How to Develop a Plan of Attack for Your Content-Marketing Strategy Without a visible road map, you're guaranteed to overlook crucial steps and miss out on potential opportunities for ROI.

By Kelsey Raymond

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Smartbug Media

In college, I loved preparing to write research papers. I would outline the steps I had to take, research my topic, pull out specific stats, supplement them with my own analysis and then present my professor a paper I was proud of.

Mapping out my plan of attack was somehow energizing and relaxing at the same time. I know I'm probably in the minority on this because most people (especially marketers) would prefer to get straight to the action.

This is probably why only 35 percent of B2B marketers have a documented content-marketing strategy. But without a visible roadmap, you're guaranteed to overlook crucial steps and miss out on potential opportunities for ROI.

Related: Is Your Content Confusing Your Customers?

At Influence & Co., we've seen a 474 percent positive ROI since deploying our documented content-marketing strategy in January and have picked up a few essential tips along the way.

Here are five steps we took that will position your strategy for success:

Start with your goals.

Establishing your goals from the beginning is crucial to accurately track ROI and evaluate success. Whether your goal is to see an uptick in qualified leads, website traffic or blog subscriber numbers, make sure you know what you're working toward.

Plan in quarterly chunks.

It's much easier to achieve your goals if you create quarterly campaigns. When you work in smaller batches, you can test out new approaches and have a firm grasp on what's working and what's not. Otherwise, you could end up wasting time and money on a six-month or yearlong initiative that wasn't working from the start.

Our team planned out campaigns for three months, and halfway through, we noticed our audience valued custom templates, so we developed another one and saw even more traction. We also tested out new publications and determined whether it made sense to continue contributing to those in the future.

Build flexibility into your strategy.

As I mentioned earlier, working in three-month stints gives you the flexibility to analyze and adjust as you go. Don't be afraid to compare data and make necessary changes if something's not working. It's much smarter to test out new publications or article topics than plan everything at once and ignore viable opportunities along the way.

Related: Yes, Believe It: Taylor Swift Is a Customer Retention Expert

For example, our team developed topic ideas for three months in January, but a few weeks later, Taboola received a second round of funding. So we whipped together an article on how content discovery platforms are leading the way in content marketing, which actually led to a sale and a high conversion rate. While planning is vital to the process, don't hold back on adding and tweaking variables as needed.

Map out your measurement game plan.

Tracking metrics is the only way to know whether something is working -- and I'm betting your senior leaders will want to see the numbers if you're moving budget dollars to content marketing. By using a custom analytics template to measure and analyze key metrics, you can easily see what's working on a monthly basis. And when your quarterly meeting rolls around, you'll already have a report to showcase your campaign's success and help devise a plan to optimize your strategy.

Make your strategy accessible.

Creating a documented content strategy that's only available to your marketing team is a big mistake. By sharing it with sales, human resources and other departments, you can ensure your company's message is consistent across the board.

For instance, your HR team can use your strategy as a training tool to better educate new hires. This not only saves time, but also gives employees an opportunity to go above and beyond and open the door to new ideas. By documenting a thorough content strategy, your entire team stands to benefit.

Setting goals, working in shorter campaigns, tracking key metrics and giving the entire team access can truly set this initiative up for success and give your leaders a reason to budget for content marketing in the future.

Related: 6 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Content

Kelsey Raymond

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

President of Intero Digital Content & PR Division

Kelsey Raymond is president of Intero Digital Content & PR Division, formerly Influence & Co., a full-service digital marketing agency whose content & PR division helps businesses improve their lead generation, SEO, sales enablement and thought leadership — all powered by content marketing and PR.

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