Content marketing workflows aren’t a topic that gets discussed much. Yet, the success of a campaign can rest squarely on the process you use to move your content from creation to consumption.
While there’s much variation when it comes to content marketing workflows, a very simplified flow could be:
Sounds simple, right? This basic framework helps move a single piece of content along a predictable path, from its inception to its end user.
The problem, however, is that even the most complex and well-planned workflow can contain gaps, roadblocks and bottlenecks - and these can threaten the success of your entire strategy or content marketing campaign.
This post will looks at five of the most common content marketing workflow mistakes to avoid if you want your campaign to succeed.
Producing engaging content is a serious challenge for marketers. According to The Content Marketing Institute’s 2016 B2B Benchmarks, Budget and Trends report, 60% of content marketers cite producing engaging content as their #1 challenge.
One reason organizations may struggle in this area is because they’re limiting the source of their content ideas.
In many organizations, the marketing department relies exclusively on their writers (in-house or freelance) to not only write their content, but to come up with new content ideas.
While writers can be an excellent source of content ideas, collaborating with various stakeholders throughout your organization will often result in topics based on timely, real-world customer needs.
Involving both management and frontline staff in this process is also a great way to avoid re-hashing old topics. If you know there’s an eager audience waiting to consume your content, you significantly increase your chances of getting traction.
Make a point of regularly bringing together leaders from across your organization to inform and inspire new content ideas. In their Complete Guide to Building Your Content Marketing Workflow, Kapost recommends this advisory group tackles questions like:
As you can see, these aren’t questions a single person can adequately answer. Decentralize the process of coming up with new content ideas, and build in regular opportunities to brainstorm topics at all levels of the organization.
At the beginning of this post, I shared an example of a very simple content marketing workflow. In reality, each of these stages may contain a minimum of 3-4 additional sub-stages that need to take place to effectively move content through the funnel.
For instance, step one (“writer creates a piece of content”) may actually require:
Unless each of these tasks is clearly assigned to a specific team member, it’s easy for your content to fall through the cracks at any of these points.
This can lead to many unintended consequences: a delay in content creation, duplicate or irrelevant content being created, timely topics being missed, etc.
A documented content marketing workflow will help you avoid this, ensuring each team member knows exactly what he or she is responsible for at each step in the process.
Many organizations promote their content primarily as a way to drive traffic to their site. They publish long-form content on their blog, and then promote it via various channels with the goal of increasing site traffic.
Using this method, a linear workflow (like the one outlined at the beginning of this post) will work. However, many organizations are beginning to shift away from this model; instead, they’re finding it more effective to publish and promote standalone content on a wide variety of channels.
This will mean not only sharing your content via multiple channels, it will mean actually publishing your content on these channels without directing readers to your site.
As seen in the graphic below, various channels can and should be used both for native publishing as well as for promotion. These channels can include social media, sponsored (editorial) content, your email list and your website or blog.
This shift will impact your content marketing workflow at each stage of the process.
If your organization is moving towards publishing standalone content on multiple channels, make sure you adapt your workflow accordingly. Be very clear about the precise process your content will go through, and who will be responsible at each stage.
There will be always be some degree of guesswork when it comes to content marketing. You can never know with 100% certainty whether a piece of content will hits its mark until it’s actually published and distributed.
That said, consulting your analytics for each channel – your website, social media, email, social ads, etc. – can and should help inform your decisions at each stage of the content marketing workflow.
Unfortunately, many marketers haven’t yet caught on to this. According to Demand Metric, while 92% of marketers believe analytics are important for managing marketing processes, only 39% use marketing analytics effectively.
One reason may be that these organizations are consulting their analytics at a single point in time (usually after promoting a piece of content), rather than during each stage of the content marketing workflow.
This can have a number of unintended consequences. For one, it could mean you’re investing time and energy into topics that have already proven ineffective with your audience, or that you inadvertently target keywords you’re already ranking for (leading to keyword cannibalization).
The same holds true at the content promotion stage. Without consulting your analytics, you can’t answer questions like: How well has similar content performed in the past? Did it work well on LinkedIn, but not on Twitter? Did it resonate with our email subscribers, but didn’t perform as well when we paid to promote it on social?
When documenting your content marketing workflow, build in time and space for various team members to review and analyze past performance. This small step could mean the difference between your content gaining traction or falling flat.
With all of the strategies above in place, your content should move smoothly from conception to consumption. However, there is one point in the process at which all your hard work can become undone in an instant: when content is handed off from one team member to the next.
Think about how the handoff process works in your organization. How are team members notified when it’s their turn to take over a piece of content? How do editors know if or when a particular deadline is met (or unmet)? Are you relying on manual notifications (namely, email) to communicate deadlines and handovers?
Relying on manual notifications could lead to significant gaps in your workflow. If at all possible, automate this aspect of your content marketing to ensure your content moves quickly and seamlessly through its cycle.
While you may not have a documented content marketing workflow, your content likely moves through a relatively predictable process from creation to consumption.
Formalizing this process, while not 100% necessary, can help you avoid bottlenecks and roadblocks along the way. This will minimize the chance of content or tasks falling through the cracks, and will ensure each piece of content accomplishes exactly what it was intended to do.
What other gaps or roadblocks have you faced in your content marketing workflow? How have you avoided making these same mistakes again?