There are so many content-related words buzzing around the digital space. Content marketing, strategy, development.. content development process (CDP)? Phew!
Confused? I don’t blame you. There’s just a lot to take in!
However, any digital marketer or content writer worth their salt will know that content development is not a process to skimp out on.
That’s why, in this article, I’ll be discussing, and all in plain terms, what content development is and how you can create one easily. I will also provide you with a content development process that will ensure you will research, create, edit, and promote stellar content, audiences will want to engage with. Every. Damn. Time.
Ready to get content with your content?
What’s content development?
In layman’s terms, content development can be defined as the process of making content for the web that attracts an audience and visitors to your site or page.
Ideally, the content you publish will be informative, engaging, and enjoyable, so that visitors subscribe, share, stick around, and even try out your brand’s product or service themselves.
Simple, right? Let’s proceed
To expound on that definition, a content development process is generally made up of the following steps:
Each brand’s take on the content development process will mildly differ by taking out, adding in, or substituting certain steps to suit their specific needs. But the eight steps above are the fundamental building blocks needed for effective content development.
That’s the definition of content development covered.
But what’s the difference between content marketing, and content development?
Time to find out.
Content development and content marketing are processes that have a tremendous amount of overlap, but the content marketing process usually places a little more emphasis on the act of promotion and distribution.
We can define content marketing as a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.
So, as you can see, they both concerned with the making of valuable content and getting it out there. But it is the “getting it out there” part which is usually more emphasized in content marketing.
Take-away: As you have seen, there are similarities and differences between the two concepts. But it is content development that is truly the core process for any business’ content endeavors. Simply put, if a brand or business wants to achieve their marketing (and overall business goals), they are going to have to undergo content development.
So, let’s explore content development further, shall we?
The Content Development process: the 8-step process.
Considering the surplus of advantages that content development brings (improved brand visibility and credibility; increased consumer loyalty and trust; the generation of site traffic) I think it is high time we get you in on the action, too.
That is why I have created an easy, effective 8-step content development process (CDP) for you to use!
The following process is loosely based on Digimark’s own content development process.
Without further ado, let’s dive right in.
Step #1: Research
The first step of the content development requires you (and your team) to undergo research.
Because the process is data-driven.
Without understanding who you are targeting, the keywords you are using, the competitors who are targeting the same keywords, and considering how the content can align with your brand’s current marketing goals, you simply cannot create tailored content.
As the team at Engage Content rightfully say:
“If you want to just produce an article, all you need to start with is a story. If you want to develop content, you need to start with a content strategy, target personas, and keywords.”
Therefore: Understand the audience and/or personas you are targeting. Audience research ensures that whatever you are about to make will actually interest them. Once audience research has been done, you will generally want to find high volume, low keyword difficulty keywords to put into your text, content headers, content title, and URL slug.
Once you have understood what audience and keywords you are targeting, you will want to think back to your brand or business’ current marketing and/or business goals and start thinking about how the content will align with those goals.
This takes us promptly onto step #2: Plan.
Step #2: Plan
Plan what you are going to write.
It doesn’t have to be a super detailed dossier. Neither does it have to be a jam-packed to-do list. It can just be a simple plan where you create a loose structure for what you are about to write.
No matter if you’re trying to pen a national bestselling novel or a social media post for your medium-sized company, writing can be tricky. And by giving yourself structure, you are less likely to find yourself staring at your screen, not having the foggiest idea of what to type.
For instance, whenever I plan a piece of content, I look at the keywords found in the research stage. Then, I block out the H2 and H3 headers, which provides me with a structure. I start writing the intro, then, as I get into my writing groove, I make my way through the headed sections accordingly until the conclusion’s CTA, the final part of written content, has been added. In a matter of hours, the blog’s first draft is finished without me having stared at the screen blankly or giving up halfway through.
Step #3: Create
By now you know your audience. You know the keywords you are going to use. You have planned what you are going to write.
But before you reap the rewards of higher conversions, boosted traffic, and increased rates of visitor/customer trust and loyalty (and more), the content itself needs to be written down, or typed out.
Now, note that everybody isn’t a natural writer, not even those that studied literature. In fact, few are. Writing is a learned activity; with more and more practice, the better one gets.
Step #4: Edit
Once your draft has been completed, it is time to edit.
Don’t go into panic mode if you look back on the content and think it’s the worst thing that has ever been written.
The editing stage is the phase you turn a piece of coal into a diamond. Use the steps below once you sit down to edit:
Put yourself in your audience’s shoes
Read your content out loud
Kill your darlings (reduce on catchy phrases or sentences)
Vary sentence length and structure
Make paragraphs smaller and sentences shorter.
Avoid the use of jargon
Step #5: Review
Reviewing content is different from editing.
When editing, you are grappling with the content and making changes yourself.
When content is being reviewed, it’s being read through and thought about by another person. Afterward, they provide feedback, such as what’s working, what isn’t, and how certain parts can be improved, on top of any other helpful tips.
This means you will probably have to edit the content in question again.
But that’s not a bad thing.
With multiple rounds of edits and reviews, reviews and edits, you are constantly strengthening your content, helping it to engage (and even convert) more people, and rank higher on Google for that keyword.
Step #6: Publish
The sixth step in this content development process is where you get to push the content live.
But before you hand the content over to your editor or hit publish yourself give it a final once-over to ensure that your well-written, well-edited content will make waves once it gets published.
Seeing as you have ensured it’s okay for readers, this means confirming the finished content is suited to your objective.
From an optimization perspective, ensure that target keywords are featured in all the right places, there are enough long-tails in the content, and, if possible, you are optimizing for Google’s Knowledge Graph (i.e. the chunk of information, taken from somebody’s site, that’s displayed when you search a term in Google).
Once you are confident the content in question is as optimized as it can be, hit that publish button!
Step #7: Promote
Hooray, the post has been published and is now live. It is time to promote the content.
Seeing as every brand’s content promotion process is different, let me divulge regarding how we do it at Digimark Communications.
Basically, our digital marketing department has a team of account managers who post our latest work to relevant bookmarking sites and across social media channels.
Now, if you are a solo-preneur, small team, or don’t have account managers to do the promotion and content distribution for you, you will be doing it yourself.
After your content has been promoted to the best of your ability, it’s time for the final step of the content development process, which is, reflection!
Step #8: Reflect
Alas, the content was researched, written, edited, reviewed, optimized, published, and promoted.
So what next?
You do it all again.
But as you push more and more content out, you need to be constantly reflecting on the progress (or lack thereof) of your content, specifically checking:
Where did your content rank on Google?
How much traffic is each piece of content receiving?
How well-shared is the content?
Did readers engage or try out your organization’s product or service (conversion)?
Is current content aligning with your ever-changing marketing (and overall business) goals?
Without taking time to reflect on your efforts, you won’t know whether your overall content marketing strategy is effective.
You may be pushing out, post after post until your creator’s fingers bleed, but if there are holes be it in the keyword research phase, the writing phase, or anywhere else then your brand’s money, time, and effort are wasted.
To avoid those aforementioned holes, checklists are your most valuable ally.
With that, I conclude my low-down on content development and the content development process!
I can’t wait to read the awesome content you are going to put out there.
It’s now your turn!