What Is a Content Planner and What Can It Do For You?

Christy Walters


October 7, 2022 (Updated: May 4, 2023)

content planner open on white desk with hand and pen hovering overtop

Thanks to brainstorming sessions with your team and data compiled from your asset sources, you likely have a lot of great ideas for your brand’s content marketing future. No matter what goals you want to achieve by pursuing content marketing, you can’t get there on ideas alone. You need an actual and realistic roadmap to get there. That’s where a content planner comes into play. Today, we’re looking at what a content planner is and what it can do to help your business achieve its marketing goals:

What Is a Content Planner?

A content planner is an organizational toolbox that helps you reach the goals set in your marketing strategy. It determines the content you want to create and sets the expectations for how to bring each piece to life. Content planners account for all the research, creation, publication, and distribution actions you need to take to get your content marketing from an idea to a valuable asset for your audience.

The steps and actions detailed in a content planner align with your marketing strategy and the stages of the marketing funnel. Doing so allows you to assess when and where is the best place to release content based on audience intent, resource scaling abilities, and budget. Your entire marketing team should have access to the content planner to help them say on track with any project your team develops. Transparency also helps each team member learn where their projects fall within the greater marketing efforts of the company.

Key Components of a Content Planner

There are six key components involved in developing a content planner that help set the right path for creation and distribution. They include:

  • Workflows and production methods: Setting expected processes and workflows helps keep your team on track to meet development deadlines.
  • Content calendar: A content calendar helps you keep track of the who, where, and when of content development. It lists who works on each piece, where you publish it, and when it goes live.
  • Training and onboarding: Training and onboarding cycles allow you to prepare new team members to work within your processes or adapt to new content creation methods.
  • Content publication, distribution, and promotion: This phase of a content plan allows you to take each asset and share it with the world on the right channels to get better reach and more attention.
  • Team communication: Transparency is key when working in content planning to make sure all team members understand their roles in collaboration and how their part helps the team and company reach its goals.
  • Optimization and tracking: This phase of a content plan allows you to measure the success of your efforts and how well the plan executes your content strategy.

What Are the Types of Content Plans?

Though you can create a content plan for your asset creation from start to finish, you may break down those steps into smaller chunks. Doing this makes it easier to focus on specific tasks. Separation shows how each task relates to your overall content strategy and the marketing funnel. The three areas you may break your content planner into include:

Brand Awareness Plans

When creating a content plan for brand awareness, you’re working at the top of the marketing funnel. So your strategy goals should include increasing organic traffic online and making people aware that your company, products, or services exist.

This type of content typically educates your audience about what your company does. It also shows how your offerings benefit the audience. It’s best to avoid “salesy” language while showing your company values and providing information and tips the audience can use to address their pain points. To create a plan for this type of content, devote time to creating your marketing messaging and addressing the best channels and methods for wide-reaching content distribution.

Related: How To Get Started With Pain Point Marketing

Keyword Plans

Keyword content plans focus on helping you get the best possible search engine positioning and rank for the right industry terms. Following this type of process helps increase your organic traffic. It also encourages more clicks and website visits. While you can set a keyword plan for any stage of the marketing funnel, it may be most strategic for the middle. This is the time when most of your audience is looking to compare products and services to pick the right one for their needs.

If you develop a plan that gets your content to the top of search, it puts your products and services in contention for those kinds of comparisons. When creating a plan for keyword research and development, make sure to allow enough time to do competitor research. It’s also important to loop in the right members of your team, like keyword strategists, and account for resources like keyword research tools as part of your stack.

Related: Know the Enemy: The Purpose of Competitive Analysis

Conversion Plans

Conversion planning works to increase the number of actions a lead takes when encountering your brand content. These actions could include clicks, signups, or sales. Typically, you use a conversion plan when working on content at the bottom of the marketing funnel. Conversion content targets audience members who are ready to take action or spend money. The best conversion content is specific and emphasizes the value of completing whatever action you want the audience to take.

These pieces are straightforward and use repeated calls to action (CTAs) to entice leads to make the next move. When creating a conversion plan, focus on the connections between content through linking strategies. For example, if your intended conversion is to get prospective leads to sign up for your newsletter, think about how you’re linking to those CTAs internally. Are you sending your audience to a landing page? Are you using a form and sending them elsewhere when they hit enter?

Related: Contextual Link Building: How To and Why It’s Important

Why Do You Need a Content Planner?

Content development works best with an organized strategy. Creating a plan helps your team stay focused throughout the development process. It also makes it easier to turn out consistently high-quality content. Other ways a content planner helps bring your content strategy to life include:

  • Ensuring unique content development: Your audience wants to hear what your brand has to say, not view cookie-cutter content. A content planner helps you account for content gaps to fill with unique but helpful information.
  • Using resources wisely: Developing a content plan lets your team see what resources it has available and use them in creative ways.
  • Developing a production schedule: Because they use content calendars, planners help you schedule when and where to share each piece of content for maximum viewership and reach.
  • Increasing content engagement: Thanks to your calendar, your content plan also helps you track and assess where people are most likely to look at your content. You can choose to publish the same or related pieces to different channels on different days to increase interest in a particular topic.
  • Measuring strategy effectiveness: The tracking and analysis components of a content plan help you see just how effective your strategy is for reaching your brand goals.
  • Accounting for the competition: The better organized your content is, the more competent and knowledgeable your brand appears to the audience. These qualities help set your company apart from the competition and build loyalty and trust with your leads.

Is There a Difference Between a Content Planner and a Content Strategy?

Content strategy and a content planner are not the same things. In some industries, a strategy and a plan can be interchangeable terms for the same report or function. But that’s not the case in content marketing. Content strategy includes all the ideas, visions, and outlines of how you want your marketing campaigns to work and the goals you want to reach. The content planner takes those loose ideas and gives them a set of achievable steps and a timeline. Doing this planning helps turn your thoughts into completed assets.

Related: Content Planning vs Content Strategy: Are They Different?

How Does Content Planning Work With Content Strategy?

According to ClearVoice, content marketing development is a five-step process.

infographic of content development plan with content planner at the second step

Image via ClearVoice

A content strategy lays the foundation for every action you plan to take during content marketing development. Without knowing your goals and what you want to achieve, it’s a waste of time to create content on a whim. Content strategy lets you research and theorize what pieces your audience wants to see and will interact with based on data and testing.

The next step after research, strategic discussions, and goal setting is developing a content plan. The plan sets your team up to complete the last three steps of development—production, publishing, and distribution—with ease. Without strategy and planning working together to set the stage and create a logical, workable roadmap, the last three phases of content development would be chaotic.

The pieces you create likely won’t be as effective and provide less value to your audience. When your content doesn’t resonate with the right people, it costs you time and other resources that could have been better spent reaching the right people in the right ways.

Questions To Ask When Creating a Content Plan

To make sure you’re accounting for every component of your content strategy within your content plan, here are a few questions to ask yourself along the way:

Does Your Strategy Address Your Current Content Needs?

Your content strategy isn’t stagnant. That means your content planner shouldn’t be either. It’s important to conduct content auditskeyword research, and competitor analysis at least once a year to make sure your content aligns with company goals and industry topics.

As you work through developing your content plan, you may start to notice areas of your strategy that don’t directly benefit your audience and brand. If you find areas that aren’t going to help you meet important business goals, you can rework or cut them from your strategy during the planning phase.

Want to stay ahead on this data so you never have to make a strategy change late in the game? Request your free content analysis report from CopyPress. This document contains information about your content SEO, keyword effectiveness, and competitor content marketing strategies. Use it in both the strategy and planning phases so you never miss a potential opportunity to connect with your audience and reach business goals. To get yours delivered to your inbox today, complete the form below.

“CopyPress gives us the ability to work with more dealership groups. We are able to provide unique and fresh content for an ever growing customer base. We know that when we need an influx of content to keep our clients ahead of the game in the automotive landscape, CopyPress can handle these requests with ease.”

Kevin Doory

Director of SEO at Auto Revo

Do Audience Segments and Strategies Align?

The strategy phase of content development focuses on ideas and goals. But it’s also a time for identifying what content you’ll create for what members of your audience. During content planning, you can make sure that the content you’ve assigned to each audience segment actually aligns with the needs of that group.

Work with your writers and creatives that specialize in creating content for different audiences and areas of the marketing funnel. They understand their segments best and what resonates with those leads. The brainstorming and conversations within the planning stage can help you make sure you align each piece of content with the right funnel stage and present it to the right people to get maximum attention and conversions.

How Does SEO Factor Into the Content Strategy?

Content marketing is primarily digital marketing. Unlike handing out fliers on a street corner, you’re not going to see and interact with every audience member who encounters your content. That means you need to focus on search engine optimization (SEO) for every piece. That way, each asset makes a good impression on search engine bots and crawlers and your human audience.

While SEO plays a role in every digital marketing campaign, the extent to which you have to dedicate time and resources may change by project and industry. Consider how important SEO is for each asset based on your goals and the stage of the marketing funnel into which each one falls. For example, a top-of-the-funnel piece created primarily to generate brand awareness should put a high priority on SEO. With these parameters, the content you create should bring in a lot of organic traffic to meet your goals.

Should You Take Your Content Off Your Own Site?

Most of your content marketing efforts qualify as owned or controlled media. Your brand creates them from top to bottom—sometimes with the help of an agency partner—and hosts and distributes the content itself. But sharing your content outside your own domain has the benefits of boosting your content strategy. Engaging in content syndication, guest posting, or social media sharing helps your content get more visibility and better reach.

When planning to share content off of your own domain, account for the channels it needs to go through. Also, consider the personnel you need to involve to make these efforts happen. For example, you may need to add outside contractors or contacts from guest posting sites to your content plan to help with editing or publication on another domain.

Related: Controlled Media: Is It Right for Your Business or Agency

Do You Have a Plan for Offline Content?

Though we said content marketing is primarily digital, that’s not the only place it works. The earliest forms of content marketing have been around since the 1700s. That’s long before anybody even knew what computers or SEO were. If your company plans to use any offline content marketing within your strategy, you still need to account for that within your content plan.

Timelines, development processes, and other factors may change depending on whether you’re creating online or offline assets. Be prepared to allow for more time for content to go to print or reach peak distribution without the help of search engines and other technology.

Does Your Strategy Fit Your Budget?

The strategy phase of any project includes a lot of ideation, research, and goal-setting. But it’s not always the place where practicality rears its head. The planning stage is where you’re able to see if the things you want to do are achievable. Typically, the roadblocks to any great idea come in the form of minimal resources, specifically a small budget.

During planning, make sure you have the money to complete all the tasks laid out in your strategy. For any given project, your budget may need to include salary or team payments, materials, web space, and paid marketing tactics, to name a few items. Make sure you account for all of these things, and others. You may find ways within planning to maximize your content development with a limited number of resources if you use them wisely.

How Do You Know If Your Content Planner Is Working?

The definition of success is different for every content strategy, plan, and campaign. In short, if you’re able to meet the goals you set in your strategy, your content planner is a success. You don’t have to wait until the end of a campaign to find out if it was successful, though. Part of content planning is working through creation, publication, distribution, and tracking metrics throughout those phases.

Think about it this way. Watching your content calendar during production to make sure all of your creatives meet their deadlines is a sign of plan success. The more your content stays on track, the better chance you have of meeting goals within a set period. Additionally, publication and distribution cycles make excellent times for analysis and updates to your content plan. Look at things like real-time web analytics and search engine result page (SERP) rankings to determine if your content is performing as expected. If so, these are other signs of content planning success.

Plan Around the Latest Google Update With CopyPress and SEJ

Overall, the best content plans and strategies are those that you can shift and adapt as you learn new information or audience expectations change. Anyone who works with SEO strategy should know these things happen frequently, especially when Google releases a new update. To help you stay flexible and adapt your strategies and plans for Google’s Helpful Content update, we’re partnering with Search Engine Journal to provide a helpful webinar on the topic.

At the session, you’ll learn how to create helpful content by Google’s standards. You’ll also find ways to recover if you’ve taken a hit from the new update. Register today to secure your spot and learn more from our CEO and Founder Dave Snyder, and Heather Campbell, Director of Marketing at SEJ.

Author Image - Christy Walters
Christy Walters

CopyPress writer

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