Developing Efficient Content Creation Workflows

content marketing process

Consumers are demanding more and more content from organizations. They are looking to them to help them understand their products or services, to show thought leadership and connect with them in channels like social and search engines.

Many organizations would love to be able to scale up their content creation strategy but find that their efforts falter after an enthusiastic start. It’s a common sight to land on a business blog page, only to see that they posted weekly for 6 months, then once a month for a year, then once a year before it finally stopped.

Organizations need to invest time before the first word is even put down on a page to ensure that from the outset, a clear goal and workflow is set up and stakeholders are engaged and on board with the strategy. This will help businesses of all sizes keep up with content creation and ensure it can scale effectively.

Plan, Plan, Plan.

“Proper planning prevents poor performance”

~ Beyoncé (I think…)

When scaling up content creation strategies, having a working process set out in advance will prevent it dying off as writers run out of steam. Plan to have your content creation be a part of your business processes, as necessary as the processes in accounts payable or HR.

Having a clear plan, clear goals and a workflow that backs up that plan will ensure that the path to content creation is smooth and free from bottle necks.

The below process can be used by organizations of any size and will work for an organization of 5 or a of 50.

You Need Someone to Drive the Strategy

A whole department, a single team member or a couple of brave volunteers. Whoever it is, they need to be dedicated to ensuring that the day to day tasks of content creation stay on track and be held accountable for this by senior stakeholders.

SEO or content marketing teams fit perfectly into this role as often, content is being output to boost organic traffic volume through search marketing. From this position, SEO goals can be met as content can be created that will enable organic traffic and overall ranking improvements.

Set Your Goals

Cleary define the reason for your content strategy. Creating content for content’s sake will mean your organization is dumping resources into a task that they think the “should be doing” but that has no clear ROI.

Most frequently, content is being created to help with search engine optimization strategies as part of a content marketing push to build links, improve domain authority and increase rankings.

It may also be used to provide useful, informative content to current customers, or show your thought leadership to new prospects who have been referred to your website.

These goals should generate a conversion. This conversion may be an e-commerce sale, submit a form enquiry or take a free trial.

Engage with senior stakeholders to ensure that content creation supports the conversions that the organization desires – the goal of scaling your content output is to increase conversions or otherwise generate ROI. It is not to generate more content.

Identify Your Target Audience

Who are you targeting your content pieces at? Address the “Five Ws” for your overarching strategy as a whole and for each piece of content you create.

steps to identify target audience

The answers to these questions will align each new post within the overarching goals of the campaign, and ensures content creators stay on track, giving it firm direction and actionable points and questions to address.

Define Your Content Topic Scope.

Which topics will your content cover? Which topics won’t your content cover? An important part of content design is knowing the answer to these questions as it will help focus your content on the topics that are going to matter most to your target audience.

Keyword research, if the content you are creating is going to be used for SEO improvements, is part of this stage. Identifying which keywords are your ‘primary terms’– those that, if you ranked at the top of Page 1 on Google for, would bring you the most organic traffic value – is a primary consideration. Use the ‘primary terms’ to research sub-topics and create a pillar page to direct these to.

There are a wealth of keyword research tools (SEMRush, Google Keyword Planner, Answer The Public for starters) that can help you define the scope of the topics that you can cover within your topic scope.

Review Existing Content

Conduct a content audit to find:

  1. Pages that are getting no use and removing them or improving them.
  2. Finding gaps in your content scope.

In your preferred analytics program, identify which pages aren’t performing well. Your version of “well” may vary, but a good place to begin would be pages that have received no Page Views within the last 6-12 months. In a spreadsheet, indicate if these pages should be removed or improved. Culling old pages that don’t fit within your content scope can help boost organic performance and updating old pages can do the same.

To find gaps in your content, pull a list of your URLs from a tool like Screaming Frog and categorize them so they fit into one of the categories that you defined in topic scope. Once done, you can use Excel to visualize your data and see what percentage of your content falls into what topic so you can identify the gaps and prioritize content to fill these.

Get SMEs on Board

Bring in your Subject Matter Experts (SMEs). Content should be created by an expert who knows their craft inside and out. Google’s focus on content quality has been a focus of their recent core algorithm updates, with companies who aren’t utilizing real experts finding their rankings in the bin.

At times, subject matter experts may not be as comfortable creating content, so the team driving the campaign need to be ready to assist SME’s when needed.

SME’s may:

  • Not like writing
  • Be uncomfortable putting their opinions out in the world
  • Not understand the reason they are being asked to contribute
  • Not understand how creation affects them

Short meetings with SME’s who aren’t as keen to contribute can help alleviate their concerns. Let them know they don’t need to create the perfect blog post but that you just need their knowledgeable input in the form of dot points and the content team can handle the rest. Help them see how a good content strategy leads to more sales and enquiries for their organization, which helps its overall success.

Their knowledge will be the backbone of a great content strategy in a world that does (and should) demand expert input.

Developing Workflows

Workflows will be unique to each business, but there are some key points that all organizations can use as takeaways. Democratize the process and ensure that it is adhered to with consistency.

Workflow for content creation.

  1. Research blog topics based around your keyword research. Hold editorial meetings with each department that will contribute to find topics that are of interest to them and create topics around those. The overseeing team should input these into the calendar right away.
  1. Create and stick to an editorial calendar. This should be a document accessible by all engaged in content creation. Example of a content calendar is here. Assign the piece to the SME and notify them it is upcoming.
  1. Set up meetings with SME’s just prior to them starting on a content piece. This ensures they understand the level of input required from them and advise you will follow up how they are going to assist.
  1. Proactively follow up by setting a follow up or check in date halfway through the allocated creation time to nip any issues in the bud.
  1. After the content has been created, edit it for tone and consistency of voice. A fresh set of eyes will pick up on any errors better than the SME or content creator will.
  1. Have you SME perform a final review prior to going live. This ensures that the piece will be free from factual errors or poor assumptions that may have crept up in the editing phase
  1. Get it live! On your launch date get the post up and begin promotion.

Creating content can be a daunting task. But setting a clear plan and workflow on how to get there will enable organizations to scale up their output in a way that will meet an organizations goal.

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Kyle Douglas
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