Fact: Content is a critical part of any lead generation strategy.
In fact, 80 percent of B2B marketers named “lead generation” their primary goal for content in 2017.
But I’m sure you’ll agree – generating content isn’t as simple as it seems.
And that’s because of all the steps and different stakeholders involved in developing content slow you down when there’s no process in place to manage your content marketing workflow.
So, that’s why I’ve put together this post:
I’ll guide you through the process of creating a workflow made to help you develop content from start to finish.
Intrigued? Let’s get started.
But, How Does Defining a Workflow Help Make Content Creation Easier?
For one, because workflows improve efficiency all across your business.
That’s because a good system helps create repeatable steps for you and your team to “get sh*t done.”
“Every team has a workflow, it just may not be the most organized one around. Without a concrete plan, a team will begin to create their own flow. It will work, but it can lead to issues later down the line…such as duplication of work, or missed deadlines. These mean that your team just isn’t as efficient as it could be.”
But even with the positive impact of establishing a workflow, surprisingly, less than 5 percent of companies have processes in place to focus on top priority issues.
And content marketing is the main concern for most companies.
Just look at the results of the Content Marketing Institute’s 2017 Trends report, and you’ll see 88 percent of respondents said content marketing is important to their overall marketing strategy.
But how exactly do processes help?
One of the main ways processes improve any project flow (content creation included) is by helping avoid communication breakdowns.
(Something I covered in a recent post here already.)
A well-defined workflow means the entire team knows what’s expected of them at each stage and where they should hand-off a project once they’ve completed their portion.
That means more clarity, more ownership and fewer missed deadlines.
But I’m sure you’re wondering how to actually create a structure for your content marketing strategy.
And that’s what I’ll show you now.
First, You Need to Define Your Content Structure
I’m sure you know that marketing content comes in many different forms.
And that choosing the right structure for your audience has a huge impact on the success of your content marketing strategy.
For example: you’re not going to send whitepapers or ebooks to your top-of-the-funnel leads, and infographics won’t do much for leads at the “Consideration” stage.
So, here are a couple of questions to consider before starting the content creation process:
#1. Where does your subject fit into customer journey?
I’ll admit, it can be confusing trying to figure out where your content fits in the buying process.
But it’s such an important exercise to complete before your team starts writing.
Because if you really want to see ROI from your content marketing efforts, you absolutely must give your potential customers the information they want at every stage of the customer journey.
In fact, 95 percent of B2B buyers end up choosing the vendor that provided ample content throughout the decision making process.
And if you’re lost on what types of content work for each stage, follow these three general rules:
- Top-of-the-funnel works to address a known problem your target audience experiences (and provides genuine solutions with little or no direct promotion of your product or service).
- Middle-of-the-funnel content shows the benefits of your solution (through case studies, webinars, blog posts and whitepapers) while also helping compare it to your biggest competitors.
- Bottom-of-the-funnel includes trials and other opportunities to actually see your product in action.
Here’s a look at the different content types that work for each stage of the buying process:
#2. What visuals do you want to include?
“Communicating does no good if it’s not retained by your audience. Today, it’s easy for information to get lost or ignored if it’s not in a digestible format. Integrating visual content can boost how much your audience absorbs and remembers. Studies show our brains not only process visuals faster, but they retain and transmit much more information when it’s delivered visually.”
So before you start writing, think about the types of visuals you want to include and how you’ll source them. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Screenshots (with proper attribution, of course)
- Charts and Graphs
- Header Images
Then, once you have an idea of your content structure and visuals, you’ll be ready to take the next step in the content creation process:
Next, Identify Your Key Project Stakeholders
Before you actually start writing, it’s important to answer a simple question:
Who are the people you need to involve in the process to actually get assets published?
While every team is different, here are five key people to include in your content marketing workflow:
Someone needs to take the lead on guiding the direction of content for your target audience, and we call that person a content marketing strategist.
You want a strategist with the training and experience to evaluate customer data and design a content marketing strategy that fits your audience.
But it’s also a good idea to survey your sales team for the types of content they think would most resonate with customers.
After all, they work on the front lines with your target audience every day (and ultimately will use your content to close more deals.)
Of course, you’re going to need someone to actually create the content.
You might have a writer on staff or hire a third-party, but the important thing is to hire someone who actually has writing “chops.”
So, even though your senior UX designer might have a great idea for a blog post, chances are she shouldn’t be the one to write it.
Instead, thank them for the idea and pass it along to someone who knows how to write content for your audience.
Often, the editor and the strategist are one in the same.
Once the writer finishes an initial draft, the editor reads through the writer’s work for any errors or issues that they may have missed.
And if you’re looking for a great (free) tool to scan the piece for issues, HemingwayApp points out common writing mistakes and evaluates readability.
If you want to include graphics of any sort, you’ll need to hand the project off to a designer or team of designers to create those for you.
Think about who else needs to see your content before sending it off for publication.
Does your CMO want to give final approval?
Does sales leadership need to review for consistency with their sales message?
At smaller startups, even the CEO may want to give a thumb’s up before your content goes live, just to make sure it aligns with the company’s mission and voice.
Be sure you know who exactly needs to approve your assets before you send them to potential customers.
And once you have that, you’ll be ready for the last step in setting up your content marketing workflow:
Finally, Set Key Project Milestones
When you put together a roadmap of each step in the process, you give the team measurable milestones to help meet content deadlines.
Here’s an example of how you could visually map your workflow:
And while your team may include different steps in their workflow, here’s a workflow you can actually start using in Zapty right now:
If you’re the strategist, here’s where you’ll define your target audience and the problem they’re facing that your content helps solve.
- How does their problem affect their business and make them feel?
- How do you want them to feel when they finish reading the piece?
- What action do you want them to take?
You’ll likely want to sign-off on a structure for the post based on the brief before the writer gets started on the content.
Think about the major sections you want included in the piece and exactly you’ll move the reader toward your call-to-action.
As you surely know, this is most important – but also most lengthy – step in the process.
And while I could spend an entire post on how to write good content for your audience (and many have), here are a few key points to get you started:
- Speak directly to your target audience. You’re writing to solve a problem, not lecture someone from a podium. Write like you would speak to someone if they were right in front of you.
- Include influencers. Quotes from industry thought leaders not only add credibility to your writing; they also increase the chances of cross-promotion if the influencer sees you referenced them in a piece.
- Break up your content with visuals. Can’t emphasize this enough: you need visuals throughout your piece. As a general rule, try to have something breaking up the text ever 150-200 words.
- End it with a strong call-to-action. Give your reader a next step that moves them further down the sales funnel.
Review and Revise
The editor should review the piece, both for grammatical errors as well as awkward phrasing or ideas that don’t align with the overall strategy of the piece.
Then, hand the reviewed piece back to the writer for revisions.
Review (Again) and Approve
You’ll want to review the revisions and either repeat the process (i.e. send back to the writer for another round) or sign-off for publication.
While the writer is likely to include relevant screenshots, you’ll need to put together any other graphics or visuals.
That means passing the piece along to a designer along with specific directions on what you want to see.
Once you have the finished piece with graphics, it’s time to pass it along the chain of people who need to sign-off before publication.
You should collect revision requests from all stakeholders at once.
That way, you avoid going back and forth with writers and designers on multiple edits.
Publish and Promote
Promotion is, of course, optional and depends on your marketing budget.
But, if you do plan to push the content out to your audience, here are the channels B2B marketers find most effective in 2017:
And Don’t Forget…
Always review your results and measure for success.
After all, it’s the success of a piece (or lack thereof) that should help dictate the direction of future content.
And once you have those results and begin to revise your strategy, you can follow this exact content marketing workflow to actually get work done.
To get started, install this template in Zapty by clicking on Use this FREE content marketing template now