But, is Content Generation that difficult?
Think of this – you have done a thorough keyword research, and then you have identified 50 new content pages to be created on your website in as less as 10 days; but, generating the actual content pieces ends up taking you 6 long months! Has this not happened to you before?
Most of us may have read a lot about the fundamentals of creating good content, and the importance of optimizing it for search engines. But, something that’s more crucial here, and is more often than not ignored by even the best marketers, is the actual process of writing efficiently and churning out content regularly. The process of content creation is a tedious one that doesn’t just materialize in formidable traffic for your website, but also establishes your position as a subject-matter expert in your domain. Here is a step-by-step approach on how to take this activity head on:
1) Create a Content Strategy
- Set your content goals around your business goals: No form of marketing can exist in a vacuum. Ensure that your content strategy is inherently defined by the goals and of the business. A good approach is to assign a number to these goals. For example: ‘we must increase traffic on the website by x% in y months’ or ‘our lead pipeline must grow to ‘a’ number in ‘b’ months’. Setting these goals will help you quantify the success of your content generation efforts. Some of the following elements are crucial to starting off with your content strategy:
- Creating a reader/ buyer persona: Be aware of your customers’ pain points, challenges, and fears, their best outcomes, and their dream solutions.
- Understanding the buyer’s journey: Visualize what your customer’s questions or needs are at each stage in their journey (awareness, consideration or decision making stage), and curate content that appeals to each stage.
- Choosing the right content format: This decision will depend on questions like: What stage is the buyer in? Will my audience be able to easily understand this content? Where does my target persona spend the most time online? What format can I deliver consistently with a superior quality?
- Keyword Research: A well-done SEO keyword research can help you identify how your customers look for information and how they are finding it. It can also help you set organic traffic targets, corresponding to your domain authority and niche.
- Topic Ideation: Create compelling topics relating to what your users might want to read. You can start off with creating topic clusters to create a narrative that flows from one to the other. For more ideas, you can do a competitor study, look at the SERP, some industry studies, etc.
- Content Promotion Strategy: Just whipping up a marketing masterpiece is not enough- it must also be distributed in a way that grabs the highest share of eyeballs. Invest time in understanding how your audience spends time online, when they do it and curate a strategy to be present on all those channels. There are also certain metrics defined around conversion, for example: how many times does your ideal user need to view variations of your content pieces before they make a purchase decision. All this planning will improve your content accuracy by a mile. Here’s a list of various channels you can employ for distribution:
- Social media channels
- Email marketing
- Paid promotions
- Cross-platform promotion/ Repurposing content
- Guest blogs on high domain authority websites, and more such.
2) Write & Finalize the Actual Content:
Now that the initial steps are out of the way, let’s get to the meat of the discussion- the actual content creation! It is this part of the process where most small to big size organizations face a roadblock. Since this activity requires a lot of planning, interdependent processes and effective management of timelines, you must devise a content creation system that works for you, and then repeat that system over and over to generate the results you want.
- Team Structure: As the first step, you must decide whether you’re equipped internally to handle content creation or if you need to outsource it to a specialist. You could also employ a hybrid approach and find your sweet spot. As per the different functions involved in the content writing process, you will need the following team members to get this going:
- Subject-Matter Expert – to get factually sound content
- Legal experts – for legally correct details in the content
- SEO experts – for SEO attributes like keyword occurrence, page structure, etc
- Content Writing team & editors- for well-structured, grammatically sound and carefully crafted content. The content writer can again be hired in-house to craft tailored content, or can be outsourced from an agency.
- Branding team – for consistent brand voice & tonality to suit your target audience.
- Content coordinator – to coordinate between all stakeholders and ensure that the content moves ahead in time
Depending on the article count, it is always a good idea to have multiple sources for content which can be a combination of multiple content agencies, multiple freelancers, in-house content team, etc.
- Content Flow: Once the preliminary work is done, you can get started with writing the actual content. In our SEO experience of working with multiple brands, we find the following approach to be extremely helpful:
- Step 1: Get writing suggestions created by your in-house researcher. In order to generate high value thought leadership content, additional avenues can also be explored. The in-house editor can interview subject matter experts to generate content that is highly engaging and has great organic potential.
- Step 2: Get these suggestions reviewed and approved by your subject matter experts.
- Step 3: Send out the suggestions to your content writer/ agency for writing the actual content.
- Step 4: Once completed, the content writer should ideally share the content with your in-house editor & branding head for review. Any edits and refinements can be made at this stage.
- Step 5: The next step is to get the content reviewed by the SEO experts for a technical review.
- Step 6: Finally, the content needs to be shared with your legal expert, and multiple in-house subject matter experts for a robust review. The number of reviewers to be involved will also depend on the nature of the content, the technical expertise involved, and the niche/ industry for which the content is being created (for example: mutual funds expert, insurance expert, etc).
3) Upload the content as per schedule:
It doesn’t help to do content creation sporadically. To generate results you’re proud of, set up a content calendar that you can follow religiously. Make sure that your content creation and uploading is in sync, so that there aren’t too many occasions that your efforts are disrupted abruptly. Follow a publishing schedule that’s inline with your promotion strategy, as well as with the PR cycle that works on sensitive news and topical content.
4) Make sure everyone knows what’s to be done when:
We recommend defining a standard turnaround time and associated volume of work for each step in the process. An example of a well-defined and clear timeline could be as follows: Once the content team shares an article, the SEO team needs to review it within 72 hours (if the total number of articles shared in a day are less than 5). Similarly, you can also lay down such effective time standards for the entire process, after discussing with the various teams involved. The idea is to ensure that your content generation funnel flows smoothly, with minimum bottlenecks.
5) Track progress effectively:
The mantra is to strategize, execute, review and repeat. You must critically analyze your efforts and course-correct wherever efforts are not matching expectations. We recommend creating a solid content creation tracker to manage the entire flow effectively. This may also help you identify over time which part of the process is most time-consuming, and how that can be made more efficient. As a best practice, a snapshot of this tracker should be shared with all relevant stakeholders twice a week by the coordinator. You can also periodically review metrics like boost in traffic, bounce rate, conversion and engagement rates to gauge the effectiveness of your content creation cycle.
All in all, content creation is a complex process with many players who need to work together in tandem to drive effective results. You need patience and consistency to get it right, and also need to constantly innovate and iterate. Don’t forget to keep an eye on the numbers, to improve what’s ranking well, and rewrite what’s not. Also keep updating older content as new information develops. Your ultimate goals should be to create high-quality content that’s engaging and adds value to your readers.