5 Layers of a Content Production Engine

Caglar Ekim

Becoming successful in content marketing is not an easy task. Many marketing teams consider content & SEO(Search Engine Optimization) as one of their main acquisition channels because it can be a sustainable organic traffic source. However, it requires a good content strategy and it also requires consistently producing high-quality content for the right audience. To achieve this, every content team needs a content production workflow and the right tools in place. As the number of content pieces increases, it gets more challenging to track the status of content pieces, publishing dates, promotion tasks, repurposing opportunities, etc. Writing the content is only one part of the whole journey; usually, each content piece moves through many hands before it is finished. Smooth collaboration among team members and external resources becomes a priority as content efforts intensify. With this article, we will explore how content teams can create a streamlined process using different tools and create a content planning engine with five different layers which are:

1- A clear content strategy

2- Capturing content ideas and inspiration

3- Streamlined content production workflow

4- Publishing calendar and distribution channels

5- Asset Management with content performance metrics

Let’s dive into each layer in detail and see how Workiom can help content teams with workflow, automation, and integration ideas.

1- Content Strategy

We need to make sure our content strategy is consistent with the company’s overall marketing strategy. Who is the perfect target audience? What kind of information is our target persona searching for? What are the motivations? Problems they face in daily work? Who do they report to? Who is the decision-maker in their company? Long story short, we need to understand our target audience and shape our content strategy to provide value to them. Making our persona list visible to everybody involved in the content production process can give the whole team a clear vision. It also enables everybody to come up with related content ideas and contribute to the content idea backlog. (there is a ‘Personas’ list in Workiom’s Editorial Calendar Template for this purpose)

After we have detailed information about our buyer personas, we are mostly aware of the topics we will write about on our blog, and we dive deeper into the keyword research on these topics. This time we need to leverage data to find out which keywords are worth shooting for. The most popular keyword research tool in the SEO community has been Google’s Keyword Planner for years. Still, there are many other tools you can check out, too, such as Ubersuggest, Keywordtool.io, Ahref’s keyword explorer, etc. You can also look for keyword ideas on related Wikipedia pages, Google search suggestions, Youtube search suggestions, and Quora questions…

Google search
Quora questions

At this point, we have our persona list with details and another list where we store keyword ideas with search volumes and keyword difficulties from our keyword research tools! These will be our reference points for each content piece to be produced.

2- Capturing Content Ideas

It is time to come up with many content ideas and prioritize them. Every content team needs a central repository of content ideas and an easy way to capture every idea anytime. Otherwise, isolated ideas get lost across emails and notes. Many ideas will stay in the repository, and you will keep adding new details to them until they are ready to be structured into a valuable content piece. Having a central place accessible to the whole team will enable team collaboration to develop each idea with different views and comments.

When you are evaluating content ideas, there are a few points to keep in mind:

  • Each idea can be structured into different content formats. It can be a blog article, an infographic, tutorial video, an ebook, or a slide deck. If the content topic is something your target audience is searching for on search engines, you may decide to write an in-depth article about it. But if it is more like a new innovative idea that can be shared on social media, you may choose to create a stunning infographic.
  • Create content clusters from similar topics and check the opportunities for internal linking of different content pieces. While creating content for a specific audience, you cannot address all of their problems in one article; however, you can plan your content production to go step by step and link them together. It is helpful for your audience and also beneficial to rank higher on search results.
  • Decide if the subject is specific enough to cover in one article or if it can be divided into multiple articles. Sometimes trying to explain a vast issue in one article prevents the writer from going more in-depth on a specific topic. When you evaluate a content idea, try to develop smaller, more particular subjects that provide value to a specific audience.

At this point, we decided on what to write about and created a content backlog full of great ideas. Now, we need to produce the content consistently.

3- Content Production Workflow

A good workflow will keep the content team on the same page with clear visibility into who’s doing what, deadlines to each step, and approval processes. Depending on your team’s size, different parts of the content production process may be owned by other people, such as researchers, writers, editors, and designers. But for the smaller teams, they all may be the same person. In both cases, the content production pipeline is more or less the same; research, outline, first draft, review, revise, approve, publish, and promote.

Creating the content planning pipeline in the kanban view enables the whole team to see what pieces are being produced, and each article’s current status.

You may decide to set due dates for each step on the pipeline or to set only one due date for each piece to be ready. Creating a calendar view for these scheduled dates makes it easy to plan the content production so that the publishing interval is consistent. Another option is also adding start dates for the production of each piece. It helps us create a timeline view on our calendar with start dates and end dates.

One part of the content production is to request images from the designer. You may decide to integrate this process into the right part of the pipeline to have enough input on design and have enough time to revise the first version before publishing. You can create a task list or design requests list that is connected to the content.

Creating automation and smart notifications to streamline your content production workflow is very important. For example, you can automate the design request task creation, when the status of the content is ‘First Draft Ready,’ create a new task assigned to the designer with a deadline of 2 days after the assignment date. Another automation example is for the approval flow. When the content is revised and ready, send a smart notification to the content manager mentioning a content piece waiting to be approved for publishing.

If you are working with external collaborators for content production, creating a separate view makes more sense. Giving access to private views for external collaborators enables them to see only what is related to them within the regular workflow of our content production. They can still view who they can communicate with for each part and the timeline for each step. To create a private view, create a new kanban view, filter the writer field choosing the user ‘me’. That way, everybody who opens this view can see only the content pieces assigned to themselves.

4- Publishing and Distribution

When we publish our content pieces, we should let all the people in our company know when it will be posted to amplify each content together. Whether it is sharing the content on social media, email it to the subscribers, create ads to boost the content, ask feedback from industry influencers, or share it with our network, which we think may be interested in the topic.

Any content that is published and forgotten afterward is a waste of time and resources. The distribution of the content piece is as important as the production of it. So creating a process and workflow for the distribution is also very crucial for consistency. Here are a few ideas to streamline the content distribution process:

  • Email automation for notifying all the team members about the newly published content and adding a link for easy social media sharing into the email.
  • Whether you are using Workiom for Social Media Planning or not, you can automatically create automation for sharing each new content to social media.
  • Creating an automated task for the person responsible for ads, sharing the related personas for each article to boost the content on social media with ads.
  • Creating an automated task for sharing the content on related Linkedin groups, Facebook groups, Slack channels, subreddits, etc.

5- Tracking Content Performance

Keeping a separate list or view for all the published articles, a central repository for all of the content produced so far is a critical way to continuously see which kinds of content perform better and opens up the opportunities for repurposing old content in many ways.

We should track our content’s performance on different platforms and bring the metrics together in a central place such as Workiom. The social media shares, organic visitors, backlinks, conversion numbers … These metrics are living in isolated platforms. We should see and analyze them for each piece. It helps us evaluate new content ideas and gives us opportunities to improve the old content with new insights.

Using Zapier for the data flow from other platforms to Workiom is an easy, automated way to monitor content performance. If you choose to do it manually, you can create tasks for screening the performance and adding the numbers to Workiom after one month, after three months, and after six months.

Having a process and necessary tools helps content teams remove the friction for the production of new content pieces regularly. When the team has clear directives for each step, a lot of mental energy is saved for increasing the quality of the work, instead of organizing work. There are startups, marketing teams, media companies that use Workiom as a Content Planning Tool and they all customised it according to the special needs they have, specific workflows or collaboration structures. The flexibility and automation are very significant factors for content planning, because we want the tools we use to make our lives easier. A tool that can be customised for our specific needs and automate the repeated actions we perform everyday adds serious value into the content production process of every marketing team.