There can be many reasons why the first step can be the most difficult. You are pushed for time, you have little experience with digital content, you don’t have a clear picture of what you want, there are many other demands on your company’s resources... and so on. The aim of this blog is to help you to get off to a flying start when producing your first publication. Just follow this practical 10-step plan. So, let’s get started.
Step 1: Identify your objectives
Deciding on your objectives can’t be all that difficult, you might think. But in practice, the objectives are not always clear enough. What do you really want to achieve? And what is the purpose of your publication? At what stage of your customer journey will the content play a role? Generally speaking, the more specific your objectives, the better. For example, they could include:
Strengthening your CRM
Combining multiple objectives is possible too, of course. But don’t forget to add some detail. If your aim is 'sales', is your web publication the only channel that you will use to do this? Is the idea to generate traffic to your web shop, or to support up-selling within your existing customer base? Or will it provide ‘ammunition’ for your colleagues to use during the sales process? This is an interesting blog to read when deciding on your aims: ‘providing information is not a goal in itself’.
Step 2: Identify your target group
Knowing who you want to reach will help you to make the choices that you’ll need to make. Tone of voice, distribution strategy, range of content, type of content, interaction preferences, and so on. Often, using a persona to write content can work very effectively. Who will be reading your content, what does he/she care about and where is he/she located?
Step 3: Define the critical success factors
Make it measurable. Please. No matter how small. Are you aiming for thought leadership? Measure the number of shares on social media, how long people spend reading, number of new followers on your social business pages, the number of new subscribers... Are you aiming for leads? Try to persuade people to complete contact forms or applications on your website.
Step 4: Decide how to structure your content
Try to put yourself in the position of someone receiving the magazine and make sure you use an uncluttered editorial formula. Which subjects? Tips & tricks? Case study, product or service page? Which editorial format? An interview? Q&A? A long read? Video and/or infographic? If you will be publishing on a regular basis, you’ll be able to see which types of content and formats work best over several publications. You can also keep an eye on how much content to provide.
Step 5: Create your content (texts, images and videos)
Halfway through, because there's more. Maybe you can find input from within your organization. You could interview clients or colleagues yourself. Can you reuse existing content (blogs, case studies, landing pages)? Are there existing articles that you could purchase, for example from ANP or journals? Or are you going to outsource the content creation to a copywriter? And how about images and videos? Are you going to produce your own photographic material or use stock photos?
Step 6: Start designing your publication
First, gather together all the elements of your corporate identity, such as fonts, logos and web colors. Then define the templates that you want to hang the content on. It pays to spend some time on this, because in future editions you can simply hang the content on your existing templates. Don’t have the skills in-house to work on this step? Don’t panic. We’ll be happy to provide support, or put you in touch with one of our partners.
Step 7: Check, check, check and double check
Even though you are using tried and tested responsive templates, it is important to try out your publication on a range of devices. Does the headline banner accidentally obscure somebody’s face when the page is displayed on a mobile device? Have you entered the Google analytics code correctly? Is your domain linked properly and do the links point to the right pages?
Step 8 (optional): Do an A/B test or a soft launch
The beauty of online publishing is that it is very easy to test your assumptions and try out different formats. You can do this using different templates, content formats and sequences of items. But you can also do it with simpler things like a contact form: does it work better if it appears automatically in a pop-up, or if you put it on a page of its own?
Step 9: Spread the word
Almost last but certainly not least – make sure that you have a good distribution strategy. The publication will only come to life once you have started distributing it. You can create the best content in the world, but that’s not worth anything if nobody reads it. Getting your publication to the right people is hard work. So create a comprehensive e-mail distribution list, collect followers on social media, place the magazine on your website and add it to your e-mail signature. You can also generate traffic using text or display ads on relevant networks and search engines. And don’t forget to share individual pages and to resend your e-mail to anyone who hasn’t opened the first one yet.
Do you want to extend the 'engagement' with your visitors? Place a re-marketing pixel in your publications, so that you can contact your visitors again easily.
Step 10: Analyze and apply lessons learnt
The beauty of digital is that you can measure whether you really have reached your target audience or not. And whether your content is relevant. Based on the success factors that you specified in Step 3, you evaluate whether your publication is succeeding. Keep an eye on exit rates, scroll depths and outbound clicks. Are your videos being viewed? Are people sharing your content? How much time are people spending on a page? Remember that people read about 250 words per page.
I hope that this plan has given you some ideas and useful advice, and motivated you to get started. If you have any questions, or if you would like to exchange thoughts with one of our specialists, please feel free to email me at email@example.com.
Daan Reijnders is the co-founder and CEO of Foleon, a content management platform that amassed 1000+ clients all over the world in under 3 years. He's a digital marketing veteran with years of experience in managing both SaaS companies and creative agencies.
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