The 8 phases of the content marketing process

Content marketing is an important marketing component for not only reaching target groups, but also convincing them of the value of a company. But for this to succeed, marketers need content with added value. And if you want to create good content for your marketing, you should know the eight phases in the content marketing process. In this article, we explain the individual phases of the content marketing process.

Addressing one’s target group with appropriate marketing measures is more important than ever. Content marketing has established itself as one of the most important pillars in the marketing mix. With their content strategy, companies aim to make their own brands better known – without resorting to explicit advertising. For marketing managers, content marketing is also a popular tool for winning new customers and strengthening customer loyalty in the long term. It is no longer the time when companies interact with potential customers purely through advertising. Rather, their target groups want content that offers them added value. This is true in both the B2C and B2B sectors. This includes, for example, tips and tricks for various topics, such as target group analysis. 

But how do companies and marketers get good content? How can you produce effective content that has a targeted effect on the target group? We’ll show you what the content marketing process looks like. In the following practical article, we break down the content marketing process into eight phases that build on each other.

Phase 1: Content planning

In content planning, you can plan the various contents over a defined period of time, for example a year. Typically, you use a rough editorial plan that highlights important time periods such as Christmas, Easter, campaign periods and special events. Furthermore, you should define the different content formats as part of the content planning. There are classic texts, video productions and podcasts to choose from. Podcasts in particular are becoming increasingly popular. It is therefore important for companies to develop a concrete content strategy during content planning. Ask yourself questions: What do I want to offer my target group? Which formats are relevant for this? The rough editorial plan can and should be adapted to current circumstances over time. But it gives you an initial orientation as to which topic you want to cover and when.

Phase 2: Content ideation

Detailed content ideas must be generated on the basis of the content planning specifications. You can make use of various tools for this purpose. Trend analysis tools that can be narrowed down to company-specific topics promise to be a new and particularly innovative instrument. In addition, classic brainstorming rounds and manual research in online and company databases as well as on the intranet can help to find suitable ideas for content. For this purpose, also use keyword research tools with which you can identify trending and currently important topics based on the searched terms on the web.

Phase 3: Content evaluation

At best, several ideas are entered in advance for each possible content topic, which now require evaluation. This allows you to identify the best ideas. Define suitable success parameters in the content team, on the basis of which you evaluate the ideas individually. Here, too, you can include keyword research tools in the evaluation, if not already done during the idea creation. After all, you want your content to be searched for. The best content ideas are prepared for production in a detailed briefing in the next step.

Phase 4: Content Preparation

The best ideas are now to be realized. Beforehand, a content strategist must create a briefing. The more elaborate the content format is chosen, the more detailed the briefing must be. Several content formats can be selected from a good idea during preparation. For example, it is conceivable to produce a tweet, a Facebook post and a blog post for one idea. The channel selection is thus an essential part of the content briefing for production. Social media monitoring tools can also be useful when selecting suitable formats and channels.

Content production proceeds according to a specific “recipe” – the briefing.

Phase 5: Content production

In the content production step, ideas are turned into finished content formats. The creation process varies in complexity. In the simplest case it is a Twitter post, but it ranges from a blog post to a finished video. The more complex the format is chosen, the more loops are typically made with the producer. Many companies use agencies and freelancers as suppliers for content production. The more “suppliers” accompany this process step, the more complex it becomes to make the process transparent and time-efficient for all sides.

An important sub-step of content production is also search engine optimization. Particularly when producing blog posts, the producer should first check which keywords the article should be optimized for. During production, he then ensures compliance with SEO guidelines regarding keyword density and other important SEO factors. For example, a WDF*IDF analysis can help with optimization from an SEO perspective. Or you can use SEO content tools, for example from our overview. Once the creation and optimization of the content is complete and the final approval has been given, this process step ends.

Phase 6: Content distribution

The produced content is now played out on the channels defined in the Content Preparation step. The exact timing can be defined in the briefing, or the content strategist can choose the time when the content is actually completed. The content is published on the relevant channels via content management systems (CMS). Trends that are gaining ground in the CMS area are primarily CMS Headless and DXP solutions. They serve more than just one channel and ensure a seamless customer experience.

Phase 7: Content Analysis

Are the defined communication goals being achieved with the content being played out? How high is the reach? How often was the content shared on social media such as Facebook, Twitter and the like? Were new potential customers in the defined target group acquired as fans of the company’s own Facebook page? How many new visitors were gained through the content on the website? How long did they stay on average? These questions are just a few examples for the analysis of the content played out. It is especially important in marketing to measure these metrics quickly so that you are able to amplify successful content even further. Social media channels, in particular, need to be measured in near real-time because a lot of content only shows a strong presence in the first two hours. Use social media monitoring tools especially in this phase of the content marketing process. They provide you with detailed analyses of the content produced and shared and show you how well you have achieved your goals so far. Using SEO tools, you can also further optimize the content that is already doing well and check content pieces that have not been ranking so well on Google for weaknesses in order to improve this content as well.

Phase 8: Content amplification

If the content performs strongly, it can be amplified with media budget. For small and medium-sized companies in particular, this form of media budgeting is a sensible new way of parking advertising money where it actually makes sense. Of course, this requires new organizational structures and possibly new service providers who offer such an infrastructure. It is important to note at this point that the process is not over. It is now starting all over again, however, the empirical values from the analysis should help to ensure that the entire content marketing process is now improved. In the long term, this cycle will help ensure that the content played out performs better and better in terms of the communication goals.

The content marketing process as a guide

The eight phases in the content marketing process provide a solid guide for marketers to create content step by step. A concrete strategy and content planning is followed by the collection of ideas and research to identify a relevant topic or topics and then evaluate the individual ideas. Only then does it go into the creation of the actual content based on a detailed briefing. This is followed by publication and constant analysis and optimization so that the content produced is found in the best possible way and offers the target group the added value they want.

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