Ask Yourself These 5 Questions Before Producing Content

The top problem marketers face is limited resources. Most valuable among them is time. That means time spent on content should be focused on what will produce the greatest return on investment.

Prioritizing content will make sure your time is spent on projects capable of delivering the greatest value:

  • Align content production with business goals and buyer needs.
  • Allocate internal resources more effectively.
  • Achieve greater relevance by mapping content to major events, holidays and seasonality.
  • Address gaps in content proactively, whether related to specific keywords, buyer personas or stages in the sales funnel.

This article will dive show you how to prioritize content based on organizational goals, target buyer personas, the customer journey, the content’s longevity and more.

Ask yourself—or your editorial team—the following questions before adding content topics to the production queue. For those that fall flat, send them back to the drawing board.

Does it align with your top organizational goal?

Is your organization’s top marketing goal to build brand, generate leads, close sales or increase loyalty—or some combination of them? While all stages of the funnel are important, prioritizing them will help focus marketing efforts and budget resources.

Whatever you decide, all content you produce should directly support one of your business goals. Mapping content to specific marketing goals and KPIs is key to maximizing and proving ROI.

Does it target the right buyer persona?

Consider the audience. Throughout each stage of the customer journey, decide which specific content piece will best cater to your personas’ needs.

Both the topics and formats of content assets should be appropriate for the buyer persona you’re trying to reach.

For example, an instructional video should probably be intended for your product’s end user, while a white paper is best in the hands of the CEO. Make sure that the language and content are tailored to reflect the background, motivations and challenges of each.

Will it fill a gap in the customer journey?

Each content piece should address the concerns and answer the questions of your buyers at one stage of the buying process, with the intent of moving them forward to the next stage.

If it doesn’t fill a gap, it might replace or reinforce existing content. As Rand Fishkin points out, the path to purchase is serpentine, not linear. Because of this, content must be prolific, and content marketing efforts patient in guiding the buyer toward a purchase.

Can be it be easily repurposed?

This question is often overlooked by content marketers, and is probably one of their biggest mistakes. Can this content asset be split up, combined with others, reformatted or reengineered in new and exciting ways, or are you throwing valuable time and energy into one-off projects with a short shelf life and an expiration date?

Note: Not everything has to be repurposed. There is a time and a place for real-time posts, newsjacking and other timely content opportunities. But approach every project with the intent of repurposing. I promise you’ll end up with smarter topics and more clever outputs.

How does it perform in search and social?

Your content has been aligned with overall business strategy; it’s been mapped to a buyer persona and purchasing stage; it’s been produced and edited. But before you publish and promote your new asset, it’s time for some fine-tuning.

Have you evaluated search and social signals for hints on how you can optimize? Should the topic be tweaked to better fit your company’s keywords or the language buyers use in search?

Google Analytics is a good place to start. Find out what keywords drive the most traffic to your site, the language searchers use and possible long-tail keywords. Use Search Insights to Improve Your Content Marketing: 4 Steps by Kelly Curran is a great resource.

After Google made its AdWords Keyword Planner more about the AdWords and less about general keyword planning, the Internet Marketing Ninjas blog published a list of free keyword research replacements, including oldie-but-goodie Ubersuggest. Paid options include the Moz Keyword Difficulty and SERP Analysis Tool and HubSpot’s baked-in SEO and keyword research tools.

Content analyzers like BuzzSumo serve up the best content, domains and influencers for your target keywords, based on search rankings and social signals.

Don’t underestimate thinking through content in advance. No matter its quality, content that isn’t easily found, readily shared or strategically developed is all but useless. Guard your internal resources carefully, and leave those half-baked ideas on the cutting room floor.

This article originally appeared on PR 20/20.