2016 Content Marketing Plan For Success

10 Steps Every Content Marketer Must Take In 2016

2016 Content Marketing Plan For SuccessRoughly 80% of businesses will use content marketing in 2016 and beyond. It’s a mature form of marketing.

The 2016 content marketing challenge:

How can your business break through the massive amounts of information to connect with prospects, influencers and customers to yield measurable ROI?

To keep your content marketing budget, adapt your content marketing to improve your results. Specifically, integrate your content marketing across your entire business. This will extend successful content initiatives cost effectively and eliminate redundant activities.

2016 Content Marketing Plan in 10 steps

Follow this 2016 Content Marketing Plan to organize your business’s content efforts.2016 Content Marketing Plan For Success

 

1. Develop and document your content strategy including resource allocation

Consistently, Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs research shows that marketers with a documented content strategy perform better.

B2B Marketers who have documented content marketing strategy-research-chart-2015

The key difference for 2016 Content Marketing Success is including resource allocation. There’s a limit to how much your content marketing can continue to increase.

Key point: Write down and distribute your content strategy across your entire organization.

A verbal strategy allows employees to interpret it differently based on their understanding or objectives.

Your content strategy must be associated with SMART business goals. This defines what you’re going to measure. It implies that your content incorporates a way to track results.

Actionable Content Marketing Tactics:

  • Set your content mission and strategy to achieve your business goals. This is at the core of your content marketing.
  • Audit existing content. Determine what content is still effective, what content needs to be discarded or re-imagined and where you need new content.
  • Assess content resource use across your organization. Content creation isn’t limited to the marketing or PR department. Determine where content marketing resources are used across your business to maximize content creation and eliminate duplicate effort.

Need more content strategy help?

 

2. Know your content marketing audience in the context of their information usage

The context of content consumption is a key point of difference for Content Marketing 2016. It determines many factors regarding content needs, availability, selection and use. This includes mobile and the Internet of Things (IOT).

While many marketers repeat the “Know Your Audience” mantra, creating a marketing persona isn’t a “look busy” activity. 

Sample of a marketing persona via Hubspot

Sample of a marketing persona via Hubspot

The better you know your prospects, customers, influencers, fans and haters, the better you can create content that yields measurable results.

Key point: Understand your target audience to become part of their inner content circle.

To develop results-producing content, you need a 360-degree view of your core audience.

Here are 13 content-oriented questions to develop a better understanding of your key customers.

  1. What type of content do they consume? What is in their inner content circle?
  2. How do they consume content? What type of devices do they use?
  3. When do they consume content and for what purposes?
  4. Where they consume content?
  5. What do they use to guide their new content discovery? Do they use search, social media or other format such as Amazon, Yelp or TripAdvisor?
  6. How do they consume your content? Is your content part of your core audience’s inner content circle?
  7. Does your audience share your content?
  8. Does your audience help create content?
  9. What information do they need that you’re not providing?
  10. What information are you creating that they don’t care about?
  11. How does this behavior compare with your competitors?
  12. Where does your content have the ability to break through the other content and attract your prospects?
  13. What content are they looking for that you can associate your content with?

Need help understanding your target audience and creating a marketing persona?

 

3. Create an editorial calendar integrated across your business

The cross-organizational editorial calendar is a key difference for Content Marketing 2016.  It’s the way to get the biggest bang for your marketing buck.

One cross-organizational content marketing calendar eliminates redundant and one-off content activities. As a result, you can can extend existing projects at a lower cost than starting from scratch.Content Marketing Reuse Chart

Include your promotional calendar. Each business has its own cycle.

  • When do people buy from you? What is your historical revenue cycle? You’re not going to change people’s behavior.
  • When do they think about the products you offer?
Promotional Planning Calendar

Promotional Planning Calendar

Determine what content has worked in the past and what has not. This requires examining your past content marketing results. Where possible, figure out why certain content worked or didn’t work. If you don’t have this information, compile a list of proposed A/B tests.

Review your corporate content to determine where you have duplicate or similar content efforts.

  • Which content is better and why?
  • Are there political reasons for the extra effort? If so, how will you resolve them? As Michael Brenner says “Behind every piece of bad content is an executive who wanted it.”
  • Does all of the corporate content meet brand and content standards? How can this be done without increasing overhead?
  • How do your main competitors’ content offerings compare? If you’re selling not teaching, you’ve got a problem.
  • Will you be able to extend these efforts at a low cost or save duplicate effort? Document the cost savings so the budget can be used elsewhere.

Place your blog at the center of your 2016 content offering.

  • Blogging  rationale: As owned media, blogs should be at the core of your content, social media and search marketing strategy. They yield measurable results in the form of email subscriptions, leads and sales.
  • Blog consistently (16+ posts per month) to get 4.5X more leads. When you have 400+ blog posts, your traffic 2X according to Hubspot research.
  • Use this analysis to make your blog the core of your marketing strategy.

Download The Definitive Blog Checklist

 

Plan for these 5 content efforts:

  1. Major content efforts. Associate these pieces of content with your promotions to maximize your marketing investment. Also create related content at the same time.
  2. On-going content. Keep supporting your business with regular content including blog posts.
  3. Update and re-imagine content. Keep your existing content fresh and make it contextually relevant wherever you distribute it. Do this at the same time you create it to minimize extra costs.
  4. Evergreen content. Create pillar content that keeps attracting visitors.
  5. Curate content. Add your commentary and context to other people’s content.

 

4. Integrate marketing and sales to improve results and eliminate redundant activity

The integration of marketing and sales is a key factor for Content Marketing 2016. This applies to any business that involves sales people.

Not integrating marketing and sales yields a ton of wasted resources.

  • 90% of marketing collateral is never used by sales!
  • A salesperson spends 30 hours/month or roughly 1 day/week to create sales content. This reduces selling time and increases inconsistent content marketing.
  • Salespeople only spend 2 out of every 5 work hours selling. There’s a huge opportunity to increase productivity.

Marcus Sheridan recommends co-locating sales and marketing so they talk to each other. He believes that done well marketing will contribute the lion’s share of revenues over time by generating leads sales can quickly convert. When I was at The Economist, marketing and sales sat together. 

Want additional tips from Sheridan? Check these 5 pro content tips.

Actionable Content Marketing Tactics:

  • Incent marketing and sales to work together. Work with Human Resources to make this is part of their job.
  • Have sales provide marketing with the type of information they need. Establish a process that supports improved communications between the 2 departments. Make marketing responsible for delivering it.
  • Streamline the sales process. Use technology to improve customer information capture. This reduces sales preparation. Again this requires that sales, marketing and technology work together.  It’s not a new concept. I worked on a CRM system at Citibank.
  • Task marketing with qualifying leads. Include tailored landing pages and post-initial interaction content. This reduces the need for supplement sales content and reduces sales time to close. Sheridan had this experience with his pool company.
  • Get sales to copy marketing every time they answer a customer question. This provides marketing with the raw information that customers need so that it reduces content creation time.
  • Allow marketing to handle retention. When I was at Citibank, our technology providers automated renewals. This frees salespeople to spend their time selling new customers.

 

5. Create content across your business to meet target audience needs

The 2016 Content Marketing difference is that your entire organization is part of the content creation process. 

Involve all of your employees to gather prospect and customer questions. This is a key type of content every business needs. Gather copies of every question answered.

Reduce internal redundancies across your organization. Select the best effort (not necessarily marketing) and extend it create all of the relevant content. Include tailored versions to be used on other platforms. Have legal ensure that this is part of your contract so that you don’t get charged twice.  

Track the increased budget for the additional iterations and the savings on other projects. 

Incorporate your brand into every element of your content marketing. Since consistent presentation is important, don’t overlook areas like customer service and product information.

Use a variety of different content types.

  • Include images, graphics and photos. People see images much faster than text.
  • Add video. Video was the high growth content of 2015.
  • Give your content a human voice with podcasting. Audio remains a content opportunity. Use podcasting in combination with your blog. Pat Flynn gets a big boost in subscribers from his audio.
  • Get out and meet your prospects IRL. Present at conferences and hold events at your business where appropriate. Don’t forget to extend your presentations on social media such as LinkedIn’s Slideshare.

 

6. Optimize content for customer attention on social media, search and elsewhere

The 2016 Content Marketing key is being findable when and where your prospects are seeking information about your products.

Optimization, according to Lee Odden his book Optimize, LINK is a persistent effort at improving just about anything for better performance. (Here are 50 content optimization tips to get you started.)

Content is useless unless prospects find it when they’re researching potential purchases.

To put this into perspective, 44% of customers start their product search on Amazon.

Optimize your content for findability on a variety of platforms including your own media, social media and third party media.

Your content must attract and hold your readers’ attention to overcome TH;DR (aka: Too hard; Didn’t read)

  • Users read 28% of words on the average web page according to Jakob Nielsen.
  • Many readers only get through 60% of your articles according to Chartbeat. 

Actionable Content Marketing Tactics:

  • Use keyword phrases. Search still matters!
  • Make content easy-to-scan. Put the lede upfront.
  • Add images to attract attention. Optimize the images with relevant text.
  • Use attention-grabbing headlines. Your headline gets propsects to keep reading.
  • Bold and outline your content to facilitate reading. Make key information stand out.
  • Select easy-to-read fonts. Font and type size matter, especially to a 40+ audience (They wear reading glasses.)
  • Watch your spelling and grammar. It’s not just your 8th grade teacher who cares.

 

7. Distribute your content broadly and repeatedly

Content distribution isn’t once and done. It’s a continual process that should be planned. It Social Sharing Schedule-CoSchedule-2

In 2016, the  major content distribution effort is done at one time and the rest is scheduled when appropriate. This keeps your content top of mind and reduces extra employee effort.

Create related re-imagined content at the same time you’re developing the original. This is easier if you’ve planned your content distribution in advance. This reduces employee time and minimizes budget.

Add metadata to each piece of content to help you re-promote it when appropriate. Alternatively, you can aggregate your content by topic so that you can find it when the topic is relevant.

Actionable Content Marketing Tactics:

  • Distribute across owned, social media and third party media. Your objective is to maximize your content reach.
  • Use technology to reduce distribution time. This is particularly important for social media posting. Over time, the amount of employee time saved should outweigh any technology expenses.
  • Support free content distribution with advertising where appropriate. This is particularly true for social media entities where algorithms continue to change minimizing business content visibility.
  • Get your employees to help. While you can’t force employees to use their personal social media accounts to promote your content, you can facilitate the process and remove barriers. At a minimum, alert employees to new content. Use a standard email signature to promote your content.

Need additional help? Use this 37 step content distribution list.

 

8. Provide content conversion support

Don’t assume that once your content is published, your marketing job is done. You must make it easy for prospects to find your content and ask more questions.

Actionable Content Marketing Tactics:

  • Include at least one call-to-action (CTA) in every piece of content. This should be a no-brainer but more than 1 in 9 marketers don’t have any call-to-action in their content. (Of course, you have to avoid having too many CTAs or you’ll wind up with the paradox of choice. The result: No action.)
  • Use targeted landing pages. When readers click-through on links in your content, the place that you take them must continue the branded experience or they’re gone. Also minimize information requested or you’ll reduce response.
  • Develop tailored offers. Don’t expect readers to convert at first sight. You need to lure them in and persuade them to buy.
  • Use marketing automation to warm leads. Don’t hand off leads to sales without qualifying them. Start by acquiring an email address. Beware 2016 is probably the year of Marketing Automation shakeout based on the BCG product curve.
  • Have an email welcome series. Take advantage of prospects’ interest when they’re new and excited about your firm. This doesn’t require new content; you need to repackage relevant content.

 

9. Tracking results from your content efforts across your organization

In 2016, marketers will need to show actionable results from their content efforts. Start with capturing email addresses and warm them into paying customers.

Examine content marketing across your organization to find areas that are ripe for eliminating duplicate effort. This reduces your content marketing investment thereby increasing your content marketing ROI.

Actionable Content Marketing Tactics:

  • Set up content marketing analytics before you publish the content. This way you can capture results from the beginning.
  • Use metrics to determine what content is working and what isn’t.
  • Monitor environmental changes to see what other companies and organizations are doing as well as how prospects are reacting.

 

10. Incorporate best content practices into your content marketing based on data

Often referred to as “rinse and repeat” step of your content strategy. The difference for 2016 Content Marketing is the use of small data to improve your content results. 

The key is to test every element of your content offering. Start with the factors that have the biggest impact on your results. This generally means your landing pages and registration forms.

Start with A/B testing and grow into multivariate testing if you’re large enough and have the budget for it.

Make data backed content marketing decisions, not gut feel reactions.

Need some tips regarding testing?

  • Read “Which Test Won? led by Anne Holland. Their weekly emailing checks how good your gut opinion is. Read it to improve your knowledge and testing. It’s a great example of email gamification.

2016 Content Marketing Mantra: Make No Little Plans

 

These 10 steps for your 2016 content marketing plan are based on these 4 principles:

  1. Integrate your content marketing across every element of your organization.
  2. Extend successful existing content efforts to provide tailored re-imagined content. This should cost less than new initiatives. Also, it provides consistency across your content.
  3. Eliminate redundant and useless content development. This should save budget.
  4. Get employees to work together better. This will help other aspects of your business.

What do you see as the future of content marketing in 2016?

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies.
You can find Heidi on , Facebook and .

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  • 7. Distribute your content broadly and repeatedly

    This is the key point that I’m always trying to hammer down the throat of my clients. If it’s good content then people want to see it! So focus on getting that right – then as long as they enjoyed it they won’t mind seeing it 2, 3, 4 5 or 10 times!

    Great article, and you’ve got a subscriber 🙂