Content Workflow for Content Marketing Teams
You might have only one person responsible for marketing in your company. This Jill of all trades can probably handle all the nitty-gritty marketing stuff on her own and doesn’t even know what the ‘workflow’ is. I used to be that person.
But when your department begins growing, collaboration and teamwork start to matter.
We all have to deal with a workflow sooner or later.
Maybe you already do.
As much as this word might be repellant to your creative marketing soul, a workflow needs to exist in your marketing team. A workflow ensures:
- That all your team members know the steps required to complete tasks and therefore accomplish them more efficiently.
- A sense of ownership and accountability for all team members. If people care about what they do, they do it well.
- That managers have a sense of control and know the status of projects. There is no need to strain your brain trying to remember who is doing what.
With a well-defined workflow, your content creators know precisely what they need to do before a post is submitted for review and what they need to do after it has been published.
A documented workflow gives all your processes a firm foundation, resulting in – God bless it – consistency. It also helps new writers get up to speed quickly.
In this guide, we’ve outlined the main steps in our content marketing workflow. You can use it as an example when creating your own.
1. Develop a content plan
Responsibility: Content Director, Content Strategist
Before you start thinking about article titles for your blog, ask yourself these three questions:
- Why do I create content?
- Who do I create content for?
- How will this content actually help people (your target audience)?
Answers to these questions will give you the starting point for your content strategy. A content strategy outlines your marketing goals and defines ways to achieve them. It also identifies the core value of the content that your team will create. For more on this topic, check out my lengthy post on how to create a content strategy. When you finish, sit down and write a content plan for your writers.
A content plan begins with general topics, later broken down into smaller topics or approximate article titles. At this point, there is no need to thoroughly work out your titles. Your approximate titles just need to give a general direction for your writers.
How many topics should you come up with for your content plan? This really depends on the frequency of your publications, on the “changeability” of the market you’re targeting, and on how fast your writers can write.
For example, at Kaiiax we focus on the software development market. Our clients either sell software products or offer software development services. Technology is a changeable market. That’s why there is no point in planning out a year’s worth of content. Topics that are hot today, might not be relevant a couple of months later.
If you’re doing content marketing in the technology field, I would suggest that you create a plan for two months maximum.
Speaking of the frequency of your publications, having at least two blog posts come out each week is a good starting point. To maintain this rhythm, you should have at least two writers on your team. Ideally, each of them needs to produce two drafts per week.
The content planning stage in your workflow should end up with the following deliverables:
- Content strategy
- Content plan
2. Perform SEO assessment for your focus keywords
Responsibility: SEO specialist
Focus keywords that you intend to target need to go through SEO validation and assessment. During this assessment, your SEO specialist should help you get the answers to the following questions:
- Is this the right keyword to target?
- Do we have a chance to rank in Google for this keyword at any time soon?
- Are we likely to generate backlinks to each of the blog posts that we want to publish?
You don’t want a situation when nobody reads what you publish. To get the most of your content strategy, you need to make sure your blog posts can attract traffic to your website. SEO assessment helps you validate your content decisions.
After the SEO assessment is done, you might change or tweak some topics in your content plan.
3. Research the topic and write an outline
With your content plan validated and prioritized, you have everything you need to start creating content. Before doing research, a writer should be briefed by the Content Strategist to go over the article’s goals and the target audience that this article is meant for:
- Who will read your article?
- What is their job to be done?
- What is the key message?
- What should the article be about?
- What keywords should be included in the text?
- What CTA do we want to add?
Then, the writer should review existing content on your website, review external sources and consult with experts to pull together all the data, quotes, and materials needed to write the article.
The main deliverable at the research stage is an article outline. In the outline the writer needs to define the following:
- What questions might the readers want to get answers to in your article?
- What is the article’s format?
- What is the most important value that you’re trying to convey to your reader? (Clearly articulate what you want your reader to learn about the topic, and order these things from most important to least important. The most important idea is the main value that you’ll convey in your article)
- What sources will inform your article? (Compose a list of resources that you will read and reference)
- What’s the general plan? (Define the structure of your article and break it into a number of sections. Tell what you will write about in each of these sections)
The writer should then show this outline to the Content Director or Content Strategist for approval and feedback. Once it’s approved, they can start writing!
4. Draft the article
Now the writer has everything they need to write the actual draft. The writer needs to write content in a way that is interesting and useful for their target audience, brings value to the company, and is consistent with the brand style and voice.
Responsibility: Content Editor
When the article is ready for review, it moves to the content editor. They check that the draft is well-written, is consistent with other content, and that it conforms to the style guide and house rules.
Some articles require expert review first. Subject Matter Experts are usually professionals employed with your company who can check if the content is factually accurate, on message, and complete.
The content editor is guided by a checklist to ensure the draft is reviewed properly:
- Does the content meet a user’s need?
- Does it help meet a business communication goal?
- Is it unique, current, and relevant?
- Does it capture and hold the attention of readers to the very last word?
- Does it “sell” the brand and give readers a reason to believe you’re an expert on the topic?
- Is it factually correct, on message, and aligned with the content strategy?
- Does it conform to the style guide and does it adopt the right voice and tone? (Check out our guide for how to write a style guide.)
- Is it plagiarized?
- Is it well-optimized for search?
- Does it guide the reader’s attention to the next step?
The Content Editor should give their feedback on the draft. It’s best to leave comments right on the page within an article. Google doc is an excellent tool for sharing drafts with everyone involved and for leaving and responding to comments.
The writer looks at their reviewers’ feedback, makes changes to the article, and sends back a new version of the draft. They may need to speak to a reviewer for clarification; it’s better to discuss unclear points in person than to get stuck in a feedback loop.
Blog posts are iterative. There can be a lot of back and forth between writers and reviewers before the final draft is ready for publishing.
Responsibility: Content Editor
The revised content is reviewed and approved (or sent back for further edits).
If your writers are non-native speakers, having a copyeditor on your content marketing team is a must – no matter how great your writers are. The copyeditor can also help your writers improve their skills and grow professionally.
There is often confusion between the terms copy editing and content editing and the roles of a copy editor and a content editor.
Content editors are concerned with the bigger picture. They look at the flow and structure of your content, check out the accuracy of the subject matter and brand voice, correct SEO mistakes, and also do fact-checking. The copy editor’s goal is to ensure that there are no grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors in the text and that it flows smoothly and is consistent in tone and message.
Your content team may also need to produce images and other media at this stage (or ask designers to create them).
After the article has been copyedited, it is ready to be uploaded to the CMS.
9. Upload to the CMS and publish
The writer uploads the text of their article to the CMS and adds links, images, and metadata. Then the content editor reviews the uploaded content to check that all the formatting rules have been followed.
Responsibility: Writer / Link builder / Communications Manager
If you don’t have a link builder and communications manager on your team, your writers can take care of sharing the articles themselves.
You need to provide your content creators with a list of approved outlets, however, so they know where to direct their efforts. Your list of channels will vary depending on the type of content you want to share. For example, if you write about startup businesses and growth hacking, you might include GrowthHackers.com to your list. If you write about technical stuff, HackerNews is a great place to share your links.
Medium is another great marketing resource. You can repost content originally found on your company blog or submit your articles to popular Medium publications followed by your desired audience.
To learn more about spreading your content and communicating on social media, check out our guide on social media marketing for software developers.
That’s it for the workflow. We suggest you create a visual representation of your workflow so your team can easily see the steps their projects take from open to close. Your workflow diagram might look like this: