Content development is a must for every brand. Check out this complete guide to learn how to go through your content development process!
It’s no secret that you need to pump out quality, consistent content for your brand to grow in the digital space. That doesn’t just happen out of thin air, though. You need to have a content development plan that enables you to plan, produce, publish, and optimize your content. No matter where you’re trying to go or where you end up, your content needs to engage your target audience and deeply resonate with them to be effective.
Content marketing is an art, a science, and above all else, a strategy. That’s why you need to develop a custom content marketing strategy that is tailor-fit to your brand. The content development process will help you conceptualize and plan out content that will measurably help you reach your brand goals and keep everyone on the same page.
For your content to fully work its magic, you need to know your customer base. Like really, truly know them. This rests on analyzing target market data and ensuring that your sales and marketing teams are ultimately working towards the same goal. You also need to provide them with the tools and resources they need to produce stellar content.
Having great content at your disposal enables you to navigate the digital space and reach people who are genuinely interested in what you have to offer. Reaching people who actually care about what you have to say is mission-critical to quality lead generation. Granted, getting there is a lot easier said than done.
Luckily for you, you’re not starting from scratch. You’re starting with the complete A to Z content development guide straight from your favorite content marketing pros here at WriteForMe!
As with most things in life, preparation is a key component of your content development process. This is where you establish your goals, throw around potential ideas, and start to lay the foundation for your content development plan. Preparing everything you need to start creating effective content ahead of time makes it that much easier for your brand to seize the moment once the ball gets rolling. The preparation stage is one of research and foundation, after all. Consider these elements to get the most out of your digital content game.
Define Content Goals
Goals gift direction. You must first establish your overall content marketing goals to start crafting your content roadmap. These goals will serve as the ideal end result of your content development efforts, give your entire process purpose, and help keep you motivated through the ups and downs. The goals may be short or long-term in nature, but all of them should be based on the SMART goals model.
SMART content goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. You must remember that every single piece of content you publish needs to serve a purpose. This purpose drives your brand closer to growth and will help your team stay on the right track. Many marketers make the mistake of crafting content for the sake of it. More often than not, this leads to wasted resources and misdirected efforts that could have been better used elsewhere.
A few SMART goals you could set for your content are to help your website rank higher on the search engines, provide accurate and timely information for your audiences, or boost your engagement. All three of these goals can help strengthen your brand’s presence in the digital space and help you produce effective and engaging content.
Rank Higher on Search Engines
We utilize search engines every day, both personally and professionally. As consumers, we, turn to them to find solutions to our problems in the form of products and services. When a site appears as one of the first few results on search engines, searchers are more likely to click through it compared to others. In fact, more than two-thirds of all click-throughs are won by the first five results on the search engine page.
This means that sites that don’t rank high, particularly those sentenced to the second results page and beyond, are less likely to enjoy any traffic at all. No traffic means no sales, and no sales are no good. That is why content development efforts should be geared toward helping your page rank higher on search engines. You can’t buy what you don’t know exists!
So, you need to do your due diligence and deploy proven search engine optimization (SEO) strategies to get your content to the top of the SERP. Not to mention, highly ranked pages are perceived to be more reliable and trustworthy by audiences, which will help drive sales and conversions for your brand.
Boost Your Engagement on Social Media
Social presence is represented by likes, comments, shares, and saves. The top social media platforms put a lot of value on these elements, and they push content that has good engagement out to a wider audience. By consistently creating valuable content, you can boost your brand’s presence on social media and improve the way your page ranks on social media.
Provide Accurate and Timely Information to Audiences
We have access to all of the information that has ever been known 24/7, and the shock value of that has worn off with the newest generation literally being raised on the Internet and alongside smart devices. That means today’s audiences are after true value above all else. They need to get something out of consuming your content—whether that be best practices, hot takes on industry news, or a little Monday motivation—that they can’t get from your competitors.
At the same time, those stories need to be accurate and timely. Committing to this level of quality content stands to benefit the brand tenfold. By making providing accurate and timely information a goal for your content, you will inherently develop better content that more deeply engages with your target audience all while cementing yourself as an industry authority.
Through the content development process, you will have the opportunity to conduct deep research on your target audience’s wants, needs, and pain points. By doing so, you can determine what value looks like for your unique audience.
Conduct Audience Research
To create effective content, you must first determine who exactly you are trying to reach—and then know them better than they know themselves.
Ask yourself: who is your target audience? What are they looking for, why are they looking for it, and how are you the best option to get it? What platforms are they on, and what kinds of content do they respond well to?
As a whole, thorough target audience research will help you gather insights on how you can develop your content to best engage with your target audiences.
If it’s in-depth enough, anyways. Do your due diligence by looking for key characteristics, establishing a buyer persona, and deeply understanding your target audience’s needs, wants, and pain points. It would also benefit you and your team to have an idea of what your competitors are doing so you know how to optimize your own content strategy and address any gaps. The three types of audience research data you should focus on are:
Alright, class is in session. For starters, behavioral data focuses on what your target audiences do. This covers how they interact and consume your product, and even extends to how they navigate your digital platforms. This kind of data is important because it shows you the best opportunities to engage with your audience, as well as where you can optimize the overall user experience.
Psychographic data, however, takes a deeper dive into what makes your target audience tick. It explores their values, goals, thoughts, and opinions to give you a more holistic view of who you are dealing with. This works hand in hand with demographic data, which gives you basic information about your target audiences, such as age, occupation, social status, etc.
Conducting an in-depth analysis that covers all three types of data will provide you with two key elements that will optimize your content development process: your audience’s preferred formats and topics. As a result, you will have a clearer view of how your audiences go through the buyer journey and provide them with more assistance where they need it. This will help develop trust in your brand, as well as help you establish a relationship with your audience.
Here are some of the questions you should ask when analyzing your audience:
- What digital platform are they most active on?
- What is your audience most passionate about?
- Why would they want or need to purchase a specific product?
- What is your target market’s standard demographic?
Implement a Content Style Guide
Content marketing requires constant, consistent effort from a unified front. Consider developing a content style guide to streamline the content development process and make onboarding a breeze. A content style guide will serve as a roadmap for your content team so they know exactly the voice and vision you’re going for at all times.
This is particularly important when dealing with a pool of writers. As your writers will inevitably come from different backgrounds and boast various writing styles, a content style guide will be their blueprint for creating on-brand content. Your writing team will be tending to your blog posts, landing pages, email newsletters, and the like. The main job of all of them is to showcase your offerings while cementing your brand identity. Having an inconsistent brand voice undermines your messaging and ultimately lessens your impact.
An effective content style guide empowers your writers to get creative in the right direction. They’re also free to reference it as they need. That way, progress isn’t put on hold until a team member can clarify on the following business day. The time and resources saved by compiling (and continually updating) a content style guide are almost too great to calculate.
Here are some elements to include in your brand’s content style guide.
Similar to how different people have different personalities, different brands have different personas. This is what the brand represents, stands for, and wants to share with its target audiences. The persona serves as the umbrella which all other elements of the content style guide fall under. This will help you determine the kind of content that will best highlight your brand and deeply engage your target audience.
Brand Voice and Tone
Voice and tone are what give your brand a human touch. They are used to convey your brand’s values, characteristics, and vision throughout your content. Your brand voice needs to be consistent and should exemplify human characteristics. No one wants to feel like they’re handing their hard-earned cash to a robot that doesn’t care about them, after all. As such, it’s a good idea to include around 6 characteristics to define your brand voice.
Some characteristics could be:
Tone enhances the brand voice by putting feelings into it. This evokes an emotional response from your audience, prompting your content to resonate more deeply with them. You should add around 6 to 10 feelings for your content style guide to see the best fit for your brand.
Some examples of brand tone are:
These are just some ideas that you can incorporate into your content style guide. Feel free to play around with different characteristics and emotions to find the set that best represents your brand.
We live in a world full of color, belief systems, and ideas as far as the imagination can stretch. Today’s content needs to be inclusive and respectful of all of those cultures and backgrounds. Any quality content style guide will work overtime to reinforce these notions of diversity and inclusion. Because, at the end of the day, they’re not just what makes a company great, they’re what pushes us as a society forward.
When developing your content style guidelines, be sure to include dos and don’ts when it comes to writing about your audiences. Be mindful of factors like pronouns, disabilities, gender, sexuality, race, religion, medical conditions, and other important but sensitive topics.
You can have the most insightful and in-depth content in the world. But, if it’s not readable, you can kiss your chances at engagement goodbye. Readability is how easy it is for your audiences to read and understand your content. This is important because it’s part of meeting your audiences where they are. Now, this will differ depending on the localization of your content, so adjust accordingly.
There are no two ways about it: content development requires content planning. This is where you set up your tools, establish keywords to focus on, and create a content calendar. This will serve as the backbone of your whole content marketing strategy. Here are key steps to include in this part of the content development process.
Keyword research helps you find keywords that your audiences type into search engines to find products or services they are interested in. Determining these keywords is an essential step in the content development process because it helps you rank higher on the search engines, reach your target audiences more effectively, and speak in a language that your audience understands.
Using quality, meaningful keywords in your content will boost your SEO marketing strategy. Invest in a keyword research tool that will help you find the right keywords for your brand and brief your content and writing teams on how to best produce content that incorporates the keywords.
Perform Funnel Analysis
Funnel analysis helps you gain a more in-depth understanding of the buyer journey that your customers experience while on your website. This helps inform your content development process by showcasing all of the stages your audiences go through and how you can best reach them at each stage.
Conducting a funnel analysis enables you to zero in on the parts of your website that have the highest dropout rates, as well as determine the areas where the most traffic is generated. To perform a funnel analysis for your content development plan, you need to define your metrics to analyze, identify your brand’s touchpoints, then segment your user base and analyze each one. Doing this will give you a much better understanding of your audience and how to reach them more effectively.
Map Your Content Strategy
Your content development plan hinges on how well you map out your content strategy. A content strategy emerges when you find a way to use content to achieve your business goals. Content has four main elements: format, information, channel, and context. These are the basis of your content strategy, and they will serve as your foundation for content development. Here are some tips to develop a bulletproof content strategy:
Plan Out Content Clusters
Content clusters allow you to plan out content in advance while breaking down pillar topics into smaller, more in-depth, digestible pieces of content. This helps you plan for the long term and provide more valuable information to your audiences in the meantime.
Diversify Your Content
Regardless of what you’re selling or who you’re selling to, your brand will benefit from offering different types of content. Explore blog posts, short-form videos, long-form videos, and static images as ways to distribute content to your audiences. Think of it like casting a wide net. The diversity will naturally reveal the most effective ways to engage with your audience in due time. Double down on these formats, but don’t abandon the slow runners altogether.
Set Realistic Deadlines
Like a hearty stew, good content cannot be rushed. As such, set deadlines that your content team can actually meet and plot this on your content calendar. This way, you can really prepare and plan out the content you will be publishing, giving you higher chances for success.
Establish Publishing Cadence With an Editorial Calendar
An editorial calendar gives you a bird’s eye view of your content strategy in the coming months. A content calendar, on the other hand, will identify key posting dates and help you stay on track with your content marketing efforts.
Having both will help establish a publishing cadence for your audience, meaning they’ll always know when to expect the next round of content. This consistency will ultimately build credibility, digital presence, and customer loyalty.
When creating editorial and content calendars, it would be best to build ones that are collaborative and can be easily accessed by all the members of your team. Here are some calendar templates you can use to start building your editorial and content calendars.
Content Creation and Production Process
Once you’ve crunched all of the numbers, it’s time to begin actually producing content. Don’t worry, all of the steps you’ve taken thus far in your content development process have led you to this point. With that, here are a few key tips to remember when embarking on your content creation journey.
Be a Storyteller for Your Company Messaging
Storytelling is one of the most effective ways to go about digital content marketing. That’s because, at our core, humans are emotional beings above all else. And rife marketplace competition has changed the meaning behind supply and demand. Long gone are the days of selling out just because you’ve got what they need—because now, your competitors have what they need, too. That’s why you need to work to form an emotional connection with your target audience. Establishing this relationship is mission-critical to proving, through your content, why they should choose you above the rest.
However, this does not mean hard-selling your brand or product. You need to get creative. Start by crafting a story that highlights your brand, promotes your values, and addresses your audience’s pain points. To tell a good story, though, you must follow the natural arc that all good stories follow: conflict, climax, and resolution. They have a problem, you have the solution, and your content bridges the two.
A good way to start your brand’s storytelling journey is to narrate successful client stories or share your company background with your audiences. Doing so will make you more relatable and therefore easier to root for.
Your content development plan needs to tackle content optimization. You need to follow SEO best practices for your content to rank higher on the SERPs. Some of these would be ensuring your content is readable, adding high-quality images, incorporating keywords, including metadata, and embedding pertinent links throughout your content.
Promote Content Across Your Social Channels
Sorry to say, but your work doesn’t stop after publishing. You also need to make sure that it gets properly promoted across all of your social media channels. Content promotion is crucial to your content development process because, well, you’ve already poured tons of resources into getting to this point. What a shame it would be for home run content to fall into the Internet’s abyss, never to be seen again—and believe us, it happens every day. Don’t fall victim to it!
Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can avoid this fate. Enable your audiences to easily share content on their socials, consider influencer marketing, repurpose content pieces, and research the best platform to reach your target audience. This will help you promote your content and ensure you reach your target audiences every time.
Content tools make content development tasks easier and more efficient. Here are some things you need to monitor throughout the content development process.
Monitor your performance in the digital space to know what is working and what is not. Conducting a content audit and studying analytics are two important steps to measure your success. Identify content marketing KPIs to monitor content performance. These metrics should include leads generated, organic traffic, comments, social shares, and sales, to name a few.
Social media platforms tend to have analytics dashboards that you can review regularly to monitor progress. You can also work with a content and web analytics team to help you measure your success and optimize your performance.
Using a content management tool for content development will help you keep all of your work in one place. This means that team members enjoy streamlined, 24/7 access to all relevant materials and can collaborate that much easier.
Content management tools like Storychief and Airtable can be used to create, edit, and work on projects with team members. Storychief can even aid with SEO efforts with its writing tool.
Partner With WriteForMe for All Your Content Development Efforts
Content development is a make-or-break part of your marketing strategy. Why roll the dice when you can work with a reputable content management team like WriteForMe to help you reach your business goals?
With WriteForMe in your pocket, your audience will have consistent access to top-tier, unique content that works. What are you waiting for?