There are a few digital marketing solutions that call for spontaneity, but content writing is definitely not one of them. Success in content marketing requires a long-term framework, in-depth research, and meticulous planning. This is why you need a high-quality and efficient content development plan.
Content development is the process of planning, structuring, and executing the production and distribution of innovative, effective content. A professionally crafted content development strategy enables you to offer useful and engaging articles, blog posts, social media posts, email newsletters, infographics, memes, and other popular types of content to your current and potential customers.
You need to focus on strategic content planning (the why, the how, and the when) as much as you focus on the actual production of content in order to:
Having a well-structured content development plan in place is immensely important because it helps the process of content creation run smoothly. If you don’t want to miss any deadlines and waste time guessing or improvising, streamlining your content production with an expert content development strategist is an absolute must.
But what’s even more important about having a content development strategy is that it motivates you to visualize an end goal. With an end goal in mind, be it short-term or long-term, you can track your progress and strive towards something concrete.
Think of it this way: if you’re climbing a mountain aiming to reach its peak, you’ll have something to strive towards and push yourself to accomplish. Going for an aimless walk in the woods is great too, but it’s not a suitable approach for running a business.
Content development should be part of every content marketing strategy regardless of what industry the business or organization belongs to. Web content developers, content strategists, project managers, bloggers, social media managers, and video content creators are only some of the many professionals who incorporate content development into their work. This is a sure-fire way to create and publish content with a specific strategic purpose, or end goal, in mind.
Now that you know what content development is, why it plays such an important role in content marketing, and who can help you implement it, it’s time to break it down into parts and see what its constituents are all about.
To develop and produce outstanding web content, you need to mindfully go through each of the following 5 phases.
Before you begin your content writing adventure, you need to know exactly why you’re doing it. Start by determining your target audience. You mustn’t overlook this step as content intended for professionals and experts must be different from the information you provide newbies and hobbyists with. The style (terminology, syntax), tone (professional vs. friendly), and structure (bite-sized data vs. chunks of research) of your text will change depending on who’s meant to be reading it.
Next, you should determine the purpose of your content, i.e. whether it’s educational, instructional (like step-by-step guides), entertaining, etc. This will help you create the skeleton of your content much more easily and quickly later on.
You should also decide where and when you’ll publish your content. The size and format of your content will depend on the platform of your choice (website, blog, social media platform, etc.).
For example, if you want to reach your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn followers (and gain new ones), it’s smart to share content in the form of quick tips and ideas, short product/business videos, photos, memes, GIFs, question posts, customer reviews and testimonials, podcast episodes, etc.
The when is also important because it will help you create a content schedule and maintain regularity. Over time, your followers will trust that they can depend on you for relevant and regular information.
In this stage, you should also determine how you’ll edge out your competitors. This can be done by producing one-of-a-kind content (try presenting a different perspective to your readers), providing better, tried-and-true solutions to common problems, or rewriting existing content in a more relatable and comprehensive way.
Another significant part of the content development process is gathering and processing information about your target audience.
Before you start creating and churning out content, you need to learn as much as possible about your potential customers’ behavior, buying habits, needs, and preferences by reviewing your website analytics, monitoring your social media accounts (particularly the comment sections), sending out surveys and questionnaires, and, of course, directly reaching out to random customers.
This will eliminate the need for guesswork and help you cater to the right folks.
To achieve the desired content marketing objectives, you also need to do some research on your top competitors’ best practices and greatest weaknesses. Identify the types of content they are producing and the platforms they are publishing it on, map the amount of content and the frequency of publishing, and analyze the feedback they’re receiving. This is how you’ll discover the most promising content creation gaps in your market niche and make the most of them.
Although you can use paid tools to conduct content competitor analyses such as Ahrefs, you can collect plenty of useful information by simply going through your competition’s websites and social media accounts. If you can’t afford a premium analysis tool right off the bat, you can take advantage of the free trial periods they offer.
Once you gain valuable insight into the content marketing practices of your fiercest competitors, you should analyze your own existing content, too. Focus on the frequency of content publishing, the length of the content, top-linked content, organic search visibility, and other content performance metrics. Then, compare your results with what you learned about your competition. This should help you locate your weak spots and find ways to improve or eliminate them.
It’s now time to optimize your content writing process by writing guidelines for your content writers and designing templates for each type of content you’re planning to produce and publish. Preparing blueprints for your how-to guides, product review articles, infographics, and video/podcast scripts will not only boost the efficiency of your content creation team—it will also affirm your reputation as a reliable brand and consistent source of information.
Last but definitely not least, create a content or editorial schedule. This means you should determine when and how often you’ll publish certain types of content. You can build a weekly, monthly, quarterly, or yearly content calendar depending on how dynamic your content niche is. For instance, you may choose to publish four short social media posts, two medium-sized informative blog posts, and one lengthier how-to guide per week.
You’re thinking, is this absolutely necessary? My team and I are super-responsible. Well, content calendars will ease the burden of having to remember details about your content production and distribution strategy so that you can channel your efforts into the actual content writing process.
These tools will also help you visualize the type and amount of content you’ve planned for the week/month/year ahead and meet all the deadlines. Remember that peak we talked about? Short-term aims, like setting weekly and monthly content production goals, lead to long-term results. Editorial calendars can also remind you of your special content marketing plans for certain times of the year, like beloved holidays and popular events.
Content development is necessary preparation before you can start your content writing journey. It leads you to explore all the different routes (types of content and platforms) that you can take to reach your destination (content marketing goals) and find out which ones suit your business the best.
In the end, content development will leave nothing to chance and ensure that your digital marketing strategy will be a success.
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