FAQ: What Is Content Development?

Jill Conway


March 12, 2020 (Updated: May 4, 2023)

harry potter glasses on a notepad with notes about content development

As great as it would be, top-quality content doesn’t just appear on your channels and instantly charm your audience. It takes planning, precision, and strategy to craft the best pieces and get your audience to pay attention to your brand over the competition. Luckily, creating a content development plan to work within your marketing strategy increases your chances of reaching those goals. Today, we’re discussing how to get started with a content development plan with topics like:

What Is Content Development?

sketchbook on a wooden table along with mug of tea, white wireless mouse, and white airpods case, with woman's hands overtop getting ready to start content development

Image via Unsplash by @kellysikkema

Content development is the life-cycle process of creating, sharing, and reviewing content to reach your strategic business goals. This process is a key piece of any content marketing strategy. Within a content development plan, you complete actions like:

  • Strategy development
  • Topic and audience research
  • Writing, designing, recording, and editing content
  • Optimizing content for search engines and search intent
  • Publishing content
  • Sharing a promoting content
  • Tracking content performance and metrics

You can create any kind of content you expect to use for your marketing strategy within a content development plan. That includes written pieces like blogs or articles, podcasts, or visual content like videos and infographics.

Why Should You Create a Content Development Plan For Your Marketing Strategy?

It’s easy to know good content when you see it. The pieces are high quality, easy to understand, and provide exactly the information your audience needs on a topic. But without a solid strategy, good content can only take your business so far. Think about the best book you ever read or the best TV show you ever watched. You have your list of reasons it’s great and you probably recommend it to everyone. But you wouldn’t even know about that creative work if a marketing team hadn’t done its job.

In the same way, people are missing out on your brand’s great content development if you don’t incorporate a plan for it into your marketing strategy. Here are a few additional reasons you should create a content development plan as part of your brand strategy:

  • Attracting more customers
  • Providing useful information to your audience
  • Encouraging engagement from your audience
  • Setting your brand up as a thought leader
  • Improving SEO rankings
  • Solidifying social strategies
  • Creating a clear path to your strategic goals

Who Uses Content Development?

Brands and businesses of all sizes and in all industries use content development as part of their marketing strategies. A content developer is a marketing job title for someone who creates content pieces like webinars, ads, blog posts, and white papers. Other marketing roles that use content development in their daily jobs include:

  • Web content developers: Create content for a website, such as landing pages
  • Project managers: Direct the vision and planning of multiple content campaigns and initiatives throughout a marketing department
  • Content strategists: Plan strategy initiatives for content creation, promotion, and SEO to get the best engagement and results and grow a company’s content presence both online and offline
  • Content marketing manager: Distribute projects to content developers and work to increase brand awareness and traffic across online marketing channels

Is Content Development the Same as Publishing?

Content development and publishing are two different things. Writing and publishing are just two steps in the content development process, but they are the first ones people think of when they hear the word “content.” The difference is that publishing is an action, while content development is a process.

Development focuses on in-depth research and analysis that serve as influencing factors behind why you make the content decisions you do. Each decision directly affects whether you can reach a larger strategic goal. With publishing, there is just one goal: to share this piece with the audience. There isn’t anything more behind that action. You don’t really care how many people pay attention to what you share. You’re not worried about how it affects your brand specifically. The goal of publishing is just to create a piece and share it with the world.

How Do You Create and Use a Content Development Plan?

Use these steps to create a content development plan that fits within your marketing strategy:

1. Set Strategy Goals

The entire purpose of a content development plan is to create a process that helps your team produce great content and pushes your brand toward achieving its marketing goals. You have to know the destination before you plan the route. Know the goal before you set up a plan to reach it.

Strategic goals are long-term objectives for your business. They often look at the big picture and include aspirations for where you want your brand to go or grow rather than where it is at the moment. Common strategic goals include things like increasing company revenue, acquiring new customers, or increasing web traffic. Once you know what your brand wants to achieve in the long term, you’ll have a better idea of the steps you need to include in your content development plan to reach them.

2. Do Your Background Research

In content development, background research is the information you collect about your target audience, top competitors, and brand performance. This data influences how you plan any marketing strategy. You need to know how your brand’s content currently performs so you can get an idea of how to improve it. The state of your industry market, the way the competition engages in the market, and what the audience wants to see influence how you develop the content, too.

You can use tools like Google Analytics to track your own content metrics. Surveys and feedback forms help you get information about your audience. Then, you can request your content marketing analysis report from CopyPress, which tells you how your content compares to that of your top three competitors in your industry.

“CopyPress gives us the ability to work with more dealership groups. We are able to provide unique and fresh content for an ever growing customer base. We know that when we need an influx of content to keep our clients ahead of the game in the automotive landscape, CopyPress can handle these requests with ease.”

Kevin Doory

Director of SEO at Auto Revo

3. Perform a Content Audit

After you’ve collected information about your past content performance, review the results to see what’s working and what isn’t. Look at the metrics for how your content performs on all channels, such as things like page views, bounce rate, the open rate for emails, and other data that tells if people are engaging with your pieces.

A content audit gives you insights into what pieces your audience likes and finds useful. You can use that information to influence the directions of what types of content you produce more of in the future and which ones you choose to include in your content development plans.

Related: Performing a Content Audit

4. Analyze Competitor Data

Looking at competitor data helps you compare your brand’s strengths and weaknesses to your most closely related rivals in your industry. For content development, this information can tell you where they’re publishing content, how it’s performing on search engines, and if your audience is engaging with it and making conversions. This knowledge shows you where you can find a competitive edge. The more appealing, valuable, or relevant to the audience and appealing your content is, the better the chance it can outperform the competitors.

Related: How To Find Your Competitor’s Weakness

5. Define Your Target Audience

Knowing who you’re writing or creating content for is one of the most important factors in reaching your strategic goals. Content development is all about providing people with what they want and need. It doesn’t matter if that factor is information or a place to purchase a product or service. Knowing where different segments of your audience rest within the marketing funnel also helps you define their wants and needs.

Not every visitor or audience member finds or visits your brand online with the same goals in mind. When you create content for all these segments, you have a better chance of capturing leads at all stages of the funnel and nurturing them into paying customers.

6. Choose Content Types

What types of content do you plan to produce? Content comes in many shapes and sizes, and there’s something for everyone in the ways they like to experience content. Readers and writers often prefer written documents like articles, eBooks, and transcripts. Visual people like infographics and videos, while audiophiles love a good podcast or recording.

Your brand can use a blend of these different content types to reach the audience how they like to receive information. Using different types of content is often a great way to repurpose pieces you’ve already created into new formats. This helps the information get more reach with the same research and resources.

7. Select Content Topics

In the end, it doesn’t matter what type of content you create if you’re not talking about topics relevant to your audience or industry. That’s why it’s important to do both topic and keyword research in your content development plan. Topics are broader subjects to cover within the content. Search engine optimization or backlink profiles are two topics marketers could cover, for instance.

Keywords are more granular than topics and have more of an effect on how searchers find your content. There is a multitude of keywords associated with every topic. For example, within the topic of search engine optimization, you may have keywords like SEO ranking factors or SEO best practices. These are more niche topics people type into search engines to find the exact information and answers they need.

Related: How To Create Topic Clusters To Boost SEO

8. Pick Content Channels

Content channels are the locations where you publish and store each piece of content you create. There are three primary categories of content channels to choose from, including:

  • Owned channels: These channels are the ones where your company has full control over the content shared and distributed on them, like your website, blog, or email newsletter
  • Paid channels: These channels are ones that your company pays to use for content distribution, like influencer partnerships or paid advertising
  • Earned channels: These channels grow from organic distribution and audience involvement, such as press releases, news articles, or social media shares

Selecting channels from each category can help you get your content more reach and more attention from your audience.

9. Set and Follow an Editorial Calendar

Content calendars help you track all content that’s in production and where and how you plan to publish and distribute it. They allow you to keep track of what channels you publish to and when. Other benefits of an editorial calendar include showing where you’re working on cross-channel promotions that affect your content strategy. Following an editorial calendar ensures your team creates content assets on time. It also helps make sure each piece gets scheduled to the right channels to meet deadlines or coincide with other brand efforts, like a product launch.

10. Create Content

After you know exactly where you’re going with your content development plan and how it’s going to affect the long-term success of your brand, it’s time to create the pieces. During the writing, recording,  or design processes, it’s always important for your creatives to remember how each piece benefits the audience and your brand. It’s also important for them to remember how search engines will access, index, and share the content, too.

The content creation phase includes steps like writing, editing, filming, recording, wireframing, illustrating, and running quality assurance checks. Remember to always stay true to your brand voice in each piece of content you create. It’s also important to focus on what’s valuable to the audience and your brand together, rather than forcing every piece of content to push a sale on your leads.

Related: The Big Question: When Creating Content You Should…?

11. Review Your Optimization Checklist

While optimizing often takes place within content creation, it’s important to review key optimization points of each piece before sending content to publication. This means checking things like the length of content titles and meta descriptions. It also means making sure you’ve included relevant, keyword-rich alt text for your images.

Each type of content has different SEO criteria to check, and there are tools to help make sure you address them all. For example, you can use the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress to check your written content for these and other SEO factors to give your content the best chance to rank.

12. Publish and Promote Your Content

Once you’ve optimized your content, post it to the appropriate channels. Which channels you use depends on the type of content you create and where your audience likes to access information online. You may share blog posts and articles on your company website, and add videos or podcasts to a third-party source like YouTube or Apple Podcasts. It’s not enough just to publish your content, though. Share and distribute it to get more viewership and reach.

Use social media and direct marketing channels to distribute your content to followers and subscribers. Other ways to distribute and promote your content include syndication, content partnerships, and paid advertising.

13. Rinse and Repeat

Content development isn’t a one-and-done process. No matter the amount of content you produce or the length of a campaign cycle, once you reach the end of a content development plan, you’re always going to go right back to the beginning. All the hard work you’ve just done now becomes the data for your next development cycle. Each time you use the plan, you may change the specifics based on the data you collect, audience response, and search engine updates. Changes make the process better and move you even further along the line to achieve your goals.

Let CopyPress Create a Custom Content Development Plan For Your Brand

CopyPress is your best solution for a seamlessly integrated content development and strategy plan. Our team works with you, one-on-one, to learn your goals and set up a workflow that meets your needs. Fill out our contact form today to tell us more about your brand’s needs and expectations so we can develop a plan that works for you.

Author Image - Jill Conway
Jill Conway

CopyPress writer

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