How To Use Project Management Tools For Agile Content Marketing
Is your user truly connecting with your content, or are you relying on luck?
Think about how you have approached your content creation strategy. Was it done six months ago? You probably channeled a tremendous amount of resources into the project and expected your content to show you as a thought leader. Maybe you planned out an editorial calendar for the entire year. But, what if your content is not speaking to your target audience?
The reality is that no matter how much you try to make your strategy perfect at the start, the odds for success of a rigid strategy are very low. And why?
Both your company and your content live in a world that changes constantly. Market conditions may change, your users may stop behaving like you expected, or you may encounter an unexpectedly successful content type. The ability to adjust your content strategy accordingly can give you an edge. The answer is to create responsive content that reflects your user’s current needs, rather than an idea that was generated six months prior. For this strategy to work, you must be nimble and quick. You must be agile.
To be successful with agile, start small and simple. To help you grasp this read Gerry Moran’s blog about 10 Simple Ways To Think About Content Marketing. Once you start, you will learn how your content can be adapted and improved based on feedback, and you can adjust quickly. Try this approach through multiple iterations. The iteration in agile development represents a timeboxed cycle of Content Items production.
In this use case, we will show you how using a project management tool can help you with applying the agile approach in your content marketing efforts. We will guide you step by step:
- Creating the content strategy
- Planning and tracking the content creation process using the project management tool
- Content strategy review
What should you start with?
Start with setting your business goal. Think about how your content fits into your strategy.
For example, you may want to raise awareness of your brand, and improve your brand’s likeability. You hope that you will see an impact in your overall business with an expanded customer base, and increased brand loyalty. From there, you can define your goal by making it as specific as possible. Make it trackable so you can measure your success.
For example, your goal is to have 1,500 new users in the next 3 months.
Creating Your Content Strategy
Take the time to build the foundations of your content strategy or some broad ideas to start with. Use this as a living framework to evolve your content with each iteration you make in order to see better results. Let’s see where do you start with building your content foundations:
5 Things You Need For Your Content Marketing Success, by Susanna Gebauer
Define your user persona
Consider your target audience. Who is your user persona?
Check out How Personas Keep B2B Marketers From Playing "Guess Who" with Content, by Ardath Albee
Focus on the characteristics of the users that are relevant to how they interact with your content, product or a service. What problems do they have and how can you help them?
Use your content to take your users from point A to point B through your site. The journey starts with a specific topic of interest and leads the user to your solution. For example, your target audience may be project managers and team leaders looking to better manage their teams and projects. Once you understand your user persona, you will think of what your content has to have in order to be interesting for them. What are the features that will make it stand out and what is the message behind it?
For example, as a content writer, you can generate engagement with interesting storytelling, and increase credibility with examples or research insights. You can also ensure that your content is practical by giving clear action steps for your user. Oh and everyone loves a funny GIF!
Brainstorm content ideas
A clear idea of your target users and content expectations gives a good base to further explore. This is where you brainstorm and anticipate content ideas, optimal publish times, and promotion strategies. Doing a bunch of research on this matter will guide you in making your own educated guesses. For example, going through web analytics and keyword performance, or analyzing your competitors to find the insights. You can also survey current customers about the topics of interest. Here you can find more useful resources to help you amplify your content ideas:
- Building a KeywordDriven ContentMarketing Strategy Is Key, by Aaron Agius
- How to Master Keyword Research, Production and Promotion for Your Content Marketing Campaign, by Aaron Agius
- 15 Types of Content That Will Drive You More Traffic, by Neil Patel
- How to Develop a Content Marketing Rhythm: A Guide For Creating Consistently Great Content, by Brian Honigman
Set The Pace
Determine how much time you want to spend on content production and measurement. This is the actual length of the iteration.
The trick is to keep it short enough to get measurable results while also being able to change direction in a timely manner. The length of time depends on your business goals and team’s capability, most iterations last from one week to one month.
From there, you will be able to discern how much content you are able to produce in a period of time. This determines the frequency of publishing. (e.g. 2 blog posts per week)
Planning And Tracking Your Content Creation Process Using Project Management Tool
Before jumping into your first iteration, make sure you plan and organize the workflow. This is where the power of project management tool comes into play. It helps your content marketing team visualize the whole content creation process and keep track on the progress.
First, you should have a visual place (Kanban board) where you will organize the content creation process and make sure it is available to everyone involved on your content marketing team.
The board should contain columns or statuses that reflect the state of the items that are going through the process. To get the most out of using a visual project management tool for your agile content development process, we suggest you create the following statuses:
1. Content Backlog – Place for putting content ideas
2. Open – Content items that need to be created next by priority order
3. In Progress – Content items that team is working on at the moment
4. Review – Content items that are ready to be reviewed
5. Editing – Content items that need to be edited
6. Ready to publish – Content items that are ready to go
7. Published – Content items that are published and being promoted
These statuses can be utilized to help you organize your process:
All those content ideas your team collects need to be put in one place, accessible for anyone on the team before work is started. This place is called Content Backlog.
Practically, Content Backlog is a list of Content Items or Tasks your team will be working on.
Next is to start adding Content Items or Tasks in the Content Backlog column.
The best way to set and define the Content Item or the Task is to write it as a User Story.
User Stories define the intended purpose of the content from the users perspective. This is a great way to focus on specific user needs during content creation.
A good User Story is specific and to the point: As a (user persona) I would like to (experience this type of content) about (the topic) so I can (accomplish this).
Example: As a marketer, I would like to read a use case about agile content marketing so I can learn to organize my content creation process.
With this user story as the guiding force for content, you can make sure everything created will help to meet a highlevel need with your target audience.
To point out, the Content Backlog serves as a living reserve of items, constantly changing with new and ejected topics as a team brainstorms and ideas evolve. Items could be well defined and ready for production, or could be less specific and still need to be more thought through.
Before your team starts working on the Content Items from the Content Backlog, you will need to decide which items should be prioritized.
This is something you decide before your team starts the iteration, so they know what Content Items need to be produced and published during the time. These decisions depend on business goals, strategies, and the capacity of your team during the iteration.
Once you decide which content items are most important, you will move them into the Open status. So, items in this column are the ones that should be produced next, by the order of priority. The item on the top of the column is the first priority.
The important thing about the Items your team will be working on is that each should have the Definition of Done the point at which the Content Item will be considered as done. Determining this defines the quality of the work expected. Your team should agree on the “Definition of Done”. A good practice is to create specific criteria or the guidelines that will keep the consistency in the content quality. (These will later be used for the review)
For example, you can create the following content criteria:
- Make killer headline
- Build the storyline
- Add examples
- Add visuals
- Insert relatable hyperlinks
- Insert share links
- Have illustratable cover and featured image
You might also break down the item into smaller steps required for the Item to be finished.
This is where the Items live while the team is in the writing process. Draft content is created here. So, once you start working on the Item, you will have them moved in this column.
Once the draft version of the Item/User story is done you will move it into this column and for the first review. At this point, teammates can give feedback.
Any changes should be dropped back into the In Progress column for later reference.
Once the Item is finished, any changes should be put in the Editing column.
This is where you can Assign it to a language reviewer for editing. At this point you will also be doing the necessary editing of the images, links and other details.
Ready to publish
Once the editing is finished, the Item is moved to Ready To Publish column, where it will be scheduled for publication. At this point, you can also add additional instructions to specify how and where the content item should be promoted.
- Share on Twitter
- Share on Facebook
- Share on Reddit
- Add Click to Tweet option
- Share in Linkedin Groups
- Send a newsletter to on the user mail list
Once the content item is finished and published it should be moved to the Published column.
Content Strategy Review
Once the iteration is finished, reviewing your work based on the responses of your audience is the critical step for agile content development. After the audience has engaged with your content, reflect on what was done by measuring the performance and looking for insights to point you in the right direction.
To be able to analyze your content’s performance, look for engagement metrics (e.g. page views, number of sign ups, sharing and reactions...) and seek feedback. Did the content help your users? How can it be better? And what were the most successful parts?
These insights will help you tailor your content strategy to make better decisions. Instead of utilizing a stagnant content strategy, your team is able to review and improve for better content in the future. Everything you decide to change and improve in your content will need to be planned and applied in the next iteration. So the process is simple, measure and iterate. Repeat. The quality of the content should increase incrementally and garner better results as you go.
Though your brand’s objectives and overall content strategy may not change, the actual content you create probably will. You should embrace this. Thanks to digital content distribution, you have the ability to monitor and understand your consumer and deliver exactly what they want. Listen to what they’re saying, observe how they’re viewing your content, and make changes as needed, while staying as close as you can to your overall strategy and objectives.
A version of this post originally appeared on the author’s site here.
About the author
Lana Pavkovic is a Project Management Specialist and Content Crafter at Yanado.com - the best Task and Project Management tool inside Gmail. Being an agile enthusiast she's passionate about finding the best ways for the teams using Yanado tool to reach their peak performance.