Are you aware that even though 72% of marketers have a content strategy in place (30% documented and 42% non-documented), 70% of them lack the consistency and know-how to actually know what they are doing? That means more than half of the marketers that are using content marketing as a valid strategy are basically just poking and hoping when it comes to content creation.
Content development is truly an art form. It is a lot more than starting with a topic, pounding out a few hundred words and hitting publish. The key to successful content marketing is a solid documented strategy.
To help you down the right path, we’ve created a checklist to make certain that all the pieces are in place. Here are five simple steps to get you on your way to creating both useful and captivating content.
Know your audience
Before you even start brainstorming ideas for topics, the very first item on your to do list should be identifying your target audience. It wouldn’t make much sense to create an article about beer when you are in the business of dog grooming (a little far fetched but you get the point). Be sure to make your content relevant as possible to your target audience.
An easy way to find out what your potential customers might be interested in is to check out what your competitors are discussing. This can be done by either visiting their social media pages and perusing through the comments, or an easier way would be to use a simple online tool such as Social Crawlytics to identify your competitors most shared content.
Brainstorm those ideas
Each and every piece of content begins with an idea (sometimes lots of ideas). It could even be an abstract (an out of left field thought) that would need to be churned into something more solid, a keyword, a pre-written headline, or a simple topic that you have been kicking around for awhile. At any rate, we need some sort of idea to build off of.
Determine the path of your content
Is this going to be a informative blog post? What voice are you going to tack on to it? Straightforward information, or more of a humorous approach? Will it be long-form, or something shorter and quicker to consume?
It’s important to have the voice and tone of the article that you will be writing before you even press key one (assuming you are typing). Otherwise, it is super easy to end up scatter brained and have your article going in all sorts of directions, instead of being one smooth and easy to read piece.
Create your headline
It’s said that the headline may very well be the most important part of your article. On average, 80% of people will read your headline, but only 20% will go on to read the rest of your article. This is the secret to the power of your headline, and why it can and will determine the effectiveness of your entire article.
This means, of course, that you will need to craft an exceptional headline that will get people to be compelled to want to read the rest of your post.
Using the following basic outline to hook your readers in, make them want to continue reading, and then pass it on.
- Introduction – Story and the question or problem that you are going to solve for the reader
- Body – The answer to the reader’s question or problem.
- Call to action – Wrap up your article and offer a call to action so that the readers know what to do next.
Take a breather
Walk away from for a moment to clear your mind, so that you will have a fresh set of eyes before you proofread.
Proof and publish
If you feel that your opinion on editing is skewed, or you are just horrible at finding your own spelling / grammatical errors, by all means have a friend, colleague or even a hired editor take a go at it.
There is tons more checklist items that could be added, however in the hopes of keeping it simple we boiled it down to only seven. Does your content creation checklist have any other items not talked about here? We would love to find out what they are and how they are working for you. Let us know in the comments below!