For a moment, visualize your website without the words, the images, the videos, the audio, the embed apps or even the raw data! How does it look and feel now? Empty, inanimate, useless, and worthless! Well, that sums up the value of web content. That said, you cannot fill up your website with just anything. The content you place and distribute over the World Wide Web, ought to have a purpose, which may be brand building, boosting online sales, simply delivering information to the visitors or a mix of all of these. When the content fails to hit these targets, it is nothing but noise. So, what differentiates a meaningful, relevant, goal-oriented content from the noise? The answer is - a strategic Content Plan.
"What is Content Plan & Do I have one for my website?"
The question is an obvious unless you are an online marketer who spends hours mapping digital marketing campaigns. In the plainest words, the Content Plan is a blueprint of what content you publish online, when, on what platform, for whom and with what objective. The other experts may add to the definition to widen its scope, but the essence is extracted in this one sentence. Now, addressing the latter part of your question, "Do I have one for my website"; well, if you have a documented plan for what content you release on the internet, your answer is a yes. Otherwise, you are still in need of one.
"Okay! I don't have a Content Plan, and I think I don't need it either"
That's a common perception, and there's nothing wrong if you feel the same way. However, please answer these questions to see if there is a shift in position regarding your Content Plan claim.
- Are you glad about the cost per visitor you extract from your website?
- Do you remember who published the last web page/blog post on your website?
- Is your Facebook page "Likes" & "Comments" count shooting up?
- Do you plan and discuss the online content at par with other marketing content?
The 4 straight 'No(s)' or even 3 of them, is an eye-opener - a Content Plan is required.
"Agree! Suggest me a Content Plan then!"
To get a Content Plan that's tailored exactly as per your business requirements, you may seek assistance from the professionals who are expert in Web Content Development. In case, you want to do it yourself, here is an outline of the entire content planning process.
"How Do I Start?"
For a new website, you begin Content Planning when you are through with the user research. In case, you already own a website with no content strategy, the process can be divided into the following broad stages.
- Network Research
This is about identifying the online networks and communities where brands like you are discussed so that you can listen to the traffic and develop suitable content.
- User Research
What the users want? The better way is to ask them. Conducting informal research and getting friends and acquaintances take up survey questions can be a good way of user research if you are all on your own.
- Content Profiling
What type of content is a hit among the users on a particular platform, network or online community? Content profiling involves the analysis of available content from similar brands so as to develop an engaging content in the form of text, images, audio, videos, apps and the like.
- Content Scheduling
An integrated content calendar is a must for a successful digital marketing campaign. It involves scheduling of content releases on various platforms. Articles, blogs, tweets, Facebook status updates, and all other content type is planned in advance and tailored with an eye on trends and seasonality.
- Content Generation & Sourcing
This is the most demanding part and involves combined efforts from the content strategists, editors, writers, data analysts and user behavior specialists. You may commission specialist content like video, infographics, mobile applications, etc. and serve the users with valuable, relevant matter. Linking to third-party content and directing visitors to useful content is another smart way of using the best content available on the subject.
The greatest of content, if not distributed, on the right time on the right space, will rot and eventually lose user-value. The techniques of Search Engine Optimization, Social Media Optimization, syndication, paid search and content partnership play a defining role on how well the content circulates in the exploitable channels.
- Audit & Measurement
You need to audit and measure the results of your content marketing efforts. It provides a keen insight on how the targeted users are influenced and how positive they are about the content, which will eventually govern the required modifications.
Hopefully, all these details about the Content Plan will guide you devise an effective content strategy and help your website get bigger and better.