September 04, 2019
September 04, 2019
A successful content management process must include planning, creation, publishing, distribution and analysis.
The vendor-as-publisher concept is a powerful one, but acting like a publisher is a lot harder said than done.
A study by the Content Marketing Institute highlights the problem. When asked to identify their top content marketing challenge, marketers cited three primary issues:
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This highlights content marketing’s perfect storm: How can marketers create high-quality content at scale with a limited budget?
One way to overcome these challenges is to define and use a standard content marketing process. Traditional media companies have used processes to produce higher-quality content and to scale their day-to-day operations for decades.
In the media industry, a good process provides a company with standards, definitions and best practices for the entire content life cycle. It governs the key activities, organization, metrics and technology that support that life cycle.
Within the world of content marketing, a standard process can deliver two primary benefits:
A content marketing process we often recommend to our clients consists of five key steps:
Content planning is the act of developing a plan that will guide a brand’s content marketing efforts. Planning should specify the details of creating, publishing, distributing and measuring a content marketing program.
Strategic components of content planning include understanding how the brand and target market will intersect in the form of content, as well as the development of specific themes and topics.
Understanding how the buyer journey drives content is also critical. Marketers should articulate measurable objectives for their content marketing efforts in the planning phase.
A content plan should contain tactical elements such as specifications of titles, content forms, contributors and publication dates. An authoritative calendar is often a useful tool for capturing these tactical elements.
When developing the content marketing plan:
Content creation focuses on the development of raw material as opposed to final, published assets.
Identifying specific topics that content should be built around is critical. Most of the effort in the content creation phase should be allocated to sourcing content from contributors, including internal employees or external groups such as customers, third-party thought leaders and freelancers.
During content creation, it’s important to use technology that allows for the efficient creation and collection of content. Self-publishing tools and commonly used content aggregation tools are useful here, as is an efficient process for recruiting and managing contributors.
Whatever the tool or process, the marketer’s objective should be to make the act of creating content much more efficient. Effective content creation best practices include:
Publishing content is the process that transforms raw content into a published asset or set of assets. Specifying a list of final content assets that will be supported as part of the content marketing program is critical to this framework element.
Common asset types include articles, blog posts, whitepapers, online events, videos, printed documents and podcasts. Mapping published assets to the content plan’s objectives can dramatically improve results given that audiences cite form of publication as one of the most important variables they use to judge content.
There is typically a significant amount of workflow associated with content publication, including steps for editing and approving content for final publication. It can be minimized with technology and tight process control.
Marketers should prepare to leverage its content by taking a single piece and publishing it as multiple assets. There are several points of leverage to consider when publishing content:
Once content is published, it can then be distributed. As a general rule, marketers should apply multiple distribution tactics to a single published content asset.
There are a variety of both earned (free) and paid tactics available including search engine optimization, paid search, social sharing, word of mouth, advertising and email marketing.
To improve distribution results, marketers should develop distribution packages that can be linked to specific assets. For example, events might be best distributed via an email-centric marketing plan.
Finally, the development of standard content distribution playbooks can free up time for more strategic activities. When distributing content:
There are a variety of traditional metrics that convey how content is performing in terms of traffic acquisition, engagement, and at various conversion points from lead to customer.
Example metrics include brand uplift, search engine referrals, social activity and lead conversion rates.
While these metrics span a typical marketing life cycle, there are two additional points that can make content analysis more productive and allow marketers to publish more effective content:
When analyzing your content marketing program:
This process can be used as a starting point and customized to meet your specific marketing objectives. Just remember that no matter what process you adopt, you are trying to simultaneously improve the quality of your content and produce more of it.
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