Looking from the outside, it’s easy to think that content marketing simply consists of publishing a blog post here and there. But that’s just one part of an operation that involves careful consideration and planning. Read on to discover the work that goes into the content marketing process.
What Is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is a marketing technique involving the planning, creation, and promotion of information. It aims to bring in new customers and keep them through these practices. Since it’s such a broad marketing tactic, organizations that perform it go through an extensive process to do it properly.
The 5 Steps Of The Content Marketing Process
Every organization has its own content marketing workflow, but the process generally follows these five steps:
1. Content Strategy & Planning
The first step that goes into content marketing is strategy and planning — determining your approach to content and fitting your content into it. Learn more about the difference between the two concepts in our guide to content planning. This stage involves tasks such as:
- Researching your audience: Content needs to appeal to its target audience for it to get traction and bring in customers. Thorough research on your intended readers, listeners, or watchers will guide you toward topics and formats they’ll appreciate. Some popular audience research tactics include surveys, one-on-one interviews, and social listening.
- Establishing your “content core”: Good content also relates to your industry, company, and product, so look for overlap between those factors and your audience’s passions. This intersection is called your “content core.” Identify what you do and what your audience cares about, and brainstorm subjects that tick both boxes.
- Setting SMART goals: Create content marketing goals to set up your content for success and track its impact on your business. SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely) goals will help you maximize that impact. Our guide to setting SMART goals will teach you how to make these benchmarks for any type of marketing, including content marketing.
- Bringing it all together to plan your content: Once you understand your audience, your “content core,” and your goals, you have the information you need to plan what content topics and types you’ll cover. Map them out in a tool like an editorial calendar.
2. Content Creation
Here’s the stage of the content marketing process that most folks are familiar with. With a strategy and plan in place, you can create content based on your thoroughly researched topics. This part of the workflow varies depending on your content format, but you can usually sort it into these three actions:
- Researching keywords: Keywords make it easier for customers to find your content, whether you’re writing a blog post or adding a description to your video. You can also build strategies to make your content pages more searchable on a technical level. We have tips for both techniques in our ultimate keyword research guide.
- Creating a first draft: While it can be tempting to write or record your content and call it a day, you’ll have much more polished content if you create a first draft to revise. Write your written content or create a script for your audiovisual content for review.
- Reviewing and revising your draft: Look over your draft for areas of improvement in the grammar and ideas departments. Ideally, you can ask someone else to review it. An editing checklist makes this step faster and more consistent. If you’re making a podcast or video, create your media and put it through its own review process after you revise your script.
3. Content Publishing
Now, it’s time to share your content with the world. A publishing strategy will make it easy to get your content out there because you’ll have a process to follow. Account for these factors in your plan:
- Your posting schedule: Orbit Media’s 2022 study of over 1,000 bloggers found that most post weekly (24%) or several times per month (24%). But the best publishing schedule for you will depend on your capacity. Start with a schedule you know you can consistently follow, and scale up as your content team grows.
- How you’ll publish your content: Determine what tool you’ll use to publish your content and the process involved. For a blog post or audiovisual content from a different platform, you can use a content management system (CMS). Then, document a process for adding metadata and formatting your CMS content to follow every time you publish.
- Your publishing location: The places you’ll publish your content will depend on its format. While content marketers publish blog posts and videos on a single page, they sometimes upload podcasts to multiple platforms. Look for options that work with your available resources and appeal to your audience.
4. Content Promotion & Distribution
Once you publish your content, you still have plenty of work to do — it’s time to promote and distribute your content so folks can see it. Share your hard work with these strategies:
- Post on social media: Link to your content on social media according to each of your platform’s best practices. You’ll get a better chance of boosting your reach by posting at the best times according to your data. Start with your data-based schedule, then adjust as you notice when your audience is most likely to interact with your posts.
- Include your content in your newsletter: If you have an email newsletter, don’t miss out on the opportunity it gives you to share your content. Include a snippet in one of your issues or add it to a link roundup.
- Place your content in publications: Collaborate with public relations experts to place your content in publications. If you need a DIY approach, try responding to queries from websites like Help a Reporter Out (HARO).
- Add your content to your regular distribution rotation: Keep sharing your content after your initial push. Put it in your social media and newsletter content calendars, and have it on hand to share in future HARO requests.
5. Measurement, Analytics, & Reporting
After you create, publish, and promote your content, make it a habit to measure its impact. Here’s how:
- Choose your analytics tool stack: Some of the most popular tools for content analytics are Google Analytics, Semrush, and Ahrefs. A spreadsheet can also help you stay organized by holding the metrics from those tools in one place.
- Decide how often you’ll measure: There’s no hard and fast rule to how often you should monitor metrics, but a higher frequency will make it easier to adjust your strategy on the fly. Aim for at least once a month, and keep your monitoring schedule consistent so you have even benchmarks to compare against each other.
- Measure your metrics: Check on the most important content metrics using your tools, such as unique page views and keyword performance. The ideal metrics to prioritize will depend on what you want your audience to do due to your content.
- Calculate your return on investment (ROI) based on your metrics: Content marketing metrics don’t always directly translate to return on investment (ROI) — the money you earn through your content. But, you can get an approximate ROI by following our process.
The Secret Final Step: Do It All Over Again
Content marketing is an iterative process, meaning you’ll constantly tweak your strategy and content as you work on it. You may find that your initial approach doesn’t work as well as you hoped, and that’s okay — it’s part of figuring out the best strategy for your business. Make your audience and business goals your top priority, and keep working toward excellence.