The 6 Elements of the Content Marketing Process

No matter how far we get into the era of content marketing as mainstream practice, many marketers still can’t find their footing.

Most of us logically know that content marketing and content creation aren’t synonymous, but you wouldn’t know that from looking at our schedules or to-do lists.

The excessive focus on content creation is noticeable everywhere:

  • In our content marketing strategies that ask “what should we be talking about?”
  • In our marketing calendars that answer, “when should we talk about it?”
  • In our busy schedules of producing as much content as possible.

And by leaning too much towards content creation, we are digressing from all the other important elements of content marketing.

That’s why, no matter how many times we hear things like “spend more time promoting content than creating it,” that’s rarely what our day-to-day realities look like as marketers.

There seems to be this belief that if we stop producing weekly content, prospects and customers will stop finding our businesses.

But when we stop creating for spending energy on other elements of the content marketing process, the opposite is true.

The less you create and the more you amplify what you create, the less you will need to create.

So what do you need to learn how to balance content creation?

Here are the different elements of content marketing.

1. Content strategy

Content strategy is where it all begins.

Before you do anything else, including posting content, you need to clarify the point of it all.

This is where you understand:

  • Audience research: Who are you talking to.
  • Journey mapping: What you’re trying to get them to do.
  • CHANNEL selection: Where and how you reach them.
  • Subject selection: What are you talking to them about.
  • Project management: How your team will do everything.

And how to optimize everything to maximize your results.

And like the rest of the items listed here, content strategy isn’t something you can do just once.

Although your strategy only needs to be built from the ground up when you’re new to content marketing, it still needs to be reviewed and updated about once or twice a year.

2. Content Creation

Once you’ve developed or updated your content strategy, you’re ready to start creating content.

But even that is not limited to content creation.

Here is what I mean:

Content, regardless of format or channel, is the hardest and most time-consuming to create when you dive straight into creating without any planning.

The entire content creation process includes many different types of tasks, and trying to do them all at once adds unnecessary difficulty to the writing, designing, or recording process.

When you take the time to research your topic, outline the structure, clear your brain of your talking points, and other things to prepare before you start writing, things get a whole lot easier.

This is still true with less writing-focused formats, like podcasts and video, in terms of writing the script, show notes, etc.

Break down the process and tackle your content projects one by one in small steps instead of trying to tackle everything at once.

3. Content Optimization

Just as there is more prep work than we initially think with the content we create, there is also more “post-work”.

It doesn’t matter how good the writing or video is with your content if it’s not optimized for the customer journey of your marketing strategy.

Or if it’s not detectable to anyone not specifically looking for it.

This means that between creating content and publishing it, you need to optimize it for what comes before and after in the buyer’s journey.

If you’re trying to generate leads, that means making sure you have lead generation forms in the right places, promoting the right offers.

If you want to attract visitors through SEO, that means revisiting your target keyword optimization.

All of this optimization needs to be double-checked before the content goes live.

4. Distribution of content

Once the content has been planned, created and optimized, it’s time to publish it.

And yet, the process is still not ready to begin again.

People still need to educate themselves.

Even if you have a site that generates a lot of organic traffic and is discovered “on its own”, putting effort into distribution will always speed things up.

You’ll want to spend time on things like:

  • Share new content on social media.
  • Email it to your list of subscribers and customers.
  • Send it to influential people in your network who would be interested.

Most of us have experienced the feeling of creating quality content that no one sees, and this is the step to avoid experiencing it.

5. Content redirection

Along with content distribution, content redirection is another way to get more attention to the content you create.

While content distribution is more about bringing people from other platforms back to your website content, redirection is about bringing website content to people on other platforms.

Both can be done immediately after the content goes live to boost the initial spike in a content’s visibility.

But they might be even more powerful when promoting and repurposing older content that is still high quality but gets less attention.

Some common types of redirected content include:

  • Reformat it from one medium to another, like text to video, podcasts or graphics.
  • Break up long content into smaller pieces.
  • Combine shorter chunks of content into bigger chunks.
  • Republish or syndicate content in its current format to other channels.

Whichever option you try first, it will go a long way toward making your content creation time worthwhile.

6. Content Maintenance

Finally, there is content maintenance.

Because even though content may be evergreen in theory, it can still easily become stale and start performing worse than before.

Think of the evergreens that give content its name: just because they’re always green doesn’t mean they can’t die or need food.

Content maintenance is that food for your marketing.

You’ll want to make sure your ongoing, high-performing content stays fresh, optimized, and aligned with your current business goals.

This way, you can continue to distribute and reuse your best content and maintain (or even improve) your search rankings over time.

It doesn’t matter how long a particular piece has been published.

Conclusion

Many marketers assume that creating less content will lead to fewer results.

But only when the time saved is not reallocated to other elements of content marketing.

If you spend less time creating content in order to devote more time to neglected areas of the process, the content you create will perform even better than before.

More resources: