7 Tips to Improve Your Content Development Process

Content Development Process
Content Development Process. Even in 2016, content is still the reigning king. It is good for SEO, ensuring that brands enjoy a higher rank on SERPs for relevant search terms and keywords. It also encourages engagement, be it through a blog post or social media update. When used right, content can spread brand awareness and authority regardless of how saturated your market is, generating more leads and sales. Finally, it adds value to your clients by educating them and drives good traffic to your website.

Unfortunately, not many marketers get to enjoy these benefits because their content development process is inefficient. Luckily, you do not have to be part of that group any longer. Here are seven tips we have followed to ensure the success of our process from start to finish.

1. Have a Content Planning Strategy in Hand

70% of marketers lack a consistent or integrated content strategy. Without one, you will be wasting more time and money on operations, losing prospects and customers through ineffective content, and failing to gain valuable, lasting business assets. One aspect that your strategy can definitely help with is formulating a content plan. Without one, you will not have a clear roadmap of the kinds of content you need, when, and for whom.

To get you started with creating your own content planning strategy, here are the basic steps you should follow.

  1. Understand Your Brand – You should have your brand values written down before you can identify personas or come up with content ideas. Though many skip this part, it is vital since it explains what the brand stands for, its tone or voice, and any allegiances. To wrap your head around your brand, a simple SWOT analysis of the competition can help. After all, you will get to learn how you can differentiate your brand.
  2. Understand Your Audience – You need to identify who your typical readers are. To pull this off you need to conduct surveys via email and social media or enlist the help of research companies for qualitative data. Based on the information you gather, create personas of your readers.
  3. Brainstorm Ideas – Ideas are the heart of any content strategy. Therefore, unleash your creativity and gather stakeholders for a meeting to determine which content ideas to execute.
  4. Organize Your Content Types and Flow – You can use SmartInsight’s infographic to understand the strengths and weaknesses of every type of content out there and get a few good ideas to start with.
  5. Jot Down the Plan – Write down the plan and share it with everyone to ensure that they follow it during content creation.

2. Ensure that Your Content Marketing Plan Aligns with the Overall Marketing Strategy

Your content marketing plan should be easy to integrate into the rest of your marketing plan. Therefore, the former should be aligned to the latter to ensure that they work together as effectively as cogs in a machine. One of the reasons why top marketers emphasize on this aspect is ensuring a consistent brand message and tone. If your clients detect even a slight change, they may believe that your brand is unorganized and opt for your competitors instead.

To avoid this costly issue, content development teams should follow these simple tips:

  • Maintain communication with the marketing officers.
  • Evaluate the objectives of your strategy.
  • Make sure to collaborate with the organization’s marketing team on a regular basis.
  • Do not lose sight of the broader business goals

3. Establish a Content Marketing Team

According to former Google employee and current blogger and marketer Jay Acunzo, content marketing teams are most efficient when they have the following three members: the marketer, the strategist and the producer.

The marketer is someone whose responsibility is to make sure the content reaches the desired audiences, becomes viral, and converts people. Marketers are the most left-brain dominant people on the team; usually their skills are in the fields of analytics, SEO, email marketing etc. While they do help in the production of content from time to time, distribution is their strong suit.

The producer is the one with the artistic touch; he or she makes the content relatable for your audiences on a human and emotional level. After all, your content will be consumed by humans and not robots. This person is the hardest to find for organizations since their propensity for creative ideas and storytelling is not often appreciated by marketing leaders. However, the better the producer on a team, the higher quality of the content you can start with initially.

Finally, the strategist is the leader who primarily makes sure that the worlds of the marketer and producer remain in balance. Their job is to keep track of the progress, make sure everyone knows their tasks, and monitor closely to ensure that work is progressing smoothly. This person is well-versed in both marketing and producing content, making their input valuable in the decision making process as well as the planning of the wholesale content development strategy.

Joe Pulizzi, the founder of Content Marketing Institute, similarly talks about having a team with clearly defined and comprehensive job descriptions to get the content development done. His idea of a content marketing team revolves around having few members,  namely content creators, producers and editors. As long as the necessary content development roles are being filled adequately, the size of the team does not need to be large. Besides, having a dedicated and small team also allows the workflow to be simple and makes the internal communication much easier.

4. Streamline the Task Assignment Process

Your workflow may be the main culprit behind your inefficient content development process. This is why most experts are embracing task-based workflows instead of status-based workflows. The latter may have its own benefits, but the former allows for obvious and defined roles for everyone on the team, making it easier and less stressful in comparison. In fact, the editing and approval of content is a lot less complicated if you have a clear workflow and shared tools to work on, especially since you will get rid of long email exchanges.

In a task-based workflow, you give the complete task to a specific person and provide a soft or hard deadline for its completion. Since you will keep track of this simple procedure for all your team members, it is called task-based working.

One tip to remember here is to ensure that deadlines are different from the actual publishing date. Do highlight the difference between the two for your team.  Moreover, set soft reminders of due dates. This gesture will be appreciated by your team and subsequently your superiors when the work is finished on time.

5. Organize Your Content Development

Ali Parmelee, the co-owner and brand strategist at THINK creative group, believes that the toughest challenge in developing huge amounts of content is its organization. You may think that you have this aspect covered simply because you have an editorial calendar which you use to keep your content production process on track. Truth is, however, organization goes beyond determining which content is published when.

In order to be organized, you need to make a few changes in your content marketing department. Here are some that will definitely using the same tools as much as possible.

  • Consider using a single tool to help team members communicate. That way, the discussions will be streamlined and no one will miss anything. Having a workflow also comes in really handy here.
  • In addition to a content calendar, have a comprehensive marketing calendar handy to ensure that your projects are according to the company’s marketing strategy.
  • Have a singular version of naming convention for your files and folders. It does not matter whether you create different types of content or have different styles of content creators. Keeping a set naming convention would be simple and helpful for the content manager or editor or anyone who needs to take a look at the created content.

6. Expand Beyond Content Creation to Content Curation

Developing high quality content can be a challenge, especially for new content developers or smaller teams. However, this never stops best-in-class marketers as they can always resort to content creation instead. By inviting guest bloggers to contribute their knowledge, interviewing industry experts, and seeking permission to re-publish thought leaders’ content, you can easily reap the following benefits.

  • High Quality, Relevant Content – Curating expert content allows you to selectively find, organize and annotate the best content related to your industry. However, you need to balance creating and curating content to prevent your brand from looking lazy.
  • Increased Engagement and More Traffic – Spare your readers from visiting millions of blogs and news sites by providing them with the information they seek on your own website. By featuring high quality, industry-specific content from diverse sources, you can make your site the ultimate destination for informed readers.
  • Inspiration for Your Content Creation Team – Curating content will also benefit your own content marketing tem in two ways. Their online searches will expose them to new approaches and strategies used by the competition and other organizations in their industry. They may even be inspired to write a few related posts or come up with a follow up series based on a curated post.
  • Increased Interaction with Other Content Creators – By curating content from others and attributing for content providers through prominent, clear back links, you can drive traffic to their site and boost their search engine rankings. So, what is in it for you? Marketers are firm believers in scratching each other’s’ backs. Therefore, you can expect your next relevant post to be curated on the other brand’s website or blog.
  • Better Use of Marketing Resources – In addition to improving your content marketing initiatives and boosting your content development process, curating content can be quite cost-effective since you get high quality, relevant content without spending more than 20 minutes a day. As a result, content marketers can focus on other tasks and help the brand achieve maximum exposure.

7. Promote Your Content as Much as Possible

The promotion of you content is equally as important as writing it. After all, this is what will get your content the exposure it deserves and assure you of a positive ROI on your efforts. However, in order for your promotional efforts to be worthwhile, you need to start promoting your content early. Here is a seven phase framework you should consider following to effectively promote your content.

  1. Planning – You need to have a plan in hand. To create one, you need to research your audience and determine your message. To identify your audience, consider analyzing your analytics thoroughly and conducting surveys if necessary. That way, you can segment your audience based on the value they get from your content. From there, you can come up with promotional messages which address each of these segments.
  2. 2+ Weeks Before Launching Your Content – During this phase, you need to identify influencers who will help promote your content. This includes high ranking websites and industry leaders in your niche. Create a list of these influencers and enlist their help.
  3. A Week Before the Launch – The busiest phase of promoting content, it entails pre-testing content with influencers, creating emails to market your content, drafting and queuing social media ads, and coming up with complementary posts.
  4. Day of Launch – On the day you publish your content, you’ll need to begin sending emails to your outreach list and compare results. Monitor which channels offer the most exposure and get rid of those which do not contribute much to your content.
  5. Week of the Launch – While your content is still generating ample buzz, share and retweet positive comments and address concerns with tact. Consider also submitting articles to email newsletters to direct more traffic to your content.
  6. On-Going Opportunities – Thank people for sharing your content and monitor different channels to find new opportunities for you to re-share your content.
  7. Wrap Up – Review the metrics of your content to determine how effective it has been since you published it. You can later use this information to improve your content development process the next time round.

Start by embracing the easiest tips on this list and work your way to the tougher ones. That way, you can begin improving your content development process effectively and quickly.