Let’s face it:
Creating relevant, high-quality content that engages your prospects is challenging.
Yet, Content Marketing Institute found that in the last 12 months, 56% of B2B Content Marketers have increased their spending on content creation.
With the explosion in the amount of content produced, it’s even more important than ever to document your content marketing strategy. Specifically, having a content creation process in place can remove the guesswork in writing and weed out the inefficiencies.
Here are five simple steps to streamline your content creation such that it drives business results and then, let your creative juices flow.
Step #1: Determine Your ‘Why’ Of Content Creation
To make your content creation process sustainable for your company, first establish the goals you want to achieve with it. Most content creators disregard the place of the content in the marketing funnel and the role it plays in their customer journey. They create content on subjects they fancy.
Remember, a successful content marketing strategy consists of creating content for all the stages of the funnel.
So before you put fingers on the keyboard, write down ‘why’ you’re creating content.
- Do you want to grow your blog traffic and generate brand awareness through it?
- Do you want to increase traffic to SEO landing pages and build out your lead generation machine?
- Will it help in educating your customers about your product?
- Do you want to streamline the onboarding process of customers?
This step calls out for actively looking at your current content resources and see how you’re leveraging them in your content marketing. It is time-consuming but ensures that you mindfully create content tied with your bottom line.
There are other benefits of ‘starting with why’ on any project. It’s articulated well by Simon Sinek in the TED talk below.
Before you move to step 2, here are a couple of aspects you need to take care of:
1. Create an editorial calendar where you’ll document your content marketing research and strategy. Don’t have one? Then, borrow the content marketing editorial template by Ryan Robinson. I have used it for three content projects to keep my content marketing efforts organized.
2. If you don’t have a buyer persona, then talk to your customers and use the guide by HubSpot to create one.
Step 2: Research Content Ideas and Fill Your Editorial Calendar
Most businesses think content marketing is about targeting short-tail, high-volume keywords. It’s about building brand awareness and letting go of conversions. However, Jimmy Daly, the marketing director at Animalz, believes that an equally viable strategy is to start content creation at the bottom of the funnel.
For that, you need to talk to your sales and customer support teams about recurring apprehensions they run into. Then, do keyword research to come up with long-tail and niche keywords. The advantage? Such keywords are less competitive and convert well. You can build momentum and authority by targeting these long-tail keywords.
Benji and Devesh over at Grow and Convert also use such a conversion-driven SEO strategy for their clients. It calls for turning the traditional keyword research process upside down – you begin with the customer pain points and map relevant keywords at the end.
By following the above pain-point SEO strategy, content marketer, Nat Eliason, grew the sales of Cup and Leaf (his tea company) by 300% in 2 months.
Hence, if you already have access to customers through offline channels, then it makes sense to put your audience first.
If you’re starting from scratch without access to your prospects, then take the usual keyword research route. Fill the content calendar by prioritizing keywords based on the business value. For example, at The Ecommerce Academy (T.E.A.), the direct to consumer post was among the first batch of articles we published.
It was because in our keyword research we identified it as a very high-value keyword with decent traffic potential and low keyword difficulty.
At this stage, a lot of content marketers talk about choosing the right content format that serves their audience. However, I recommend you to stick with written content at the beginning as it’s proven to work and cheaper to create. Once you have built authority and traffic through your blog, you can afford the luxury to produce videos.
So forego any keywords for which Google favors non-textual content. For example, “how to tie knot” sees videos at the top of SERP, so there’s no point in writing a detailed blog post on the subject. Nightwatch offers you an unbiased SERP view inside its free search simulator that you can use for understanding the intent. Here’s a screenshot for “how to tie knot.”
By the end of step 2, ensure that you have attached dates to the content you’ll create for the next quarter (preferably two). Produce content at a frequency that doesn’t lead to a compromise in quality.
Step 3: Execute Your Content Plan
Alright, now it’s time to…?
Stick to your deadlines.
Generally, small content teams have a blog manager and a content creator (could be a freelancer) working out of a calendar. However, as per the Orbit Media 2018 Blogging Survey if you can afford a dedicated editor, the correlation of reporting “strong results” might increase.
Either way, remember that your first draft of the post is far from perfect. Let it run through multiple rounds of editing (if required). For instance, Si Quan from Ahrefs recently wrote an article on mapping keywords to the buyer’s journey (a complex subject, aye?) And he confessed on Twitter that he had to rewrite the draft multiple times.
If you have a dedicated designer on the team, then you can also create custom branded graphics and improve the aesthetic value of your content.
The last step before publishing is uploading the content. If you’re using Google Documents for writing and WordPress as your content management system (CMS), then you can shave off two to three hours from uploading content by using Wordable.
Ideally, you should document the above content creation process flow and share it with all the team members. I have worked with content teams that manage content projects out of Asana, Trello, Slack, Spreadsheets, and even Gmail. Choose your project management tool wisely so that it facilitates efficient content creation. If you want a good list of overall blog tools (including for project management), check out this list.
Step 4: Create Supplemental Resources For Promoting Your Content
Alongside every blog post, you can create supporting graphics and the accompanying copy for email and social media. Else, like my friend, John Espirian, you can create an audio podcast or a video for every post to make it more digestible.
You can also repurpose your written content into other formats to squeeze more traffic from your content creation efforts. Venngage grew their website traffic by 400% because of their uncanny ability to repurpose blog posts into infographics. In the video below, Sara (the blog editor at Venngage) shows you how you can convert one blog post into six visuals.
If Pinterest is a major marketing channel, you can create vertical graphics for every post. For my website ChintanZalani.com, I had hired a graphic designer to create branded vertical image templates. It allowed me to quickly create featured images for Pinterest for all of my articles.
Once you’ve created collaterals for your content, hand it over to your content promotion superstars to get exposure on your content. If you’re the sole person responsible for content on your team, then refer our list of content promotion tools and build your stack to boost your traffic.
Step 5: Check Your Analytics And Tweak Your Strategy
Once you push out and promote your content consistently, the needle should move. Your blog posts should rank for keywords, there must be an uptick in the number of sessions and users to your site, and finally also uplift of your conversion rate.
Depending on your business, settle down on the metrics you want to track and analyze. Read our content marketing metrics articles to get a few ideas. Also, both SEO and content marketing take time to deliver results. As per an Ahrefs study of 2 million random keywords, merely of the 22% pages in the top 10 were created within one year.
However, you should start seeing results from your content marketing at the sixth-month mark.
Depending on your performance and the growth of your business, you can tweak your content creation strategy. If you find your efforts are falling flat because of a lack of coordination between creation and promotion, then it makes sense to hire a content manager. They will manage the complete content marketing lifecycle.
Else, you might need to hire MORE content creators for sustaining your business growth. So it calls for having writing systems and content creation guidelines in place.
Build Your Content Creation Process Now!
And there you have it. Now, it’s time to put in the hard work and run through these five steps to creating a sustainable content creation process. I won’t say it’s easy. But once you set systems, you’ll feel liberated to create content because you know it’s well-planned to deliver business results.
What’s your number one bottleneck that has prevented you from streamlining your content creation? Let me know in the comments below.