Content Planning for the Win: 10 Expert Tips to Keep Your Audience Engaged Again & Again

Content Planning for the Win: 10 Expert Tips to Keep Your Audience Engaged Again & Again

Source: Online Marketing Blog - TopRank® Blank space: Great when it’s a Taylor Swift song (or a nifty 20’s-style cover of same), not awesome when i

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Content Planning for the Win: 10 Expert Tips to Keep Your Audience Engaged Again & Again

Blank space: Great when it’s a Taylor Swift song (or a nifty 20’s-style cover of same), not awesome when it’s on your editorial calendar. You want to publish with a steady cadence to keep your audience satisfied. But you know that filler won’t do—it’s got to be quality and quantity.

Great content is no accident. It requires careful planning to provide the value and variety your audience craves. At TopRank Marketing, we create content for dozens of clients. That’s a lot of blank space to fill. But when it’s over, we know the high was worth the pain (sorry, now I have Taylor Swift stuck in my head for the rest of the day. Hopefully you do, too).

Here’s how to create a content plan that’s designed to excel.

#1: Start with Goals

“There is no content strategy without measurement strategy. Before embarking on a content initiative, irrespective of medium or platform, it’s important to know what you want to achieve.” Rebecca Lieb, Principal, Conglomotron LLC

The goal of content marketing is to compel your audience to take action. Without the action, you’re missing the “marketing” half of the equation. So don’t start with what you want your audience to know. Start with what you want them to do.

The desired action could be signing up for your blog, downloading a gated asset, attending a webinar, scheduling a demo, or just sharing your content on social media. Whatever you decide, make sure each piece of content is connected to a measurable result.

#2: Let Your Audience Guide Topic Selection

“The reason we struggle with content marketing is because we haven’t started with ‘Why?’ Customers don’t care about your vanity metrics. Ask them, ‘How can I help?’” Kristina Halvorson, CEO and Founder, Brain Traffic

At TopRank Marketing we have a name for the type of content that gets results: Best Answer Content. The word key word is “answer,” as in “a response to a question.” You’re not starting a conversation about your brand, you’re continuing a conversation about what concerns your audience.

Listen to the questions your audience is asking through search engine queries, emails to your sales department, forums like Quora, and tools like BuzzSumo and Bloomberry.

#3: Hit the Whole Funnel

“Your top of the funnel content must be intellectually divorced from your product but emotionally wed to it.” Joe Chernov, VP of Marketing, InsightSquared

Lower-funnel content is designed to lead directly to revenue. So it’s the type of content upper management likes—meaning it’s the type that helps justify your budget. It makes sense that marketers tend to focus on the lower funnel and go light on the upper stages.

The problem with that approach is that most of your traffic and interest is in earlier stages. If you don’t fill the top of the funnel you won’t have anyone left to read your awesome lower-funnel content. It’s important to find a content balance, with a variety of content across all stages of the funnel. The quantity of content in each stage should look like a funnel, too. Think lots of content in the upper stages, less (but more in-depth) content at the bottom.

#4: Change up the Content Type

“Just as anyone would quickly tire of eating from the same food group day after day, your customers and prospects can grow tired of the same type of content again and again.” Jason Miller, Global Content & Social Marketing Leader, LinkedIn Marketing EMEA

I don’t envy the folks at Buzzfeed. They came up with a winning content formula and now they’re stuck with it. Pity the writer who has to come up with yet another “28 Hilarious Things Dogs Did This Passover (You Won’t Believe #24)!” As the world has moved on from clickbait-y listicles, the site has struggled to reinvent itself.

Keep your content fresh, and fill holes in your editorial calendar, by changing up the content type. Save room for those easy-to-write, sharable listicles, sure. But balance them with thought leadership pieces that firmly establish your brand’s point of view. Add how-to articles that are 100% utility. You can even round up useful content from other sources and curate for your audience.

#5: Look for “Turkey Slices”

“I use a Thanksgiving analogy…You cook up this giant bird to serve up…