Replace the words “content marketing process” in the title with most any business-related process you’ll come to the same conclusion.
When you get down to brass tacks, you have to do what works for you (and your team) because no two content marketing processes will ever be exactly the same. Having a solid content marketing manager can be a lifesaver, but you may not have the luxury of hiring one yet. Knowing the many benefits of content marketing is half the battle.
Arm yourself with a content plan including the following 7 overarching stages and content marketing best practices, and build your digital marketing strategy framework.
The Content Marketing Process
The 7 Content Process Steps
Bearing in mind that the stages represent a cycle that is always in motion, there are 7 keys to success:
- Content Inventory of your current library
- Content Research that’s thoughtful and deliberate
- Content Goal Setting that’s realistic yet challenging
- Content Planning for every detail while remaining flexible
- Content Production of the content alone or as a team
- Content Promotion across many channels and repeatedly
- Content Measuring and analyzing impact big and small
If there was an 8th stage, then it would merely be called “Repeat” because once you’ve got your piece of content launched then it’s time to regroup and do it again
Now, let’s dive a little deeper into each step.
1. Content Inventory: Do this before you start putting out loads of content.
Before you start putting out loads of content, it’s vital to be aware of what you have so you can see what’s worked in the past. You can even update or repurpose old content for republishing.
Create a detail list of all the data of your existing content, including but not limited to:
- Title / H1 Heading
- Categories / Tags
- Stage in the customer journey (Awareness/Consideration/Decision)
- Content Type (Branding/Lead-generating)
- Content Format (Blog, Guest blog, Case study, Podcast, etc.)
- Location (URL link)
- Publication date
- Word count
- Image Count
- Hyperlink Count
Depending on your personality, you may find this part of the cycle tedious but just know that it’s worth it in the end. Best case scenario? You learn something new. Worst case scenario? None.
2. Content Research: Get up from your desk and talk to people.
Whether it’s your sales team or your customers, conduct external research to understand the needs of your customers and the problems they need solving.
Come up with the most accurate customer personas as possible. Figure out what past content was most successful with your customers in the past—plan to do more of that for each customer persona. Keep in mind that nothing remains constant, particularly when it comes to behavioral sciences. So always be prepared to change things up!
3. Content Goal Setting: Establish your KPIs and set your goals.
What is it you want to get out of your published content? If you just wanted to push words out into the world wide web, you could always start a vanity blog or spout proverbs on social media points. But if you’re willing to put thought and time into creating a content strategy, then you clearly have some business goals in mind.
Is it increased traffic to your pages that you’re after? Higher conversion rate? A certain number of leads per month?
Perhaps you’re at the stage where bringing awareness and focusing on your branding is the priority. Set your goals and revisit them often while keeping yourself in check every so often and asking, “Why content marketing?”
4. Content Planning: High-quality content starts before putting pen to paper.
The quality of your content marketing plan can make or break your content strategy.
This could be anything from keyword planning for search engine optimization (SEO) or studying trends or hot topics in the news. It’s also a viable strategy to piggyback on previous posts that have worked well for you.
Plan your Editorial Calendar out as far as possible. Do this with the understanding that dates or details may change at a moment’s notice.
5. Content Production
Embrace the content creation process!
Keep on message and speak the language of your audience. Never underestimate the importance of choosing the right title for your piece of content for digital publishing. Also, be sure to have another set of eyes (or two) help in the editing process and bring in other creative artists (designers, videographers, etc.) as needed.
There is good content marketing software out there that helps you do all of this once you get a good rhythm going.
6. Content Promotion
Figure out which distribution channels work best for you by trying all of them for a six-month period, at least. You can promote each channel manually or publish multi-channel using a content marketing tool.
- Owned: Your own websites, social media platforms, and newsletters
- Earned: Your ambassadors and back-linking opportunities
- Paid: Advertising and PPC
Content distribution is just as important as the actual content creation process. After all, you do want to reach a wide audience. If not, then you’d probably just be writing in your personal journal!
7. Content Measuring
The work doesn’t end just because your content is published.
Whether it’s Google Analytics or your own data crunching methods, be sure to keep an eye out for patterns in your data and conversion rates. How well is your content doing? Don’t look for results overnight. Content marketing is a marathon and not a sprint to the finish line.
In Conclusion: Let’s demystify the content marketing world
Content marketing strategy is not just built to push products or services.
Your biggest challenges can be overcome as long as your messaging is aligned with your values. Don’t look for shortcuts when it comes to high-quality content.
Be sure your inbound marketing content is:
- Relevant and well-researched
- Optimized for search engines and lead captures
- Interactive and actionable
Then settle in for the long haul and continue to invest in your content marketing process!