As an ecommerce or online business owner, you understand the value of content marketing. However, understanding its worth and following through with consistent action are two different things. Unless you have a detailed and tangible plan for creating and distributing content, you won’t succeed in this area of business.

Why a content plan matters

In any aspect of business, it’s critical to have a plan. Without one, you wind up getting easily sidetracked by changing trends and developments. For content marketing in particular, it’s important to have a detailed plan to keep you grounded and honest.

A detailed content plan ensures you’re regularly producing quality content that speaks to your target market and nudges them through the conversion funnel. According to HubSpot, who teamed up with Evernote to produce a content marketing blueprint, there are four stages of content marketing: getting decision makers to buy into your vision, crafting a detailed strategy, developing a publishing plan, and promoting early and often. For the purpose of this discussion, we’ll highlight some tips for mastering the middle two stages.

Four tips for successful content planning

With the idea of crafting a detailed strategy and developing a publishing plan in mind, here are four critical focal points to keep mind:

1. Narrow your audience. Every content plan has to start with the end reader in mind. The best way to ensure you’re creating highly-focused content is to create highly-focused buyer personas for each group you plan on targeting. For some companies, this could be a single persona; however, it’s more likely that you’ll have two, three, or four-plus individual profiles. You’ll then use these personas to guide your content focus and tone.

2. Develop rules for when you post. On top of knowing who you’re targeting, you have to know when to post. Will you post blogs on Monday mornings or Friday afternoons? Will you align feature articles with seasonal events? For example, you could wrap up the year’s trends with a review. By creating concrete rules for what you will and won’t target, you’ll be able to seize opportunities and avoid distractions.

3. Know where to post. You also need to have a publishing plan for where you’ll post your content. This requires you to carefully allocate content for your blog, individual social profiles, industry publications, guest blogs, and more. The more partnerships you build over time, the more you’ll be able to diversify where you publish and post.

4. Determine how frequently to post. Finally, you need to determine how frequently you’ll post regular content. For example, social media posts may be published daily, blogs a couple times per week, newsletters once per month, and white papers on a quarterly basis. This will help you stay on track throughout the year.

Put your best foot forward

For ecommerce and online business owners, understanding what strategies to take on and which to let go of can be stressful and challenging. However, it’s critical that you find ways to narrow your focus and expend time, energy, and resources on the things that truly matter. In 2015, content planning falls into this category. Put your best foot forward and focus on planning and distributing quality content on a consistent basis.

About the Author: Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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