Reading blog posts about producing a piece of content can often make it sound like a job for a single heroic content marketer, but in reality even one piece of content takes a virtual marketing village. Great marketing content is often published under a single byline, but that’s not actually indicative of how the process works for enterprise marketing teams.
We all know the content lifecycle, the ideal content production process:
The Content Lifecycle: Content Production as a Marketing Team
So let’s take a look at each step of the content lifecycle, but focus on the fact that oftentimes, it takes an entire marketing team (and sometimes some stakeholders outside of the marketing team) to produce a piece of content.
For each step, we’ll give a common example of the responsible parties and how they collaborate to move a piece of content forward. As we go, ask yourself the following questions about your team:
- Who is responsible for this part of the project?
- How is collaboration facilitated?
- What tools do you use or need to get the job done?
Step 1: Ideate
Possible Contributors: content marketers, SEOs, customer-facing teams, product specialists, company leaders
The ideation part of the content production process often includes multiple collaborators from both on and off the marketing teams. For something like a case study or a customer interview, that could mean customer-facing teams. For content highlight particular products or services, you might include somebody from R&D, a product specialist, or a product marketer.
Content marketers and SEOs tend to guide this process, taking into consideration factors like the larger content strategy, the editorial calendar and timeline, content gaps, customer personas, and opportunities to rise in the rankings for a particular keyword. Larger pieces of content or particularly important or delicate topics might require the input or oversight of a more senior leader in the org.
The ideation stage is a great time to bring people from disparate parts of the organization together to discuss new ideas. One of our favorite ideation strategies is bringing together some people from our sales and customer success teams to pinpoint a common problem that comes up in the sales process or through customer support, then figuring out how to create an asset that can help people solve or handle it.
Once you have your idea nailed down, it’s important to…
Step 2: Optimize
Possible Contributors: content marketers, SEOs, copywriters
For many content teams, optimization happens after a piece of content has been created, but that actually ends up putting the cart before the horse. Instead, SEOs should both participate in the ideation process and proceed into keyword research.
When a content marketer or copywriter is actually creating the piece of content, they should have the customer voice front of mind at all times. That’s only possible if you optimize in advance and let what you learn from keyword research help shape the content itself.
At Conductor, our SEO is an essential part of the content lifecycle process. While the entire content team participates in keyword research, our SEO is responsible for doing the deep dive on the topic, checking out the potential for success, the competition, and the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) landscape.
The SEO then creates an optimization brief for each piece of content, featuring keyword recommendations for the content piece as a whole and for specific SEO considerations like the title, header, URL, and metadescription.
That brief paves the way to…
Step 3: Create
Possible Contributors: content marketers, copywriters, copy editors, graphic designers
The actual act of creating a new piece of content can be one of the most time-consuming parts of a content marketer’s workflow. Depending on your team structure, you might be responsible for actually generating the finished content product or for putting together a brief for a copywriter or a freelancer.
Another key stakeholder involved in this part of the process is a graphic designer or member of your creative team responsible for images. Blog posts need images, and images have to be created, sourced, or potentially edited. It may also be necessary to loop in an SEO for elements like image titles and alt tags.
Even on the creation side, there are usually at least two people involved: the writer (whether that be a copywriter or content marketer) and the editor (whether that be a dedicated editor or another content marketer). Even for smaller businesses, you need to get another pair of eyes on anything that is going live on your site. For larger orgs, there might be more complex systems of governance for different types of content.
As you write the piece of content, you should be incorporating the keywords from the optimization brief and leveraging SEO recommendations to make the most of your efforts!
Speaking of making the most of your efforts, don’t forget you always need to…
Step 4: Amplify
Possible Contributors: content marketers, communications/press specialists, social media managers, paid search/SEM specialists
You have done everything in your power (for now!) to make sure your content will be found organically. Now it’s time to help your content along by amplifying its reach. That distribution/promotion process will probably look different depending on the piece of content and what it’s intended use is.
Most content is shared multiple times across social media channels, which may involve a social media or community manager. On some teams, the person who created the content is responsible for social messaging around the content; on others, there may team members directly responsible for all social messaging.
Some content, like a product release announcement or newsworthy company updates, might require bringing in someone from the PR or comms team to reach out to relevant publications or contacts. Other content might be part of or generate a paid search, native advertising, or paid social campaigns.
Don’t forget that amplification includes internal communications, particularly for pieces of content that have a sales or customer-facing value. (That’s a great place to give credit to everyone who helped make a piece of content happen!)
So your content is live and loud! Now you have to…
Step 5: Measure
Possible Contributors: content marketers, SEOs, demand gen marketers, social media managers, sales revenue specialists
There are a lot of different ways to measure the success of your content. A great deal of that measurement is probably done by SEOs: how is your content ranking? Is there any change? How’s the general health of the site? What kind of traffic is coming in? Are people getting all the way through your content or bouncing? Do they go elsewhere on your site?
There are obviously many more questions the SEO is responsible for, and often it is their job to share those results with other members of the marketing team through regular reporting and dashboards. Those can be customized for different roles or general across the team, depending on the organization.
It’s also important to connect content goals to ROI and revenue, which is why many content teams also measure and track several other KPIs, like lead generation through gated content, opportunity or sales amounts influenced by content, and other metrics. This usually means liaising with other parts of the marketing team more closely associated with revenue, like the demand gen team, or the people responsible for tracking revenue numbers for the sales team.
Other common metrics include social and engagement metrics, which might involve shared dashboards or reporting from social media teams and managers.
Measuring and tracking results sets us up to…
Step 6: Iterate
Possible Contributors: content marketers, SEOs, marketing strategists
It’s important to track results to measure success, but there is a bigger reason: to learn. We get to see what works, what doesn’t work, what’s successful, what could use work, where there are opportunities, what we should replicate, what we should test or experiment with…
In short, we use insights from our results to learn how to be better content marketers in the future. These will inform our strategy and our efforts, and make sure we are setting our content calendars up for success.
SEOs will recommend changes or reoptimizations to make existing content stronger and perform better. They also will be on the lookout for gaps and opportunities to overtake the competition on search engine results pages. Members of the marketing team and content marketers responsible for mapping longer-term strategy will use those insights and recommendations to build a stronger roadmap for future content.
And then, of course, we start the process again, better informed: ideating around new content. So maybe your actual content lifecycle looks more like this:
Great marketing takes a lot of teamwork. Be the force on your marketing team that breaks down silos and facilitates collaboration. Those attributes truly represent the future of marketing.
Want to learn more about the anatomy of a modern content marketing team? Check out our research!