Build a robust content creation workflow: 7 essential steps

18 October 2023
10 minutes

In short

Ever feel like your marketing mind is full of hastily scattered Post-it notes, scribbled-on whiteboards and endless to-do lists that get buried under that ill-advised fifth coffee of the day? You’re in the right place! This guide will help you master every phase of your content marketing workflow while minimising risks or bottlenecks throughout your end-to-end processes.

We’ll also provide tips on how to capitalise on successes and pinpoint areas for improvement as your strategy evolves. We’ll help you understand how to get the most out of your team, prioritise your goals and generally get your content marketing ducks in a nicely formed row.

Let the games begin!

a photo of two people discussing their content creation workflow

What is a content creation workflow?

Your content creation workflow is the set of tasks and activities you and your team need to follow to keep your content marketing strategy running effectively and efficiently. It’s the place you point to when your people need to know what is needed from them and when. It’s the helpful step-by-step roadmap that ensures every piece of content is researched, refined, optimised, repurposed, published, amplified, promoted and generally given its chance to shine.

Without a robust content creation workflow your blogs, case studies, email marketing campaigns and so forth are highly likely to start their journey on the back foot. And here’s why…

Why do you need a content creation workflow?

Manage trackable processes

A well-defined content creation workflow is your golden ticket to streamlined content creation and distribution. It’s not just about managing and assigning tasks; it’s about orchestrating a series of trackable processes that ensure every element, from ideation to publication, is optimised and accounted for.

Identify stages of content development

Setting up a content creation workflow enables you to break down your assets into stages: research, drafting, editing, design and promotion. Each stage has its unique challenges and requirements. Identifying these stages not only allows for effective allocation of resources but also helps in diagnosing and smoothing out bottlenecks.

Avoid inconsistencies in content creation

Consistency in brand voice and presentation helps to build a recognisable brand identity. From tone to visual elements, every piece of content should feel like it’s coming from the same source. This consistency builds trust and strengthens your brand presence.

Some tools to try:

  1. Bynder: A digital asset management platform that ensures all your brand assets, from logos to templates, are consistent and easily accessible.
  2. Marq (formerly Lucidpress): A design and brand templating platform that allows teams to create on-brand content, maintaining consistency across various channels.

What is the difference between workflow and process?

There’s a subtle difference between a workflow and a process. While a process defines what needs to be done, a workflow refines how it’s done. Let’s look at this in a bit more depth.

a vector that shows about lead generation and how it is a critical process in marketing

Processes in marketing

In marketing, a process refers to the systematic series of steps designed to achieve a specific goal. For instance, lead generation is a critical process in marketing. The process of lead generation involves steps like market research, creating a lead magnet, capturing leads through forms and nurturing them through email campaigns. This process outlines the ‘what’—what needs to be accomplished to generate leads effectively.

In social media marketing, the process might include stages such as content creation, scheduling posts, engaging with the audience, and analysing the results. Each step is defined and structured to achieve the objective of increasing brand visibility and engagement.

Workflows in marketing

A workflow, on the other hand, delves into the ‘how’ of the process. It refines and structures the process into a sequence of tasks and activities, detailing who does what, when and with which resources. It’s the actionable, step-by-step plan that individuals or teams follow to execute a particular process effectively.

For example, in email marketing the process involves sending out marketing emails to subscribers. The workflow, however, details how these emails are created, who writes the content, who designs the templates, when they are scheduled and how responses and leads are tracked and analysed.

The main components of strong content creation workflows

Now let’s explore all the juicy content marketing morsels that should make up your content creation and production workflow.

Develop and document clear stages of your content creation workflow

Only 40% of marketers say they have a documented content marketing strategy. Without a firm plan, you risk seriously hindering your success with sluggish processes and suboptimal workflows. Developing a great content marketing workflow is your chance to get ahead of the pack. From brainstorming ideas to polishing the final draft, every stage in your content marketing workflow demands meticulous attention so it’s important to take the time to document the different stages of your content creation workflow and make sure your team understands how it all fits together.

Top tips:

  • Hold content ideation workshops: Gather your team for regular brainstorming sessions. Tools like Miro facilitate collaborative brainstorming, helping ideas flow freely and making sure everything of value is recorded in a coherent way.
  • Content checklists: Create detailed checklists for each stage, ensuring no vital element is missed. Tools like Checklist help you create customisable, shareable lists for every part of your workflow.
A content tip on why to do content brainstorming to structure valuable ideas for content marketing

Defined roles and responsibilities

Assigning roles isn’t just about delegating tasks; it’s about leveraging individual strengths. A cohesive team operates like a well-oiled machine, with each member knowing precisely what they are responsible for and why it’s important.

Top tips:

  • Skills assessments: If you have a large team it’s a good idea to assess your team’s skills and strengths from time to time. Tools like Skills Base allow you to create skill matrices, ensuring you know exactly who to assign to each task.
  • Rotation and cross-training: Encourage team members to rotate roles occasionally. Cross-training not only enhances their skills but also ensures your workflow isn’t overly reliant on a single person. It also helps people understand how the wider content creation and content production workflow operates and how each element feeds into other parts.
Wordpress is one of the tools that is used for content production to build a content creation workflow

Tools and assets needed for content production

A well-structured content creation workflow not only outlines the steps involved in producing new content but also considers the tools, resources and assets that are essential for seamless execution. Make sure you document these elements to ensure consistency, enhance the quality of content and align it with your organisation’s goals and values.

For instance, if your organisation adheres to a specific style guide, documenting it as an integral part of your workflow is vital. This guide serves as a blueprint for editors and content creators, ensuring uniformity in tone, style and branding across all content marketing materials. By incorporating such guidelines, your content maintains a cohesive and authentic identity, building a stronger connection with your audience.

Tools such as Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, or Google Analytics also play pivotal roles in content strategy. Integrating them into your content creation workflow equips your team with valuable insights, enabling data-driven decisions and more effective content planning.

Additionally, there are a number of super-useful editorial workflow software and platforms for content creation workflows and streamlining collaboration. Tools like WordPress for website content, Canva for graphic design and Slack for team communication facilitate efficient content production and seamless teamwork.

Take your time to assess your options and make sure your martech stack and tools will take care of your content marketing needs both in the short and long term. And don’t forget there are often some great freemium or low-cost options out there, especially for smaller businesses or brands with more modest marketing requirements.

Task-based vs status-based workflows

Task-based and status-based workflows are two fundamental approaches in project management, each offering distinct advantages depending on the context and objectives of a project.

Task-based workflows

Task-based workflows revolve around the completion of specific activities or tasks within a project. In this approach, the focus is on the steps necessary to achieve a particular goal. Team members are assigned tasks based on their skills and expertise and the content creation workflow progresses as these tasks are completed.

Task-based workflows are highly structured and sequential, ensuring that each task is accomplished before moving on to the next. This method provides much-needed clarity, especially in complex projects, allowing for a systematic approach to achieving those all-important project milestones.

Status-based workflows

Status-based workflows, on the other hand, are about the current state or condition of a project or task. Instead of focusing on specific tasks, this approach concentrates on tracking the progress, stages, or statuses of different components within the project. Status-based workflows are more dynamic and flexible, allowing for real-time adjustments based on the project’s evolving needs.

Team members collaborate on multiple tasks simultaneously, and the content creation workflow adapts as tasks move through different statuses such as ‘in progress,’ ‘review,’ or ‘completed.’ This approach provides agility and allows for quick response to changes or unexpected challenges.

Choosing the right approach

The choice between task-based and status-based workflows depends on the nature of the project. Task-based workflows are ideal for well-defined, sequential tasks, where a step-by-step approach is necessary. On the other hand, status-based workflows are best suited for dynamic projects that require adaptability and collaboration. They are particularly useful in agile methodologies and projects where tasks can progress concurrently.

7 steps for building a powerful content creation workflow

Now, let’s get that content creation workflow flowing! Following these steps and adapting the strategy to suit your business, and your team, should get your workflow for marketing in great shape in no time at all.

1. Determine objectives

Your goals and objectives define the purpose and expected outcomes of your content. B2C marketers reported to CMI that the top three goals that content marketing helps them to achieve are creating brand awareness, building trust and educating their target audience. These objectives might be familiar to you and you may have some others to add to your list of nice-to-haves. Whatever you decide, your goals and objectives will give you something concrete to return to when you need to reset your focus or realign your strategy.

Remember: always be realistic and keep the strengths and limitations of your team, and budget in mind.

Top tips:

  • SMART Objectives: Ensure your objectives are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. This framework ensures your goals are clear and achievable.
  • Benchmark analysis: Research competitors and industry leaders to understand what objectives they set for similar content. This benchmarking provides valuable context for setting realistic goals.

2. Designate roles and responsibilities

Your team is your greatest asset. Assigning roles based on individual strengths and expertise ensures every task is completed efficiently and to the highest standard.

If you don’t have access to the right talent in-house or you are struggling to produce enough content to achieve your content creation goals you’re not alone. In fact, over half of marketers surveyed by CMI said they outsourced some of their content marketing. If you would like to find out how our team of talented freelancers can help you get your brand the attention it deserves, contact our team today — we’d love to help.

Top tips:

  • Clarify roles: Clearly define each team member’s role, specifying their tasks and responsibilities. A well-defined role eliminates confusion and boosts productivity.
  • Regular communication: Implement regular check-ins and update meetings. Effective communication ensures everyone is on the same page, reducing misunderstandings and errors. It also helps to build a happier, more collaborative team.

3. Choose content types and distribution channels

Different content types resonate differently with various audience segments. Understanding your audience and selecting the right content formats and platforms ensures maximum engagement and impact.

Top tips:

  • Conduct audience/customer surveys: If appropriate, why not ask your audience about their content preferences? Tools like SurveyMonkey and Typeform are invaluable for creating detailed, user-friendly surveys.
  • Create a content calendar: Use tools like CoSchedule or HubSpot to plan and organise your content. A content calendar provides a visual overview of your publishing schedule, ensuring consistency and variety. When cross-referenced with your engagement analytics it also helps you to capitalise on successful themes over time.

4. Outline the content creation and production process

A well-defined process is your ticket to an effective content creation workflow. Take the time to outline every step, from idea inception to publication. Clarifying your process ensures that everyone understands what is expected of them and where their role sits in the wider content chain. This should help to improve content quality, reduce errors and ensure consistency.

Top tip:

Feedback loops: Implement regular feedback loops at each stage. Encourage team members and relevant stakeholders to provide input. Constructive feedback is invaluable for refining your process and improving content quality. This approach can also spark inspiration about future content themes or assets, or encourage your team to think about how successful content could be repurposed or revamped.

5. Set up and automate the workflow

Automation is your secret weapon for efficiency. Embrace technology to automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks, ensuring your team can focus on creative and strategic aspects of content creation. They’ll thank you for it, we promise!

Recommended tools:

  1. Zapier: Connects thousands of apps, automating workflows and data transfers.
  2. Integromat: An advanced automation tool that allows you to create complex scenarios. Integromat automates intricate workflows, ensuring seamless integration between a variety of tools and apps.
a vector that shows KPI to measure the content performance in content creation workflow

6. Measure performance and adapt accordingly

Your content creation workflow needs data to thrive. Always take the time to measure your content’s performance meticulously, analyse the data and adapt your strategy based on insights. Refer to your goals to decide what you need to monitor. HubSpot found that over 60% of marketers measured the success of their content marketing strategy through sales, but for some businesses, brand reach, social media engagement and SEO will play an important role too.

Top tips:

  • Establish Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): Identify and track relevant KPIs for each piece of content. Metrics like engagement rates, conversion rates and click-through rates provide invaluable insights into your content’s impact. Not got the time to put a KPI-specific spreadsheet together? No problem. HubSpot has created a free KPI dashboard.
  • Conduct A/B Testing: Experiment with different elements of your content, such as headlines, visuals, or calls to action. A/B testing helps you understand what resonates best with your audience, allowing you to refine your future content accordingly.

7. Audit content regularly

Regular content audits are crucial for a successful content creation workflow. They ensure accuracy, relevance and consistency of information, aligning content with your audience(s) and business goals. Audits also help you identify opportunities for enhancing SEO and driving organic traffic and shine a light on gaps in your content or places where the buyer journey could use a bit of improvement.

As we’ve mentioned, maintaining a unified brand voice across platforms builds trust and identity. By analysing audience engagement metrics you can tailor content to audience preferences, enhancing user experience and increasing engagement.

Over to you…

Remember, a robust content creation workflow isn’t static; it evolves with your brand, your audience, your content marketing arsenal and the wily ways of working in the marketing world at large.

Stay agile, stay creative and most importantly, stay curious. You never know what’s around the corner but you’ll be in a far better position to face new challenges and exploit fresh opportunities with a strong content creation workflow in place.

Need some help getting your content in front of the people that matter? Experience seamless content creation with Contentoo. Click here to learn why we’re the preferred choice for quality, speed and expertise in content marketing.

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