The content marketing plan you put together for your company is one of the most important parts of creating a well-rounded digital marketing strategy.
After all, the copy, video, infographics, case studies, and other content pieces you produce are the foundation for selling your products and services.
In order to launch a cohesive and compelling content strategy, you need to put time and effort into your content development process.
But what is content development? And how do you go about it step-by-step?
This article will walk you through the value of content development and give you instructions on how to implement a content development process for your brand.
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What is Content Development?
Content development is the process of planning, creating, and editing content for publication.
This content — which includes written copy, images, and other pieces of multimedia — needs to be part of a well-rounded strategy to achieve specific business goals.
Every piece of content you create should have an end result in mind, whether that takes the form of views and thought leadership or direct sales and revenue goals.
Therefore, from the very beginning stages of planning your content development, you need to take a big picture approach and make sure that all the content you create works together to meet those big objectives.
Why Does a Content Development Process Matter to Businesses?
Does a business really need a content development process?
Does making an overall content strategy really make a difference, or can a business simply create content on an as-needed basis?
These types of questions sometimes get asked in regard to the content development process, but the truth is that without a clear content plan a company is not likely to see the results they want out of their digital marketing program.
A content development plan will:
Knowing in advance what content needs to be created saves you from the hassle of last-minute planning and tight deadlines.
When you know what content you want to develop and can plan a budget for promotional events or advertisements, you’ll be able to optimize your spending and ROI.
Without a content plan, companies end up wasting effort on content that doesn’t perform well and you might also risk having to redo all your first attempts.
14 Important Steps for Better Content Development
Even if you currently have a content development plan in place, the odds are there are things you can do that will improve the process and help you achieve your content marketing goals.
Here are our top steps to improve your content development strategy, whether you’re starting from scratch or looking to update your current program.
1. Research Your Audience
The first key to successful content is understanding who your audience is.
If you write content that doesn’t resonate with your core consumer base, you’ll lose the attention of customers and, in turn, lose out on potential sales.
Researching your audience ensures that the content you create fits into the interests of your customers and addresses their pain points.
Create buyer personas that go into demographic and behavioral details about your ideal customer, and figure out the buyer’s journey steps they will take from first realizing they have a problem to making a purchasing decision.
The foundation of your content development plan depends on speaking to the right audience, so investing time and effort in understanding your audience not only helps your content development but improves your overall digital marketing strategy as well.
2. Maintain Consistency
Once you’ve determined your audience, it’s important to communicate with them in a consistent way.
You’ll want to make sure the tone and voice of your content remain the same, and that the style of your writing is recognizable across different formats.
Creating a content brand guide or writing guide is a great way to ensure that the content you put out is consistent.
You can share the guide internally among marketing team members and externally with third parties, so each piece of content is recognizable as belonging to your brand even when written or worked on by those outside your organization.
3. Use Storytelling
Readers enjoy content that has elements of storytelling in it, as this helps them process and remember content.
Integrating your company’s story throughout your content or creatively addressing pain points and frustrations with your customer’s experience adds touches of personalization to content that could otherwise be perceived as dry or boring.
4. Add Interactive Elements
Similar to storytelling, interactive elements help readers engage with the content you produce.
Interactive content is more likely to be read or viewed, as it forces the reader to get actively involved with the content.
Examples of interactive content can include:
- Online calculators
- Interactive eBooks
- Interactive infographics
5. Write Content That Appeals to Readers
Let’s be honest, even if your content is full of storytelling elements and has engaging interactive elements, a topic that doesn’t appeal to readers will still be ignored.
While developing your buyer personas and researching your audience, find out what interests your customers have and work them into your content development strategy.
Addressing pain points, commonly asked questions, industry advancements, service processes, or product use cases are all ways to think about creating content that resonates with readers and gives them exactly what they are searching for.
6. Make Content More Readable with Headlines
The first part of your content that will get read is the headline.
And while we’d all like to think that it’s the insides that matter, the truth is that a dull or unengaging headline might mean a content piece is never opened.
In addition to catchy main headlines, using subheaders and secondary heading inside your content pieces helps create a clear format with easily definable sections.
Readers can scan through content and find the headline that directs them to their immediate concerns.
7. Write Content that Appeals to Search Engines
Successful content can’t just delight readers — it also needs to appeal to search engines.
In order to be found organically, your content needs to rank high on search engines and be developed with an SEO strategy in mind.
Include keywords that you want to rank for with your written content, the meta tags, and the meta title.
Format your content correctly with the right H1 and H2 tags, and avoid “tricks” like keyword stuffing or empty content to reach word count goals, as this will negatively impact your search engine rankings and can ruin your authority with Google.
8. Grab Readers’ Attention with Bullet Points and Formatting
Readers and search engines alike enjoy articles that have easy-to-read formats.
Having your blog posts and online articles formatted the right way helps you rank higher and deliver content that grabs a reader’s attention.
Avoid long paragraphs of text and:
- Use bullet points
- To create different lines of text
- In easily digestible lines
- That readers can quickly scan.
9. Provide Content that Helps Readers Meet Their Goals
The content you create should help readers by not just giving them useful information in clever ways, but by helping them meet their goals.
Your user research should help you understand the steps your audiences take in making a purchase decision, and the content you provide should guide them along that journey.
You’ll want to ensure that your content development strategy has different content pieces for each step, like:
- A general industry article for people just realizing they have a problem.
- A product detail sheet for people interested in learning more about specific products.
- Or an interactive pricing calculator for people who are nearing a decision.
10. Evaluate and Optimize Content
Your content development strategy is an ongoing and ever-evolving process that can’t just be set up and left to run unmonitored.
Taking the time to analyze your content and optimizing it when it doesn’t hit the marketing goals you set is an essential step in content development.
If you don’t address content that isn’t performing, you risk losing trust in your audience, falling behind in search engine rankings, and losing out on potential revenue or ROI.
Make sure that each piece of content you develop has a clear goal, and create an optimization plan for times when you fall short of the goalposts.
11. Have a promotion plan
Planning isn’t just crucial for brainstorming, creating, and curating your content.
Any good content development strategy also involves a solid plan for promoting what you create.
You must also make sure the plan you come up with is in sync with any goals you set at the start of your campaign.
Always align the content you create with each of the promotional channels you’ll utilize. Shoot for an omnichannel experience that feels cohesive from one platform to the next.
Establish and nurture relationships with influencers, peers, and industry experts who can help you with your promotional efforts, as well.
12. Consider the buyer’s journey when producing content
A given consumer rarely goes straight from the stage where they first discover a product to a finalized sale in one direct shot.
Instead, they go through an entire buyer’s journey that starts with awareness, proceeds to consideration, and finally leads to a purchase decision.
A good content development plan includes content geared toward leads at each stage in this journey.
For example, general informative content that makes the consumer aware of the possible solutions to their problem is ideal for the awareness stage, while more targeted, specialized content is best for those evaluating their options and just needing to be nudged in the right direction.
13. Pinpoint what sets you apart
The internet is positively filled with countless pieces of content, and so much of that will be created with your target audience in mind.
And that library of content gets exponentially larger every day, too, so you’ve got your work cut out for you as a content developer.
That’s why it’s so crucial to focus on what makes you different.
Anyone can be helpful, informative, and insightful given enough effort and research, but only you have your unique brand voice, message, and point of view to bring to the table.
Letting that unique approach color all of your content is the key to standing out in a sea of similar content.
14. Track your success with the right metrics
Without a clear method for tracking and measuring your progress, you won’t have a reliable way to know what’s working and what isn’t when it comes to your content strategy.
That’s why it’s so important to choose the right metrics to measure how successful your efforts are at each point along the way.
Naturally, traffic is one metric everyone is interested in, but it’s not the only one that should be on your radar.
Social shares and engagement are also key elements to look at, as are lead generation and sales. You’ll want to measure how much organic traffic, in particular, your content has been attracting, as well.
The 4 Best Content Development Tools
Developing awesome content that gets results is a lot easier with the right tools in your corner. The following tools are a fantastic help with content development, market research, content management, and more.
1. Google Analytics
When it comes to content development musts, it doesn’t get much more iconic than Google Analytics. Use it to track multiple goals, including product purchases, organic web traffic, form submissions, etc.
BuzzSumo is second to none when assessing which topics and content types are getting the best results for various entities around the web, including your direct competitors. Check out data related to influencer shares, backlinks, social media engagement, and more.
3. Screaming Frog
Every content developer should have a good SEO spider in their corner, and Screaming Frog is one of the best. Install it on your desktop, and you instantly gain the ability to obtain detailed SEO audit data on any URL.
A user-friendly way to assess your rankings for various keywords on an ongoing basis is a must for your content development strategy, and Ahrefs is as popular as it is for a reason. It takes all the guesswork out of seeing where you stand compared to your competitors at a glance.
How to Create a Content Development Team?
If you’re serious about smashing your content development goals, you need an incredible team in your corner.
As a unit, your team will be responsible for brainstorming, creating, promoting, distributing, and optimizing content.
However, you have your options open regarding how you put your content team together.
Although many larger companies still prefer to assemble their entire content development team in-house, it’s not your only option.
For instance, smaller businesses and startups may prefer to hire an in-house content strategist but outsource other tasks like SEO, writing, graphic design, marketing, or social media management to agencies or freelancers.
Although no two content development teams will be exactly the same, some key players on a standard team will include:
The brains behind your entire strategy, as well as how content will be used to pursue long-term business goals.
Specialized writers capable of writing persuasive marketing content.
Generalized writers producing the bulk of your content, including blog posts, whitepapers, social media content, and more.
This is the person in charge of ensuring all content is brand-appropriate, cohesive as far as tone, and perfectly composed from start to finish.
Visuals are essential when it comes to dynamic, engaging content development campaigns, so you’ll need people adept at creating great designs, as well.
Wrap Up: Improving Your Content Development
A well-thought-out and strategic content development process will not only save you time, money, and effort.
It will also help your company reach its digital marketing goals and drive sales and revenue growth.
Each piece of content you create needs to have an end goal in mind, and optimizing your content to get the most conversions is the most important step to online growth.
If you want more tips for increasing online conversions, read our free resource today!