In this article…
- What Is Content Development?
- How to Complete the Content Development Process
- Who Uses Content Development?
- When to Publish Content
- Tools You Should Use to Develop and Manage Content
- Why Should You Use Online Content Development?
- How to Plan a Content Development Strategy
Content development helps you to provide people with the content they are interested in searching for, which means creating content that is innovative and effective. When you understand the content development process, you can create a comprehensive content development strategy unique to the needs of your business.
Review the following information to discover how you can enhance your content development process to benefit your business.
What Is Content Development?
Content development is the process used to develop comprehensive content through research, production, and the publishing of targeted information on websites. Web content can be infographics, blogs, text, sounds, images, videos, and other content. The content developed serves a strategic purpose such as encouraging a sales or marketing outcome or building a connection with an audience.
Content marketing development includes the ‘why’ included in creating content. It explains why you create content, who you are interested in helping, and how you will help them in a way that others can’t. The content you develop should serve a purpose such as working toward one of the following goals that drive profitable behavior:
- Lead generation
- Organic traffic
- Brand awareness
Although there isn’t one strict way to develop content, you can think of content development in two phases: the analysis phase and the planning and strategy phase. Splitting content development into phases helps you to understand what strategies work and which ones you can change to help you reach your content marketing goals.
Here is a description of the two phases of content development:
Before you develop new content, you must analyze the content you already have. This means you need to know how your current content is performing to identify opportunities for improvement. You must conduct a content audit to improve your content plans. The important elements to review include:
- Organic search visibility
- Content posting frequency
- Content length
- Top linked content
- Top landing pages
Planning and Strategy Phase
The content analysis should provide you with some insight, but you likely won’t be able to gain an accurate idea of exactly what content to post on what days. Content development has a great deal of trial and error involved with planning and content strategy. You must try a few things before you can see what strategy works best for each content or post type.
For instance, if you discovered that a certain post performed well on a Tuesday and you try posting similar content throughout the weeks on Tuesday and this content doesn’t perform well, you may find that this happens for a variety of reasons. Some of these reasons include content not posted at an optimal time, the time of year, failure to promote content properly across social media channels, or not including targeted keywords in your content.
This interpretation of content should continue before each planning phase. One suggestion you may use to plan content is to plan content releases quarterly while leaving time at the end of the quarter to assess content performance to plan content effectively for the next quarter.
How to Complete the Content Development Process
It is not enough to produce good content. Your content development needs a process that keeps you organized and on track to hit all the goals and objectives your organization has set. To achieve this you may develop your own multi-step process that works for your content types and company.
Image via Flickr by Automotive Social
Here are common content development steps that you may take to develop high performing content:
1. Collect Information
Before you produce content, you need to collect information that applies to your key competitors, target audience demographics, former site performance, and website goals. When you collect information about these items, you gain a better understanding of what topics to cover using data-driven decisions. It can provide you with a basis for the content you should develop and how you can develop it.
2. Conduct an Analysis
Once you collect all the information you can, it is time to conduct an analysis of the information you have collected. The best information to analyze is competitor performance, which includes looking at the organic traffic driven by certain pages on a competitor’s site, the backlink profile, and the quality and length of those pages. This way, you can determine how to outrank your competition.
During the strategy phase of content development, begin to build a comprehensive editorial calendar. Using an editorial calendar helps you to layout your plans for you to see and adjust as necessary. Content development progresses smoothly when you plan content out in advance. The way you plan your content is dependent on your digital marketing goals.
We discuss content strategy at length in the “How to Plan Content Strategy” portion of this article.
4. Produce Content
Produce the best content that you can by viewing your content from the perspective of the reader or audience. Consider why they search for a topic, and what they hope to gain from reading or viewing your material in response to their inquiry.
Also, consider which information ranks better from the analysis phase. For example, you may find that long-form content ranks better than short blog posts. In this case, you may produce long-form content that provides more information to consumers.
5. Optimize Your Content
After you produce content, move on to optimizing and publishing your content. To optimize your content, observe things such as word count, keywords, readability, and any other items that make your content more attractive to search engines and your audience. During this phase, you also need to create meta descriptions and tags that help increase your content’s click-through rates and visibility.
6. Focus on Content Promotion
The work isn’t over after you optimize and publish your content. You must promote your content to lead to more views and backlinks. A great way to promote content is to use social media to gain engagement, views, and reposts. Email outreach and republishing platforms can also promote and boost your content effectively.
7. Review and Repeat the Process
Content development is a continuous process, and as soon as it ends it begins again. Review your content marketing efforts every so often to make sure you are achieving your desired results. If your content is not producing your desired results, then it may be helpful to tweak your content strategy or some portion of your content development process. If you meet your goals, then continue using the process for future content.
Who Uses Content Development?
Professionals use content development across various industries such as science, film, marketing, education, fashion, and others. As online content becomes the primary way to reach audiences, several businesses have developed their own content or use turnkey companies to create and develop effective content. Although many individuals develop content for various purposes, those that professionally create, develop, and manage content make sure their content has a strategic purpose.
Here are a few examples of positions that regularly develop content for consumers:
- Web content developer: A content developer is often responsible for creating and updating a company’s website, developing a content strategy, and tracking web analytics.
- Project manager: Content project managers help to direct the production of visual and written content projects, ensuring that each step of the process is completed on time.
- Director of content: A director of content focuses on collaborating with managers to create content in line with the company’s vision. They also ensure that their content applies to their audience by reviewing data.
- Content strategist: A content strategist is an inbound marketer that uses their knowledge of content creation, social media, content promotion, and SEO to manage, develop, and grow a company’s content.
- Video content creator: A video content creator is often responsible for creating compelling visual content that contributes information to digital media for a strategic purpose.
- Content marketing managers: Content marketing managers distribute content that increases brand awareness and web traffic through marketing online content across multiple web channels.
- Social media content developer: Social media content developers specialize in creating content for social media channels to drive traffic to a company website, sell products, or create brand awareness.
- Blogger: A blogger usually creates written content for websites in the form of blog posts, blog articles, blog content, copy, web articles, and web content. Bloggers also analyze their content and use content development to promote and market their content, services, or products.
When to Publish Content
The web often operates in real-time, and the best way to gain relevance is through exposure. This means publishing and promoting content each day or at least once a week. Remember that consistency often outperforms timing, and it is important to balance quality content with quantity even when your online traffic increases and your content begins performing well. Creating a schedule for when to publish your content can help you reach your posting goals.
According to data collected by Hubspot.com, the best days to post to achieve the top number of views are Mondays and Thursdays. The best time of day to post content is in the morning so you can promote the posts in the afternoon and evening. Most readers work during the week or go to school, therefore commenting and engagement increase on Saturday and Sunday.
The best date and time to post content may depend on your audience rather than on data collected based on various forms of published content. The best days to post also depend on the platform you wish to publish content on. A good practice is to post on standard days and times and then you may analyze the engagement to see if a standard posting schedule works for your content types.
Tools You Should Use to Develop and Manage Content
Here are the tools you should use to develop and manage web content:
- Buzzsumo: Buzzsumo is a content marketing research tool that helps you analyze what content types and topics perform best for competitors. This tool allows you to see metrics such as backlinks, social shares, and influencers who share the content.
- Makemypersona: This web tool is interactive allowing you to generate buyer personas after you answer questions about your target audience. Makemypersona helps you organize research about your buyer personas to assist you with understanding what your buyers are searching for.
- SurveyMonkey: SurveyMonkey allows you to develop and create your own surveys for your customers and prospects. You may use surveys in the analysis phase of content development.
- Google Analytics: With Google Analytics you can track your goals, like form submissions or product purchases, but you can also set up behavioral events, like scroll-depth.
- Trello: Trello helps you and your team get organized using cards such as tasks, shared files, notes, projects, and other items that help your team work together and meet deadlines.
- Evernote: Evernote is an app that can be your digital file cabinet, project management system, note-taking tool, and more.
- Kred: Kred is a social media data mining product that rates your social media’s influence and outreach.
- Google Calendar: Google Calendar helps you to manage your time and schedule meetings and other tasks effectively. You can share Google Calendar with whoever you want and they can get updates when you add or remove something from the calendar.
- Pocket: Pocket is a free service that makes it easy to discover great content that’s personalized to your interests, and save this content so you can return to it later on any device at any time.
- Keyword Everywhere Extension: Keywords Everywhere gathers the “Related” and “People Also Search For” keywords from search engines like Google or Bing and lets you see the volume metrics within the search engine.
- Screaming frog: The Screaming Frog SEO Spider is a desktop application you can install on your computer that crawls websites’ links, CSS, images, and other data. It gives you SEO audit information from aspects of each URL the spider crawls.
- Ahrefs: The basic function of Ahrefs is to track how your traffic and keywords rank compared to your competitors’ keywords and traffic.
Why Should You Use Online Content Development?
Online content development provides many benefits to more and more people who use the web each day for product and service research.
Here are some reasons your business should use online content development:
To Attract Potential Customers to Your Website
Effective content development attracts potential customers to your website consistently. When you apply the content development process and are creating high-quality content on a schedule, your target audience is likely to notice and remember your brand and want to engage with it later on. Your organized content draws potential customers to your website and entices them to visit your website for longer periods of time.
Creating insightful or helpful content that your target audience wants to read based on your marketing research, projects you as an expert in that topic. This helps to build trust with your prospects and can help your prospect convert into a customer.
It Provides Free and Useful Information to Your Audience
Consumers appreciate free and useful information, and they are more likely to follow your webpage or social media pages if they like the content you provide. They are also likely to share useful information about topics they are interested in with friends and family members. When you add useful recommendations to your content, over 60% of online consumers will make a purchase.
It Connects and Engages You With Your Audience
Content creation helps to open a dialogue between you and your customers. You can effectively engage with them through your videos, blog posts, websites, and social media pages using comments, surveys, and direct messages. One of the best ways for you to make your audience feel heard is to listen to what they have to say and respond. This is a unique way for your business to understand its audience in a new way.
Creating connections and engaging with your audience is a great way to establish relationships and build brand loyalty with your customers.
It Develops Thought-Leadership For Your Company
Thought-leaders are individuals and businesses with a positive influence that offer insight and guidance to others. Content development tactics can help your business achieve the title of thought-leader by drawing on the past, analyzing the present, and paving the way for future content that is different, comprehensive, and impactful.
This means you become the go-to business for your industry by offering informed opinions to bring a point of view that consumers won’t find anywhere else.
It takes time to establish your business as a thought-leader. You should find your area of expertise, listen to your audience, produce fresh and relevant content on a schedule, and keep learning about your industry.
To Help Your Sales Team Tell Your Story More Effectively
Content development can help you and your sales team tell a compelling story. Telling your story can provide your business with a human angle instead of merely selling products or services.
When your sales team tells your story, they should focus less on the products and services you offer and focus more on showcasing your brand. This means discussing topics you believe in, advising, and positioning yourself as an expert in your industry. The way you develop content helps your sales team to find your company’s voice. This likely results in a boost in your sales and increases customer satisfaction.
It Improves the SEO Rankings For Your Business
Following a content development process and applying useful strategies means your website content not only stays up to date, but it also stays fresh and relevant. This provides you with a boost in SEO, since search engines are aware of how often you update content on your website. Search engines prefer consistent and quality content on topics relevant to your industry. If you have content that they prefer, they are more likely to share your content.
Criteria that you may consider at some point in your content development process is:
- Length: Pages that discuss a topic in-depth are usually the content types that are the most helpful to consumers. This means that these content types help boost your SEO rank.
- Relevance: Google monitors when you release new content and when you update old content. They want to show the most relevant content possible.
- Variety: It is important to have unique content that varies from other content that is online. If you copy and paste from other posts, Google may drop your ranks.
- Engagement: The more visitors your website gets and the longer they stay on your site affects how valuable Google and other search engines believe your content is. This means your content may rank higher on the search engine results page.
To Drive Social Media Strategies
A good way to connect to your target audience is through social media. Social media can help you develop meaningful relationships with your customers since it provides a direct way to receive feedback, start conversations, and get new leads to check out your website. Content development fuels social media strategies because content helps you dive deeper into social media conversations.
There are character limits on Twitter or Facebook posts that put a cap on how much you can say. If you create content and share the links on social media with short blurbs, images, or quotes about the content, it encourages your audience to want to know more. Your social media strategy helps you leverage content that gives your target audience value.
It Helps You Visualize Your Goals
Content development provides you with a layout of what you will produce, when you will produce it, and what results you hope to achieve from producing it. This helps your company to visualize its goals since content development acts as a blueprint within a digital content marketing strategy. Content development is the plan you place into action to achieve your goals and position yourself as an expert in your field.
During the content development process, you can change and develop your content through research and analysis and then adjust your vision accordingly.
How to Plan a Content Development Strategy
The main way to produce strategic content is by uncovering content that motivates your target audience to take actions that benefit your business. How you devise a content development strategy depends on your business’s unique situation. But there are core strategies you can apply to your business such as setting goals, researching your audience, and outlining the way consumers interact with your content.
If you are interested in producing successful content, then it is essential to make sure you fuse moving parts together to ensure you have a solid content development process that supports your goals. Here are some steps for developing strategic content:
1. Determine Your Mission and Goals
Before you begin the content development process, it is a good idea for you to write a mission statement. A mission statement regarding content development is a short statement that provides your audience with details about what content you create and why. This helps to maintain a central focus regarding the purpose and production of your content.
A good content mission statement briefly discusses:
- Your audience
- The content you produce to attract them
- How the content benefits them
After you create your mission statement, you need to create attainable goals. Short-term and long-term goals help to keep your team focused on how the content they produce benefits your business. Some short-term goals may involve producing content on-time, outlines for blog posts, content planned ahead of time, and regular topic themes that support the content mission statement.
Some typical long-term goals for a content development strategy include:
- Driving traffic
- Creating brand awareness
- Generating leads
- Converting leads
- Customer retention
- SEO success
2. Define Your Target Audience
You need to understand what your audience likes before you can begin developing content. This means understanding what sort of content they’re interested in, when they read content, where they read content, and how they receive content. You should execute your content development strategy according to the needs of your audience. If you post on Monday and Wednesdays only, but your audience engages more on Fridays and Saturdays, then you may need to adjust your posting schedule.
The best way to define your target audience is to:
- Collect demographic data. Email analytics, web analytics, and social media analytics provide you with audience data such as gender, age, education, and income. You’ll also gain an understanding of their interests and online habits.
- Get customer feedback. Try collecting feedback from your customers to find out how they feel about your current content, how you can address their concerns with your content, and how often they’d like to receive fresh content.
- Create buyer personas. Buyer personas give you an idea of your ideal readers and customers. This helps you create content that is more specific and targeted.
3. Choose Your Content Types
Collecting information about your target audience should help you decide which content types work for your audience and your business. However, you may have to test multiple content types on your audience before you settle on which content to distribute regularly. Most businesses with successful content development include their core content published on their websites that can be shared on other sites or otherwise re-purposed. Video marketing content and visuals included with other various types of content can keep visitors on your site longer, which may increase engagement.
The number of content types you use is completely up to you, your business needs, and audience preferences. Some content types you may choose from include:
- Social media content
- Longform content
- Case Studies
- White papers
- Templates and checklists
4. Assess Your Position
Most businesses have content that is already distributed online. If your business has already distributed content, then your next step is to assess whether the content is performing well and helping you to achieve your goals. To do this, you need to conduct a content audit. Content audits include logging all forms of content, assessing their functions and success, comparing how your content ranks compared to competitors and identifying gaps.
Here are some ways you can log and assess your content:
Logging Your Content
To log your content from blogs and websites, you need to use a URL crawler that can analyze page titles and descriptions, list URLs, create site maps, and find duplicate pages. Two useful and free URL logs you can use are Screaming Frog and SEMRush. The free version of Screaming Frog allows you to log up to 500 URLs.
SEMRush has a content audit tool that allows you to audit portions of your web content and creates a full analysis of your content including content titles and descriptions, content length, social shares, and backlinks. You can export the links and create a spreadsheet that contains all the URLs.
Assessing the Success of Your Content
The next step in your content audit is assessing how useful and successful the content is. The metrics you should pay attention to are the search engine ranking for keywords associated with your content, content shares, and the number of inbound links to the content.
You can find some of this information in the SEMRush report but you can find more information in the position tracking tool. This tool makes you aware of content that:
- You can improve to meet your goals
- You need to remove or replace entirely
Identifying Gaps in Content
Your content audit concludes when you identify gaps that you can use effectively. An example of these gaps are:
- Questions that your target audience is asking that you have not answered
- Keywords that you have not been targeting with your content related to your niche
- Content that has the opportunity to rank better on searches
5. Track the Consumer’s Journey
You can measure the consumer’s journey by the interactions your consumers have with your brand. Each interaction the customer has with your brand such as a search inquiry, social media post, or website visit pushes them forward in your sales funnel.
Every customer experiences the consumer journey differently, but they each go through the same steps to arrive at customer loyalty if you complete the content development strategy correctly.
Here are the four stages of the consumer’s journey:
- Awareness: Your customer searches for solutions to their problems and becomes aware of products or services that can solve their problem.
- Consideration: The consumer researches options that can solve their problems, and they understand their needs and wants better.
- Decision: They choose a solution that best meets their wants and needs.
- Customer loyalty: This is a bonus stage that you can achieve through providing consistent and positive experiences for your customers.
To gain a better understanding of the consumer journey, you need to understand what pushes the consumer through the decision stage of their journey. To do this, you must understand what motivates each interaction by using a consumer journey map that focuses on the processes and identifies areas for improvement and enhances the customer experience through content development strategies.
6. Figure Out the Best Distribution Channels
The distribution channel you use to promote your content is just as important as content creation itself. Your content may be great, but if you distribute it improperly, it won’t reach your target audience. There are three types of content distribution channels:
- Owned content distribution: Your business owns these channels for you to produce content how and when you want it. Your website, blog, email newsletter, or social media profile are all examples of this.
- Paid content distribution: This channel refers to any content that your company pays to have distributed such as pay-per-click ads, paid influencers, and social media ads.
- Earned content distribution: Earned content refers to the customers, bloggers, journalists, and others that distribute your content for free. This includes guest articles, social media shares, and public relations.
To match your content to the best distribution channel for your business, you must assess who the content is for and what you would like the content to achieve. Once you gather this information, you can research distribution channels that work for you. Here are some distribution channels you may consider:
The best way to use email distribution is to focus on your email subscribers who already have an interest in your content. They are familiar with your brand and are more likely than strangers to read your content. You may also segment your lists based on buyer demographics that can help you send them targeted emails that prompt them to act on the content.
Email newsletters sent weekly or monthly with content text, videos, images, and links to your website help drive traffic to your website, build brand awareness, and increase ROI.
Organic Social Media Distribution
Social media is changing with more features being added more frequently such as live-streaming and stories. It is a distribution channel that focuses on immediacy and interaction. Here are some features and stats from Social Sprout on the following social media channels that you may consider for distribution:
- Facebook: This social media channel is the most widely used social media platform. Of the 69% of adults using Facebook, 74% of users check the site about once a day. The 18-49 age group uses Facebook the most. Facebook is good for businesses that want to manage their reputation, coordinate an event, network or build relationships, or to move up Google rankings.
- Instagram: Instagram is a social media platform that is highly visual with a high concentration of users between the ages of 13-29. Over 30% of adults use this platform, and Instagram is a good distribution channel for businesses that want to make their business relatable, to partner with influencers, to increase visibility, and engage with customers.
- LinkedIn: LinkedIn is a good social media service for B2B businesses that is used by 25% of adults. This platform allows businesses to drive traffic, publish content, keep customers informed, and network.
- Twitter: Twitter is chronologically focused and is used by over 20% of adults with most site users are between ages 18-29. Twitter is good for businesses to get feedback on products and services, increase brand awareness, promote your blog content, and keep up with industry trends.
Once you decide which distribution method you would like to use, you can begin planning when to publish your content through the proper distribution channels.
7. Use a Content Calendar
One of the largest parts of successful content development is how you go about developing, planning, and distributing your content. Content calendars are a visual workflow for content creators that helps them to plan ahead and stay organized throughout the entire content development process. There are several content calendar tools you and your team can use such as Google Calendar or Trello that allow you to plan content for free. Your content calendar should track publish dates, content types, promotional channels, and authors.
Here are some ways to plan content on your calendar:
- Start with ongoing content efforts such as content that you produce at least two times a month.
- Add one-time content and pay attention to how they complement your ongoing content to decide when to publish.
- Add your regularly scheduled content.
- Keep a content repository for work that you cannot complete yet.
Most businesses use content development today, and they benefit from telling their stories through great content. If your company wants to tell its story to its consumers through content, then you should consider a content development process and strategy that works best for planning, organizing, implementing, and publishing your content.