If you've been paying any attentions to some of our previous blog posts (or recent webinar), you certainly know you need a digital content strategy. You probably are all kinds of on board with the idea, as you don't want to be wasting your money to create, publish, and promote content for less than optimal ROI. But if you're like a lot of the strategy-less folks we meet, you intend to keep tossing content out there without a plan because developing a proper content strategy doesn't seem easy.
The first time around, it totally isn't. It should get easier with time when the planning process is super familiar to you. And it can be a breeze now if you use the right tools. May we recommend:
1. Make My Persona
Make My Persona is a perfect place to start not only your digital content strategy, but anything related to marketing or sales. You need to know whom you're marketing or selling to in order to craft messages, pitches, or anything else that can speak or resonate with folks who may want to do business with you. As you whip up this potential customer profile, it's easy to get off track, so using a tool can help you to draft targeted, accurate, useful personas. This one is free.
2. SMART Goals Planner
This SMART goals planner comes from an unexpected source, but it really rocks. Setting specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound goals isn't easy for most folks out of the gate. Even experienced goal setters sometimes get bogged down, but this free step by step tool is a great guide.
3. Team Impressa's Planning Template
I wish I could give the person who created the first iteration of this template credit, but I don't know who he or she is. I downloaded this from the web and adapted it to our purposes some time ago and haven't looked back since. It's a great way to work through the outline of your plan. Using out planning template may include some tweaks on your part, but you will definitely get the gist. It walks you through outlining your marketing plan in general, so be sure to insert your plans for digital content in there. You can download that here: http://howdy.impressasolutions.com/hubfs/Marketing_Plan_Template.docx.
4. Google Slides
You could write up a whole marketing plan, but I don't really recommend it. Unless you're trying to impress the socks off of your big corporate boss or a difficult client, those write-ups are overkill. They haven't usually worked well for us. Slides are great though! Slides are accessible, concise, easy to follow, and fun. If you have PowerPoint, go for it, but Google Slides is free.
Trello has become my to-do list of choice. It is easy to use, and it helps you, your team, and any outsourcers you'll use to stay on top of your content needs. After your plan has been drafted and approved, I suggest making a board for each element of the plan, and then assigning deliverables as cards based on the tactics that will satisfy your content plan. Do this well in advance so you aren't scrambling to whip up content, treading water with your schedule. The basic version of Trello is free.
We've been using Smartsheet for a year and a half now, and we really dig it. Smartsheet comes in handy for us for a wide array of uses, but notably, it's my favorite for editorial calendars. It has premade templates that we've been able to tweak to work perfectly for our internal editorial calendar and for our clients. It's shareable, yet secure, and pretty dang customizable. Pricing starts at $10 per month.
7. Google Keyword Planner
Even if SEO or PPC isn't your "thing," you want to get friendly with this AdWords tool. The Google Keyword Planner lets you discover keywords you can use in your content, which could then let you be found for those same words in real user searches. This tool can also be great inspiration--when you find keywords that work for you, generate titles and topics that incorporate them for easier, more efficient brainstorming. By the way, this tool is free.
Infographics and similar stuff has been really hot for some time. You should be sliding this stuff into your strategy, but you may only be planning to plan on making these because you don't have a designer on staff. Piktochart makes infographics easy. It still may be tough for some folks, but an affordable freelance designer can make quick work of your infographic project with Piktochart. Prices start at zero.
Team Impressa is admittedly not the best at email--we rarely send anything out for ourselves. However, we recommend that our clients get active and actually use email marketing. Email should be part of your plan, and you need a platform to carry it out. We suggest starting with MailChimp because it's free at the basic level and integrates with a ton of other amazing marketing-related tools to help you satisfy your strategy.
Your digital marketing strategy must include social media, and you need a tool to manage it. We suggest Hootsuite. Having all your social in one place is much, much easier than juggling multiple accounts. It doesn't cost you anything to get started, but most businesses will need to go pro, which starts at $9.99 per month.