Content Planning Best Practices

Okay. So we’ve covered a lot so far. By this point, you’re well on your way to a killer content marketing campaign. Now, it’s time to cover some best practices our team has gathered along the way. The following tools and strategies will undoubtedly help you scale and grow your content efforts much faster and make you more effective overall.

No surprise, we nerded out on this in our post: The Power of Content Planning: Best Practices.


How to Create Engaging Content

You can write a ton of content covering every possible topic in your industry to build a complete content strategy, but that content won’t get you anywhere if it isn’t engaging. Even if you do everything you can to implement a reliable SEO strategy across your website, you won’t get the results you want if Google sees people aren’t interacting with your content.

For optimal performance among your audience and search engines, and to drive sales, you can’t underestimate the power of engaging content.

What Even is Engaging Content?

To gauge whether your content is engaging, start by considering what your traffic is in general. Are you attracting a decent number of people to your website? If so, which pages are gaining the most traffic?

If you look at your analytics and find that any pages beyond your homepage bring in higher-than-average traffic, consider why those pages are outperforming others.

Best Practices for Content Engagement

Are you facing trouble in creating engaging content? We’ve distilled everything we’ve learned about content into a baseline seven-step guide. By incorporating these simple best practices consistently, you’ll set yourself up for healthy engagement metrics and interested leads. Check it out here.

A Content Audit: The Next Step in Your Content Planning Journey

A content audit, also referred to as a “content inventory,” describes the process of identifying and organizing previously created content into distinct topic areas. A content inventory is a necessary step in the content planning process if you have done any content marketing in the past, whether blog posts, videos, or gated resources like webinars, guides, and white papers.

Check out our post, The A-Z of Content Audits, to cut time and mistakes out of your next audit.

Why Content Audits

Why Content Audits?

Setting off on a content marketing strategy without conducting a content inventory may seem like a time-saver, but it could potentially set you back days, if not weeks.

Inbound marketing principles dictate content should be organized around your target buyer persona’s topics of interest when planning new content. Choose relevant topics via cumulative results of persona, keyword, and competitor research.

The most important result of a content inventory exercise is you’ll know exactly what content you do and don’t have for a target topic.

Conducting a Content Audit

Conducting a Content Audit

The next step on your content journey is knowing where you’ve already been.

To help organize all of your content in a central location, keep a spreadsheet where you can quickly answer critical questions and provide essential information about your content. Spreadsheets are advantageous because they allow simple visualization into the weighting of your past content efforts.

We’ve simplified and templated the content auditing process. Get a jump on your content audit with our free template.

What Type(s) of Content You Should Create

Creating content is difficult, but aligning a content strategy might be a more significant challenge. Should you focus on gated or ungated pieces? Should you emphasize video? Should you start a podcast?

It’s not enough to simply create content — it must be helpful and valuable to your audience. You have to ensure it evokes the desired reaction so you can effectively drive customer action. Most importantly, you have to leverage your creativity to create content that strikes the perfect balance between engaging and informative.

Identifying Content Ideas

Three main factors should influence the type of content you create:

Buyer Personas

Many marketers make the mistake of creating content that speaks to everyone instead of focusing on the groups of people that are their best target customers.

Creating buyer personas is the best way to gain insights into your target audience. As such, you’re able to effectively address their pain points, learn about their goals for what they’d like to achieve, where they consume content, and more.

Keyword Research

Keyword research allows you to develop plans for what content you should create based on competition and search volume. Goldmine keywords and phrases face low to moderate competition with high search volume.

If you’re fortunate enough to find these types of keywords related to the pain points you’re trying to address, it’s crucial to develop topical completeness around them.

Competitor Research

Stalk your competitors! You share customers, so if a content strategy is working for them, there’s a good chance targeting similar topic areas will work for you.

It’s a quick way to keep an eye on the competition and provide a jumping-off point towards where to look next for content direction. Identify what’s working, what’s ranking, and then use that information to create something even better.

Where does persona building fit into campaign strategy planning? Check out our definitive guide to buyer personas.

Forms of Content to Create

You can consider various content mediums, but your customer’s preferences should influence them.

Create a content mix that your audience would be most responsive to, based on your previous audience research.

Find the most popular, fastest-growing types of content here. If you aren’t currently using them, but want to learn more, schedule a time to chat today.



Hey, Blog. We've Missed You

When we take on a new client, most of the time, we find they have blogs that are criminally underutilized. However, that’s not to say a full-fledged blog will increase leads and traffic overnight. Blog strategy is a marathon, not a sprint, and it can take a lot for small marketing teams to devote the necessary resources to it when the ROI is not always plainly seen.

Many companies simply don’t have the resources needed to maintain their blog — working without a dedicated content writer (or teams of writers) who regularly produce high-quality content. Even if they have the resources, some companies abandon their blog because they don’t perceive it as beneficial. They may have tried blogging in the past, but the results were so underwhelming they discouraged the marketing team from continuing. At the same time, success in other areas may lead marketing teams to stray from blogging simply because it seems obsolete.

However, if ramping up content production is your goal, a thriving blog has to be a top priority for your marketing team. If you aren’t utilizing your blog the way you should, you could be missing out on an opportunity to comment on industry “hot topics”  and establish your position as an authority in your space. Regular blogging increases traffic, improves your credibility online, and supplements your website to improve conversions and sales in the long term.

Ways You Can Use Your Blog

There are many ways you can get the most from your company blog. For example, you can use your blog to:

Announce and disseminate company news such as upcoming events, product updates or launches, strategic initiatives, and more.
Build thought leadership through posting informational content that educates your audience on the alternatives to an issue they’re experiencing.
Support pillar content by elaborating further on topics briefly touched upon in pillar pages, with links to the relevant pillar content.

Want to learn more about the benefits of consistent blogging and some tips to make it easier? Yep. We dove deep on that too.

Setting Up Content Marketing Campaigns

Content marketing boils down to your ability to communicate your business’s value propositions and the problems you can solve for your target audience consistently and comprehensively. With that in mind, it’s crucial that when setting up a campaign, all pieces of content should center around a single, big idea or high-level “topic” and branch off systematically from there.

This topic can be anything that garners a large amount of search volume or interest from your target audience, but it must also eventually relate your offerings to that audience.

It’s essential to have a roadmap to get from a big content idea to paying customers. To get your campaign setup process started, let’s look at it step-by-step, from topic selection to specific lead capture and nurture opportunities.

Three Steps to Set Up Winning Campaigns

Identify Your Central Topic

Free tools like Google Keyword Planner and paid tools that offer extra granularity and functionality like HubSpotSEMRush, and MOZ allow you to research key topics related to your business that users are searching for online.

The key to topic selection involves identifying highly searched keywords and phrases for which your business can eventually serve as a solutions provider.

Create a Topic Cluster

Topic clusters are SEO-focused content planning mechanisms popularized by HubSpot. The ideated them in response to Google’s algorithm updates over the past seven years — Hummingbird and RankBrain.

These updates leveraged machine learning to derive context from people’s searches, changing the routine of proper content planning subtly from a keyword-focused approach to a topic-centric model.

Identify High-Value Content Offers

Now that you have identified a central topic and popular subtopics with which to fill out a topic cluster, you have the basis of any enduring inbound marketing campaign. However, it’s important to understand what you have and don’t have at this stage.

You have thousands of words intended to educate and inform your target audience. What you don’t have yet are actionable takeaway items that allow you to capture and nurture leads along the buyer’s journey.

Want ideas for creative content offers throughout the buyer’s journey? Check out our post!

Content Planning Through the Buyer's Journey

The widely-used funnel approach to the buyer’s journey illustrates turning leads into warm prospects interested in making a purchase decision about your product or service by the end of the funnel. It shows how an audience will start broad and slowly get smaller as unqualified leads drop off before a purchase decision.

Can you create great campaigns with the traditional funnel method of thinking? Yes, you can. However, to operate as a true inbound marketer, your approach may need a revamp.

Marketing Funnel

What’s Wrong with the Marketing Funnel?

The inbound marketing theory, popularized by HubSpot, urges companies to provide a prospect with all of the resources they may need to make an informed decision at their own pace.

The typical marketing funnel can lead marketers to believe they have far more control over a particular customer journey than they do.

A traditional funnel represents a forceful approach to campaign planning. By operating under the mindset that you should push your leads down a funnel, you’re not doing a great job of empowering them to choose your final conversion action on their own time.

There Has to Be Another Way

Want to learn a better approach to content planning throughout the buyer’s journey?

The “campfire” model developed by Beacons Point flips the funnel on its head. It’s a culture shift that will empower your team to think more empathetic and holistically about your customers’ needs.

How to Generate Content From Subject Matter Experts in Your Company

We all have that person on our team who seems to know the answer to any question. They’re incredibly knowledgeable and unmatched in their expertise. Still, maybe they struggle to communicate it to someone less familiar in that area — a customer, potential investor, or commercial partner.

It’s no fault of their own. Content creation requires an entirely different skillset. The problem is 99% of marketing cannot hone all departments’ expertise and develop strong content on their own.

You see now why only 42 percent of B2B companies claim to be proficient at content marketing.

Enter Your Secret Weapon: Conversation!

Don’t expect the subject matter expert to become an expert communicator or a freelance writer to learn rocket science (or whatever your organization does) overnight. Organize an interview between someone on your marketing team and various subject matter experts in the company, then just talk!

When it comes time to have the conversation, be sure to record the interview so your marketing team can use it to generate content. Once you have the recording, we recommend transcribing the interview and copying it into the outline before sending it to a writer. Even if the writer isn’t present during the conversation, the outline will have all the relevant facts, expertise, and insights to shape into a coherent and engaging story.

Finally, when the writer finishes their first draft, your subject matter experts should review it to ensure technical accuracy.

The Interview Template

Check out our recorded demo which takes you behind the curtain of the exact template we use for all of our clients to derive expertise from their team members. We use these conversations to create different content pieces that we leverage and repurpose for powerful content marketing.

We’ll level with you — content marketing is challenging. Our team experienced some trial and error before we found a streamlined way to create content. If you’re committed to consistent content production, a template and technique like the one outlined above are critical to your success.

Helpful links:

Content Planning Best Practices

Create a content calendar

Ideally, you should stock your calendar with three months worth of content topics with a posting cadence of once a week.

This not only helps you stick to a schedule and post content on time, but it also gives you a full picture of everything you have published and will publish.

Create outlines

Once you have a list of topics and your three-month plan, it’s time to make outlines.

Like content planning is the blueprint for your overall strategy, outlines are the blueprints for the individual pieces.

Include sales-enablement content

According to HubSpot, 90 percent of the content marketing teams create is never touched by the sales department.

If such is the case in your organization, these two departments essentially do the same job twice. It’s time to loop them in!

Use powerful tools to stay organized

A huge part of content planning is proper organization and management. Managing your content process and keeping your team on schedule can be overwhelming.

The good news is you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. There are several tools you can use to keep your process running smoothly. Here are some of our favorites: Asana, Slack, HubSpot, and SEMRush.

Get your team on the same page.

Developing well-informed and well-written content is easier than you think.

Content Strategy Starter Pack

Six Key Metrics for Evaluating Content Performance

Metrics are invaluable to the evaluation of your content campaigns. If you’re going into your next campaign blind, you won’t be able to understand what’s going on behind the scenes.

What are the “Key” Metrics?

There are plenty of metrics out there that can be of use to you, but you need to know what you want to achieve beforehand. You could look at all of the data imaginable, but it won’t tell you anything useful and applicable unless you have an objective. Depending on your goals, several metrics can help determine how your content helps you reach your objectives.



If your main goal is to bring more people to your website, traffic is a metric you’ll want to analyze.

Traffic can help indicate the effectiveness of your SEO campaigns in addition to the shareability of your content.

If you’re getting a lot of traffic, you’re likely doing something right. On the other hand, if you’re not getting enough traffic, consider whether the fault lies with poor SEO or content that simply isn’t engaging, which can help you address the issue to improve traffic.


Time on Page

Sometimes you might have a page that gets a lot of traffic, and that initial metric leaves you impressed, but after a closer look, you find that the amount of time each user spends on the page is brief.

People might only glance at the page before leaving five seconds after they’ve landed on the page, which is a tell-tale sign of unhelpful or even somehow off-putting content.

Figure out which pages aren’t getting the kind of traction you want and determine what’s losing those visitors.


Bounce Rate

While low time on page is a potential issue, a high bounce rate is even more of an indicator that something needs to change within your content. If people leave the page as soon as they enter, something is misrepresenting the content, or the content itself isn’t what your audience wants.

You could try the following optimizations:

  • Change the title tags and meta description on Google to more accurately describe the page
  • Make changes to your promotional content to better represent the page
  • Review the landing page for missed engagement opportunities, such as video

But Wait, That’s Only 3!

We’re not writing the Lord of the Rings trilogy, here. For the rest, and for more information about measuring performance against objectives, check out our post!

Content Creation Doesn't Have to Be Intimidating!

Content is a big word. Content can be anything from a quirky social post to a four-thousand-word data-rich white paper. What matters when creating content is systematically putting yourself in the best position to engage with your target buyer personas. The mountain of information outlined above can help you create highly engaging content that attracts more viewers and generates more leads. If you can develop top-quality authoritative content that people love to consume, you’ll see the benefits of your marketing efforts.

Does content planning sound like a lot?

Well, it is. But it’s worth it, and Beacons Point is here to help you start your inbound journey off on the right foot. Contact us for a complimentary consultation with a content strategist.