Our 5-step guide to an effective content development process

Our 5-step guide to an effective content development process

Our 5-step guide to an effective content development process

Our 5-step guide to an effective content development process

Afoma Umesi

GatherContent Contributor, Writer
The content development process can be overwhelming. Yet, more companies are jumping on the content marketing wagon. Why?

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It’s rewarding. According to Demand Metric, content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing but generates three times as many leads!

If you’re finally ready to roll up your sleeves and start bringing in paying customers using high-quality content, this post is for you.

We’ll take a closer look at what content development is, share our step-by-step content development process, and show how you can implement it for your business while making the process as hassle-free as possible.

What is Content Development?

Content development is the process of conceiving, planning, producing, and distributing content to reach business goals. This term is synonymous with content marketing and includes the entire lifecycle of content from its conceptualization to its impact on readers (a.k.a. potential customers).

A few benefits of investing in content development include:

  1. Improved efficiency: Carefully planning and executing a content strategy increases your chances of success. You can target your ideal audience and create content that meets their needs and solves their struggles. Having a plan also keeps you consistent, which helps you maintain traction and build trust with your audience.
  2. Better progress monitoring: A content development plan makes it easier to analyze your progress and make adjustments as needed. You can monitor the key performance metrics and track how well your content is performing—helping you meet and exceed your targets.
  3. Effective collaboration: With a content development process, everyone on the team is on the same page. Your team will know what to do with each piece of content and what to expect for performance. Again, this raises your chances of success.

We know it works, you know it works...but how do you do content development correctly?

5 Vital Steps for a Successful Content Development Process

Whether you’re starting from scratch or auditing your current content development process, our 5-step content development strategy will help you make your planning a success.

1. Set Content Goals

Before you even think about topics or audiences, consider what you want your content to accomplish. At which stage in the content marketing funnel would you like to meet your potential customers?

For example, if you’d rather create content that raises product awareness for your audience, try blog posts, infographics, ebooks, and whitepapers.

Want content that drives sales right away? You might need to invest in testimonials, customer success stories, and live demos. Other content like email newsletters, case studies, and podcasts can work for several funnel points depending on the subject angle.

As you set content goals, you’ll also need to decide how to measure content marketing success. Some commonly used metrics are:

  • Blog traffic
  • SERP rankings
  • Social shares
  • Lead generation
  • Number of sales
  • Client retention

Remember to set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Anchored) goals for your content development process. Also, besides having an overarching content marketing goal, you may need to set goals for each piece of content.

2. Perform Audience Research

Of course, you’ll need basic information about your audience to set content goals. However, once you have your goals, it’s time to take a closer look at your audience and their needs–and how both things intersect with your content goals.

Many experts recommend creating a buyer persona, and research has shown buyer personas to be highly effective. Hubspot states that marketing personas made websites 2 to 5 times more effective for targeted users. A buyer persona is a specific, detailed profile of your target audience.

Your buyer persona should include answers to the following questions:

  • Who is my content made for?
  • What is my audience’s main pain point?
  • Where does my ideal audience live and work?
  • Which social media platforms do they prefer?
  • Who does my target audience follow on social media?
  • Which sites does my audience typically visit?
  • How would my ideal audience prefer to have their pain point solved?

To build a compelling buyer persona, use audience research tools like SparkToro to study audience behavior online. Send surveys to existing customers and potential customers to discover their preferences.

Lastly, mine customer interviews and interactions from Customer Service and Sales to see how well your product is already solving pain points—and where you can improve.

3. Hone Your Content Strategy

We know our goals and our audience. Now what? It’s time to dive into strategy.

Content strategy is a major part of the content development process. It involves researching, planning, and executing content ideas.

Decide which types of content you’ll be sticking with:

  • Will you focus on social media posts or long-form content, or both?
  • If you’re doing long-form content, will you be publishing more helpful how-to posts or thought-leadership articles?
  • Will search engine optimization (SEO) play a significant role in your content marketing?

This would also be a great time to draft a content calendar, start creating content briefs and decide on a brand voice for your articles. In-depth keyword research using tools like Ahrefs and Semrush will make your pieces stronger.

Finally, you’ll need to decide whether you’ll be using freelance writers or content marketing agencies to write all this content you’ve dreamed up.

4. Write

Now, you’re ready to start writing.

In this age of search engines, basic SEO best practices–such as incorporating your keyword into your meta title, URL, and meta description–make a massive difference for search engine result page (SERP) rankings.

But don’t get carried away writing for robots alone. Focus on readability and sharing helpful information. Use storytelling and make your content actionable by using examples, illustrations, charts, and other elements. Ensure that your audience learns from each piece of content, and you’re not simply regurgitating competitor content.

To make the most of your written content, you’ll need to collaborate with multiple team members. For example, while the content strategist creates the brief, an in-house or freelance writer will likely write the content. Ideally, there’ll also be an editor to review and fact-check your pieces.

Make sure that everyone knows when it’s their turn to tap in by using a content hub that supports seamless collaboration. While most teams use Google Docs, GatherContent is a central content tool that allows you to automate the process by using content templates, building an editorial calendar, and assigning collaborator roles, all in one tool!

gathercontent blog post template content development process
The GatherContent blog post workflow makes it easy for multiple team members to collaborate

5. Publish and Distribute

Don’t be fooled: hitting publish is far from the final step in the content development process. Still, it’s an important step that GatherContent can also facilitate. With GatherContent, you can import your content straight to your content management system with zero hassle.

Once the content is live, use your pre-determined content distribution channels (see content strategy) to promote it. You’ll need to do this more than once or twice.

Get the most out of your content by repurposing it. Convert podcasts to blog posts and blog posts to LinkedIn posts. Make YouTube videos using content from past articles. Repurposing content gets more eyeballs on your hard work.

As you publish and distribute, track the content to see how it’s performing. You’ll also need to do some outreach to gain quality backlinks from other sites in your industry. Content marketing is trial and error and requires that you tweak your strategy from time to time.

Who Uses Content Development?

The following roles demand knowledge of content development:

  • Content strategists: As those chiefly responsible for brainstorming ideal content formats, planning briefs, and analyzing content success, content strategists are at the forefront of content development.
  • Head of content: Heads of content often have a broader role than strategists but are also involved in strategizing and executing content plans.
  • Project managers: Project managers oversee the content workflow and ensure that all involved parties work efficiently.
  • Content creators: Anyone steeped in content creation is involved in the content development process. They’ll need to understand their audience and develop a strategy to match them.
  • Social media marketers: Social media marketers also engage in content marketing. They, too, must understand the process.
  • Bloggers: Lastly, bloggers regularly interact with their audience via comments and feedback–priceless audience research that can help them nail the content development process.

The Future of Content Development

Regardless of your role–whether you’re a writer, marketer, blogger, or content creator–you will benefit from improving your content workflow by using a better content creation hub. The days of using six different tools to conceptualize, plan, and produce content are far gone.

Good to Know: With GatherContent, you can create customized content workflows, assign tasks with deadlines, and even integrate your content creation process with Slack. Ready to get started? Try a GatherContent free trial.

It’s rewarding. According to Demand Metric, content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing but generates three times as many leads!

If you’re finally ready to roll up your sleeves and start bringing in paying customers using high-quality content, this post is for you.

We’ll take a closer look at what content development is, share our step-by-step content development process, and show how you can implement it for your business while making the process as hassle-free as possible.

What is Content Development?

Content development is the process of conceiving, planning, producing, and distributing content to reach business goals. This term is synonymous with content marketing and includes the entire lifecycle of content from its conceptualization to its impact on readers (a.k.a. potential customers).

A few benefits of investing in content development include:

  1. Improved efficiency: Carefully planning and executing a content strategy increases your chances of success. You can target your ideal audience and create content that meets their needs and solves their struggles. Having a plan also keeps you consistent, which helps you maintain traction and build trust with your audience.
  2. Better progress monitoring: A content development plan makes it easier to analyze your progress and make adjustments as needed. You can monitor the key performance metrics and track how well your content is performing—helping you meet and exceed your targets.
  3. Effective collaboration: With a content development process, everyone on the team is on the same page. Your team will know what to do with each piece of content and what to expect for performance. Again, this raises your chances of success.

We know it works, you know it works...but how do you do content development correctly?

5 Vital Steps for a Successful Content Development Process

Whether you’re starting from scratch or auditing your current content development process, our 5-step content development strategy will help you make your planning a success.

1. Set Content Goals

Before you even think about topics or audiences, consider what you want your content to accomplish. At which stage in the content marketing funnel would you like to meet your potential customers?

For example, if you’d rather create content that raises product awareness for your audience, try blog posts, infographics, ebooks, and whitepapers.

Want content that drives sales right away? You might need to invest in testimonials, customer success stories, and live demos. Other content like email newsletters, case studies, and podcasts can work for several funnel points depending on the subject angle.

As you set content goals, you’ll also need to decide how to measure content marketing success. Some commonly used metrics are:

  • Blog traffic
  • SERP rankings
  • Social shares
  • Lead generation
  • Number of sales
  • Client retention

Remember to set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Anchored) goals for your content development process. Also, besides having an overarching content marketing goal, you may need to set goals for each piece of content.

2. Perform Audience Research

Of course, you’ll need basic information about your audience to set content goals. However, once you have your goals, it’s time to take a closer look at your audience and their needs–and how both things intersect with your content goals.

Many experts recommend creating a buyer persona, and research has shown buyer personas to be highly effective. Hubspot states that marketing personas made websites 2 to 5 times more effective for targeted users. A buyer persona is a specific, detailed profile of your target audience.

Your buyer persona should include answers to the following questions:

  • Who is my content made for?
  • What is my audience’s main pain point?
  • Where does my ideal audience live and work?
  • Which social media platforms do they prefer?
  • Who does my target audience follow on social media?
  • Which sites does my audience typically visit?
  • How would my ideal audience prefer to have their pain point solved?

To build a compelling buyer persona, use audience research tools like SparkToro to study audience behavior online. Send surveys to existing customers and potential customers to discover their preferences.

Lastly, mine customer interviews and interactions from Customer Service and Sales to see how well your product is already solving pain points—and where you can improve.

3. Hone Your Content Strategy

We know our goals and our audience. Now what? It’s time to dive into strategy.

Content strategy is a major part of the content development process. It involves researching, planning, and executing content ideas.

Decide which types of content you’ll be sticking with:

  • Will you focus on social media posts or long-form content, or both?
  • If you’re doing long-form content, will you be publishing more helpful how-to posts or thought-leadership articles?
  • Will search engine optimization (SEO) play a significant role in your content marketing?

This would also be a great time to draft a content calendar, start creating content briefs and decide on a brand voice for your articles. In-depth keyword research using tools like Ahrefs and Semrush will make your pieces stronger.

Finally, you’ll need to decide whether you’ll be using freelance writers or content marketing agencies to write all this content you’ve dreamed up.

4. Write

Now, you’re ready to start writing.

In this age of search engines, basic SEO best practices–such as incorporating your keyword into your meta title, URL, and meta description–make a massive difference for search engine result page (SERP) rankings.

But don’t get carried away writing for robots alone. Focus on readability and sharing helpful information. Use storytelling and make your content actionable by using examples, illustrations, charts, and other elements. Ensure that your audience learns from each piece of content, and you’re not simply regurgitating competitor content.

To make the most of your written content, you’ll need to collaborate with multiple team members. For example, while the content strategist creates the brief, an in-house or freelance writer will likely write the content. Ideally, there’ll also be an editor to review and fact-check your pieces.

Make sure that everyone knows when it’s their turn to tap in by using a content hub that supports seamless collaboration. While most teams use Google Docs, GatherContent is a central content tool that allows you to automate the process by using content templates, building an editorial calendar, and assigning collaborator roles, all in one tool!

gathercontent blog post template content development process
The GatherContent blog post workflow makes it easy for multiple team members to collaborate

5. Publish and Distribute

Don’t be fooled: hitting publish is far from the final step in the content development process. Still, it’s an important step that GatherContent can also facilitate. With GatherContent, you can import your content straight to your content management system with zero hassle.

Once the content is live, use your pre-determined content distribution channels (see content strategy) to promote it. You’ll need to do this more than once or twice.

Get the most out of your content by repurposing it. Convert podcasts to blog posts and blog posts to LinkedIn posts. Make YouTube videos using content from past articles. Repurposing content gets more eyeballs on your hard work.

As you publish and distribute, track the content to see how it’s performing. You’ll also need to do some outreach to gain quality backlinks from other sites in your industry. Content marketing is trial and error and requires that you tweak your strategy from time to time.

Who Uses Content Development?

The following roles demand knowledge of content development:

  • Content strategists: As those chiefly responsible for brainstorming ideal content formats, planning briefs, and analyzing content success, content strategists are at the forefront of content development.
  • Head of content: Heads of content often have a broader role than strategists but are also involved in strategizing and executing content plans.
  • Project managers: Project managers oversee the content workflow and ensure that all involved parties work efficiently.
  • Content creators: Anyone steeped in content creation is involved in the content development process. They’ll need to understand their audience and develop a strategy to match them.
  • Social media marketers: Social media marketers also engage in content marketing. They, too, must understand the process.
  • Bloggers: Lastly, bloggers regularly interact with their audience via comments and feedback–priceless audience research that can help them nail the content development process.

The Future of Content Development

Regardless of your role–whether you’re a writer, marketer, blogger, or content creator–you will benefit from improving your content workflow by using a better content creation hub. The days of using six different tools to conceptualize, plan, and produce content are far gone.

Good to Know: With GatherContent, you can create customized content workflows, assign tasks with deadlines, and even integrate your content creation process with Slack. Ready to get started? Try a GatherContent free trial.

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