By Heidi Cohen published March 10, 2014

5 Tips for Quality Content Creation That Won’t Bust Your Budget

bow-arrow image-quality content creationWith more marketers focusing on content creation and more people communicating on social media, every piece of content you distribute has to break through the clutter and grab your audience members in a way that predisposes them to choose your message over one that comes from your competition.

It’s not just about capturing attention — if it were, all you would need to do is consistently post a bunch of cat videos; but that’s not exactly going to help you achieve your key business goals, now is it?

Content quality sets your content marketing apart

While cute cats are great, if your business is serious about attracting more readers — and higher rankings on search engines — you need to focus on content quality.

Research by Disruptive Communications in 2013 revealed that audiences care about the quality of your content. Here are two key findings that underscore that point:

  • Forty percent of respondents admitted that poor spelling and grammar reduced their favorable impression of a brand. Yes that’s right. The writing you studied in grade school really does matter to your target audience.
  • Twenty-five percent of respondents feel that brands’ social media updates are too salesy. What’s surprising here is that the percentage isn’t higher. Both content marketing and social media communications should be void of any promotional message. In other words, skip the sales talk.

As a marketer with a limited budget, the good news about focusing on quality content creation is that you don’t need to think in terms of producing more content but rather in terms of making each piece of content more effective.

Therefore, it may be time to rethink your organization’s processes to enable higher-quality content creation. For example:

  • For larger organizations, this might mean working to bridge your organizational silos. With better team alignment, you can eliminate duplicated efforts and produce content that addresses higher-level marketing goals.
  • For smaller organizations, this might mean planning ahead to find opportunities to create multiple pieces of content simultaneously, which will reduce your content creation costs.

5 tips to improve content quality without busting your budget

Here are five content marketing tips that will help you raise the quality of your content without significantly increasing your costs:

1. Perform a company-wide content audit: The aim here is to determine what effective content your organization has, what content is outdated or needs freshening up, and what information is missing from your existing offerings. To do this well and keep content costs down, think holistically across your entire organization:

  • Catalog all of your content to determine what you have: Include content and communications from outside of the marketing department. You may have useful information in your sales manual, but it’s not going to do your company much good if no one knows it’s there, just waiting to be leveraged.
  • Assess each piece of content to determine what to delete, what to revise, and what works well as-is: Examine your existing content assets with a critical eye. Think about low-cost ways you can enhance what you have or make it have greater impact.
  • Determine where there are gaps in your current content assets: Are there topics you aren’t covering, or information that you aren’t providing for your readers? Based on what you’ve learned during your audit, make a list of new ideas that you might want to focus your next content efforts on.

2. Develop a company-wide editorial calendar: In many companies, only the marketing department uses an editorial calendar to track its content creation efforts. But to improve content quality cost-effectively, it’s helpful to develop a calendar that tracks your content activities across the entire enterprise. This higher-level view of your company’s content creation efforts will help you identify opportunities to unite the efforts and resources of various teams, eliminate waste from duplicated efforts, and extend the value and impact of the content you do create.

In larger firms, coordinating an enterprise-wide calendar may require a chief content officer — someone who would have first-hand knowledge of company-wide goals — and access to the team members who will be most essential in coordinating everyone’s efforts.

To develop an editorial calendar that functions across the entire organization, start with these three steps:

  • Determine what types of content will work best to support your overarching promotion goals
  • Examine the content, social media, and other marketing-related assets you have at your disposal.
  • Identify all areas of your organization where information needs to be shared, such as sales, customer service, product development, website development, human resources, and investor relations. The object is to turn all communications into effective content marketing pieces, thereby increasing your content production without adding costs.

For example, instead of a traditional annual report, Warby Parker found a great way to turn a dull annual report into an engaging piece of content:

image-warby parker history

3. Plan your content creation efforts in advance: The goal is to create multiple pieces on related topics all at the same time. Where appropriate, develop marketing and corporate content simultaneously — this reduces costs since you are combining your efforts. You can also break a larger piece of content down into multiple, smaller pieces, thereby further extending your budget.

For example, Kelly Services repurposed one of its white papers into three different SlideShare presentations, each focusing on a different part of the conversation. In total, these three presentations generated 10,000 views, 1,000 new subscribers and 250 sales-accepted leads. Results that you can take to the bank!
4. Develop a plan for distributing content efficiently and effectively: Don’t just publish! Have a plan to ensure that your content will reach the broadest audience possible:

  • Make each piece of content contextually relevant to the platform on which it will appear: Also, consider whether the content will render well across most commonly used devices and screen sizes (think smartphone and tablets).
  • Include a relevant call-to-action: Remember your goal is to get readers to take the next step in your purchase process.

5. Be prepared to track your content marketing results: Check that your content quality efforts are improving your response and decreasing your costs in other marketing areas. Specifically, consider the number of leads your content is generating, as well as measuring the number of qualified leads and sales against your content marketing expenses.

Streamline your content creation across your organization to ensure that you create top-quality information that your target audience wants and needs, while eliminating duplicate and other wasteful efforts. By doing this you should be able to reduce your content marketing costs considerably.

What has your experience been with streamlining your content creation process across your organization? Has it resulted in lower costs and improved content quality?

For more great tips, ideas, and examples for creating quality content more efficiently, read Epic Content Marketing, by Joe Pulizzi. 

Cover image via Bigstock 

Author: Heidi Cohen

Heidi Cohen is an actionable marketing expert. As president of Riverside Marketing Strategies, Heidi works with online media companies and e-tailers to increase profitability with innovative marketing programs based on solid analytics. During the course of 20 years, Heidi has obtained deep experience in direct and digital marketing across a broad array of products including soft goods, financial services, entertainment, media entities and crafts-oriented goods. Heidi shares her actionable marketing insights on her blog. Find Heidi Cohen online at Twitter @heidicohen, LinkedIn and Facebook.

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