Use This Sample Content Marketing Strategy: With FREE Google Sheet

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Are you overwhelmed by the idea of crafting a content marketing plan? Perhaps you’re worried about spending money on complex software or tools? I’m going to share a simple yet effective sample content marketing plan using Google Sheets. It’s based on my decade-long experience as an in-house content marketer for a leading tech SaaS company. 

Along with a content team, I created email newsletters, ebooks, white papers, social media posts, and various high-quality assets for big content marketing campaigns. No expensive content marketing software is required!

This approach is straightforward, cost-effective, and perfect for new content marketers and small business owners who want to write their first plan. Whether you’re a solo entrepreneur or part of a small team, this sheet and the guide below will help you plan, execute, and track your content marketing efforts quickly and confidently. This plan pairs nicely with our round-up of the best content-writing apps.

What’s a Content Marketing Strategy?

YouTube video

A sample content strategy outlines how to use content to achieve specific business or marketing goals. It typically identifies target audiences, and the content format engages audiences (such as blog posts, videos, social media posts, reels, etc.).

Creating content without a commercial objective is a hobby, not a business pursuit. I also like this content marketing strategy definition from the Nielsen Norman Group:

“A content strategy is the ongoing practice of planning to create, deliver, and govern practical, usable, and compelling content about a particular topic or set of issues.” 

It sets out the distribution channels for a business’s content. It also includes measuring the success of the content, such as engagement metrics or conversions. A good strategy is one that team members can collaborate on and adapt to their workflow. 

What To Expect In Sample Content Marketing Strategy

Sample content marketing strategy
You can easily create a spreadsheet like this using Google Sheets or Excel for your content marketing plan

If you’re looking for a content marketing strategy template, you can easily create a spreadsheet like this using Google Sheets or Excel for your plan (or use mine). Include these elements or a variation depending on your business needs.

  1. Defined content goals or key performance indicators (KPI)
  2. Content theme
  3. Target persona
  4. Content format
  5. Description of content
  6. Channel
  7. Publication date
  8. Publication status
  9. Marketing team member responsible

1. Define Your Business Goals for Content

Defining clear and measurable goals is crucial for crafting an effective content marketing plan. Without well-defined objectives, it’s challenging to track progress, measure success, and decide what parts of your content plan are working and not working. 

Content should have a commercial objective. Are you aiming to increase brand awareness, generate leads, boost sales, or establish thought leadership? Align your content marketing goals with these business aspirations. Otherwise, it’s a waste of money and effort.

Most content marketers can use the SMART framework to set business goals for their content. These are specific, quantifiable, achievable, relevant to your business objectives, and have a defined timeframe. Identify the goal in your spreadsheet for each piece of content.

Here are some examples you can use to brainstorm:

  • Increase organic website traffic from search engines by 20% in six months by publishing 10 SEO-optimised weekly articles.
  • Generate 100 qualified leads monthly by publishing threads on X and LinkedIn.
  • Double the conversion rate from blog visitors to leads within a quarter by improving our lead magnet.
  • Grow a LinkedIn company page by 10% within 6 months by producing 3 LinkedIn thought-leadership articles weekly.
  • Raise brand awareness by creating a YouTube channel and publishing one weekly educational video.

2. Pick a Content Theme

Determining a content theme provides marketers with a focused framework for developing and organizing content. It acts as a guiding principle, ensuring each piece of content pieces aligns with the brand’s message, values, and objectives. Again, you can use a dropdown field in Google Sheets or Excel to pick a theme.

Constraint for Focus and Creativity: Limiting content’s scope to a specific theme paradoxically encourages creativity within these boundaries. This focused approach prevents content from straying off-topic, which can dilute the brand’s message and confuse the audience.

Ease of Repurposing: A consistent theme makes it easier to repurpose content. For instance, a comprehensive guide on sustainable living practices can be broken down into smaller blog posts, social media posts, reels, and YouTube videos. This saves time and resources and ensures a coherent and recognizable brand narrative across various channels.

For example, a small business specializing in eco-friendly home products might adopt a content theme like “Sustainable Living at Home.” 

This theme narrows the focus of their content creation efforts, allowing team members to produce various related pieces, such as blog posts on eco-friendly home practices, DIY recycling tips, and the impact of sustainable products on the environment. Each topic falls under the broader theme of sustainable living, ensuring consistent messaging.

3. Identify Your Target Personas

Target personas
Determine your target market buyer persona by their demographic

You’ll need to get to know your target market before spending time or money trying to reach them with content. Some questions you can ask to determine your target market buyer persona include: 

  • What’s the age range of your target audience?
  • Where do the people in your target audience tend to live
  • What lines of work are most common within your target market? 
  • What’s your target market’s average annual household income?
  • What social media platforms are people in your target demographic most likely to use?
  • What do the people in your target market value?
  • What pain point does your product or service solve for your target market?
  • How do potential customers spend their free time?

Once you’ve mapped out three or four personas, add them to your plan or spreadsheet as a field you can easily select.

4. Pick Your Content Format

Focus on two to three content formats that drive the best results

Different content formats resonate differently with potential customers, depending on the platform. Popular content formats include:

Blog posts and articles: Informative articles that provide valuable insights to your audience.

Videos: YouTube videos or Reels that showcase your products, services, or expertise.

Infographics: Visually appealing summaries of complex information, often presented as charts, diagrams, or maps.

Ebooks, Guides, and PDFs: Comprehensive guides or reports that offer in-depth information on a specific topic.

Case studies and customer testimonials: Success stories demonstrating your brand’s value to potential customers.

Podcasts: Audio-based content that allows you to share your expertise and engage with your audience.

Email newsletters: Daily, weekly, or monthly broadcasts sent via email marketing tools like ConvertKit, MailChimp, or Substack. 

Interactive content: Examples include quizzes, calculators, and self-evaluation tools.

Not all these content formats will apply to your business. So focus on two to three that drive the best results. More established companies may want to add additional tabs to their spreadsheet or plan, for example, a content marketing plan tab for a podcast, for YouTube, and so on.

5. Describe Your Content

When crafting a content marketing plan, particularly in a spreadsheet, include a column for a summary or the ‘big idea’ of each piece of content. This column serves as a concise descriptor of the content. It provides a quick reference for the marketing team and stakeholders to understand each piece of content at a glance. 

What’s your primary takeaway for your audience? For instance, for a podcast episode on “The Future of Renewable Energy,” the summary could be “Exploring emerging trends and technologies shaping the renewable energy sector.”

You can add additional columns if it helps team members understand the plan. Some examples include:

Content Title: Sometimes a headline is enough of a description once the format is straightforward. For example, you could add a blog post title like “10 Ways to Improve Your Home’s Energy Efficiency. 

Keywords and SEO: If your content marketing plan aims to increase organic traffic, include relevant keywords that align with the SEO strategy. This helps ensure that good keyword research underpins the plan and content spend.

Purpose and Call to Action: What action do you want the audience to take after consuming the content? This CTA could be as simple as “Encourage sign-ups for a webinar” or “Drive traffic to the product page.”

6. Channel

Small businesses or solopreneurs can’t build a presence on multiple channels simultaneously as it’s too resource-intensive. Instead, content marketers should consider their target audience’s preferences and behaviors and focus on creating content for one or two channels.

B2C Fashion Brand on TikTok: For a fashion brand targeting a younger demographic, short-form, informal, and visually appealing video content on TikTok is highly effective. This audience prefers quick, engaging content that’s entertaining and informative. A snappy video showcasing a fashion item with trendy music and a catchy caption can capture attention quickly. Huda Beauty is one example of a company crushing on TikTok with organic content.

B2B Accounting Software Company on LinkedIn: A B2B accounting software company targeting small businesses would find more success with in-depth, informative content on LinkedIn. 

These could include articles and posts that explain why a business should stop using spreadsheets to manage their books. The tone here is more formal and focused on providing knowledge and solutions to business challenges.

Health and Wellness Business on Instagram: For a health and wellness brand, visually appealing posts and short videos on Instagram Stories or Reels can be effective. 

This audience appreciates inspirational and educational content, such as quick health tips, workout videos, or healthy recipes. Content here is easy to consume and visually engaging.

Educational Content for Parents on YouTube: Educational content targeted at parents, such as child development tips or learning activities, works well in a longer video format on YouTube. Parents often seek detailed, trustworthy information and appreciate formats that provide depth and thoroughness, like tutorials or expert interviews.

Financial Services on Blogs and Podcasts: For a financial services company targeting an older demographic, in-depth blog posts or podcasts that offer financial advice, market analysis, or retirement planning tips can be practical. These formats allow for delivering substantial, detailed content that this audience values for making informed decisions.

7. Publication Date

This column in your content marketing spreadsheet should specify when each content piece is scheduled for release. For example, if you have a blog post titled “5 Innovative Marketing Strategies for 2024″, you might set its publication date as “November 15, 2024”. 

This helps keep the content editorial calendar organized and ensures timely publication, aligning with seasonal themes or marketing campaigns.

8. Publication Status

Here, track the progress status of content ideas. Use color-coded labels like ‘Draft,’ ‘In Review,’ ‘Scheduled,’ or ‘Published.’ 

For instance, a video tutorial on “Effective Social Media Advertising” might initially be marked as ‘Draft’, then move to ‘In Review’ as it undergoes quality checks, change to ‘Scheduled’ once a release date is set, and finally to ‘Published’ once it’s live. This provides a clear view of the content pipeline and facilitates workflow management.

9. Marketing Team Member Responsible

Assign each content piece to a team member responsible for its creation, review, or publication. For example, “Bob Collins – Blog Writing” for an article on “Latest SEO Techniques” or “Jane Collins – Video Production” for a “How-To Guide on Email Marketing” video. 

This accountability ensures each content task has a clear point of contact, facilitating smoother collaboration and effective tracking of responsibilities.

Additional Parts of Your Plan

Business owners should consider tailoring a plan to the needs of their business. You may want to consider adding these sections or factoring them into your plan in a different format:

BUDGET AND RESOURCES

An example could be a startup allocating specific funds for content creation, such as $500 for freelance writing and $300 for graphic design monthly. 

They might also list necessary tools like Canva for design and Buffer for social media management, including their subscription costs to ensure all expenses are accounted for in the marketing budget.

CONTENT PROMOTION

Here, a startup might outline strategies like allocating a portion of its budget for Facebook and Google ads to promote good content. 

They could also leverage email marketing by sending weekly newsletters featuring their latest blog posts and engaging with influencers in their niche to extend their content’s reach.

CONTENT UPDATES AND OPTIMIZATION

For the Content Update and Repurposing Plan, a startup could note how to repurpose a comprehensive guide into a series of shorter blog posts, infographics for Pinterest, and bite-sized tips for Twitter. 

This part of the plan could detail a schedule for reviewing and updating existing content annually as part of a more comprehensive content audit. For more, check out our content optimization guide.

COMPETITOR ANALYSIS SECTION

Here, a startup could describe its process of regularly reviewing top competitors’ content strategies. 

For example, analyzing a competitor’s most successful blog topics, social media engagement strategies, or video content themes on YouTube and using these insights to identify content gaps or new opportunities in their strategy. This could involve using tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs for SEO comparison and social listening tools for engagement analysis.

How to Use a Sample Content Marketing Plan As Part of Your Workflow

As you implement your content strategy, regularly check your key performance indicators (KPIs) to ensure you’re moving toward your marketing goals

Incorporating a sample content marketing plan into your team’s content production workflow using a tool like Google Sheets transforms how content is managed and executed. 

For instance, let’s say your team is working on blog posts about emerging tech trends. The Google Sheet plan becomes a live document where a team member or a strategist can see the status of each post, from ‘Research’ to ‘Writing,’ ‘Editing,’ and ‘Published.’

Real-time editing means the assigned writer can start crafting the content as soon as the research team updates their findings on the latest VR technology. If there are changes in publication priorities, the team can adjust the schedule directly in the sheet, and everyone is instantly aware of the new timelines.

Feedback is streamlined as well – editors can leave comments on specific rows, suggest improvements, or approve content for publication. And when it comes to tracking the success of each post, performance metrics can be added next to the respective content item. 

This immediate visibility into what’s working (like a post on AI advancements gaining traction) enables the team to pivot a content strategy quickly for better ROI.

As you implement your content strategy, regularly check your key performance indicators (KPIs) to ensure you’re moving toward your marketing goals. Quantifiable measures of your content strategy’s success are vital to helping you and your team continue to make decisions that move you forward. A few KPIs you’ll want to consider: 

  • Landing page conversion rate 
  • Sales close rate
  • Cost per click
  • Return on ad spend
  • Click-through rate
  • Organic page views from Google Analytics
  • Sign-ups
  • Conversions

Finally, Google Sheets and Excel are great for small teams as their workflow is relatively straightforward. Bigger teams will probably outgrow spreadsheets and prefer a dedicated project management tool like ClickUp or Trello.

Real-World Examples of Successful Content Strategies

RED BULL: SELLING AN EXPERIENCE

The catchphrase Red Bull gives you wings is known worldwide for good reason. The energy drink company doesn’t just sell a beverage; they’re also working to sell an adventurous spirit that helps customers feel that the world is their oyster. The company’s partnerships with social and sporting events (and their social media content detailing these events) help them reach their target market.

PATAGONIA: CREATING A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE

The outdoor clothing company placed an ad in the New York Times on Black Friday over a decade ago to discourage customers from buying their products (yep, you read that correctly!). The ad solidified Patagonia as a company that put the environment first. It sparked online conversations that became an effective content marketing campaign among their target market about how Patagonia gear could help them enjoy and save nature.

AMERICAN EXPRESS: CURATING A COMMUNITY

Geared toward customers interested in building lasting businesses, American Express successfully created communities where customers can learn from one another. The company works to fund small businesses and help business owners connect and learn from one another.

The Final Word on A Sample Content Marketing Strategy

The pen (or keyboard) in content marketing is mightier than the sword. You should feel ready to begin building your content marketing plan by now. 

Feel free to update the Google Sheet based on the needs of your business. For example, remove these fields if you don’t have a YouTube channel or couldn’t care less about landing pages. Often, creating great content requires focus… rather than increased effort and budget!

Even content ninjas need guidance. Don’t hesitate to check how the pros do it. Look at content strategy examples from brands that make it look easy. Take notes on their rhythm, their voice, and how they connect with their audiences. 

But remember, while imitation can be flattery, originality wins the race. For example, the Content Marketing Institute offers a treasure trove of knowledge that could give your strategy an extra edge.

Whatever your approach, with a clear understanding of your buyer personas, a tailor-made template, and a strategically organized content calendar, you’re poised to publish content that’ll captivate and convert and make your business more money! If you still need help, check out our guide to the best content marketing books.

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Author

  • Bryan Collins is the owner of Become a Writer Today. He's an author from Ireland who helps writers build authority and earn a living from their creative work. He's also a former Forbes columnist and his work has appeared in publications like Lifehacker and Fast Company.