Your content marketing plan should ensure that every piece of content you put out accomplishes a goal. You want to improve customer experiences by educating and informing them. You also want to use content to establish trust and build credibility. Well-planned content can do all of that and more if you create a solid content marketing plan first. Here are the eight steps to follow.

Step One: Audit Your Current Content

It’s important to study the content you have now and what effect it is having on your bottom line. In this case your bottom line consists of conversions such as list sign-ups, as well as sales, or any call to action that you included. Also, this is your chance to test whether or not you’ve always included a CTA. After all, if any one piece of content doesn’t have a CTA, what’s it doing there?

Step Two: Research Your Audience

Even if you’ve already done some research, you need to keep doing research on your audience. The audience might be the same demographics today as yesterday but due to technology and education, sometimes their views change. For example, Dove has the same audience, but today they have to find different ways to market their products so they don’t offend anyone. If they marketed today the same as they did just ten years ago, people would not buy their product. This shows that you must always study your audience, and never stop.

Step Three: Understand Your Purpose

In this case, you want to understand your overall purpose, and then how each piece of content that you create fulfills that purpose. This can take some time to sit down and analyze. You can start with some of the content you already have. What was your thought process as you created it and how did it fit in with your goals? If your ultimate purpose is to create a six-figure online multi-service-based consulting firm, how do your actions contribute to that goal? What products and services do you need to develop for your audience in order to realize your dreams?

Step Four: Develop an Editorial Calendar

Based on product offerings and launch dates, as well as already built-in holidays that your audience recognizes, you can develop an editorial calendar that will help you reach all those goals. A complete editorial calendar includes product development, blog content, sales pages, social media content and more. Include every last bit of content you will need for every single product or service you want to promote on every single site that you want to place it. You can create a master editorial calendar and then separate it up into different categories to make it less overwhelming.

Step Five: Develop the Content

Get to work developing the products and content. Content that is well developed will educate, inform, engage, and inspire action. Ensure that you can match every bit of content that you create, in any form, to a reason for existing. Don’t only create text content; you also want to create content in other formats such as pictorial, voice and video. The more forms of content you can create, the better for your audience.

Step Six: Promote Your Content

Content creation doesn’t end when you finish the project. The work is just beginning. Now you need to promote every last piece of content that you put out there. Promote via social media and other avenues, to ensure that everything gets the attention you want it to. The attention that each piece of content gets will mean more visitors, more newsletter sign-ups, and more sales. Don’t depend on only on-page SEO to get the word out about your information.

Step Seven: Measure the Results

If each piece of content has a purpose, then there is a metric that you can study to measure the results. It’s important to always measure the results of everything you do. The reason is that you can change things on the fly. That’s what’s so great about online content marketing – the ability to improve as you go. If something isn’t working, don’t assume it’s the product or the content. Change small things about layout and word usage, and test, test, test.

Step Eight: Refine and Perfect

As mentioned above, as you measure the results, you’ll want to refine and perfect your content as you go. Believe it or not, as you find things that work for you and your audience, your job will become easier and easier. You’ll figure out what works for your audience and you’ll be able to get better at content creation and promotion as you go.

Finally, and you can call this step nine if you want to, as you notice what works you’ll want to do more of that, and less of what doesn’t. It’s really that simple. Each quarter (or year), depending on how far in advance you will be working on your content marketing plan, you’ll start over. But, you’ll start over with the prior knowledge of what worked best last time.