How many times per month are you publishing new content on your site? What are you planning to achieve with your content? What are the steps of your content development process? Do you have a strict plan or you just go with the flow?
So many questions, right?
But those are important questions, especially if you want to consistently produce high quality content as a part of your content marketing strategy.
This article will teach you how to set up a content development process capable of supporting your marketing goals.
However, before we discuss the steps itself, let’s define content development and single out some benefits of publishing great content on a regular basis.
What is content development?
Simply put, content development is the process of researching, creating, and publishing useful information in order to achieve various goals. It is a part of a bigger picture, called content strategy.
High-quality and relevant content provides answers and solutions to the questions and problems your target audience is experiencing. Great content doesn’t only help you attract new leads, but can also “push” them deeper into your sales funnel.
For content to be as effective as possible, it needs to be created strategically, offer actionable information, and be properly optimized. All of that can be achieved by setting up a sound content development process.
The benefits of publishing great content
We have all heard of the saying “Content is king!”, right? And it’s true, content rules! Nonetheless, only a well-shaped, authentic content will be able to carry out its purpose.
By creating great content you can shape the conversation about the value of your products or services and direct more buyers towards your brand. That’s just one of many advantages that great content brings to the table.
Let’s take a deeper dive into the benefits of creating a great content.
1. It builds credibility
When customers visit your website, they are looking for a solution to their pain points. The content developer can position their brand as the customer’s solution through great content. Execute this process successfully and you will become indispensable to your clients when making their purchase decisions.
2. It boosts traffic
Not only will you satisfy your target audience’s needs and build yourself credibility with relevant content, but you’ll make those audiences come back to you. In other words, you’re going to increase your traffic.
Obviously, just writing and publishing your content won’t be enough to boost the traffic, you’ll have to work on optimization of the content as well as promotion. But, don’t worry – it’s totally worth it!
Still not sure enough? Let’s see what the statistics say:
- 70% of people want to find out about the company through a blog post rather than an advert
- publishing more than 16 posts per month will get you approximately 3.5 times more traffic than those publishing 0-4 articles
- 72% of marketers say how content marketing bumps up engagement as well as number of leads
3. It reinforces reputation
Being an expert in your industry is crucial to your online success. People listen to thought leaders more as per Edelman-LinkedIn research. Their data shows that 58% of business decision-makers dedicate at least an hour each week to thought leadership.
Brand reputation is so vital that 47% of C suite executives will give thought leaders their contact info. Even better is that 60% of decision-makers say that thought leadership can convince them to make a purchase.
Thought leadership through content creation will make you a go-to resource in your industry. Your customers will associate your brand with value and helpfulness. When they need a service or product, they will come to you first.
4. It enhances brand affinity
Brand affinity develops when customers enjoy a relationship with your brand. This link results from an emotional connection born out of shared values between you and your customers. According to Motista, customers that have brand affinity also have a 306% higher lifetime value.
High-quality content can enhance positive sentiment and create an emotional connection. E-books, personalized content, and mini-games are content formats that can help build brand affinity.
Set up your content development process following these 8 steps
Content development can be broken down in a few different ways. We decided to split it into 8 steps you can see in the graphic below. The last two steps are marked in a different color as you can argue that they begin after the content development process is finished. However, those steps are intertwined with the rest of the process and are crucial in ensuring that what you publish gets in front of the right eyes.
1. Define goals
Content can be used for many different purposes:
- spreading brand awareness (by generating organic and referral traffic)
- improving brand authority
- improving engagement
- generating leads
- nurturing leads
- closing sales
- increasing brand loyalty
Different content types work better for different goals. Ultimate guides and videos are great at improving brand authority and generating leads, research-type articles and interactive content are great for increasing brand awareness and engagement, and so on.
On top of that, one topic can be covered from many different angles, depending on the phase of the marketing funnel it is aimed at. This is why you should have a clear picture of what you’re trying to achieve with your content and set goals and metrics that can be used to track your progress.
After all, you cannot improve and manage what you cannot measure.
2. Collect information
To sail through the content creation process, brainstorm, research and make a list of overarching pain points that your content should address. Moreover, don’t forget to define your target audience, understand their persona, and map their purchase cycle.
This information will help you focus on the right people and personalize the content to suit their needs. The content is much more engaging when you can use relevant examples and give actionable advice.
It is also not a bad idea to analyze your competitor’s content development strategy. What we like to do when working on a content strategy is to check top performing content from relevant competitors. In other words, we use Ahrefs to check which content gets the most traffic, shares, and backlinks. Below is an example of analysis of one of our competitors:
The goal of such research is to try and notice different trends. Which type of content works best in a certain niche? Which problems are my competitors focusing on? Is there a lot of promotional stuff that ranks well or are there mostly long educational guides? What is the general tone of voice used? All of this might or might not impact the direction of your future content. You won’t know until you do it.
There is a wide range of techniques and tools that you can use to speed up this process of collecting information. They will analyze backlinks for you, perform keyword research, and sweep through social media platforms for data. You can try out tools like:
- Answer the public is a content idea generation tool that provides an overview of the questions people are typing into search engines. After inputting your primary keyword, the tool will show you a visualization of the topics that could be useful in creating a blog post.
- Google Trends to learn what the trending topics are.
- Quora is not really a tool but can give you insight into burning questions and pain points your target audience has.
- BuzzSumo to learn the content sharing habits of online users. BuzzSumo will list the most engaging content as per the search term or industry.
- Ahrefs or SEMrush for performing in-depth keyword research and analyzing the website performance of your top competitors.
3. Conduct a content audit
This is an optional step. If you do not have a lot of content or are just starting, you can just skip it.
The main goal of content audit is to analyze the content on your blog and see existing posts ought to be left as they are, SEO optimized, rewritten, or deleted. Those articles that need to be optimized or rewritten have to be included in your content plans. Moreover, this helps you cross reference existing posts with your future content strategy and ensure you do not end up covering the same thing over again.
A content audit will help you clean up your blog or website to meet your content creation goals. This assessment will help you pinpoint content that delivers on ROI and one that drives your customers away. The main steps of content audit are:
- defining purpose for the analysis
- gathering your content and sorting it into different categories
- picking your data points
- analyze content quality based on defined data points
- decide what to do with each post – retain/update/optimize/eliminate
Here is how to do a simple content audit that follows the above steps.
4. Plan your content strategy and create a content calendar
Creating top-notch content is challenging, so it’s important to be well-organized and design your content plans in advance. A simple content calendar will keep you and your team on track and improve idea generation. There are no strict guidelines on how much information you should include in the calendar – we’ll leave that decision to you.
To get some inspiration, check out our layout below. 😎
Remember, the main purpose of this calendar is to help you stay focused, organized, and accountable.
If you plan to stay consistent and publish multiple content pieces each month, we highly recommend using a simple project management tool to manage the whole process – research, design, writing, review, optimization, publishing, promotion. A single person could go by with a spreadsheet, but this is usually a team effort so the ability to leave comments, get notifications, and assign due dates is irreplaceable.
5. Define content development guidelines
In order to create high-quality, authentic content it’s important to define content development guidelines that you or anyone who’s writing for your blog has to follow. With these guidelines, you’ll make sure that the quality of your content remains consistently high. On top of that, you can use it to define a specific tone of voice and develop a recognizable style.
In other words, your well-formatted content will be much easier to follow and consume, improving the ranking of your content in the process. This means more people that stay on your site for longer – a perfect chance to try to turn them into leads.
Here are some aspects that your guidelines should address include:
When talking about writing guidelines, there are certain things that would be good to define:
- target word count should be based on the topic, but keep in mind that longer content seems to perform better
- formatting guidelines (max paragraph length, capitalization of the letter in your titles and subheadings, how do you plan to highlight important tips, when to use quotes, and similar)
- grammar and spelling guidelines (UK/US/AU)
- linking policy (the use of internal and external links, how to use anchor text)
- tone of voice (formal or informal, use of industry jargon, use of humor in content writing, etc.)
Your guidelines should outline what kind of designs you want to use, so it’s important to define which are the acceptable types of visual content to be included in your posts (videos, custom images, screenshots, diagrams and charts, gifs, memes…).
If you plan to use a lot of custom graphics, we suggest you design a template or two that you can reuse for most of your custom graphics. For example, we have a template for custom images on our blog:
It’s just another way to build a recognizable style and speed up the whole content development process.
6. Write, optimize, and publish your content
According to OptinMonster, there are over 500 million blogs and 1.9 billion web pages on the internet. Sadly, it is only 1.3% of these articles that become “Power Posts”. This paltry amount of content generates over 75% of shares on social media.
To ensure that your content ranks well, create more informative items than what you will find on Google’s first page. Optimize your ranking signifiers and keywords to ensure that Google identifies your content’s relevance.
Before hitting that publish button, check for grammar, style, readability, and SEO readiness using tools such as:
- Grammarly or ProWritingAid to fix clarity, flow, spelling, and grammatical errors
- Canva, Venngage, or Adobe suite to create custom images and infographics
- Yoast to help you optimize your content for selected keywords
- Clearscope for content relevancy optimization
There are many ways to promote a content piece. Below is a list of some channels that you can use for content promotion:
- you can share the content with your email lists
- share content on available social media platforms
- paid search or pay per clicks ads including top of search sponsored listings (great for more promotional posts aimed for direct lead generation)
- you can also do some paid promotion on social via tools like QUUU
- you can work with influencers to increase the reach of your content (works very well for sharing research-type content)
- you can try to partner with popular publishers for branded content promotion
- you can promote your content with cold outreach (worth doing only if you have something really valuable to share)
- you can promote published content by linking to it in your guest posts
If you put enough effort into promotion as you should, it pays to streamline the process. Develop a list of your standard promotion channels and have people on the team responsible for each channel. Make sure that the content lead communicates when the piece is published to everyone involved in the process and track if promotion is going according to plan.
Monitor and analyze your content’s performance. This data will help you optimize and improve your content to ensure that it meets your predefined marketing goals. Depending on your goals, you can track metrics such as:
- page views, impressions vs clicks, number of users, time spent on page, best performing channels, bounce rate, etc. via Google Analytics and Google Search Console
- conversions and sales data to gauge conversion rates (but keep in mind that content quality is just one of the factors and low conversion numbers might be a consequence of many different factors)
- engagement levels when sharing content on social media
- behavior of website visitors with heat mapping tools
It can take a while until your content gets enough visitors so that these metrics are worth checking. Depending on your traffic and how much you invest into content development, we suggest reviewing these metrics quarterly or bi-annually.
The process of content creation is not simple. It takes time and effort to create a piece that will satisfy both your target audience, as well as search engine algorithms.
Remember that this is a team effort. Write down your goals, form your content production team, set up your content development process, and just start working.