So you just published an awesome piece of content. That’s great! Now it’s on to the next big thing.
Whoa, easy there, cowboy. Is your content development process is as good as it possibly can be?
In our Better Blogger Survey at CoSchedule, you told us:
- 22% of you say your biggest challenge is finding time to create content.
- 20% find it most difficult to plan content ahead of time.
- 16% say it’s super hard to create awesome content.
So let’s chalk that up to 58% of you who find it super difficult to plan and create awesome content.
What if I said you can work much more efficiently by learning from the success of what you just published to create even better content in the future? Well, you can.
And all it’ll take is a couple minutes of your time to make every piece of content you create even more effective.
How A Minimum Viable Content Development Process Will Change The Way You See “Small” Data
Do you know how CoSchedule figured out there was a need for a social media and content marketing editorial calendar? A minimum viable product.
We asked a few bloggers if an editorial calendar would help them publish more consistent content and save them time. How those few people responded helped us build the product we offer today.
When you apply a similar minimum viable content development process to marketing, you work with “small” data as opposed to “big” data. Essentially, that means the performance of every piece of content you publish influences the next piece you create.
For CoSchedule, minimum viable data starts with social media shares. When those are high, traffic is high. When traffic is high, email subscribers are high. When email subscribers are high, product conversions are high, too. And that’s exactly why content marketing exists—to turn readers into paying customers.
So it’s OK—despite whatever else you’ve heard—to base big changes on small data like social media shares when you understand trends like this. That’s the whole idea of being agile—quick to change for the better based on the knowledge you have in front of you.
So before you move on to the next project too quickly without learning from your latest content, here’s exactly how you can implement a minimum viable content development process for your marketing team:
Start By Reviewing Every Element Of Your Already-Published Content
Don’t let that headline scare you into thinking, “Gee, this’ll take all day.” You’re just going to look at optimizing exactly what data and psychology tell us are super great ways to connect with your audience.
And because you’re doing this quickly, you can focus your effort on the few elements that will have the greatest impact on your content’s success.
Write Emotional Headlines That Promise Results
Question to ask yourself: Did your headlines draw on your readers’ pain points and promise a solution to your problems?
Metric to measure: Insert your content’s headline into CoSchedule’s headline analyzer and shoot for an A+ score of 70 or higher. If your last piece of content doesn’t hit the mark, your readers may have skimmed right past it.
Only 8 out of 10 people who see your headlines will actually read them, and of those folks, only 2 will click through. Here are a few things you can do to enhance your headlines during your content development process:
- Write 25 headlines using CoSchedule’s headline analyzer.
- A/B test the top two headlines on Twitter (main version at publish, alternative one hour later).
- C test the winning Twitter headline against a third alternative when you send an email announcement for your content.
- Change your headline to the version you think had the best results.
It’s not an exact science, and will take a lot of gut feeling to make it work. But it’s better than publishing and hoping for results when you can use small data to help you publish better content.
Efficiency gained: Writing great headlines makes all the time you spend creating great content worth the effort.
Include Relevant Visuals That Further The Understanding Of Your Message
Question to ask yourself: Could have the visuals I included in the content—or lack thereof—impacted its success?
Metric to measure:
- Yes or no: Did your content have visuals?
- Yes or no: Were those visuals there just to be there, or did they help further the message made in your content?
- Yes or no: Were they custom graphics and videos (and not stock photography)?
If you answered no to even one of those, there’s opportunity there to improve.
It’s no secret our brains process images 60,000 times faster than text. You can even look at social shares of your content to understand if the visuals worked: Pages with pictures get 50% more shares than those without.
So here’s what you can do to enhance your content development process to include relevant visual content:
- Include a header graphic for your content that includes your headline (that makes it easy for your readers to share your content).
- Embed videos as examples that illustrate your points.
- Use visuals like blog graphics and charts to tell the story better than text.
And when you want to design a bit better, just do this:
Efficiency gained: You’ll connect even better with the 67% of consumers who consider relevant visuals to carry more weight than customer reviews. Your readers will understand the big ideas from your content 60,000 times faster than your text alone. What’s not to love here?
Hook Your Readers With A Psychologically-Addicting Introduction
Question to ask yourself: Did my introduction begin really strong, or was it kind of pathetic? How long did it take to get to the meat of the content with actionable advice?
Metric to measure: Check out time on page, and take a look at heat maps to see how far down your readers scroll to understand the point at which they bounced or left your page.
The peak-end rule is a psychological phenomenon that basically says that people remember their experiences by the climax and an ending.
Most readers only see 18% of your content before bouncing (AKA, their “ending”). So if your headline did its job and your visuals drew them in, now it’s time to upgrade your introductions to maximize your understanding of the peak-end rule:
- Start with something interesting: A question, fact, hinting a solution you’ll teach them in the remainder of your content.
- Include links to your related content as soon as you can. If the majority of your readers are going to bounce 18% of the way into your content, you might as well help them find related content from you that they’d rather see rather than going somewhere else.
- Give away free content within your first 100 words. Think of blog giveaways like checklists, templates, and worksheets for the actionable advice you’re providing. Trade that content for email addresses.
- Help your readers share your content as soon as they find your content. It sounds odd, but the more social shares you receive, the more traffic you’ll get, which means more opportunities for new readers to discover your content. If some readers share your content without reading it entirely, that’s OK.
Efficiency gained: You’ll have more opportunities to keep readers interested, get more social media shares, gain email subscribers, and help new readers discover your content.
Share Your Content Where Your Readers Want It
Question to ask yourself: How did the promotion for this content make or break its success?
Metric to measure: Look into social media shares, email clickthrough rates, and referrers to understand what promotion is driving the biggest results.
Your audience may primarily want to receive their content via email. Or RSS. Or social media. Or forums. The point is, you can throw the best party in the world, but if you don’t send out the invitations, no one’s going to come.
Content distribution may very well be the most important part of content marketing. So here’s what to look for in your content development process:
- Optimize your content for search engines. Help real people find your content through search engines by strategically choosing your keywords.
- Offer social sharing buttons at the beginning (like I just mentioned in your introductions), throughout your posts, and at the end. You can give Click To Tweet a try to help people share awesome takeaways throughout your posts.
- Share your content with social media (and I’ll add—find the ones your audience uses).
- Share it with your email subscribers.
- Reach out to any bloggers and blogs you mention in your posts to thank them for contributing (even if they didn’t know it!).
- Explore new content distribution methods once you’ve mastered these (like content syndication, forums, communities, and more).
Efficiency gained: You make all the work you put into creating awesome content worth it because you make damn sure your readers see what you created for them.
Turn What You Learned Into Action
Now you know the bare minimum things you can look into to enhance your content development process. You probably noticed that I didn’t mention workflow or team members whatsoever.
Well, at least not yet.
Since you’re focusing on the bare minimum to enhance your content development process, look into who is responsible for each of these things:
Chances are, this boils down to:
- Someone who plans your content who triples as your editor responsible for SEO, headlines, visuals, body text, publishing, and distribution.
- A writer who is an expert on the topic.
- A designer who works with your editor to complement the text with helpful visuals.
That means you could do all of this with as few as three people.
And that means you can eliminate extensive content approval processes to work faster and more efficiently. No higher ups. No managers telling you to change a word or a sentence. No designers telling other designers what to do.
The success of your minimum viable content development process revolves around trusting your team.
If your content development team isn’t empowered to produce and publish quickly, this minimum viable content development process gives you the ammunition you need to change your existing workflow and help your entire team work more efficiently.
Now Iterate Again. And Again.
Every piece of content you publish offers data you can use to enhance your future content. As long as you’re never satisfied with status quo, you can definitely start with these few things and improve from here.
Now it’s on to the next big project.