Today we bring you a guest post from Allie Gray Freeland, content marketing specialist and PR for iAcquire and ClearVoice.
According to a recent study conducted by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, 73 percent of B2B marketers said they are producing more content now than they were one year ago. An impressive feat indeed, but what happens when your organization does not have the building blocks in place to a) keep your content organized and b) maintain both scale and quality? And, as content marketing becomes the primary marketing tactic for most organizations, how do you create a process to make it as effective as it can be?
Content marketing has a lot of moving parts, especially within large organizations, and a streamlined content workflow that tackles the challenges your company faces are crucial. From content strategy to content development, all the way through to content amplification, the most important thing you can do is create a process within your organization to help you maintain that healthy ratio of quality and quantity.
Here are 10 steps to scale your content marketing efforts to fuel more efficient, effective and plentiful content campaigns.
1. Define a content workflow:
A workflow governs the tactical elements of your content campaigns, outlining content projects, contributors, deadlines, routing processes and scheduling for each content asset. Content strategy, which is closely tied to workflow, is the blueprint for the thematic portions of your content that ties in buyer personas, ethos and big data into your content assignments.
2. Define major content themes:
Before you begin writing, you must have a high-level strategy in place. Defer to buyer personas. Look to big data (Facebook Audience Insights, Google Analytics and Twitter Analytics) to get to the core of what topics have performed the best in the past. Map out a high-level editorial calendar that ties back to major content themes.
Source: Inside Facebook
3. Map buyer personas to your content:
Connect content ideas to specific personas across the sales cycle. Take it a step further and categorize writers based on their subject matter expertise to write the specific buyer-centric content. Map the content themes with buyer personas, and pair the right writer who has the best knowledge of the content theme.
4. Define content roles:
Knowing who does what within your content team is one of the easiest, yet most overlooked steps in the processes. The campaign owner, or strategist, should be the first role delegated. These individuals are the project managers and editors-in-chief of your organization. They manage both the content produced, the people who produce the content, the schedule, and have the editorial oversight to keep your content in line with your mission. If you’re working within a specific content platform, this person should be the gatekeeper and master of the system.
Then, there’s the editor. The editor should be the go-to for approvals. This person should review articles for grammar, brand consistency and overall quality while also ensuring the content has the right assets and is formatted correctly. Aside from the campaign owner/ strategist, you’ll likely have a large pool of writers (both internal and external) to manage. The easiest way to define and track them is to leverage a content workflow tool where you can vet, assign and manage the network of writers in one platform.
5. Define content goals:
Define how you’re going to measure the success of your campaign efforts with three to four shared KPIs based on conversion, referral and share of voice-type metrics. If each project has shared (not exclusive) KPIs, each one of your team members will work more uniformly and toward a common goal.
6. Keep consistency with your editorial guidelines:
Never assume that a writer has context about an assignment or campaign. Create consistent guidelines that map out word count, tone, story concept, reader takeaways, reference links and even link/brand integration tips. For multiple content assignments within a content campaign, create consistent editorial rules for all writers to adhere to.
7. Be calendar-oriented:
Set deadlines for strategy, writing, editing, routing and publishing. If possible, view the content all together in a calendar view so you can see how your content is synced.
8. Streamline approvals:
At large corporations or bureaucratic brand marketing teams, it’s not uncommon to have to route your content through multiple people. For example, at a company I previously worked for, we had to route content through me (an editor), compliance, then the director of interactive marketing for final approval. The routing process would take up to three weeks, which was the bane of my existence when I was publishing time-sensitive content. Keeping track of where dozens of articles were at in the routing process was a job in of itself, and was virtually impossible in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.
My suggestion would be to always invest in a tool that allows you to track revisions, routing and approvals. Even better, find a tool that is color coded and offers email reminders for upcoming approval deadlines.
9. Encourage communication:
Whether you are using email to manage external contributors from across the country or brainstorming sessions in person via Google Hangouts, it’s so important to maintain clear and consistent communications within your content marketing team. If possible, bring your organization’s content producers together to:
- Get feedback about your workflow process
- Uncover new story ideas
- Evaluate performance of existing content
- Discuss ways to repurpose existing content
10. Leverage content tools:
Even just five years ago when content marketing was in its infancy, we didn’t have robust technology to assist us with our content workflow, we merely relied on hodge-podged Microsoft tools, or worse, a pen and paper.
Today we have multiple content marketing tools right at our fingertips, allowing us to successfully project manage content campaigns. My advice: invest in content tools that will create process, scale your efforts, and make you an all-round better content powerhouse. When you’re researching workflow tools, look for technology that has the following functionality:
- Real-time collaboration and editing
- Editorial calendars
- Status tracking
- Integration with external writer marketplaces
- Team productivity tracking
- Publishing integration
Your content should continually adapt to the challenge of creating efficient processes, integrated technology and an intelligent strategy. With a well-vetted content workflow, all of these pieces will fall into place.
Allie Gray Freeland is PR Director for a content marketing agency called iAcquire and a content marketing platform called ClearVoice that offers brands a way to produce, manage, edit, and measure content campaigns. Allie is a frequent contributor to business and marketing publications and loves all things PR and content. Drop her a line on Twitter at @AllieGrayFree or connect with her on LinkedIn.