What do a content marketing team in a big organization and a single blogger have in common? No, this is not the start of a bad joke. Both need to make sure that their content development process runs smoothly and doesn’t stifle their business goals. Now, you might be thinking, “Wait a minute, how can you compare one blogger to an entire content marketing team?”. But I can. Because it all boils down to one thing.
Granted, sometimes your content development process is just not working. No matter what you try, you fail to deliver content that resonates with your target audience and to do it consistently. According to this infographic by Point Visible, only 34% of B2B and 35% of B2C marketers said that their strategy is extremely or very effective at helping them reach their content marketing goals.
Well, this post is for all of you who want to squeeze something more from your content development process and make it work for you. So here are 7 things you need to do to ensure that your content development process runs like a well-oiled machine.
1. Define Your Goals
I believe that every content strategy should start with defining what you wish to accomplish. In a way, that’s easy as all you need to do is look over at what your audience needs and work toward making that a reality for them. Pay attention to what the leaders in your industry are doing and don’t be afraid to steal a few tricks from them. Peek over at what your competitors are creating and see if you can do it better than them. Finally, look internally, to your own organization and research, as well as to your buyer personas and see what you’ve already learned about your audience.
Your content needs to align with the goals you are trying to accomplish for your business. Are you trying to bring more subscribers, attract more website traffic, get more people to talk about you on social media, increase sales or something else? Defining your goals will offer you a clear direction toward which you need to go, instead of wandering aimlessly.
2. Delegate Roles in Your Content Development Team
To make your content development process in check, you need to define what particular members of your team will do. Each of them needs to have a clear role assigned to them.
Here are the people that you should have in your content development team:
- Content Strategist – He’s the one that will decide what content to deliver to your audience and which channels to use for the best effect. They are also responsible for setting up an editorial calendar and filling it with content that your team should create.
- Content Marketing Strategist – Is the person you need to see to understand your target audience, what topics they want to hear about and how all of this is attached to your goals.
- Idea Contributors – Someone needs to have his or her ear to the ground and listen to what your audience is talking about. Idea contributors are an interesting breed as you don’t really have to hire anyone for this role. Anyone can be one, from people already in your content marketing team, someone in other parts of your organization, your customers or subscribers. You could also use an app called Buzzsumo to get some ideas yourself.
- Content Creators – Are the people that will actually make your content. Without them, all the planning and research that content strategists, idea contributors and others do will be for nothing. Therefore, content writers, graphic designers, podcasters, videographers, animators and other content creators are the soldiers in your content creation army. Others may give direction, but they are the ones who put those plans into action.
- Content Editors and Proofreaders – In effect, they work between the content strategist and content creators. On one end, editors make sure that your content is meeting the content strategist’s ideas and intentions. On the other, they make sure that the content creators produce is free of grammar and spelling errors.
- Content Promoters – Are responsible for bringing the content to your audience and sparking interest in it. If your content goes viral on social media, half of it is probably their doing. So buy them a drink as a way to thank them.
- Content Analysts – Finally, someone needs to stay behind the lines and analyze the performance of your content. Content analysts will go through your analytics tools and tell you if your content is performing excellent, good, average or poor.
3. How will Your Team Communicate?
Emails don’t work very well when there are more people included in the conversation. As a way to communicate with your clients and customers, it works pretty well, but in an environment where messages need to be quick, it just disrupts the workflow and messages can be lost.
You need to find a tool that will help improve communication between members of your content development team. This needs to be something that brings them closer together, not further apart.
One app that’s very effective at this is Slack. It’s a team collaboration tool that you can use to invite people to a specific channel and facilitate communication with them. Think of it as a chat room that allows you to talk to your entire team.
4. Plan Your Content
Based on your goals, buyer personas and input from your team, you need to plan what content will you to create. The best plans are made at least two weeks in advance. That way, come first of next month, your content development team will know exactly what they need to be working on for that month.
A content development plan is not something that you can “wing”. You need to gather and sit down with your team and have everyone on the same page when it comes to planning the content that will align with your goals. This, of course, includes what type of content will be created, where, when and to whom it will be delivered.
Planning content may seem downright scary, so here’s a technique you can use that will help you stay one step ahead of your competition:
This technique has four steps:
- Find already popular content
- Identify who has already engaged with it (shared, commented or liked).
- Create even better content
- Reach out to influencers who have linked or shared the original and let them know you have something even better.
5. Have a Clear (and Quick) Approval Process
Not every content idea you and your content development team come up with should be implemented. Expect that some of them will be outright bad and will actually hurt your efforts if you go along with them. So, to ensure that only the best content reaches your target audience, you need to have a clear approval process as a part of your overall content development process.
Don’t make the approval process overly complicated. Many content development teams take too long with this and it is usually because there’s no clear journey that the content should take from idea to execution. But in truth, the approval process needs to be clear and quick.
The best way to do this is by designating who will review, approve and publish the content. The first two, for example, can be done by your content editor. Have them act as a filter that will ensure only the best content content writers make goes out.
Make sure that whoever you place in charge of reviewing content follows clear guidelines. These guidelines will be crucial in ensuring that the content is meeting the standards and needs your target audience is expecting to get from the content they consume.
6. Deliver a Consistent Message
I’ve seen a lot of bloggers wander when it comes to their message. Even some companies. This isn’t just about picking a niche to write about, but more about making sure that the message you deliver to your audience is consistent.
Why is this important enough for me to include it as one of the steps you need to make to improve your content development process? Think of your business as a person. When you meet a person, you expect them to act in a certain way. Perhaps they like to make practical jokes or are very stoic. Now imagine that same person acting in a complete opposite manner to what you are used from them. That’s something that will take you completely by surprise, I think.
Now imagine a business sending contradictory messages. How do you think their customers will react to this? I can’t see it improving their trust and loyalty in that business.
7. Analyze Your Content’s Performance
Finally, when all is done and your audience has had the opportunity to absorb your content, you should analyze how they liked it. Use Google Analytics (or another analytic tool) to see how your audience engaged with the content. Look at how much time they spend on your website and on each page in particular. Also, be sure to identify and eliminate anything that increases your bounce rate and makes visitors leave after seeing just one page of your site.
This is not the end of your content development process. In fact, I see it more as a loop. For instance, analyzing content performance won’t serve any meaningful purpose if you don’t use that to learn your weak and strong points. This will help you discover opportunities where you can develop even better content. To accomplish this, the content analyst should work closely with the content strategist and help him understand his findings. Based on this, the content strategist can plan future content.
A content development process as you can see doesn’t have to be complicated. By following these seven steps, you can ensure that the content aligns with your business goals, meets the needs of your audience and that everyone in your content marketing team work like a well-trained unit.
Do you have any comments? Did I leave something out of the content development process? Let me know in the comments below and please share the post on social media if you found it useful.