“Content isn’t king. It’s the kingdom” – Lee Odden, Optimize: How to Attract and Engage More Customers by Integrating SEO, Social Media, and Content Marketing.
Every marketer knows the importance of good content. Behind every sale, there’s a customer whose journey started with a piece of content that informed, delighted, and convinced them that they needed to make this purchase.
However, despite this, not all companies and agencies effectively utilize content to drive sales. That’s because content production is typically thought of as being time-consuming and expensive to do well. This doesn’t have to be the case.
This article will go over how to streamline your content pipeline. You’ll see that your company can also harness the power of content without it eating your budget.
What Is a Content Pipeline?
A content pipeline is a cycle of preparing, producing, and publishing content. It is the overarching process that affects all your content marketing efforts.
Managing a content pipeline doesn’t mean managing the content workflow at the production stage. Researching, writing, editing, and proofreading are the sub-tasks of the production stage.
- Preparation requires identifying your target market and pinpointing a strategic direction.
- Production includes assigning roles and responsibilities, setting deadlines, and tracking progress.
- The publication consists of determining when and where the articles will be posted and analyzing their performance to gather insights.
Here’s an overview of the main stages and what they include:
Each stage is equally important. Focusing too much on one stage and neglecting other stages will result in content that doesn’t reach your intended readers or drives them away from your brand.
Measure Twice: How to Prepare for Content Production
Content production is demanding and time-consuming, so it’s tempting to rush the process. However, producing quality content doesn’t guarantee success.
Businesses often fall into this trap and find they’ve spent time and money creating content that never reaches their customers.
To streamline your resources, follow the steps below before setting content production into motion.
1. Decide What Kind of Content to Produce
To know what kind of content will create the most significant impact, you need to know your audience inside and out. Determine who they are, their desires and pain points, and what kind of content they prefer. Analyze your industry or niche and competitors. Identify the trends, common pitfalls, and possible future directions.
As you’re gathering information, you can start choosing what types of content to produce. If you’re starting, focus on one format that will bring the most significant benefit and expand from there.
The most common first choices are blogs and videos. These are relatively simple to implement in your content marketing strategy, and they give the audience an insight into your brand. Blogs and videos can establish you as the industry expert while also presenting you as approachable and engaging.
Here’s an overview of other forms of content you can produce and their main characteristics:
|Type of content||Characteristics|
|White papers||Show expertise, present data|
|Case studies||Present data and results, engaging storyline|
|Checklists||Drive engagement, can boost sales|
|Longreads||Show expertise and authority, present everything users need to know about a topic|
|e-Books||Show expertise and credibility, more structured|
|Infographics||Engaging, easy-to-read format, packed with data|
|Social media posts||Engaging, useful for driving traffic to a website, boost conversions, establish a reputation|
|Podcasts||Show expertise, discuss topics in-depth, easy to consume, include other experts|
|Paid promotions (influencer marketing)||Partners present your brand and products to larger audiences|
2. Define the Content Production Process and Roles
Once you figure out what types of content you want to deliver, you can determine who will be involved and the process flow.
- First, you should determine what roles and entities will be involved. These can include creatives such as writers and designers, editors, and interviewers.
- Next, determine where your communication will take place. This can be an email program, chat, productivity tool, or video and web conferencing software.
- Assign responsibility for overseeing the production process. This person will keep the team on track and make sure the deadlines are met.
- Finally, you can decide who brainstorms content ideas. It could be the whole team or an SEO specialist.
By outlining the roles and responsibilities and ground rules for communication, you are closer to streamlining your content pipeline. You will ensure all tasks are covered and prevent miscommunication and setbacks.
3. Creators Assemble: Pick the Right Team
If you went through the exercise above, you know what roles you need within your content team. Now you get to assign those roles to specific people within your organization. While thinking about team roles, you probably already thought of who could fill them. Either way, it’s time to re-examine your staff’s skills and talents and discuss the position.
To build a strong team, it’s better to present the opportunity to potential team members rather than just assigning them new tasks and responsibilities. They may not have the time or the desire to take on more work. You might need to consider accommodations or reassigning some of the other tasks they have on their plate. When they agree and assume the new responsibility, they will be more motivated and devoted in their role.
Another thing to consider is the diversity of the content production team. Each position requires different talents, skills, and interests that complement each other. Strong writing skills, attention to detail, vision, design skills, leadership, teamwork, and time management need to come together.
You may not have the available talent within the organization. In that case, you can consider training existing staff, hiring someone for the position, or outsourcing specific roles to a freelancer or an agency.
4. Audit Existing Content
If you already have some content, you should start there. It’s easier to edit than originate, so improving or repurposing existing creative efforts can be the first step to streamlining your content marketing.
Analyze what topics you have covered before and how the content has performed. If you have an article that hasn’t performed well, scrutinize it to identify opportunities for improvement. It could be outdated, lacking in visuals, missing the main keywords, or irrelevant to your followers. If you had high-performing or viral posts, analyze what made them successful. Try to improve further and consider repurposing them for other platforms.
Analyzing your past work can provide valuable lessons. You can identify what topics sparked the most interest, create additional content around them, or replicate the structure and tone that clicks with consumers. You will also be able to avoid duplicates or subpar content.
5. Develop Audience Personas
Like all marketing, content marketing requires a personal connection with your audience. This is why target audience personas are valuable.
Speaking to data points instead of a human being is uninspiring. It would help if you still had an outline of your target market. Knowing who your customers are, where they live and work, their education level, family status, and interests is crucial. You want to understand them better and know their challenges and pains.
A persona makes your readers more real and tangible. It allows your team to identify with them and draft content that’s more on-point. You will not be delivering content to “40-year-old entrepreneurs living in New York who are likely to use dating apps”. Instead, you will be talking to “Dan, who is a self-made entrepreneur and struggles to reach work-life balance due to his busy schedule but yearns to find a life partner.
Depending on the size and characteristics of your target audience, one persona may be enough. If the group is diverse, you need two or three average representatives.
The type of data for persona development can include:
- Demographics (age, gender, income, location, race)
- Background (education, profession, family status)
- Identifiers (interests, goals, preferred communication channels)
- Challenges (pain points, common objections)
If you don’t have much (or any) data on your target audience(s) to build one or more personas, here is an inexpensive tactic you can use:
- Perform email address searches on your most frequent or ideal buyers and place the information (email, lifetime value, transaction value, total order size, or engagement) into a spreadsheet
- Log into your Facebook account and go to Facebook’s Audience Insights tool
- Click the Create Audience dropdown and select Lookalike Audience
- Import the CV you created with the buyer information
- Select what geographical area(s) you’d like to find a similar group of people
- Choose the desired audience size you’d like
- Finally, hit Select Create Audience
In 6-24 hours, you’ll have a big list of people the Facebook algorithm believes closely match your criteria.
Based on the above, you can develop a plan to win over your audience.
6. Define Your Content Goals
Each piece of information you publish should be a part of your company strategy and your business goals.
Are you looking to increase brand awareness, attract new talent, or educate and engage your customers? Defining content goals allows for a more targeted approach and a clear purpose. Most importantly, you will be able to measure the returns.
Here are some common content goals:
- Increasing brand awareness and reputation
- Educating and engaging customers
- Recruiting new talent and partners
- Researching the market (target audience pains and fears)
- Overcoming objections
- Validating new ideas and products
- Improving search engine rankings
- Increasing traffic and conversions
The main question is, what do you want your audience to do after they’ve read your content, and what benefit does that action bring to your business?
Once you identify the goals, personas and define the roles, you can start setting and adjusting your content pipeline.
How to Streamline Your Content Pipeline
To streamline your content pipeline, use the five-step process described below.
Step 1. Brainstorm Topics
Identify topics that are significant to at least one of your personas. Brainstorm with your content team or SEO specialist, write down as many ideas as possible and then make your selection. Prioritize your top picks and discard topics with the least value.
Step 2. Create a Content Calendar
Make your production and publishing process consistent by creating a content calendar. Consistency ensures you stay relevant and boosts content marketing performance. Having a calendar will also help determine the deadlines for delivery for each stage of the process. You’ll be able to deliver your content on schedule when the writers, editors, and designers all complete their work on time.
Step 3. Define Keywords for Each Article
Defining the keywords for your articles will increase SERPs ranking and offer your writers a focus point. Review your past content, so you don’t compete with yourself for the same terms.
Step 4. Review Published Content
Monitor how your published content is performing. Review the main performance metrics such as overall traffic, click-through rates, lead generation, and bounce rates. This allows for future revisions and adjustments of new content.
Step 5. Make Content Workflow a Cycle
Your content workflow shouldn’t be linear. Once the team has their topics and moves on to creation based on the calendar, a new brainstorming session should begin. As the article moves down the production line, another piece should follow. That way, your entire team will stay productive, and you will have a steady flow of quality material for publication.
Streamlining your content pipeline means establishing a cycle of preparing, producing, and publishing content. All stages are equally significant for an effective content marketing strategy.
The preparation stage outlines your overall strategy, team, type of content, target audience, and goals. The production stage is more hands-on and has the entire team engaged. It includes content scheduling and tracking, creation, editing, and reviewing. Finally, the publication stage consists of distribution, performance analysis, and managing the feedback.
Your content workflow should be a cycle of repeatedly brainstorming ideas, scheduling, producing, and reassessing performance.