What is Content Creation?
Content creation is a process of discovery, research and generating topic ideas for your clients. This can take many forms, from written to visual content. Once created, it’s generally available from your blog, social media platforms, video and other popular formats.
Why Is Content Important?
Without content, there’s no real possibility of clients finding your brand or website. By providing content on several different platforms, in essence, what you’re doing is providing useful information to potential and existing clients. This has two positive effects:
- You retain existing clients and introduce them to new products and services.
- You attract potential clients and introduce them to your brand, your website and your products and services.
Traditionally, potential clients need to engage and interact with your brand several times before they make a purchase.
The content you produce allows your client several touch points – they should be able to view your content via video, an article or blog post shared on social media or by way of a download such as a free PDF or report on a subject matter they’ll find interesting.
It’s a fact that SMBs that use content marketing get more leads than those that don’t, and it brings in three times the amount of leads than traditional marketing efforts.
Content Planning and Strategy
Before you start producing any form of content for your website, you need to start planning and have some form of strategy in place.
Under absolutely no circumstances should content be written for your business without it aligning with a strategy-first approach.
There are quite a few things to think about before producing content – you need to work out the tone, type of language and viewpoint you’re going to take; otherwise, you risk coming across as inconsistent and unprofessional.
Set Your Content Goals
Setting goals should be one of the first things you should do for any marketing campaign. If you have company goals then your content should be aligned with those goals.
The reason this is so important is; at any one time, you may have several people producing content for you. If everyone’s singing from the same hymn sheet, your messages will all align with your company goals, which is so important!
So, what sort of goals have you got?
- Are you trying to attract more traffic to your website?
- Are you trying to collect leads by using email marketing?
- Do you have a long-range view and looking to re-market to your audience (display ads on external websites after they have left your site)?
The main takeaway here is, start with your goals and then start crafting your content.
Create a Buyer Persona
Even though we know our goals and the sort of tone we’re going to use when producing our content, it’s really important that you know who you’re speaking to.
Depending on how long you’ve been in business, you should be able to find out your buyer persona by looking at Google Analytics and your social media analytics.
The key here is to write like you’re speaking directly to them.
You know their problems, the things they’re trying to achieve which makes it easier to build a rapport, cement a relationship and turn your visitors into leads who, in turn, then become clients.
In essence, in most cases, all you’re trying to do is solve their problems. By knowing your buyer persona, you are uniquely placed to provide solutions and give them the best possible outcome.
We tend to forget that we are talking to real human beings and oftentimes get distracted with SEO and content optimisation techniques. Don’t forget, knowing your buyer persona allows you to craft relevant content, suggests which tone you should use and paints a picture in your mind of the exact person you’re talking to.
That’s why you’ll find some content resonates more than others. This isn’t by chance, more often than not, it’s by design.
The reason this is so powerful is, you’re no longer guessing about what to write and how to write it. With this information, you have a clear picture of the person you’re writing to/for and you know in advance what solutions you have to their problems.
The Buyer’s Journey
As we mentioned previously, there needs to be many touch points before your client decides to purchase a product or service from you. This journey starts early on in the discovery process, which is why it’s important to continually write content for both potential and existing clients.
A lot of discovery happens on a search engine, where a potential client types in a problem they need solving or question they need answering. From here on in, this is where the magic happens…
As long as the SEO part of your marketing strategy is right and your content is of a high quality, there’s quite a good chance that your potential client will find you in the top search results.
This is where the journey starts and it’s your job to help them navigate that journey so you can eventually provide a solution.
The buyer’s journey is based on three stages:
Each stage is as important as the next but the hardest one to achieve, initially, is the awareness stage. Crack this part of the puzzle and half of the work is done. This can only be done with really great content.
So, here’s the trick and this is where so many marketers get it wrong. If you think about this logically, the idea is to produce content at every stage of the buyer’s journey.
You don’t want to leave any stone unturned. With this in mind, you’ll want to create the very best content out there, provide the best experience and be their portal for useful information in your niche.
It’s important to know how to structure your content in a way that’s appealing at different stages.
For example, giving a demonstration video of your product on a landing page after they’ve asked a question probably isn’t the best strategy.
However, if they are in the awareness stage, this generally means they are on a fact-finding mission and the key here is to provide them with as much useful information as possible, whilst at the same time trying to get them onto a subscriber list.
The reason you do this is, there’s very little chance of them returning to your website after you have fulfilled their problem or answer their question.
So, the strategy is to get them onto an email list where you can provide them with additional information and directly answer any questions they may have.
Here are the best content formats for each stage:
Awareness: “Top 10”-type blog posts, downloadable ebooks or whitepapers, cheat sheets, fact sheets, infographics.
Consideration: Video interviews, video demonstrations, podcasts, webinars, Q&A sessions, downloadable templates, quizzes or competitions.
Decision: full demonstrations personal consultations, free trials, downloadable guides, coupons, test drives.
Perform a Content Audit
There are very few businesses that perform a content audit. This is basically taking stock of the content that you have already published, analysing the statistics of how well it’s done, then using analysis for future content projects going forward.
If you know why something has worked well in the past, it’s probably a good indication of what will work well in the future.
Similar to an SEO audit, it’s important to know any pieces of content that are underperforming and this might mean you need to make a few improvements such as rewriting certain parts or simply adding more content.
This is the general process you need to take:
- Itemise all your piece of content into a spreadsheet.
- Categorise each piece of content by video, article, etc.
- Place targeted keywords against each piece of content.
- Then research to find out where that piece of content ranks and give it a score of 1 to 10.
- This will then give you an idea of which pieces of your content need work
- This can range from an increase in internal links or outgoing links to producing a video of an article.
This process might seem like a bit of a pain in the neck and not one of the most exciting things you do throughout the marketing process, however, studies have shown that by editing your content and making it better, you much improve the possibility of increased traffic and increased leads… This really cannot be understated!
That’s why it’s always advisable to employ a professional to get this done for you so you can concentrate on other parts of your job or business that needs your attention.
Choose the Right Format
Oftentimes you find that a certain format of content works better than another. For example, we’ve worked with many clients who seem to get a lot of traction from video marketing. Therefore, we concentrate all of our efforts on producing more videos for these clients.
Don’t forget, the idea is always to drive traffic back to your website so, in a lot of instances, we produce a video and upload a snippet to social media and YouTube. That way, if somebody is interested and wants to find out more, they will need to visit your website in order to get the full details.
This is called inbound marketing and not enough businesses do this.
Do you remember the buyer persona that we all talking about earlier? Well, this is about to come full circle because the more content you produce, the more feedback you’re going to get.
With this feedback loop, it allows you to gain a great insight into what type of content your clients are looking for and this creates a feedback loop. You create content > you receive feedback > you can prove that content based on the feedback.
To be fair, the vast majority of the content you produce will probably be for the “Awareness Stage.”
Not that the other stages aren’t important, but the awareness stage is at the start of your clients’ journey and this is where the battleground is the most competitive.
For this reason, your content needs to be the best it can be and produce the most value in comparison to your competitors.
No matter how much content you produce, it means nothing if you don’t promote it properly. You can have the best article in the world, but if nobody sees it, this has both wasted your time and is a wasted opportunity.
The idea is to have a strategy in place as soon as your content is produced.
Where do your clients spend the most time online and what is their preferred choice of social media platform? If you can answer this question, it goes a long way in helping you with your content promotion strategy. It’s also a good idea to find out when your clients are online on different platforms.
This is where email marketing comes in and why it’s so important to start gathering leads from your website. Even if you have a small email list, this group of people have already shown an interest in your product or service – they wouldn’t have signed up in the first place, if they didn’t! You probably don’t realise this but this list is gold.
It should be one of the first places you turn to when you’re looking to promote any type of content. It’s one of the perks and one of the benefits of being on your list – they tend to get information before anyone else.
You should always use social media as a place to entertain and educate your client. It should never be used as a promotion tool to try and sell one of your products or services. This is where a lot of companies go wrong with social media.
It should be used as a relationship-building tool and your way of being an information hub for your clients whilst at the same time being entertaining too.
As soon as you publish your content, you need to start showing it on all the social media platforms your clients reside on – studies have shown that engagement levels increase when you post directly to the social media platform instead of using a scheduler.
This isn’t always as easy to do due to time constraints. Nevertheless, this does make a difference. It’s almost as if the social media platforms want to encourage you and reward you for returning back to their platform, instead of scheduling your content in advance without visiting their platform during that week or month.
We briefly touched on email marketing earlier; where it really comes into its own is when you are continuously growing your email list and your subscribers are continually sharing your content on social media.
This is why it’s imperative that you continue to collect leads via your website on a daily basis.
There are quite a few things you can do to improve the effectiveness of email marketing – one of the main ways is by being strategic with the content you email.
Where possible, try to give your subscriber great up-to-date information and ways they can improve themselves by providing solutions to their problems. This is where Top 5 or Top 10 list articles come in.
These “list” articles are designed to be to-the-point and provide a small list of answers to the questions. This can only really be done effectively if you know who you’re talking to, hence getting to know your buyer persona.
Depending on your market and the type of niche you’re in, using paid promotions is a really good way of getting your content in front of new audiences. You have the choice of running ads on social media, using search engines such as Bing Ads or Google Adwords and, depending on the length of your buyer journey, you can also implement remarketing techniques (which is a bit more advanced but highly effective).
The likes of Facebook and Instagram allow you to drill deep down into your buyer demographics so that you’re not wasting your budget on marketing to people who are not interested in what you have to offer.
Micro-content is probably my favourite buzzword at the moment.
In essence, it means repurposing your content and producing additional content from the original.
For example, if you produce a 10-minute video, you can repurpose that video by editing it into smaller snippets, add some subtitles and then schedule these small bite-sized video snippets to go out periodically on social media.
This is just one example of what you can do, and if you do choose to do this, it means you can produce a lot more content than the competition, in effect, getting your message out there in multiple places at different times.
The idea is to spend as much time and effort on producing the original, then reaping the rewards from that time and effort by distributing micro-content on several different platforms.
The Content Creation Process
The content creation process is a set of stages we use each time we create content. We set up processes so we aren’t starting from scratch each and every time. Whether we’re writing an article, producing a video or recording a webinar, the processes are the same each time to allow us to remain efficient.
Here are the steps we take:
1. SEO Research
After you have finished producing a buyer persona, you now know who you’re talking to, which allows you to come up with some content ideas. With those content ideas, we need to start doing some keyword research.
The reason why we do this is; we need to find out approximately how much search traffic each keyword gets and whether it’s worth investing the time to create a piece of content around it.
So, the way we go about this is by looking at our social media platforms and taking a note of some of the questions they’ve been asked by our clients and/or followers.
We’re particularly interested in some of the problems they have been experiencing – have they struggled to do something? With that information, we can then start doing some keyword research around those questions.
Can you see how this works?
We’re not really looking for highly competitive high volume keywords here – the whole purpose of the exercise is to find keywords with the best chance to rank for in the search engines.
This is a case of using the Google Keyword Planner to see how much search traffic it receives and also carrying out a search on Google to see the types of websites and pages that are ranking for this keyword.
One of the things we look out for is the strength of the domain authority that’s ranking. If this is too high, we then know we’re gonna struggle to rank for this keyword.
The way you gain domain authority is by having several links pointing to your website from good quality sources. This means you need to be consistently asking for and building links back to your website to increase your domain authority.
To be honest, for most people and most businesses, this is no easy feat and it’s not something that can be done overnight. It takes several months of pig-headed determination and a lot of outreach to other websites to get this done effectively…
The benefits in doing this mean it is a lot easier to try and rank for high value and medium traffic keywords if you have a strong domain authority to start with.
Obviously, if you’re in a niche that isn’t that competitive, it’s going to be a lot easier to rank certain keywords due to the lack of competition.
If articles are structured properly (using headers and the right internal links), Google will eventually reward you with rankings.
Going after single word keywords probably isn’t the best strategy and we would advise anyone who is looking to rank their pages to go after long-tail keywords. This will give you the best chance to rank and will allow you to show your content to more people.
2. Content Ideas
Now you’ve got a good idea of which keywords to target, it’s time to start thinking about the content you’re going to build around those keywords.
One of the best ways of doing this is to mind-map your ideas, starting with your long tail keyword and branching out from there. Not only does this give you ideas for content, but it also gives you ideas the sub-categories within that content. The more ideas and related ideas you use in your content, the higher the chance of ranking for several keywords instead of just one.
You can always get additional ideas for topics and headings by looking at the contents pages of books in your niche on Amazon.
The way to do is typing in your keyword, then click on the book covers to see the different categories. This might help you with ideas for more content.
After you’ve carried out your research, the next thing you need to do is start writing your content.
Don’t forget – you need to keep a few things in mind, whilst you’re writing your content:
- Use the information you have from your buyer persona. Remember that you’re writing to an imaginary person who meets this criteria. The tone, point of view and amount of humour all have a bearing on the way you write your content.
- Try to use an engaging title that includes your keyword and write your meta description with the view to entice somebody to click on your article in the search results. Tell them the reason why they should read your article.
- Try not to regurgitate someone else’s work – it’s always better to write from the heart and try to create something unique.
- Go through the points one by one, answering their questions and, where possible, try to inject a little bit of your personality into the writing
- Try to keep to the point and don’t stray from the subject matter
- Depending on your niche, always try to use simple words and grammar as if you were talking to a 9-year-old. Using large words and sophisticated grammar may get you points in a writing competition, but you may also put off a large chunk of your readers.
4. Professional Editing
Always get someone else to proofread and edit your work – better still, get a professional. Even though we all have the ability to spell check our work, the part everybody overlooks is the grammar.
Not getting this part right could be a real turn-off for a lot of your readers which is why it’s always a good idea to use very clear language, short sentences and structure your content with header tags.
After you’ve written your content, you need to publish it so people can see it. Depending on which website editor you use, we would recommend uploading it to a CMS editor like WordPress. Always upload it to a web property that you own rather than a third party.
Once you’ve uploaded your content onto your CMS editor, it’s time to start adding bold text, italics, interlinking your articles, linking to external articles or resources, using the correct headers and lastly, adding images or videos.
Don’t forget, the idea is to produce a piece of content to appeal to the audience. This means using all the tools, images, infographics, videos you can to convey a message.
Content Creation Tools
I mentioned earlier about adding certain tools and images, etc. There are a few additional tools you can also use to increase the effectiveness of your article.
Canva is probably one of the best and most user-friendly graphic design platforms available today. You don’t even have to come up with your own ideas.
Canva supplies you with several templates with the correct sizing for social media networks. So, in most cases, you pick and load a template and simply fill in the blanks with images and text.
Giphy – depending on your audience, it might be a good idea to add a few GIFs to spice up your content. Granted, these will probably work if your buyer persona is part of the millennial generation. I would also advise you to be quite sparing when using these as adding too many can come across as a bit overkill.
SurveyMonkey – to increase the engagement and interaction with your reader, getting them to fill out a survey or a quiz is an excellent idea. It also allows you to get valuable feedback from the very people that you’re trying to sell to.
Anchor is a free product costing tool that allows you to record parts of your article and store them on this third party platform. Remember, there are a lot of people who don’t have the time to read your content and would rather listen to it.
Producing a Content Plan
There’s an old quote that says “ failing to plan is planning to fail.” In this day and age, every single SMB should have a comprehensive contact marketing plan. This means a structured schedule of times that they publish content.
If they aren’t producing content regularly, I can guarantee that the competition are. That’s why it’s a good idea to produce a content plan each month, starting off with an article a week. Depending on how competitive your niche is, you can increase this frequency. But, first and foremost, one article per week is fine.
Social Media Content
A lot of companies play at publishing content on social media without realising that the vast majority of their clients reside there.
Even though the vast majority of your followers on social media aren’t potential clients – if you’ve been growing your following gradually, you should have at least a few followers who are potential leads. For that reason, it’s important to publish your content to social media on a regular basis.
Here’s a breakdown of what you should be doing on social media networks:
Facebook – no matter whether you’re B2B or B2C, Facebook should be one of the first places you publish and share your content to.
The great thing about Facebook is, it doesn’t matter whether it’s an image, an article or a video – the potential of getting your content seen by people that have previously liked your page is pretty good. Granted, organic reach has been reduced over the years, however, is still recommended as one of the better social media networks to post your content to due to the size of the audience that use it.
Instagram – being the new kid on the block, Instagram has quite a high engagement level and it’s definitely worth posting your content there. Where you have the ability to post anything to Facebook, Instagram lends itself to nice-looking images and you find articles don’t really work on that platform.
Depending on how engaged you want to be, the algorithm works better when using Instagram stories as you have a lot more ways to engage with your audience than just simple posting.
If you’re in the B2B space, Instagram is less effective and I wouldn’t recommend using it.
Twitter is probably one of the most misunderstood and underused of the social media platforms. What most businesses do is post content on there and expect to get a lot of engagement.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.
To make Twitter work for business, the idea is to post content whilst engaging with your community at the same time. Without engaging with the community, your content doesn’t show up in your followers’ feeds. This is quite a simple concept, but so many just don’t get it.
Like the other social networks, it’s not a good idea to post too much content with external links, reason being, they want their users to remain on the network for as long as possible to enable them to show their ads.
Encouraging users to leave their platform means they don’t show your content as high up as it should be in somebody’s feed.
YouTube – even though YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, there are still a large number of businesses that don’t take it that seriously.
Out of all the social networks around at the moment, I think there’s a lot more opportunity and scope to get your message out there on YouTube than any other platform.
With an increase in 1.3 billion users and counting, every business should be posting as much content on YouTube as possible. The best types of videos that work are “How To” videos and product demonstrations.
Your web content is trying to achieve three different things:
- appealing to your buyer persona.
- targeting your main keywords so they show up in the search engines.
- coming up with the answer for people’s problems.
The idea is to both entertain and educate your reader and be the roadmap that leads them to your products and services.
Even though we encourage linking out externally to other web pages, it’s not encouraged to do this too often – you only need to link out to an external page a couple of times for every thousand words, really. Similar to the social networks, what you don’t want to do is encourage people to leave your website.
Try to produce informative and engaging content so good that it encourages them to stay and read more.
Your blog content is a way of showing prospective clients that you are an expert in your niche and you provide information that is so good, they subscribe to one of your email list (this is what we call a qualified lead).
The idea is to educate and not sell with your blog posts. That’s why it is imperative that you add as much value as possible to welcome them into your sales funnel. Research shows that SMB’s that blog more, get more organic traffic. As you can appreciate, the more traffic you get, the more leads drop into your funnel.
Well, there you have it – These are the basic strategies for content creation on your website. Of course, there’s a lot more to it than what’s mentioned in this article, but, if you follow the basics of content creation that was laid out here, you’ll be streets ahead of the competition.
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