You know it when you see it, don’t you? Good content. It grabs your attention, and keeps it. It educates with a minimal time investment, then sends you on your way feeling better for having engaged. It may even motivate you to engage again. So how do you create it? Harder yet, how do you set yourself on a path to successfully become a content producer worth consuming? Below are six ways to get your content program on sound footing.
1. Inventory What You Have
Do you actually know what types of content you have available for use? Are they current? Do you have content gaps, or need content to support a certain stage of the customer journey? Maybe you’re overloaded with long-form content when your video assets are performing better? Until you do a full and detailed content audit of what you have, you can’t effectively move forward. Make a list, mindful of objective, messaging, taxonomy and purpose so you can identify knowledge gaps later.
2. Avoid “Content Bling”
Too often, the shiny new piece of content is believed to be better than the one we already have. It’s going to solve all your problems and cause a stampede of customers. Sound familiar? Well, sometimes yes, sometimes no. Be sure to squeeze every drop of value out of the content you already have in your quiver. Invest in strong pillar assets; these take more time to create but form a sound foundation for your future content creation. Once you have a pillar, optimize its value by repurposing the deep time investment into multiple other assets. From blogs to landing pages, emails to web content, social media and executive bylines: milk your content for all it’s worth before creating the next one.
3. Tell a Cohesive—and Authentic—Story
Each asset should support an overarching organizational message. Like rungs in a ladder, your content should make sense in the larger scheme of things. Your industry expertise should reinforce the authenticity of your messaging and ring true. This is where you want to avoid the proverbial eye roll. For example, if you’ve been selling software to mothers, suddenly targeting Millennial gamers probably won’t work. You have no street cred, so to speak. Make sure what you’re saying makes sense not only in relation to your organization’s history, but also in light of your ability to execute.
4. Communicate Across Teams
Be sure each functional or product team isn’t creating content in silos. Not only does this lead to content duplication and messaging conflicts, it ultimately confuses customers and drives them away. Coordinate across teams so your customer messages sound like they’re coming from one organization, an organization that’s trustworthy and presents content like it has its crap together.
5. Use Quantitative and Qualitative Testing
Everyone has an opinion. That’s why it’s so critical to test content performance. But the key to good content is not only to test how your produced content performs once it’s created, you need to likewise optimize the content process to ensure you’re improving how you produce content over time. Preferences change, especially as you target new personas and introduce new products. This means that you should be continually testing.
I’m a big fan of qualitative testing. While we can assess much from observing behaviors—especially online—we can’t often say why. Set up a focus group, panel or personal interviews to ask your target about their likes, dislikes and reasoning behind the purchasing decisions they make, and how content advances that process. When combined with all manner of quantitative testing—length, form factor, subject lines, media type, tone, design, color, offer, etc.—you’ll have a way more robust picture of how to make your content better.
6. Push for the Right Technology
It’s easy to make good content once; the trick is to do it again and again over time—and get it used. This takes organization, and organization takes some kind of centralized content repository. All your content needs to be kept in the same place, easily searchable with robust taxonomy, easily manageable with version control and easily retrievable so it can be used. Pursue integrations with CRMs like Salesforce where content is pushed out, so the sales team will have easy access to what they need in software they already use. This may mean purchasing, adapting or expanding existing systems such as Office365, or charting a new path with a vendor of your choosing. Options vary from content management systems like Progress Sitefinity, to repository and/or collaboration tools like Kaybus, MediaValet, Kapost and Workfront. But before you start, ensure there is a unified commitment from the entire organization: sales and marketing alike, or all your best-laid plans will fall flat. The goal is to make creating and using content the “right” way easier than the wrong way you’re abandoning.
If you have all these factors singing in unison, you’re well ahead of the game. If not, these are ways to get going in a positive direction. Remember, no one likes bad content. The trick is to position your organization to do better and keep that positive momentum going as your content program builds. I promise it’ll be worth the effort.