A bad content marketing workflow is really bad. It means that your content is unlikely to produce sales and leads, leaving not only your content team frustrated but also the c-suite. We're not about to let that happen.
Your workflow isn't just about the process, people and tools.
It's also about the content you're producing, and why.
This post marks our third and final installment in our series on how to build high-performing content teams. Just a quick note before we dive in, if you think your tools or your team might be weighing you down, check out our other posts in this series first.
- Top Digital Marketing Tools and Techniques for Content Teams
- Developing a Content Marketing Team Structure That Works
In this post, we're going to give you the full run down on developing a content workflow that is not only efficient but also outcomes-driven. So let's do it!
Table of contents:
Did you know that content marketing is used by 91% of B2B marketers and 86% of B2C marketers?
But without strategy, your content becomes a hodgepodge mess of ideas and abandoned campaigns. After a year of producing content without a documented strategy, you'll have a huge list of blog posts and podcast episodes without a whole lot of revenue to show for it.
Of course, creating a content machine takes time and devotion. Content marketing isn't a quick win. But if you fail to strategize, it won't ever be a win.
Content strategy requires these steps:
- Fully understanding your target audience
- Determining your goals for content (in terms of quarterly impressions and conversions overall, as well as benchmarks for every piece of content)
- Reviewing your existing content — what's delivering traffic and what isn't, what's delivering leads/sales and what isn't
- Choosing your best channels
- Coming up with new content ideas based on all of the above and improving the middle of the funnel to be sure that as much new traffic as possible moves through your funnel
If you think strategy isn't a part of your content marketing workflow, you're wrong. Sorry to be blunt. Considering strategy as separate is how marketing dollars go to waste. Before anything moves to the assigning or publishing stages, it should have been fully vetted.
For every new content idea, you need to ask yourself the following...
- Will it resonate with my audience?
- Do I have a plan for sharing it with my audience?
- Will it deliver the right kind of traffic? Is the topic suited to my ideal customer?
- Do I have a plan for converting that traffic into leads or customers?
💡Tips for streamlining the strategy step
Your content strategy (who you are communicating with, why and how) allows you to develop a content plan that you can assign to writers, designers, etc.
To make your strategy foolproof, follow these tips:
- Include senior leaders (VP of marketing, marketing manager, CEO, etc.).
- Get feedback from colleagues.
- Use an editorial calendar to plan quarterly or monthly. This saves time and helps content stay on track with the company's overall strategic vision.
- Also plan ahead for one to three pieces of ad hoc content (newsworthy or trending items that you want your company to cover for good branding). Don't create more "extra" pieces in a quarter than what your plan and budget allow.
Now that you know what content you are creating and why, it's time to assign content pieces to your team! You need help in creating quality content. Longer, in-depth posts generate 9x more leads than shorter content, and yet 18% of blog posts are longer than 750 words. Get the help you need with content writing and other skills.
Depending on the size of your team and what channels matter to you, you might be working with writers, graphic designers, photographers, videographers, video editors, proof readers and more.
For some deliverables (like video), you may need to provide more information in your content brief, but at the very least, here's the information to include in your task management tool whenever you assign something:
- Intended audience segment (if you have multiple)
- Purpose (such as generating new leads or nurturing existing leads or educating existing customers)
- Content format, length, etc.
💡Tips for streamlining the assigning step
Fortunately, since you've taken the first step (strategizing), you're already light years ahead of other content teams. But even still, things can get tricky when it comes to assigning work out to colleagues and freelancers. Here are some tips to make things run smoothly:
- Use a collaboration tool to not only help keep other people on track but to help you remember what work you've assigned and what is still outstanding
- Organize your collaboration tool into a board view with columns that represent your process. Columns might be something like drafting, proofing, final drafting, publishing, promoting etc.
Let's not make publishing content harder than it has to be. 71% of B2B buyers surveyed in 2018 said they consumed content as part of their buying journey. This is up 66% from 2017, meaning the influence of content on sales is clearly on the rise.
If you want to make it difficult to publish content consistently, go ahead and have writers deliver blog posts via Google docs or Word.
But if you want to make it easy, request that writers submit content using a tool like StoryChief, so you can automatically publish it to your blog (and many other places) as soon as it has been approved. This helps you skip the hassle of having to copy and format blogs from the Google or Word docs turned in by your writers.
With content publishing, another important thing to keep in mind is to maximize your content's reach. Don't just publish it on your blog and stop there. Look into opportunities for blog syndication to spread your content to outlets with large amounts of relevant traffic.
💡Tips for streamlining the publishing step
- For written content, use StoryChief to publish or schedule blog content in the same dashboard where you plan, edit and write!
- Use StoryChief to publish to multiple places at once (Medium, your blog, LinkedIn etc. etc.) so you don't have to worry about copying and pasting now or about version control later.
- For audio and video content, make sure you have the necessary technical skills on your team. If pushing content takes you (as the content manager or marketing manager) a large amount of time, you are likely better off spending your time optimizing and analyzing content and outsourcing the technical aspects of publishing to an assistant.
Like strategy, promotion is another crucial step that so many content marketing teams leave out of their workflows. B2B marketers use an average of 5 social media platforms to share content, but as you'll learn effective promotion is about more than sharing. Unfortunately, only 24% of B2B marketers partner with other companies to expand their audience reach.
Things happen. People get busy. But even still, promotion should always have a place in your workflow.
Content promotion consists of (but is not limited to):
- Organic company social media posts the day that the content goes live
- Organic ongoing company social media posts for evergreen content
- Employee advocacy: employees sharing content from their personal accounts
- Paid company social media posts to boost views
- Co-marketing opportunities (when content managers share content from non-competing companies in their industry or partner to create content and then both share it)
- Influencer marketer shares
- Press coverage: notifying press of new content so they can cover it and link to it
- Warm and cold outreach for back link building
You're not expected to do everything on the list for every piece of content. If you've done the strategy phase right, you should have a doable promotion plan in place for every piece of content.
💡Tips to streamline the promotion step
- Have two or three tiers of content promotion with a documented process for each tier. For every piece of content, choose which promotion tier it falls under ("standard" or "aggressive" for example) and follow that plan. A standard plan might include organic social media promotion, while an aggressive plan would include organic and paid social media as well as email outreach. For each piece of content pick the right tier.
- If someone other than you handles the promotion stage (such as a social media manager or marketing assistant), make sure you regularly meet with that person to discuss what forms of promotion result in the most content views and engagement. That way you can work together to improve the promotion plan as you go.
Analysis is another step that too many content teams skip. Conversion rates for companies who do content marketing are 6x higher than those who don't. But that isn't a statistic you can show to your boss. You need to know exactly how content is impacting your marketing results.
Strategy isn't separate from your content workflow, and neither is analysis. You should be in the habit of regularly checking performance and figuring out how to improve.
Take a look at all of your posts for the last month or quarter.
It's wise to keep an excel spreadsheet for every large piece of content (such as a blog, ebook, video or podcast). The spreadsheet can include the content's URL, target keyphrase, channel, and more to help you do reviews quickly and to also help you find an existing piece of content fast, in case you want to link to it or share it again. Once those basic details are added for every piece of content, you can add additional columns for your quarterly reviews.
Use your favorite reporting tools (such as StoryChief's reporting insights and Google Analytics) to find the following information and then input it for every quarter for every high-value piece of content.
- Page views
- Unique page views
- Top 2 traffic sources
- Conversion rates
- Time spent on the page
- Number of shares
It might seem like a bit of work, but you'll be amazed at how much you learn during these quarterly reviews. You see what content formats work best, as well as what promotion channels and content topics.
You can see what brings in traffic versus what converts traffic to help you architect better funnels.
💡Tips for streamlining analysis
Analyzing content results directly impacts your strategy. After this step you reiterate and go back to step 1, so don't skip this part. Here's how to make it a reality:
- Set up a spreadsheet with every large, high-value piece of content. Review performance quarterly. After a year, you can stop reviewing content that is not evergreen.
- Look for trends in: top traffic sources, top channels, audience segments, and topics, including customer goals and customer problems.
- Get help from a Google Analytics guru if you need it. Once you have your review process set up, it will be quicker to run.
- Once your quarterly review process is in place, get in the habit of checking in on big recent projects at the end of the month. Why wait to find out results? If you've invested a lot in a piece of content, you'll want to know whether it's getting traction so you can increase promotion if needed, or pivot those resources to something else.
Consolidate your tool use where possible
This 5-step workflow can help any team get better results from their content marketing, and yet too often, teams skip the most important steps: strategy, promotion and analysis.
Do you know WHY so many companies skip the important steps?
Because their team is weighed down with the tasks of assigning and publishing. 🤷♀️
But guys, it is not 2010 anymore. Assigning and publishing does not need to be a headache. With writer/editor collaboration, automatic publishing and instant promotion, StoryChief makes the middle of your workflow so much faster. That way you can spend more time on strategy and analysis, and get better results overall.