Using content management to improve your content creation

How do you manage your content production?

You may feel you’re cranking out plenty of content, but do you manage to cover all the topics you need to cover?
The wider your range of topics, the more you’ll need to keep a tab on all the content you’re creating or having created. Getting organized is the key factor if you’re to deliver regular, relevant, quality content. How to manage your content (marketing) efforts?

How to create enough content for every topic

I’ve written before about the importance of content management for your content (marketing) strategy. This time, let’s start with my blogging habits. I publish two posts per week on this blog. Since I’m interested in different topics, I have several categories on my blog. With ‘just’ 8 categories, it would take me a month to do one post about each topic.

Content management - use it to get enough variation in topics

How do you create content for every topic? – Flickr image by HikingArtist

It’s unlikely that any (business) blog has the same number of blog posts on every topic. For each topic, the question is: how often do you have something new to share with your readers? Have you:

  • read anything new about a topic?
  • been involved in a project with aspects relating to a topic?
  • attended an event?

If not, you’re less likely to come up with a brainwave for new content. No events also means fewer opportunities for making short interviews which you could share.

Content management for a business website

If you have a business website with dozens of topics which you all need to keep updated with fresh content, gaps may form while you’re busy on other topics. You don’t want to be confronted with content gaps in specialized areas which you then need to fill – which may take days, or weeks, from the moment you contact a relevant subject matter expert.

Every piece of content has to meet your quality standards, right? That means investing time in research and in editing your content.

You can rarely serve every visitor with one format for your content. For every piece of written content, you need a picture that adds interest in the shape of information, entertainment, or a new angle on your written content. Start with visual content and the opposite applies.

First, test-plan your content

Use an Excel sheet, a whiteboard or even a sheet of paper to:

  • List all of your topics horizontally
  • Lists the days (full week or weekdays) vertically.
  • Try to plot one piece of content per topic per month. Use something like yellow sticky notes, because this is just your first step.

You could be looking at anything from 8 to 50 pieces of content per month, and in the latter case you’ll be publishing new content every weekday of every month.

How often do you publish new content now? On your blog? On your website? Elsewhere?

You could tweak your overview by:

  1. dropping your required amount of content to one piece of content per 2 months.
  2. using fewer, less specific categories.
  3. only creating content for topics your customers are interested in. A website that aims to attract customers should start with their needs.

Get your business content organized

  1. Meet your subject matter experts (SME)
  2. Plot every event.
  3. Brainstorm for topics with every SME.
  4. Determine whether each SME is able and willing to write content to specific requirements, talk about their topic(s) in front of a camera or for a podcast. How much of their time do you need?

Take your SMEs for a testdrive. And (although I read this too often) this is a rinse-and-repeat process. Experts are by definition extending their knowledge base, rather than your content base 😉

Plan your content creation process backward

Plot every idea for, or piece of, content on the overview you made earlier – on the day you need it published. Then, we travel back in time…

  1. When do you need this content to be delivered?
  2. How much time does it take to get interviews transcribed, images selected, text edited?
  3. When do you need to contact or meet anyone?

Now you have a simple Content To-Do and the start of an editorial calendar (add details as you go). Using things like colors for different kinds of content helps. Organizing and planning your content gives you insight into:

  • the effort it takes to get your content published.
  • why your company’s content creation efforts seem less successful than you’d like.
  • whether you need to delegate, streamline, or skip tasks.

That’s why you need to testdrive – not just for your SMEs to get used to contributing. You need a trial-and-error phase (or call it a pilot) for everyone. Doing everything at once may be a bit steep.

[Content inspired by this article on Huffington post]

Advertisements

Storytelling in the age of content marketing

Has content marketing changed consumers?

My version of the customer decision journey

My colorful version of the customer decision journey. Click to view McKinsey’s version.

The question popped into my mind while reading this blog post on Pamorama. Pam neatly shows two models for the process a customer goes through before (and in the second case, after) they make a purchase.

There’s quite a difference between the two models. But does that difference reflect a change in consumers? If so, did content marketing cause that change?

The pre-content marketing sales funnel

The pre-content marketing sales funnel shows a straightforward process with a beginning and an end. At the end, you’ve bought something. Congratulations! Goodbye – and you never hear from the (web) shop again.

When, if ever, did this sales funnel model match reality? Under what circumstances is there no contact between ‘shopkeeper’ and consumer after the purchase – or, would one map only this part of the process? Continue reading

How a content strategy will help your blogging career

Suppose you want to turn blogging – or let’s call it content creation – into a career. The first thing it means is that you need a business attitude at least where it comes to how much content you’ll create about what topic(s). What you really need is some kind of plan for your content.

A Content Strategy is important for your blogging career. So is Meditation. Relax...

What are the characteristics of a (good) content strategy anyway? I ran into a nice, possibly helpful definition on Business2Community, to which I’ve decided to add my own perspective in this post.

A content strategy for your blogging career

Having a content strategy means you

  • deliberately create content
  • which you have optimized for search. This means that you base your content on keyword phrases that drive ‘organic search traffic’ (and conversions) – this is what the article I mentioned focuses on,
  • that demonstrates an understanding of your potential customer’s knowledge acquisition at various stages in their buying cycle. Don’t worry, I’ll explain later 😉

This means you don’t write whatever you like – a different approach from what you’d do on a personal blog. Instead, you start by finding out what keyword phrases your potential customers are probably using to find the information they need.

What kind of content is your potential customer looking for?

Put yourself into your customers’ shoes for a moment. What information you need depends on several aspects:

  1. Whether you’re already familiar with a type of product or service. Do you need to know what different smartphones do, or do you own one and do you want to compare the latest smartphones with yours?
  2. Whether you’ve already decided which product or service you want, or from which company you’ll buy.
    1. You may want to compare prices to get the best deal regardless of the brand so long as the product meets your demands.
    2. Or you know what product you want. All you need to know is which site or company offers you the best deal.
    3. Or you’re fed up with the lousy service you’ve had from company X and you need to make sure you find a company that does know that “customer service” contains the word “service” for a reason.

Every different situation means you’ll be using different keywords while looking for information.

A content strategy that is optimized for search means you take your potential customers’ search behavior into account even before you start creating content for your blog (or website).

What do you know about your potential customers? Can you ask any of the customers you already have?

Delivering your content to your potential customers

Next: you deliver your “optimized” content to your potential customers in a relevant and compelling way.

What is relevant depends on what your readers and/or your potential customers are looking for, not what you feel is important for you to tell the world.

Compelling is a word I’ve seen too often since I started reading about content marketing, and relevance takes care of a lot. True, it doesn’t help if you analyze quite interesting stuff down to the level of atoms for potential customers who either want you to help them or to entertain them. On the other hand, maybe you’re doing exactly the right thing to attract the people you need for your business. Do you know?

What kinds of content can you deliver on your blog?

A couple of categories of content that could work in the context of your blog are:

  1. Case studies that show how you dealt with a particular kind of issue. This lets people know what to expect from you.
  2. The ‘how to’ posts are familiar and they can be quite popular. However a post doesn’t become popular just because the title starts with “How to…”. Again, relevance to your potential customers matters most.
  3. White papers that give in-depth information to those readers you’ve selected as possibly interested in more than the average blog post.
  4. News about events you attend or organize, so people know where/when to find you.

Final considerations for a blogging career

If you’re serious about a blogging career you also need to consider which format suits your potential customers, and where they hang out for preference.

  • Are they the reading kind or do they prefer video?
  • Do they write lengthy comments on your blog or do they drop a short line on Twitter?

If, like me, you’re writing for the fun of writing, or to help your thinking process along, these considerations are probably not for you. But if you’ve decided to try to make money blogging, you’ll need to cater for your potential customers’ preference rather than stay in your own cosy comfort zone wondering where they went.

How content management will help your content strategy

How is content management related to content strategy? And how can content management help your content strategy? The answer to the first question differs depending on your professional background.

Before going into the connection between content management and content strategy, here is how I see the two in their respective roles.

What is content management?

Content Management - Content Strategy - Content Planning

A content inventory allows you to find content gaps and planning to fill them

Content management inside an organization is pretty much an administrative role.

Although content management systems (CMS) help you structure the content your organization has, the role of content manager hasn’t gone away – people who have trouble structuring information generally find the cure, or system, worse than the disease.

Not getting your categories, keywords, tags sorted means you and your coworkers will have a hard time finding stuff back. It’s a major reason why many people keep their own little archive – to make sure the information that matters most to them, or even to their coworkers, won’t get lost.

What is content strategy?

Content strategy is a word from the realm of content marketing – just like search engine optimization (SEO). Content marketing is about how and when to bring your message to your audience.

Some basic content marketing questions are:

  • What audiences do you want to attract?
  • What does their customer journey look like?
  • What kind of information do they need at various moments?

Your content strategy is also about more fundamental issues, like defining what you will share at all and why (not). This means structuring what you have and planning what you don’t yet have.

The article “How to build online engagement with health care communities” makes clear that you should realize who you, the organization (or person) providing content to your audiences, are.

  • What types of content you can offer to what audience flows from your organization’s identity – the roles you play in the careers and lives of your various audiences.
  • Then there’s the topics you want to publish about – the services or products your organization offers. Which topics can you share with which audience?

How will content management help your content strategy?

Any decent kind of content management (using tags and the like) will help you take inventory of the content you’re already publishing. The first time you see your content inventory and your content strategy laid out side by side – what you have versus what you should have – you’ll probably find quite a few gaps in your published content. These gaps are the should haves you don’t have yet.

You may also find that your content management is fine in traditional (administrative) terms. Thinking ahead in order for your content to be found later on is part of content management. You may still need to look at your content (tags and all) and wonder: where is my customer? If you can’t find them, make sure you put them in.

Next step: use your new knowledge to fill in the content gaps

You now have a good view of your content landscape. Simply put, what you do next is: fill in the content gaps, add tags that make sense to you and to your audiences, and plan ahead to keep the flow of content going.

One single trend for content marketing in 2013

It’s December and that means that there are a lot of predictions for the coming year. Seems there is nothing like a fresh shower of trends to announce the festivities!

In this post I’ll share the most obvious trend I can spot. If you’ve missed it you’re probably not in content marketing 🙂 However, if you’ve read my earlier posts you’ll know I’m unlikely to stop there – I’m interested in what that trend looks like in reality.

One single trend for content marketing in 2013

Content Marketing Trend: more content marketing

The one trend I can see for content marketing in 2013 is that there is going to be more of it.

Not exactly a chrystal-ball moment is it 😉

Next I’ll explore what the rise of content marketing looks like inside companies. And also, how marketing is moving towards content marketing.

Marketers and content

Marketers will combine their skills in traditional marketing methods with a growing awareness that well-written content is worth gold – and that they need to be active on social media in some acceptable way.

They’ll try any or all of the following:

  1. use things like market segmentation to describe their audience like they always did.
  2. roll in “Big data” if the budget allows.
  3. find out what (social) media their audience uses. Nothing new there: go where your customers are. But where they are tends to change.
  4. get a content ‘desk’ going to collect, create and provide relevant content for every subgroup identified by digging through their (big) data.
  5. give every potential customer only the stuff that is interesting and relevant for them to make the ‘right’ choice.

Example: the presidential elections. Or if you leave out big data, you might recognize parts of the view of some marketing-minded bloggers like Jeff Bullas who treat social media as ‘out-posts’ to their blogs.

In this case businesses will edge their way into our consciousness to:

  • Convince us they’re trustworthy
  • Convince us they’ve something good to offer us
  • Convince us it’s a good idea to part with our money.

Which is basically old school marketing but ‘powered by’ (big) data, social media and every other promising-looking new kid on the block.

Marketing on the move towards content marketing

At the same time, putting in a firm basis for their ‘push marketing’ methods by setting up some kind of structure to ensure there’s always content to share will mean (the start of) a content strategy.

Once that basic content strategy in place, we’re likely to see a convergence of market approaches and marketing methods in the coming years. I’m talking hybrid forms of marketing.

Right now marketers are getting to grips with the concept of content marketing. As in: apply old-school marketing to content. Once they’ve done that they’ll realize there’s more to be had just around the content marketing corner.

What marketers – and their CMO – need to get used to

Content marketing means you’re investing time and effort in the customers of ‘tomorrow’. Much later than that actually, because your aim is for them to turn to you for advice as easily as shop at their regular supermarket or favorite webstore.

+ Who would you go to for tips on how to use Twitter?

+ Who’s your number one for anything to do with new legislation?

Whatever your expertise is, you want potential customers to get your name and picture rather than anyone else’s. But there’s more than that:

  1. you want them to be familiar with your knowledge, your way of approaching topics, and your opinions. They’ll come to know what to expect from you and knowing that, come to you for help. At least that’s the idea 😉
  2. To this end, you show your expertise and your willingness to share what you know.
  3. Once you know they need your help you’ll be able to show them how you solved relevant issues for others.

How well you do all of the above helps determine your ROI.

I really hope marketers are going to get serious about content marketing. If they don’t, here are the reasons in Joe Pulizzi’s article.

I hope you enjoyed this post – if so, please share it! Or add your thoughts in a comment about content, marketing, or content marketing – I promise to reply to anything non-spammy 🙂