By now, you are well aware (or you should be) that content marketing is a great way to attract and retain visitors to your site. A well rounded content offering includes:
- Articles and blog posts
- White Papers
- Case studies and customer stories
A good start, but how do you go from an idea to the finished product that you can use to boost your traffic? Read this quick rundown on how to create any kind of collateral for your content marketing campaign.
Before You Type Another Word
You need an overall template, or design, for your collateral. Use similar overall color scheme, fonts, and layout. If you need guidance, look around the web for examples to inspire your own output (and steer you clear of bad design). Here’s a workflow that will help you go from spark to finished product, and what to do next.
1. Come Up With a Good Idea
Easier said than done? Like all writing, coming up with ideas for your content can be a challenge. Begin with research. Experiment with keywords that are relevant to your business. Check out what your competition does. And then start spewing. Open up a blank document and start a list. Consider this a safe space where no idea is a bad one.
2. Draft The Outline
Writing is like building a house. Begin by framing the structure. Determine where you will start and end. If you have a brilliant concept, save the best for last. Call it the conclusion and engineer the piece to end with an intellectual bang.
3. Write Copy
The beginning of your piece should draw readers in. Don’t start with something that happened in the past. Stay current, newsworthy, and emotionally compelling. Cite statistics. Make it about the reader, not about you. In fact, keep the first person out of the equation. It’s all about the reader. Avoid excess.
4. Edit Copy
Get your point across and drop the mic. Go through and remove all unnecessary language. Replace “to be able to” with “can,” for example. Go through your copy again. You may not be the best editor of your work. It always helps to wrangle a second set of eyes.
5. Customize Template
While your overall style is set, each content type should look a little different from the others. Perhaps you could code with color; for example, case studies have gray covers while eBooks are blue.
6. Stream Copy Into Template
It’s time to insert the words and pictures into your template. And read it again. Once it’s all laid out, you may discover other issues, like unbalanced copy blocks or odd transitions. Your piece can appear wildly different once it gets a graphic treatment. See how it looks on mobile.
7. Final Review
No matter how many times you’ve checked your copy, check it once again. And get a fresh perspective by handing it over to a detail oriented colleague. Don’t rush to publish an eBook and risk giving someone the opportunity to point out a typo.
Create a PDF and a landing page for your content. If you want to capture lead information about your readers, you can gate the content by making the landing page a form that the visitor fills out in exchange for the content. Items that are less promotional, like eBooks and white papers, are appropriate for gating. Other content, such as blog posts, infographics, case studies, and testimonials, should not live behind a form.
Once you have a piece of great content, you can do a lot with it. Promote it on social. Get it republished elsewhere (like other peoples’ blogs or Business2Community). Advertise it. Feature it on your homepage. Break your long form content into chapters and publish each as a separate blog post that links back to the landing page. Re-purpose by creating infographics and videos from eBooks and white papers.
Who is clicking? Google Analytics can show which items are getting attention. If you want to determine which sections are getting the best SEO, then be sure to publish sections of your work in HTML.
You’ve Got This Content Marketing Thing
It’s time to get organized. Plan your content in an editorial calendar. There are many different solutions ranging from a spreadsheet to sophisticated content management solutions like CoSchedule. You may prefer project management software (like Basecamp or Jira), or you can leverage your existing calendar (e.g., Google or Outlook).
You can add all the above milestones into the calendar to keep super organized, or you can just add the most vital steps like first draft, ready for publication, and publish date. Experiment to come up with a solution that works for your team.