ I’ve had problems like software issue around midnight and jumped onto somebodies web chats. And I knew it was a bot I was talking to because it had those blunt answers. But I got answers to my problem and I was able to go to bed before midnight. So you know that this is the future guys, unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it. 

So what’s the purpose of this workshop? Why are we doing it? I mean, the amount of stress that builds up within five minutes before this thing goes live is quite intense, not just like a normal zoom. So why do it? 

Well, we want to help businesses compete in the digital world. We want to build on your knowledge. We recognise that everybody, if you’re running a business, needs to learn some marketing. It’s not like in the past, where marketing was some kind of department or you just gave it to somebody, and they did a bit of marketing and everything was fine. You know, 70% of companies got their work through referrals, so marketing was a top-up. That’s not the case these days, unfortunately. Like I said, this company who’s inquiry literally landed on my desk on Monday, and they wanted to know how they’re going to get the cost of acquisition back down to what it used to be. 

So we’re here to help you build on that knowledge, help you solve your digital problems. So it’s a free forum free forever. And in the last sort of 20 minutes, there’s chance to talk about marketing and so forth. We are part of a programme to launch a digital community on a platform, Net Hub that launches on the 4th, so I’ll be able to tell you in a couple of weeks time more about that. And how can network with like-minded people free of charge.

So what is vision success? Well, it’s the coaching arm of KUB, so we’ve got the free Wednesday workshops. We’ve now got a book ‘drive sales with digital marketing’ it’s currently Kindle only. It’s on Amazon if you type in ‘drive sales with digital marketing’ to find it or go to our website, and there’s a link to it to there. We do have a couple of online courses, which are low cost. And then we’ve now got the app. 

So if anybody wants to learn how to develop their marketing strategy and doesn’t mind being a beta tester, please drop your message your name or details into chat or email, racheleglin@kub.uk.com. And she will send you the link. Rachel’s just popped that into chat. And obviously, we do one to one coaching, we can review your analytics, your data, and so forth, see what’s working, what’s not working. And we can do the whole thing, you know, from your business strategy through to implementation, and all points in between. 

So this is the book, if you go vision 2 success.co. And then it’s got the book and if you go on that page it’s got the link to Amazon. It’s taken six years put together 60,000 words. We’ve got three chapters on the process and then another seven chapters on practical application. It’s only in Kindle at the moment, we do hope to have the book printed soon. And then we’ve got a WhatsApp. So if you again, email Rachel, this is in lieu of the networking hub, but we’ll get moved to the networking hub soon, hopefully after the fourth of March, okay, that’s enough about that. 

So let’s talk about how to develop a content marketing plan. So we’re going to talk about why it’s important and hopefully give you a framework relevant to you. And some ideas on how to do it because you talk to people who say I don’t want to write, there’s lots of stuff to write once you start thinking about it. And then you’re looking at ways to measure your performance.

Okay, a few fundamentals first. So why have a content plan? You’ve probably heard of  branding and people being consistent. But it’s to ensure that you cover all aspects of your business. If you remember, last week, we did the keywords, we looked at all the key keywords, if you’ve identified a whole bunch of keywords that you really want to get found for, even if it’s just locally rather than nationally which is a lot easier, you do need to be writing consistent articles. And, we’ll explore some of the types then. And then it’s all about providing that comprehensive support for customers. 

We’re just about to launch net hub. And, one of the team has developed a whole bunch of frequently asked questions, and it means that people get answers to questions quickly. And then using some kind of AI or some kind of web chat, you can make it very easy for them to find it, no matter what time of day. 

You’ve probably heard of work-life balance, but it’s more like a blended work, where work is sort of fitted around all the things. And we’ve all got hybrid working or quite a lot of us a bit hybrid working. So it’s then, how do you provide that 24/7 Because somebody might decide that if they’ve got young kids, that they might start work again, after put the kids to bed? Well, they need access to answers and so forth. They can’t ring you because you’re not available. So it’s all about making your services accessible to other people, no matter what your business is. 

This is from last week. Just to remind everybody, search engine optimization is process of increasing the quality and quantity of website traffic. The better the quality of the website traffic, people who are coming to your site, because they’re genuinely interested means that’s very helpful to you in terms of your bounce rate – that’s the people coming in and going straight out is lower. So Google thinks, oh, this is a really useful site. 

In the old days people used to put all sorts of weird and wonderful words in, thinking that just getting found and getting more traffic is good thing. Well, these days it’s about getting quality traffic, because Google knows what’s going to your website because generally most people have Google Analytics set up on it. So they kind of know what’s working, what’s not. So it’s all about getting those unpaid page results and getting the right traffic to your site. As we do more searches by voice, there can only be one answer. And it’s got to be yours that’s at the top of that answer. 

So what is a content plan? You’ll have a content plan for social media and a content plan for your articles, and possibly another one for your email marketing. And as you can see, you think of different things. You know, you’ve got Motivational Monday, Throwback Thursday, and fun Friday, that the people are thinking of different terms on different days. And it’s interesting, actually, if you look at LinkedIn on Saturday, and Sunday it’s different, the feeds different to what you’d see on Monday to Thursday. And then on Friday, you do get more fun Friday stuff, as people try to keep the interest up, you know, so that is different. 

And LinkedIn is moving more towards being like Facebook, for business, with a lot more personal stories on and so forth. Still kind of business-related. It’s not just fluffy dogs, and babies and dogs and things. But I’ve noticed a lot more people celebrating their achievements, and so forth. So that makes it harder to get more educational material. But it still does work, we worked with a group up until Christmas, and then the group has decided to rethink their strategy. And just to step back from any sort of marketing, it’s interesting, their traffic was going like that. And then it’s just done that because we’ve stopped doing social media for them. So it can make it can have a big impact. 

If anybody’s is into reading, then this is the book with a step by step guide to writing this content, still relevant. And it goes into quite some depth. But for most people, you don’t need to understand this stuff. This is where you start to have content and join up the content so you take people on a journey through the site. I think one of the things that are happening is that people are becoming more ‘right, I need to solve this problem. How do I solve it? There’s the answer.’ And so people’s time is becoming shorter than it was before. 

There’s a guy called Brian Dean from Backlinko and he’s got a comprehensive guide on copywriting. A lot of the ideas and concepts of the presentation this morning are based on this material. It is very good it is comprehensive and in-depth. 

And so what’s the benefits of good copywriting? Well, we need to get a good higher conversion rate on key pages. We want people to actually read this stuff. In the old days when we talked about search engine optimization. And you probably heard the word ‘keyword stuffing’ where they stick keywords in and from an English point of view is quite poor. Well, if you’re using WordPress there’s a plugin called Yoast, it actually has a readability score. It’s got the SEO score, you know how many times keywords have been mentioned, but it also does a readability score. And the best articles where you’ve got a green light for the SEO but also a green light for readability. 

It’s quite interesting. I’ve got quite a technical background and I have to work quite hard at removing passive voice make it a more active voice providing shorter sentences etc. So there are tools that make that easier even if you’re not a fluent author, then things like Grammarly, things like Yoast can certainly help you stay on the right side. 

It is important to have good structure, so that you tell the story in a consistent way – and makes it easier for people to read. You’ll also get good engagement on social media posts. And if you’ve written good content, people want to share it. And if you really understand what your reader is looking for, and what they want, you can talk to them directly. 

So we talked a few workshops ago about the buyer persona. And that’s why the buyer persona is so important that you need to know what it is your readers, what’s really impacting your readers in relation to your services, and talk to that directly when you write. 

So, as we mentioned, you need to have your buyer persona sorted out, and if theirs is a complex customer journey. So currently talking to a fostering company that does fostering at the moment. And the journey is quite complicated, quite a few things to think about. And so it’s understanding what they need, we talked about awareness, we talked about acquisition, talked about engagement in previous workshops, what are the pain points you’ve got to pick up before they go from liking you to trusting you as a business, and therefore want to do business with you, whether that’s to place an inquiry or place an order. 

You need a process for creating the content, and you can’t leave it to Friday afternoon, and think, ‘Oh, I’ve got still got that content, let me post it now’. Everybody has a different time of day when they are at their best. Writing, to be done well needs to be done at your best time of the day. For me, I get up early, I wake up early, naturally at 6. So if I want to do any writing on something, it’ll be there. Or it might be on Sunday morning, sometimes when I’ve relaxed. You can’t write in a stressful environment, you’ve got to be relaxed. 

And then thinking about how you’re going to publish it, how it’s then going to be promoted. Because no point writing it if you’re not going to tell the world that it exists. How are you going to measure the results, what are you going to measure success as? And then because you’re measuring your success, and what’s working, what’s not working, you can go back and refine the process. 

And this is what we do that we do for clients. So if you know me, you’ll know I’m a big fan of Simon Sinek and start with why. You should always start with why you’re doing something. It’s why people buy from you, people buy people. For example, I’m a big fan of Apple, this has been run from an Apple machine, I’ve got your Apple iPhone, iPads and stuff floating around. I buy from them because they really believe in making things easy to use. That’s why I buy the Mac, though it’s more expensive. But I recognise that making things easier to use is really important to me. It’s not important to everybody, it’s important to me. So that’s why I buy and people buy from you for that particular reason. 

And then hopefully, you’ll know what benefits your products and services you provide, which is the how and the products and service that you offer. Well, what is your contest saying? Readers have got to buy into why you’re writing that content. What is it? What’s in it for me? And that’s got to be answered at the top of the article, and then the rest will follow.

So we talked about buyer personas – it’s really important. So we work with companies who sell into the law sector, and to the medical sector and to other sectors. It’s really important we have the right language, tone and formality that your customers use. So if you are marketing to young people, then that’s a completely different language than if you’re marketing to a lawyer or an accountant or business owner or an engineer. And so they each have their own Language and if you’re in a very competitive market, you really need to make sure. 

We worked with a telecoms company, and we did a series of videos, one for their medical segment, one for legal, one for insurance, one for finance. And for each of them, we were changing the name, what customers were called, what the services were, even though it was selling the same thing. You know, and we had to do quite a lot of work on understanding that language. 

Everybody loves a story. It’s not on the slide deck but hopefully, you can see this. This guy called Donald Miller is really good. And he calls it building a story brand. And I quite like his approach. He has a free board, which you can go through, fill it in, you can actually pick out who the main characters are in the story. So even though we’re talking about business, it’s still nonfiction, it’s still about writing about your business. And so in terms of the story, you get that personal connection. We’ve often rephrased it as case studies. You know, so you’ve got you where you’re the sort of the knight in shining armour coming in to do the rescue the protagonist, who the client is with the problem, and, what that problem is, and how that’s affecting them. And then there’s that personal experience of how you’ve helped them. 

You’re the expert, so you’re coming into as I say, that knight in shining armour to fix the problem. So you’ve got the design of how you’re going to fix it, and then you’ve actually got how you fixed it, and then what impact that fix had on your client. People love stories. That’s how our brains are programmed to take in information past the neocortex into the limbic part of the brain. It doesn’t really communicate, but it understands stories. 

Another structure that I like is using the old fashioned AIDA you know, so you’ve got the attention-grabbing articles, which is more for email content, you’ve got develop their interest, motivate them to improve, get them to desire, what it is that you’re marketing, and then a call to action. Quite a few articles don’t have any call to action. But where’s the call to action? You’ve spent a lot of time and energy getting them onto the website. We were looking at a website the other day, and you’ve got the blogs, but there’s no contact form? With nothing to keep them on-site, like ‘here’s the next article for you to read’. And there’s no call to action. So it’s very important on the pages that display the blog, that the traffic’s coming in there, you’ve got to convert them. 

Okay, so some things on generating content. Do keep it simple. What are the challenges your buyers face, break down the buyer’s journey, awareness stage, consideration stage, conversion stage and retention? So it could be that you need content for all those stages. 

So, the FAQ is frequently asked questions is for the conversion stage, you might have some expert articles in the awareness stage that talk about what’s you’re trying to solve for these sorts of problems in the industry, how they can be solved and so forth. 

The consideration stage might be more detailed, details of the service and so forth. And then retention is how can they use their services to get better and so forth? We talked about case studies, and of course, I would never suggest you ever copy from a competitor, but you can certainly get ideas from them. So what are they writing about? What do they think is relevant? 

Okay, so on those articles, you need an attention-grabbing headline. So if you Google kick ass headline generator it’ll come up with a, it’s quite an old fashioned piece of software – software that has been on the net for ages. But it’s great. It just gives you those ideas you can put into emails, for example, or articles that you can write that will help you grab their people’s attention. Remember AIDA, grabbing their attention, that’s the title. And then you’ve got to decide what tone you want to write. 

We’re a big fan of jasper.ai was jarvis.ai, which is an aid to writing. What we do is we tend to put in broad keywords into it, then it asks what is you want – is it chatty, Instructional, is it engaging, Is it helpful? etc. And, and then it will then sketch out some words and then we’ll edit that to what we want it to do. We use it a lot for product descriptions and things that all have to be different. You know, always trying to think of ways to add something new, the article addressed from other angles, so forth. There’s tonnes of content out there. But there’s still room for good quality content. 

And write for the way people search. Google looks at your website in context. So it’s expecting to see articles around that. I did go into a client a couple of years ago, he said, Well, I’m thinking of adding a directory of local businesses to my websites, and I said no stop. That worked 20 years ago – it doesn’t work now. It’s about your website, talking about all the stuff that you talk about that’s important to your customers that solves a particular problem which you solve. And that’s the context. So looks at the whole site, not just a few pages, looks at the whole site. So if you’ve got random things on your website, you need to take them off because it won’t make sense to Google. This is not in context.

And then write the way you talk, so use active voice. I’m a technical guy, I tend to use passive, and then Yoast hammers me for saying, it’s all passive. So write the way you would talk. 

Then allow subheadings to allow people to skim. Busy people might just bounce through your article, that’s fine. The still reading your articles, still scrolling, great for Google, great for your website. And if they learn something, and they go to the next action, then that’s also that’s worked for you. 

As I mentioned earlier, shorter sentences, and minimise technical words and jargon. If we ever write about things technical about websites, and so forth, can be quite hard to actually get a good score in Yoast. 

There’s the How to formula, you know, the article purpose, the problem, the design and then the resolution. One core idea, because basically, if you think about it, you want to write a full set of keywords. Well, those keywords are your core idea. And then we talked about making sure you’ve got a call to action in there. 

So I mentioned some of these tools. So Yoast.com plugin, we still think it’s the best. I noticed another one called in All In One SEO which is being promoted more heavily. But I’m still a fan of Yoast. 

Grammarly.com is a fantastic tool. It’s not very expensive, there’s a free version. And it just helps you with getting the spelling and grammar. Because in schools the whole style of learning grammar has become less important. It’s all about stories. And so I think Grammarly these days is quite important. We use it internally to check our work because you can always miss things. 

And using the active voice. For technical people and a lot of English writing, we tend to use passive voice, whereas it’s better to use the active voice. As I said, shorter sentences and minimise technical. 

So what’s our process for when we write content? Well, we do the research, we have the buyer persona, we have the customer journey, so we know what point we’re writing on the journey for, what they’re looking to do. 

We’ll now look at competitors. In the last workshop we talked about Uber Suggest – just type that in and Neil Patel, and it will come up, and you can find out what they’re writing about, within seconds. So a few clicks away. Answer the public is a really useful one if you’re really stuck. If you type in ‘digital marketing’, it comes up with a whole plethora of questions that people ask about, because you’re writing an article for you to be able to answer some of these questions. 

Find the time to write – for me, it’s first thing. Give yourself time, creativity does take time, it probably also needs to be in a low-stress environment so you’re more relaxed and so forth. And think about why you’re writing, get that purpose right, draft the ideas, then write down the words, and then review and edit and get others to review. We have an internal checking system for articles. And then use Yoast or all in one to improve readability. And then we can publish and promote it. 

In the meeting where I mentioned Cornerstone articles, everybody gasped when I talk about them. These are longer articles upwards of 2500 words. But if you think about it, an hour or so long workshop will get put through the transcripter and will produce about two and a half to 3000 words. It’s not a huge amount of – yes, I’m covering a lot of content, and in the recording, you could probably shorten that. But generally, it’s not too difficult to write 2500 words, if you are an expert on that particular subject. 

It does get trickier if you’re selling phones and things like that. It’s hard to write, but you can write about how you use technology. And that’s how we sort of do stuff for telecoms and IT companies, there’s not so much about the technology because, to be honest, these days, the stuff is a consumable, there’s not a huge amount to write and talk about features and so forth. But it’s then how you use that technology. How you use that technology to solve your problems or customers’ problems. These 2500 words articles are called pillar content, or it can be called cornerstone, it could be a skyscraper. It doesn’t matter. It’s all about writing something that’s got some real depth and expertise to it and demonstrates your authority. And as they read it, you break it up with some headings and h2 tags if you’re familiar with WordPress.

And then there’s repurposing, Google likes to your website kept up to date. So if you’re a bit short on things to write about, and maybe your subject is quite narrow, there’s only so much to write about. So on six months or 12 months cycle and go through and edit all the articles. Google loves to see it being kept up to date, it doesn’t want to see an old library with lots of dust on it. You know, so you can either just combine it or if you wrote two articles that actually go together, feel free to take one of them – one with the highest traffic and add the other one to it. And then you can either put a link in it to tell Google it’s there, which is called a canonical link, or just remove it if it’s not much traffic. If you’re using the paid-for Yoast, they will then do an automatic redirect on that. 

As mentioned here, don’t duplicate articles unless you’ve set this tag it’s towards the bottom of the Yoast screen. It’s relatively easy to do but you do need to do it and if the clients are a bit short on content for a month on Genuine Articles, then you can still republish all the material on social media. And then again, Google sees that traffic coming so it’s kind of happy with that. 

Is it a basis for video? We’re doing more and more experimenting a lot with video. I can’t give you any sort other than the things we’ve already done. There are no real black and white rules yet or guidance I can give you on what makes the best video content out. Neil Patel suggested creating a video of your content would work, we did that as an experiment, and actually, our rankings dropped on that page. So we got rid of it again. So at the moment, that’s still got a question mark on it. 

So some of the metrics, you know, if you’re able to manage your brand, what’s the engagement? How long are the people staying on your website and reading your content? Are they going in and going out again? Is it generating leads from it? 

So we’re working with a branding agency, and they do some quite creative content on their LinkedIn, and, you know, it generates leads for them. So and then looking at new customer conversion sales, unfortunately, content is right at the top end if you remember when we did the marketing funnel a few weeks ago, if not watch the recording. And you’ve got the different stages in the marketing funnel, while content is at the top of that, and will generally unless it’s things like features or specific technical information that’s used in the conversion stage. Of course, website performance – is your traffic going up, month on month? 

So a few things you can do. Case studies, long-form articles, product descriptions. If you’ve got an E-commerce site, please pay attention to them. But also, please pay attention to what’s called the categories as well. And if you ever want to add personality to your business without taking it really out of context, charity events are really useful. A lot of people will click on things and talk about things if you’re doing stuff for charity. That’s still very powerful, and if you’ve got a corporate social responsibility policy, then charities help with that, as well. 

So bringing it together, so document your buyer persona, as we discussed in previous workshops, map out the customer journey as we did a couple of weeks ago, the marketing funnel – the slide decks are on the website if you need them, and look at what you’ve done. 

And then the key thing is how often can you write? There’s no point committing to an article a week if an article a month is actually what you can achieve. So it’s better to do that all in one month. And if you’ve not got any long articles on the website, and your target market doesn’t find you from searching the web, then create a really long article once a quarter. Those will get found faster and read better than shorter articles. And most of all, develop that content plan. So you know what you’re writing, know what problems you’re addressing, and of course, getting started.

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