Whether you’re organizing your closet like Marie Kondo or using the Dewey decimal system to find a book in the library, an organized process can make your life much easier. The content creation process works the same. Successful campaigns usually start with strong processes. Once you establish this, your content team can focus on what matters: brainstorming, competitor research, content production, and hitting those KPIs.
So, where to begin? In this article, we’ll run through the basics of content creation and how you can set up a seamless process to achieve your goals:
So what exactly is content creation?
To answer that question, let’s first define content in the context of digital marketing.
The content creation process is the steps it takes to research, plan, write, and publish your content. Want to grow your influence and reach your target audience? It starts with the right content process.
Why does content creation matter? (Hint: Content is king)
You’ve probably heard that content is king, or in my world queen. So, you know that content creation must be at the top of the marketing power structure. But why?
Content shapes the experience of your customers. It helps them get to know your brand and personality. Are you funny? Dependable? Organized? Only content can truly answer their questions about the who, not just the what. Plus, it attracts more customers from Google and other search engines, looking for information or services. So, if we know the content is essential in making your mark, the content creation process matters in order to be strategic in getting you there. After all, this is the process that will help you make the content that actually reaches your audience. A flawed process will result in ineffective content and no one hates unread writing more than a marketer.
Content marketing – that works – relies both on the consistent creation of new content and the optimization of the old. Think of the content creation workflow as a production cycle with a steady output of quality content. Unlike in traditional marketing campaigns, where you plan marketing materials around a specific event such as a product launch or a specific offer, in digital content marketing, you incorporate these events into your regular content flow.
A structured content creation workflow allows for high efficiency in your creative efforts, which leads to better content (and more of it). It also lets you schedule your content formats, whether they are white papers, blogs, templates, case studies, or other types of content in advance.
Strategy: the secret to a successful content creation process
If you want to set up a content creation flow that works like a well-oiled machine, constantly churning out impactful content (even when you are away), you need to plan accordingly.
To make sure you are consistently publishing content that grabs and holds attention, you need a long-term content calendar based on a data-driven strategy developed from the most up-to-date data and insights from competitive marketing intelligence platforms like Similarweb. This ensures your content creation process has a steady flow and keeps you on track with your strategy.
Another important aspect of your strategy: search engine optimization (SEO). You want search engines to find your content and put it in front of your audience, so you can maximize your reach. Search engines consider your entire content package, not just individual assets and an SEO plan creates a harmonic alliance. If you have a large marketing team it also helps to align content creators, strategists, and SEO team members on the same goals and output.
Creating a successful content creation workflow
Phase 1: Content planning
In addition to the overall purpose of a marketing channel, content assets should have dedicated objectives as well. Some examples:
- Builds trust and credibility
- Promotes a feature or event
- Generates leads through gated asset
The specific goal of a piece of content impacts the content type, text structure, and tone of language from start to finish.
Get specific about the target audience. Ask questions such as: What are their expectations? How much do they know about the topic? What do they need to learn in order to feel accomplished and satisfied from reading this piece?
This impacts the kind of information you’ll provide and its depth.
Types of content
The question you need to ask next is: What type of content will help me reach my KPIs and goals effectively? Think of the kind of visuals that would emphasize the message. If it’s a blog post, should it include original images or maybe an infographic? Could a video or podcast get your message out better? These assets take time to produce, so it’s a good idea to plan ahead and work on them simultaneously. Remember you can repurpose existing content into new forms to really expand your reach.
See what competitors say about a certain subject and what they’re missing. How do they present the topic? Be sure to investigate how your competitors’ content performs. It’s not enough to check the high-ranking blog posts to determine success. You can use Similarweb’s tools to do a competitive content analysis and look under the hood of your competitor’s digital strategy, learn what works best, and build yours better.
The content brief summarizes the above decisions as instructions for the content creation process. Yes, you’ll start writing soon. Whether you write the content yourself or outsource it to a freelancer, a thorough brief is always beneficial as a reference point.
Phase 2: Content creation
Sometimes people skip this phase. Research though, is crucial to effective writing. You’ve already looked into what your competitors are doing. Now it’s time to research what you should be doing. Once you have a brief, you can research other similar articles. You can also talk to experts at your company and in your field to make sure you are adding unique and high value when you start to write.
Take what you’ve learned from your research and start your ideation process. Try to identify the search intent of people who interacted with the most popular content on the topic. In the previous stage, you’ve established how you want to benefit AKA what a reader does next. Now determine what the reader gets out of it.
Collect ideas for a storyline and write down possible headlines and subheadlines. Decide the concept of visuals, set basic directions for the video, e.g. animation, presentation, or actual footage. All these details are key to getting on (digital) paper as you prepare.
Select supporting content
Choose the best concept for your pillar piece and then plan which additional content pieces you might need, such as a landing page, email blast, webinar, and/or social media posts for repurposing and/or distribution. Make sure to add them to your calendar or social media calendar, and sync the team on your entire campaign timeline to make the most impact.
Now it’s go-time. Write your draft, keeping in mind your target audience and your goal. Remember, it is all about them. You want to make it as engaging and actionable as possible.
Do you have one? If so, and even if you’re trying out something totally new, try to ensure all your content adheres to brand guidelines. Just as graphics need to align with the brand colors, text with the brand voice. You want your content to be instantly recognized and turn into a go-to source of information in your field.
It’s time to assemble all the pieces: Text, video, and graphics for a blog, the landing page for gated content, the gated asset itself, email blasts, and social media posts. Run a quality check on everything. Based on your content brief, double-check that all your boxes are checked on your content checklist to make sure it’s aligned with your content marketing and SEO strategy.
Publish and promote
When everything is polished, publish the piece and start distributing it through your various channels. Sending it at reasonable intervals increases the chance that the right people will see and engage with your great content. And a little tip – even if you’re ready to get things moving, skip the weekend and sleepy hours so it’ll go live while your readers are awake and ready for it.
Phase 3: Content optimization
Based on your KPIs, you can start monitoring your content’s performance. Metrics like bounce rate, time on page, and pages per visit will all tell you how engaging your content is for readers. If you have a high bounce rate compared to competitors in your industry, you will know that readers immediately thought your pages were not helpful. Using accurate and real-time analytics is important if you want to take actionable steps to improve your performance.
With Similarweb you can analyze these metrics and the metrics of your competitors to do effective benchmarking and adjust your strategy accordingly. channels are bringing in the bulk of your traffic and drill down into the behaviors of those content consumers based on where they came from. Are your readers who came from SEO more likely to enjoy an article from start to finish? Are your Facebook followers hot to click on your CTAs? This information will be pivotal as you optimize both this piece of content and your greater strategy.
Revise your content
Based on the performance tracking you can zoom out to identify patterns, strengths, and weaknesses. From your findings, you can tweak and revise your content for better ranking or higher conversion on a regular basis. You can even add promotional campaigns or adapt the schedule to run the campaign again after it’s revised.
Optimize performance over time
Review your content periodically and keep optimizing, and yes we mean like months and years down the road. Keep an eye on your best-performing assets and update them frequently. Add a piece of info, provide current data, or present new findings to keep search engines on their toes. Every so often, you should carry out a full content audit, remove what’s outdated and repurpose valuable pieces based on the most up-to-date research.
Get the right data to fuel the process
The success of your content marketing strategy relies on data-driven decisions. A lot of data is required to maintain a productive content-creation process. Not to worry, Similarweb provides a full digital marketing toolkit to support your content marketing and fuel your content creation process. What’s most important is that you have comprehensive and accurate data to help you in all three stages of the process. This includes how your content holds up to your competitors.