What is content development?
A lot of people today rely more on information online that can help them make purchase decisions. Content development is the process of creating a piece of content through researching, writing, gathering information, infographics, audio and video material. You can then distribute it using content strategies to your existing or potential customers depending on where they are in the sales funnel.
So how do you reach prospects during the decision-making process? You craft intelligent sales conversations with them, aided by content development. For example, if someone is looking to buy a phone within a $300 budget, website content in the form of blog posts, listicles, comparative charts, video reviews, infographics, and customer testimonials of phones within the $300 budget would be the most relevant. But simply creating the information is not enough. You have to get it to them. That’s where strategy comes in. You use marketing tactics and distribute it to the relevant people. Even if you are selling phones above the $300 price range, your content will give the reader some trust. This trust nudges them to take some action such as subscribing to your newsletter or trialling your service.
Role of content developers
Content developers are people who create content such as whitepapers, e-books, blog posts, case studies, podcasts, business templates, infographics, or videographics. The content development process includes the following:
- Writing, creating or curating content
- Content strategy
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Reviewing analytics
- Improving the platform
An ad is as much a piece of content as a social media post is. But, relevance and authenticity is key to make prospects take action. Content development focuses on making web content accessible to all. If a prospect stumbles on your blog post and is hooked, there is greater scope for them to buy your products – all the more so if they are already looking for information. If prospects are not looking for what you are selling, they are easily put off by what you as a brand are claiming to solve or are selling actively. Think about it. If an ice-cream seller sells ice-cream on a windy night when you feel feverish and are walking towards a doctor’s clinic, would you purchase it? No context means no relevance and hence no reach.
Why is a content development process important?
A content development process is a process of crafting content from start to finish for a website. Some people focus only on content creation and publishing, which does not yield results. Yes, people who actively seek your content will look your site up to read your blog posts, but does everyone have the time to do so? No. It is the era of Instagram muting and Twitter unfollows, complicated algorithms and information overload.
What you create needs to grab the right kind of attention. If writing and publishing are not bringing in results, it’s time to get the most out of it by engaging in strategy. Yep, move past the content development process and towards promoting and distributing your content to the right audience, and through the right channels – that is, marketing your content.
As a content marketer, your work begins right at the start of a quarter. If today you have 1200 subscribers, and if you want to reach 2000 subscribers in the next three months, you can audit your content, and re-strategize to reach more people through different channels of distribution (eg., social media, e-mails, etc.) If your website or marketing blog is new, you can take action accordingly. Once you define your company-specific goals, content strategy is a breeze. You can work backwards and focus on creating content pieces that provide solutions for people at large.
What is a content strategy?
Content strategy goes a step ahead of content development process and makes use of content pieces, and the right strategy to reach it to your prospect at the right time so they pick you, over your competition. In short, the content you produce during the content development stage should be engaging, informative, and convincing so that when you strategize and market it, visitors subscribe, share, stick around, trial your products or services, and finally buy it.
Content Strategy vs. Content Marketing Strategy
Content creation or content development is all about creating the right content that is valuable to your customers, audience or anyone who consumes what your business provides solutions for. Content marketing is the distribution of content through newsletters, social media, e-mail marketing or any other strategic content marketing channels to increase the engagement and audience discoverability.
According to Moz, “content strategy concerns itself with the vision—the ins and outs of how and why your content will be created, managed, and eventually archived or updated. It looks at all of the content your customers ever encounter. Content marketing focuses on the tactics and execution—the actual creation, curation, and editing of content that’s specifically created for the purposes of marketing.”
In short, content strategy is internal – what do you and your team do, and how you work with it. Content marketing is external.
Content development and content marketing helps you stream-line your business by taking the guesswork out. Here are some ways it helps your business and your visitors.
How it helps your visitors:
- fills knowledge gaps
- introduces them to new topics
- educates them by solving specific problems
- adds value to existing interests, satiates curiosity
How it helps your business:
- builds audience
- improves subscriptions and brings money
- helps understand audience needs and interests
- helps set granular goals for content in the future
Marketers have the ability to influence and engage buyers at the top of the funnel. Neil Patel’s list shows a bunch of items you can consider to push your prospects towards a purchase.
How can you create the right content for your business?
Here are a few steps you can follow to ensure you are on the right track when it comes to content development.
1) Define your long-term content goals
Get together all the information you ever can about your business. Some questions you can ask are:
- What is your brand voice (Research-oriented, conversational, or educational?)
- What is your site goal? (increase sign-ups, increase daily site views, or nudge them to purchase?)
- What are the many channels through which you want to distribute your content? (e-mail, in-app, social media, etc.)
- How do you make value for your visitors? (free resources: templates, checklists, guides, how-tos)
- When are you reaching them? (work with a content schedule)
- Who are your competitors, and is your content different from them? (your USP, innovation)
Google Analytics provides a wide range of information to learn about on-site data.
2) Understand your audience
Learn more about who is consuming your content and how they feel about it.
- Get information on site visitor navigation
- Make time to understand their personal goals and interests.
- Is your content relevant for the age group they are in?
- How can you improve the content development process to reach them easily?
Social Animal makes this easier. Just type in your website and look at the top posts, the engagement they’ve driven and the types of content that have had the maximum impact.
You can also look at your competitor’s data. Dive deep into key content insights to understand your audience better. Find what has worked best and what you should work on to improve your strategy.
3) Streamline your content
Audit the content you already have and break it down into types to benefit the content development process (marketing blog posts, listicles, audio, long-form content, video, PDFs, infographics, etc) Work with a content editorial calendar, use schedules, timings, and ensure there are no gaps or duplication in the content development process when you put it out to your audience.
- Organize, tag and categorize them based on length, tone, relevance, timing, etc.
- Use back-linking, link building campaigns
- Look at metrics, work with search engine optimization (SEO) tools.
- Analyze the data
4) Become a SEO Optimization expert
Search engine optimization is the thread that bundles all your efforts together at the content creation and streamlining stage. Using the right words can take your business’ presence very far. Wouldn’t you want what you write about to show up in search results?
- Index your web content
- Write strong content pieces that will help you rank on Google’s search results
- Find out the optimum length for your posts using tools that analyze top performing content
- Use the correct formatting tags
- Your URLs need to be short
- Indulge in keyword research on a regular basis, and use appropriate tools.
Google Search Console is another tool you can consider.
5) Create free content:
Once you understand how keywords work, start creating free content. When you create good content for free, you build trust. Most will come back to your site because what you give away for free is valuable. Here are some things you can create for free.
- Educational material: A lot of people want to learn new things. When you make video or audio classes and share it with them, visitors and subscribers consume it. It builds trust and brings them to you as a subject matter expert in the field.
- In-depth pieces: When you write an in-depth article breaking down complex topics into digestible bits, your audience are interested. They will come back for more.
- Templates: If your business is into content development, free creative templates, website page templates, monthly goal templates, whitepaper, cases study templates or content development templates help marketers and visitors appreciate your content more.
- E-mail marketing: Curated newsletters with useful information is a great way to reach people in your industry.
- Infographics, comic strips, and memes: For a lot of people reading long-form content might be difficult or boring. Infographics convey a lot in a small package, and are easy to reach your audience especially they are young.
- Vouchers: Coupons are a great marketing tool that add value to your prospects. Recently I filled a feedback form because the company promised to gift me with a $50 Amazon gift voucher. It worked! They got what they wanted, I got paid for my time.
- Guides and e-books: Most businesses succeed because they believe in the growth of their customers. Guides and e-books bring value to your customers and creates a bond with your prospects.
Creating free content does not mean you’re not going to get anything back. It simply means you are sowing seeds of reliability with your site visitors who would consider you when they want your help, and would not mind paying for the process.
6) Set short-term goals
After setting your overall goals, chip away the extra bits. Make room for focusing on achievable targets. Craft your goals in such a way that they are measurable, meaningful and can be revisited within a time-frame. Keep them reasonable. Grand plans fall through. Tight plans always work.
- Create a list of quarterly goals and an editorial calendar
- Set deadlines and focus on content developing
- Reach milestones, say every fortnight,
- Re-develop your content marketing strategy
7) Promote your content
There is no point in spending hours in content development if you do not share it with the people who may be interested in your product or service. Make sure your presence is felt by your prospects and site visitors. Create a process. Get help. Hire a social media executive, or make use of tools that publicize your work. Learn what you should not do. Blasting the same content across all social media channels with the same thumbnail will result in unfollows or unsubscribes.
- Use digital marketing tools to reach your customers.
- Post on social media, and get people’s opinions
- Engage in brand conversations on social channels
- Use influencer marketing to ignite opinions about your content
- Post enough, but not too much or too many times
Use Social Animal’s Influencer Discovery feature to help you find influencers who are already sharing your content or sharing content similar to yours. Take a look at the actual content they share before reaching out to them.
8) Review your analytics, make reports
The good and the bad thing about the content development process is that it never ends. It’s an iteration process that improves with each cycle. This is why reviewing site behaviour, and using the data to get more insights is as important as setting the umbrella goal.
- Have you reached your short-term goals?
- Is your audience engaging with your content the way you had planned?
- Get insights into your audience’s geography, technology, age and site behaviour
- Make detailed reports and take further actions towards creating content or content development
9) Improve your platform or website
After you have gone through your analytics and made reports, sit down and do a post-mortem. Find out what worked and what didn’t. Has the content development process worked? Did the number of hours you spent working on a piece of content translate to the numbers you aimed for?
- Try innovative formats for your content development process (podcasts, memes, comic strips, and interviews are some formats)
- A/B test your sign-up forms
- Use translation to reach different geographical areas
If you are creating the content, it’s time to put it all into action and craft a process of your own. Use the guide above and plan your strategies.
In a nutshell, define your long-term content goals, understand you audience, streamline your content, work on search engine optimization for your content, create free downloadable material, set short-term goals, promote your content, review your analytics and create reports. Finally bring that information back into improving the platform or business.