A Beginner’s Guide to Ace Your Content Planning Game
For any elaborate strategy to be successful in achieving goals, you need a well-researched and well-structured plan in place. Without a good plan in motion, all your efforts can prove to be futile. And the case is no different when it comes to delivering content. You need proper content planning to ensure that your audience is receiving the best.
It is a known fact that any strategy works best when you have an effective plan to back it up. And content planning does just that. With a properly executed content plan, you can see your business grow by huge margins.
So, in this blog, we will understand what is content planning, what are its elements, and how you can improve your content planning game.
Let’s dive right in.
What Is Content Planning?
Content planning is nothing but the process of creating the structure that lays down the types of content you will create as well as the time you’ll execute them. Simply put, it establishes the criteria for producing content. A content plan determines the what, when, where, how, and who of your content.
A well-thought content plan is a foundation for brand awareness. Moreover, formulating a content plan in advance helps ensure that your content stays unique and relevant. It also helps in outlining the purpose of your content.
Furthermore, content planning can also help you overcome your day-to-day content marketing challenges. A pool of well-researched keywords, information about the target audience, etc. is crucial for your content strategy to stay afloat.
Several components of content planning help in defining certain factors that establish your company’s core values.
You must have noticed that content planning and content strategy are often used interchangeably. They are mostly confused as being similar to each other.
Let’s first understand the difference between content planning and content strategy
Difference Between Content Planning and Content Strategy
It’s important to understand that recognizing the difference between content strategy and content plan will allow you to make more valuable content decisions. It opens up the scope for greater marketing opportunities.
Now that the difference between the two terms is clear, let’s find out the elements of content planning.
Elements of Content Planning
Multiple elements of content planning when combined, produce the best results. Let’s have a look at these elements.
1. Content Calendar
A content calendar is a written schedule for your upcoming posting plans. It enables you to stay ahead in the game. Formulating a content calendar makes coordination and communications easy since it helps in organizing the when and where of your content. They also make sure that your content is not falling all over the place and that you stay organized.
A content calendar is a crucial element of content planning since it provides you with an overview of your upcoming content.
Content calendars don’t have to be over-complicated. Their main job is to make things smoother for you. Besides, a good content calendar always comes in handy when it comes to avoiding any last-minute blunders.
For example- You can create a spreadsheet that has separate tabs for each month of the year. The sheet can further be categorized for different platforms and different types of content. Every time you post, you can just check a box alongside that piece of content.
2. Content Workflow
The next element of content planning is working on an effective content workflow. A properly-defined content workflow is crucial for your content plan to be a success.
Content workflows describe the tasks that a particular person/team needs to perform to complete a content piece. They also characterize different roles and responsibilities for the entire content creation process.
For example, define who is responsible for creating the draft, who will be designing the graphics, who is in charge of editing and publishing, and who will distribute the content on social platforms or newsletters for promotion activities. Set deadlines for each task so that your calendar works as planned. You can even use a project management tool for managing the workflow. We, for example, use Asana!
As an element of content planning, a content workflow helps you achieve accuracy and consistency. With good content workflows in place, it becomes easier for content marketing teams to meet deadlines. Moreover, this also helps them in solving common problems, quickly.
3. Knowing Your Audience
Knowing your audience is the most important element of content planning. All your planning can go in vain if your content is not reaching the right audience.
Before you start creating your content, make sure that you are aware of your target audience. You need to identify a target base who will benefit from your content. Understand their requirements, analyze their likes and dislikes, and only then you should jump onto the creation phase.
To ensure that your content is unique and new, take some time to analyze the existing content in the market. This will help you in distinguishing yourself and your audience from others and create content accordingly.
Here are some ways in which you can know your audience–
1. Conduct surveys to know your audience’s preferences
2. Monitor the engagement on your posts to understand what works the best
3. Generate feedback forms and urge your audience to give feedback
4. Create a buyer persona that will tell you your ideal customer profile
5. Keep reviewing the analysis of your posts from time to time
4. Promotion and Distribution Channels
Once you have identified your target audience, it is now time to identify the right channel to reach them.
Moreover, the channels you choose to promote and distribute your content have the power to make all the difference. Your audience can be influenced in your favor by consuming your content. But this is possible only with the help of the right promotion channels.
The key is to decide which medium is best suited for delivering the type of content you wish to post. Besides, identifying your ideal platforms will also help you to create content frequently.
Here are some ways of finding the right promotional and distribution channels:
1. Analyze/survey your audience on what channels they use the most
2. Ask your audience where did they first find out about your product
3. Consider your defined goals
4. Do research about your competitors and see what channels they are using
5. Experiment with new channels
5. Measuring Your Performance and Optimizing it
Keeping a track of your performance is a vital element of content planning. You should be able to measure your performance, keep a track of your metrics, and analyze them. To do this, having access to the analytics of your content performance is extremely necessary.
For example, this is the in-built analytics report of Instagram posts that you’ll find in your Instagram account. Similarly, you can access Google Analytics for your blog performance, Twitter analytics for Twitter posts, etc.
Once you know what has been working well for you, you can start optimizing it.
To measure your content’s performance efficiently, you should establish a relationship between the different types of content and the results. This basically means that setting up some pre-defined goals (KPIs) can help you compare your results and measure performance without any hassle 🙂
Now, let’s find out about the different types of content plans.
Types of Content Plans
Content plans can be of different types depending on the kind of audience you are targeting in the marketing funnel. There are three types of content plans. Let’s have a look at them.
1. Top of the Funnel Content Plans
This is the type of plan where the goal is to produce content that helps increase brand awareness. Formulating plans for curating top-of-the-funnel content is one of the best ways to put your brand out there. Brand awareness content is made to earn recognition.
Content planning in this case majorly focuses on selling the brand and not the product. Your aim should be to show your potential customers that you exist. Top-of-the-funnel content plans are highly efficient in increasing your brand’s stature.
At this stage of the funnel, you need to make the buyer realize that they are facing a problem and you’re the one they can come to for a solution.
Informational content is more effective in this awareness stage. Create blog posts for in-depth information and infographics and short videos for those who don’t like long-form content but still want to get all the information.
Moreover, using interactive quizzes is highly recommended in this stage because the customers are actively looking to identify their problems. These quizzes do just that.
Since the customers are trying to understand what problem they are facing, an assessment can be a very helpful piece of content to post.
For example- if a person is looking to start gyming, you need to post content that will make them aware of their current situation.
2. Middle of the Funnel Content Plans
At the middle of the funnel, buyers move to the consideration stage. They are now aware of their problems and are addressing them. Buyers in this stage are looking for different methods to solve their problems.
So, middle-of-the-funnel content plans revolve around keywords and their rankings which will make you appear on SERPs. To make your content stand out, you need to SEO-optimize them. This type of content sells your brand to search engines. Moreover, you need to make sure that when people are searching for solutions to their problems, your answers are visible to them.
At this funnel stage, you need to create content that allows them to evaluate you and your products. “How-to” content works very well in the consideration stage. Webinars and podcasts can also be effective for the middle of the funnel stage.
The goal of creating these content plans is to tell your buyers how their problems can be solved through your product.
For example- a quiz like this would help a buyer find out and analyze all the options available for them as per their requirements.
3. Bottom of the Funnel Content Plans
At this level of the funnel, the buyer has reached the decision stage. The buyer now needs to choose the best option as a solution to their problems. Bottom-of-the-funnel content targets audiences that are ready to buy or take action.
These types of content plans focus on converting the leads who are at the bottom of the funnel. Your content needs to sell your product directly. Hence, bottom-of-the-funnel content plans specifically focus on convincing buyers that their solution is worth investing in.
For bottom-of-the-funnel content plans, you need to offer free trials, ebooks, or special signing-up discounts. Comparison charts between you and your competitors can also be useful.
Now that we know what are the different types of content plans, let’s finally look into how you can make the most effective content plans for yourself.
One easy-to-use platform for creating interesting content types like quizzes, calculators, surveys, product recommendations, assessments, chatbots, giveaways, etc. is Outgrow. They offer a variety of pre-designed templates that businesses could use across industries.
Want to try it out? Sign up for free here! No credit card or coding is required!
Ways to Improve Your Content Planning
There are many ways to enhance your content planning game. To get the maximum output, follow these steps to make an effective content plan.
1. Define Your Goals
Goal setting is the first and foremost step of an effective content planning process. While developing a content plan, you need to keep in mind what your goal is. Question yourself about what outcomes you want to see as a result of the content you create and post.
Some goals that you can have-
1. Attracting new leads every two weeks
2. Building trust and rapport with your audience
3. Getting a better rank on the SERPs
4. Earning more external and backlinks
Setting your goals provide a specific vision for your content. They set a benchmark for you to achieve. With this benchmark, you can judge and decide whether or not your performance was effective.
Moreover, starting with a definite and precise objective will assist you in setting up the tone for your content.
2. Polish Your Content Categories
Polishing your content categories means deciding on the types of content that you will post and what kind of format you’ll follow. An impressive content plan includes an elaborate list of content types you wish to post. These content types need to be filtered into different categories.
Categorizing your content types can be easier if you interact with your target audience. You can do this by running polls and surveys to record your audience’s opinions and interests. As a result, you will be able to get a better understanding of the kind of content your audience wants to see.
Once you have decided upon the content categories, you now need to fix a format in which you post them. These formats range from videos, and carousel posts, to short-form content like reels and youtube shorts, to blogs and podcasts. The list is endless.
A fixed format for the different content categories you choose will give you a sense of direction to work about. You can even try a blend of formats and mix and match. Keep trying until you figure out what format resonates with your audience and also suits a particular category the best.
For example: For a particular content category, say informational posts, you can post reels on Instagram which is a blend of two formats- video and short-form content.
3. Share Other’s Content
A strategy to share others’ content should be included in your content plan. This will convey that you value others’ content as well. This will show that you’re eager to share content that has value irrespective of who the content creator is.
Hence, sharing others’ content is just another simple way of enhancing your content planning efforts.
A good way of sharing others’ comments is by adding links to their content on your stories as follow-up articles to your content. Sharing competitors’ content displays that you are confident and trustworthy.
You can also add links to relevant blog posts at the end of your blog, something your readers will gain value from. The key is to offer value to your readers. If you share content that is worth sharing and give proper credit then you will come out as an authoritative and value-driven brand.
4. Plan for Interactive Content
The best way to engage with your audience is by using interactive content. Interactive content requires the audience to interact and engage with you. It’s a two-way communication street that produces maximum results.
Engaging with your audience gives your content plan a better chance of performing well. The easiest way to engage your audience is to ask them what they like. Therefore, including an engagement plan in your content planning process, can drastically improve your game.
There are a lot of tools that you can use to create interactive content. One such tool is Outgrow.
Outgrow helps you boost your engagement by making interactive content creation easy and effortless. Use Outgrow’s premade templates to create polls, forms, giveaways, and quizzes to encourage engagement.
Polls take almost zero effort to engage with, making them a useful tool to add to your plan for boosting engagement. Similarly, contests and giveaways are easy to participate in and act as excellent tools for getting the attention of your audience.
5. Re-purpose Your Old Content
As a part of content planning, re-purposing your old content can be very useful. Check for the pieces that worked well in the past and re-purpose them according to the latest trends.
You can simply extract the main pointers from some old posts and create a fresh, up-to-date, and detailed post out of them.
If you’ve created a listicle, share the pointers in a list format on social media platforms. Blogs are a great form of content that you can revamp and re-purpose to get better ranks.
To sum it up, a content plan is sound when it can adjust with what’s available and make the most out of it.
6. Post Consistently According to a Plan
All your content plans will succeed once you start consistently producing and posting content. Moreover, an effective good content plan always covers the base of how frequently you need to post.
Deciding on when and what to post is extremely crucial. And sticking to the schedule is even more important. To keep your audience hooked and engaged, you need to generate a plan that helps you maintain consistency.
That being said, you also need to remember that quantity is not always greater than quality. Posting one high-quality post daily is better than posting three mediocre posts. Hence, you should try to strike the right balance between both quality and quantity.
In this blog, we’ve discussed the need for content planning, its types, and how you can improve your content plan. We established that content planning takes time and it involves understanding your audience and drawing out a plan accordingly.
We also learned that engaging with your audience is an important part of a good content plan. And for good engagement, you need good interactive content. So, try creating interactive content with Outgrow to boost engagement. Sign up now for a 7-day free trial!
1. What is the purpose of content planning?
Content planning is important for a variety of reasons. It helps in setting objectives and defining goals. It outlines roles and responsibilities for different people. Content planning makes it easier to describe the types of content you want to post and how, when, and where to post them.
2. What is content planning for social media?
Content planning for social media involves formulating a broad strategy to map out social media success. It involves deciding what content should be posted on which platform. Social media content planning specifies how information should be delivered and through which channels.
Divya Garg is a Marketing Generalist at Outgrow. You will find her scrolling through Instagram and Pinterest in search of ideas. Art is her safe space; be it writing, music, or drawing.