What are the steps to continuous content marketing improvement?

How to continuously improve your content with Deming lessons

Who was Deming?

W. Edwards Deming was an American engineer, statistician, professor, author, and a management consultant. He transformed Japanese manufacturing after World War II after American manufacturers thought his ideas were a little weird. Too weird to take seriously.

Having said that, I’m old enough to remember when Japanese manufactured products were a joke. When I was 7 or 8 years old (1966 or 1967) my mother owned a small Japanese car. One night while going up a somewhat steep hill, the clutch gave out. My step father was driving at the time and joked it was the Japanese getting back at us for winning the war. I didn’t get the joke but I remember my mother thought it was funny.

Just 7 or 8 years later (1972 or 1973) my father was very impressed with these new little cars made by a Japanese company named Honda. They were very small, had 4 cylinder engines, and for a variety of reasons (one being their low cost) REALLY impressed him. Then 4 years later when I bought my first car, I put very little thought into it and bought a 4 cylinder Honda Civic. It was so reliable and so dependable, I bought Honda’s (and later Accords) for the next 25 years.

How did Japan go from their manufacturing being a joke, to their manufacturing being the envy of the world in less than 10 years?

They listened to W. Edwards Deming.

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What is Kaizen?

One of the important concepts he taught was “continuous improvement”. This is often called Kaizen.

The Wikipedia entry on Kaizen states that a literal translation is “improvement for the better” with no focus on “continuous” or “philosophy”, but…. in spite of that literal translation, the word kaizen is used in the context of “continuous improvement”.

The idea is that little incremental improvements every day lead to significant improvements over fairly short periods of times.

How does this apply to Content Marketing?

This article really applies to businesses with an in house Content Marketing function, rather than SEO agencies (at least I would hope so).

When you start anything, you kind of suck at it. And the more you do it, the better you get at it.

If you go way back, this was true when you first learned to walk and when you first learned to ride a bike. It’s true of every new skill we learn.

To get more specific I need to acknowledge there are two sides to content marketing, and while the basic ideas of continuous improvement apply to both, the specific skills are different, so they’re discussed differently below.

The two sides are (not surprisingly): 1) Content, and 2) Marketing.

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Content

Aspiring writers would visit Ernest Hemmingway for advice on how to learn to write well. Some of his advice was to “just sit down and write.

This applies to Content Marketing. You write, you publish, you write and publish more. With practice, you get better at all of it. After a few months, you’ve gotten pretty good.

Marketing

The “marketing” part of Content Marketing is where you overlay your marketing intention onto your publishing practices.

You figure out what you think your sales funnel is (and your sales funnel should be the reverse of what is called The Buyers Journey, which is the set of decisions people go through in the course or becoming your customer). Then you implement it with appropriate content pages and well placed Calls to Action.

But do you get it right the first time? Not likely. But with practice, you get better over time. Continuous improvement.

Continuous Content Marketing Improvement

We who live in the age of the Internet have one huge advantage over writers of the 20th century, and that is we have website analytics which gives incredibly detailed feedback on what is generating interest and what is not, and what calls to action are more effective and which are least.

With analytics (and the free version of Google Analytics is fine for almost everyone) you can determine what content generates the most interest, and the conversion rate at every step of your sales funnel. You can then use Google Analytics Experiments to perform what is called A/B testing of different content pages.

Through this process, you gradually improve not only your writing but also your conversions, over time.

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In Closing

Business sometimes wants to publish content that is “perfect” or at least as good as it can be. This causes them to delay starting.

This is a mistake.

The old saying about the best time to plant a tree applies to content marketing.

The best time to start was 20 years ago, and the 2nd best time to start is now.

I know you’re worried about quality, so this is what you do…..

  1. Publish content to your website and DO NOT promote it.
  2. Keep publishing stuff until stuff gets published that you’re truly proud of.
  3. Promote that stuff.
  4. Then go back and rewrite the original stuff.

This serves various purposes:

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