As with most undertakings, before you begin writing or otherwise creating content, you should ask yourself some stock questions: why, what, when, and where—the 4Ws of content creation.
And because creating marketing content is as much science as it is art, the most powerful weapon you have at your disposal is data.
So, before you start working on your next piece of content, consider the 4Ws. Also keep in mind how you can use data to resolve the concerns you should be addressing with each question.
In marketing, visibility is key. After you develop a product or service that addresses a gap in the market, how do you reach your target audience?
Say, for instance, you are a pet-care startup in Houston. When a pet owner googles "dog-grooming Houston" and your website or blog does not come up in search results, you need to worry. You need to get the word out, and to do that you need content.
Your website or blog must remain active and fresh. Search engines rank pages with fresher and dynamic content higher. That doesn't mean you must continually create new content; updating older content is viewed as staying fresh in the eyes of Google.
Apart from SEO reasons, content can help present your brand as if it were a person with a voice customers can relate to. Want to see what the content of a relatable brand looks like? Just follow Innocent Drinks on Facebook.
All that to say... before you start working on a piece of content, ask yourself why—define the result you hope to achieve with your content.
In SEO terms, that purpose has to do with being found online for the product or service you offer. For example, when I look up "remodel my kitchen," this article is one of the top results. It addresses pain points and concerns.
So use Google Analytics data to determine which terms customers are searching for when they land on your website looking for answers to help resolve their "pain." Also conduct keyword research to see how well you're ranking for relevant search terms vs. your competitors.
That data will help you come up with answers for the why of creating a specific piece of content. That leads us to the next W.
Using the insights you get from Google Analytics and other keyword research, work toward creating content that features the keywords people search for.
Google's Keyword Planner will help you with keyword research. Using historical data, you can keep track of search volume. Predicted clicks and estimated conversions can be invaluable in creating an effective content strategy (and in justifying your budget).
Check BuzzSumo for articles that feature the relevant search terms to see what content works. BuzzSumo arranges content in the order of the number of shares it received on Social Media. This will give you a good idea of what kind of content works.
Analyze the performance of your brand pages and accounts on social media. By assessing which of your content works best there, you can deliver consistently. You should also benchmark your performance to know what type of content works best in your industry.
You need to put out content as regularly as the kind of content and the platform you place it on demand. For instance, Twitter analytics tools can tell you whether you are being too spammy or you aren't posting as frequently as you should. You can also find out the time of the day that gets you most engagement.