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2021 Content Strategy Checklist: 10 Elements of an Effective Content Marketing Plan

  • By Adela Belin
  • January 7, 2021

Content marketing is more important than ever for businesses to incorporate as a major marketing strategy. Consumers rely on search engines for answers more than ever, whether they’re typing in a query into their mobile device or asking a personal assistant like Siri or Alexa out loud.

Providing online content relevant to your target customer is one of the best ways to lure them into your business in 2021. Content marketing is cost-effective, with minimal overhead and compounding returns.

Here are 10 elements for a content marketing strategy that work:

1. Use a Content Calendar Tool 

Create an editorial calendar complete with dates for when your content is to be published for the next six months to a year. Take on the task a chunk at a time, starting with a blog calendar, then a video content calendar, a and social media calendar — one for each platform. Finally, create a calendar for “lead magnets” to lure customers to sign up for your email list, and a schedule for email marketing content.

Layer these calendars into one where you can track everything. You might also have a separate calendar for each content type so you can distribute it to the relevant team members or freelancers creating the content.

2. Use Automation Tools to Schedule Social Posts

Do some digging in your social media analytics to find out which times in the day see more engagement than others. Use a tool that lets you publish social media content at a scheduled time automatically. For example, Airtable is a tool where team members can plan and collaborate on social media posts. If you don’t need all the collaboration features, tools like Hootsuite and Buffer are simple tools for scheduling social content. In fact, they let you create content for multiple platforms, such as Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram, all in one place.

3. Research Your Target Customer and Create Buyer Personas

Behind every effective content strategy is a clear idea of whom the message targets. Research your target customers and find out where they spend the most time online. 

Choose words to describe the tone you want to maintain in your content for a consistent brand voice. For example, the tone could be friendly, informative, lighthearted, witty, or professional depending on your target customer. Find relevant differences among your customer base, such as differences in age group or gender, and segment buyers into two or more groups. Create a profile that gives a snapshot of each “buyer persona” to represent the group. Content creators can use these profiles as resources when they outsource their content strategy.

4. Use a CRM Tool for Setting Up Personalized Marketing Funnels

A customer relationship management (CRM) tool is crucial for building intelligent marketing funnels that attract qualified leads. CRM collects data from various sources, such as your site visitors and email list members. It puts it in one place where you can analyze your leads.

Look at the data and segment your audience by buyers with different needs, financial capabilities, demographics, social identities, or any other factor relevant to what you offer. Once you have a segmented audience, create content geared for each of the segments. 

5. Include Interactive Content in Your Strategy

Interactive content is any content that requires the user to do something. One example of interactive content is a quiz about a topic your audience is eager to learn about. It could be a test of their knowledge, or it could be a personality quiz or strengths evaluation. Interactive content tends to be evergreen, and it’s shown to get more shares than static content. 

6. Interview Experts

Finding experts in your field to interview lends social proof to your brand through its association with the experts. For example, if you’re a real estate investment company, interview real estate investment teachers, coaches, and customers.

To conduct the interview, all you need is email, text messaging, or social media messaging correspondence. If you get the chance to interview your contact by phone or video, go ahead and do so. Ask questions that bring value to your readership, but remember to ask about the expert’s current products, services, or events they want to promote.

7. Let Keyword Research Inform Blog Content

It’s important to update your keywords every year based on current research. Use a keyword research tool to find what pages are ranking at the top of Google search for a given blog post topic. Incorporate these keywords into your blog posts.

Long-tail keywords are phrases with four words or more. Use them to help generate ideas for blog post titles, since often they are questions. Google Analytics can show you which blog posts are performing best. Learn which keywords are driving the most traffic to those particular posts, and incorporate them into existing and future posts.

8. Plan for Long Blog Content with Mixed Media

Google’s algorithm favors longer content that goes more in-depth. Publish blog posts that are at least 1200 words in length, but occasionally include longer “ultimate guide” type posts that are as long as 2500 words or more. 

Length isn’t the only factor affecting your search engine rank, but also how much media content you have, such as images, GIFs, or video, as well as a high density of descriptive H2 and H3 headers in your text. Working with an SEO-savvy freelance blog writer can help you churn out content your target customers will discover.

9. Have a Video Content Strategy

In a study reported in Animoto’s “2018 State of Social Video Marketer Trends,” 1,017 online users were surveyed. The research found that video is the average consumer’s ultimate favorite type of content to see from brands.

Video gets more views and engagement, and YouTube videos are shown at the top of Google search results pages. Your videos should be short and keyword-focused. Like with blog post topics, have keyword research help inform your video content. As you go along, you’ll learn which types of videos your audience is most interested in.

10. Create a Plan for Outsourcing Content Creation

Create an outsourcing plan for how you’ll strategically delegate work to freelancers within your budget. There are numerous parts of your content strategy you can outsource given the wide range of remote talent available today. Once you’re decided on the sort of content you’ll outsource, you can determine the budget and how much you’ll be able to pay your freelancers. Finally, use a platform like Fiverr to connect with experienced freelancers fit for the job. 

Staying Competitive in 2021 with Effective Content Marketing

A great content strategy has lots of moving parts. Effective content marketing in 2021 will require tools that help you outsource and work effectively with freelancers, making invoicing, payments, time tracking, and task lists seamlessly transparent.

AND.CO has a full suite of tools to make running your freelance business hassle-free including analytics reporting, which you can use to double down on which content is performing best.

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