8 Steps to Dominate Content Development [With Examples!]

The sales team wants a new case study. The company president files in and states she heard video is the way of the content future.

Everyone has an ask. They’re all good ideas, but they don’t seem to form a cohesive whole.

Our Content Matters 2022 report indicates the top driver of content marketing is requests from other teams. Also leading the pack are requests from executive teams and content created based on anecdotal evidence.

This is why content marketing teams need a content development strategy. A survey by the Content Marketing Institute of nearly 1,300 content marketers shows that 73 percent of organizations have a content development strategy as part of their digital marketing efforts. Most content marketers use content development and content marketing interchangeably.

The strategy explains why you are creating content and what successful content looks like.

Effective content development strengthens relationships with your audience and connects the outcome of your content to business results, like organic traffic from search engines, leads, and revenue.

Your content team needs a content development strategy or content marketing strategy to avoid creating content that doesn’t serve your readers or your company. You also need a step-by-step content development process that makes content creation scalable, no matter the size of your team.

  1. Build a team that matches your content needs
  2. Identify your target audience
  3. Set content goals that tie to your business goals
  4. Brainstorm content ideas
  5. Plan out your content’s journey
  6. Create content that aligns with your content development strategy
  7. Publish your content quickly with the right CMS and support team
  8. Measure content effectiveness against your content goals

1. Build a team that matches your content needs

Two in three organizations are creating more content in 2022 than they did in 2021, according to our Content Matters 2022 report. Yet only half of the content teams reported an increase in budget. Nearly four in five survey respondents said they have a team of 10 or fewer people creating content.

A data-driven approach to effective content development is even more important for small content teams with no time to waste.

For example, to make the most of a lean team, home design media brand Domino turned to content analytics data to assess the channels with the most opportunity to grow its audience, then focused future hiring on those channels.

2. Identify your target audience

Create content that fits your audience’s lifestyle and needs. If your audience is short on time, you’re better off scrapping those long ebooks for bite-sized blog posts.

Good content meets your target audience where they are, speaks to them in the language they understand, and solves problems that affect them directly.

Look to your existing content for clues about what your audience cares about most. Historical data can unearth topics your target demographic gravitates toward. Use a tool like Parse.ly to find content that converts or racks up higher engaged time. Incorporate the language, style, word counts, and formats that resonate with your audience into your strategy.

You can also breathe life into your buyer personas by following influencers in your industry and engaging with your audience on forums like Quora and Reddit.

Keep in mind your organization may attract an array of different potential customers. With limited resources, you’ll need to prioritize the audience that proves most profitable for your company. For example, The Sacramento Bee attracts a national audience and accepts any reader. However, it focuses its energy on satisfying the audience it wants to own: its local market.

3. Set content goals that tie to your business goals

The best content isn’t just about clever copy and dynamic videos. It must satisfy your marketing goals, and those marketing goals must tie directly back to your organization’s overall business goals.

What those goals are will be unique to your organization and its business model. However, you can take some notes from the Content Marketing Institute survey.

The survey shows the percentage of successful organizations who use content to achieve goals like:

  • Building loyalty with existing customers (78 percent)
  • Nurturing subscribers and leads (64 percent)
  • Generating sales and revenue (57 percent)

HelloFresh wanted its content to build brand loyalty, for example. The company cut vanity metrics like bounce rate from its diet in favor of measurements, like engaged time, that tied directly to its goals.

4. Brainstorm content ideas

Generating content ideas is where strategy transitions into execution.

To start, use keyword research to find terms and phrases that align with your goals and your target audience research. Prioritize keywords based on search volume, how difficult they are to rank for, and your audience’s search intent, which indicates where they are in the buying journey.

There are many tools on the market to help with this step, including:

  • Ahrefs
  • Google Keyword Planner
  • Semrush

You can use your content analytics tool to comb your existing content for more ideas, too.

That’s what music industry platform Backstage did to build its content machine. The company relied on Parse.ly’s evergreen content report to find the content that works consistently over time and create new content based on that past success.

5. Plan out your content’s journey

Now that you have all of these great content ideas, it’s time to decide what the final product of those ideas should look like, when they should be presented, and where they should be published.

Again, your content analytics platform can point you in the right direction. Use Parse.ly to see what types of content perform best on each channel where you publish, whether that’s infographics, blogs, podcasts, or whitepapers.

Vogue used this approach to identify the most effective social media channel for its content plan. The company increased Facebook traffic 40 percent year-over-year by shifting to quick stories and newsy content designed for social shares.

Vogue’s experience fits with our audience research, which shows long-form articles perform best in organic search, while slideshows and videos do better on Facebook.

Regardless, use your audience data like source referral traffic and engaged time to understand what your audience wants to engage with on each channel. You can also use content analytics to discover the time of day your audience is most engaged.

Take all this information about types of content, topics, day and time of publication, and the best channels for distribution, and use it to build out your editorial calendar.

Now, take a look at all of the work ahead and be honest with yourself. Make sure you have the people, the time, and the budget to deliver this content on time and to the standards you expect.

6. Create content that aligns with your content development strategy

You’ve set your goals, done your research, and established your plan. Now it’s time to create.

Here are some tips to help make your content writing clear, credible, and reader friendly:

  • Eliminate unnecessary words.
  • Establish authority with expert quotes and hard data. Don’t forget to cite your sources.
  • Make it easy to scan your piece and still come away with the main idea. Break your article up into sections. Separate those sections with clear headers, and make sure the first sentence offers the key takeaway of that section.
  • Use tools like Grammarly or Writer to improve readability by checking for spelling errors and ensuring accurate grammar.
  • Use SEO tools like Content Harmony and Clearscope.io. But to create high-quality content, write for people first and algorithms second.
  • Lean into new artificial intelligence tools to develop, scale, and manage your content.

Develop brand voice guidelines and templates to make it easy for in-house, marketing agency, and freelance writers new to your brand to replicate your established voice, style, and content approach.

Documented guidelines help you maintain consistent quality as you scale your content operations.

Bloomberg uses content analytics to learn what stories resonate with local audiences and relies on brand voice guidelines to scale that locally minded writing approach globally.

7. Publish your content quickly with the right CMS and support team

Content teams face the daunting task of juggling all of the website content required to promote multiple product lines, on a variety of channels, to many different audiences quickly and reliably. An enterprise-managed hosting service like WordPress VIP can make this challenge easier because it’s built to scale.

The extensive library of plugins and tools vetted by WordPress experts and available through the managed hosting platform allow your content team to build a content creation process unique to your needs.

You can create your own workflows, collaborate with your team throughout the content development process, integrate search engine optimization into your process, and automatically find the right stock images for your content.

These tools make content creation faster, helping your team stay on top of your editorial calendar.

8. Measure content effectiveness against your content goals

Publishing isn’t the end; it’s the start of another cycle of the content development process. Now that your content is live, it’s time to see how it performed, then take insight and apply it to the next piece of content.

Like the demand for new content, the proliferation of metrics you could spend time analyzing is overwhelming. That helps explain why 49 percent of marketers track content but still don’t understand how it’s performing, according to our Content Matters 2022 report.

Avoid distractions. Keep your eyes on the goals you set near the beginning of the content development process.

The Content Marketing Institute report shows the most successful organizations find the best gauge of their content is conversions (67 percent), website traffic (65 percent), and email engagement (64 percent).

Take a look back at your goals. If a metric doesn’t connect back to one of those goals, don’t waste time tracking it.

For example, media company Slate wanted to increase reader loyalty. Engaged time became its north star metric, prioritized above all others.

Create content that works

Cut out the noise, and it becomes easier to search for trends and patterns that beg for action. Short-term trends can show you what’s resonating with your audience today, so you know what to promote now. Long-term trends can reveal topics that draw sustained interest from your audience, which should prompt you to write more about those ideas in the future.

Keep an eye out for upward trends, and don’t be discouraged by negative trends. It’s all valuable information that helps you do more of what’s working and do less of what isn’t.

Use Parse.ly to track your content development performance

When it comes to tracking your content performance, use a tool purpose-built for analyzing content. Parse.ly helps turn any content creator into a data analyst.

Learn how Parse.ly can help your team generate reports, identify trends, unearth insights, and take action on what you learn to improve your content fast, outrace your competitors, and win for your audience.