Content development is one of the most important competencies your team can develop.
Content shapes the way a brand is perceived and creates a real connection with people who can make your business soar.
But content development is challenging in its own ways. It calls on each enterprise to stake a claim as a publisher. Thought leadership is no longer optional: It’s the norm.
Effective B2B marketers need to build the chops to keep content development moving at the pace of their industry. That includes planning, writing, research, editing, and more.
Here’s how to get there:
1. Start with a Content Calendar
To make content development work for you, you need, need, need a content calendar. Full stop.
Content marketing is a habit, and like any habit, it takes a while to strengthen it into something that feels natural. A content calendar serves as a roadmap and a reminder to get it done.
Your content calendar doesn’t have to be complicated.
At first, all you need is:
- The topic to be covered in the content.
- The target keyword for written content.
- The person to develop the content.
- The deadline for the first draft.
That’s it! Ideally, your content calendar will become more sophisticated as you take on bigger and bigger campaigns ... in the beginning, though, it’s there to keep you on track.
Once you see the results, you won’t need that reminder anymore. From there, it can evolve.
2. Define Roles and Responsibilities
“Roles and responsibilities” is a phrase used so much in so many organizations that we wouldn’t blame you if you groaned when you saw it. That’s exactly why we’re using it.
Although it might seem like a cliché at times, there’s a big reason why this is always an early step in making a process mature, repeatable, and reliable.
When nobody knows what they’re supposed to be doing, nothing gets done.
Most content marketing teams start with just one or two writers. It falls to these folks to do all the research and writing and to coordinate with the SEO function to ensure alignment.
As the function develops, though, things get complex. You might have proofreaders, graphic designers, and any number of other stakeholders involved in a bigger project.
In the long run, you’ll come up with a repeatable process where pieces of content go to each person in sequence. To start, it’s enough to know who’s doing what.
3. Decide on a Single Communication Solution
Most B2B enterprises are moving outside the email inbox to communication suites that are organized, intuitive, and secure. No matter where your company stands, though, it’s crucial to carve out a niche exclusively for content development. Email tag just won’t cut it.
This is because a lot of content marketing comes down to writing. Writing is an inherently creative and iterative process. New ideas can strike you at the oddest moments, and each idea you have builds on previous thoughts in a dynamic and organic way.
Many people who write for fun keep notebooks – yes, literal paper notebooks – that they can reference quickly to jot down ideas. While that might be a bit extreme, your own forum, Slack channel, or similar solution can be valuable in keeping ideas centralized.
Without that, cool ideas will almost certainly be lost or never acted on.
4. Pick Someone to Be the Data Mogul
Data is love. Data is life. We all know this, but some people are better with data than others.
Data is particularly important in content marketing because, in general, you always want to be moving toward what your audience likes and away from what it doesn’t.
You can make best guesses, of course, but only data can validate your hunch.
While some parts of the enterprise can get away with looking at data on a quarterly basis, your content team should have a huddle to go over the latest analytics numbers every month.
During that time, look for:
- The most and least-trafficked content posted over the previous month.
- New organic keywords that have just begun to draw traffic to your site.
- New keywords for which you now rank within the top ten (first page.)
- New sites linking to yours and what ideas or opportunities they provide.
Remember, it takes time for content to amass links, so you should keep each new content piece on your analytics radar for at least three months to see how it matures. This way, you’ll always have a blend of potent older ideas and promising new ones to tinker with.
Web content is like a snowball: Get it rolling and it can become really, really big.
Taking early steps to streamline your content development will equip you to get momentum on your side – and you won’t have to feel like you’re struggling uphill.