Content marketing. It takes a village, right? Between the writers and the graphic designers and the promoters and the SEO specialists, producing even a single content piece can be a time-consuming challenge. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Improving the content workflows of your marketing team means speed to market, giving you an advantage over your competitors and establishing authority within your industry. How do you get there? By creating smoothly transitioning teams that function in sync with each other. It’s the first step to creating accountable, successful content production systems.

Track Content Performance Across Channels

Even though many companies don’t think their content marketing strategy is working as well as it could be, those same companies often share their approach to improving it: Create more content.

So even though they have no visibility on what’s actually working in their current plan, they endeavor to “keep doing more,” willing their content to perform instead of using data-backed decisions.

Instead of burying your head in the sand, use your content marketing failures or disappointments to inform your overall strategy. Start by taking a pulse on what content, exactly, has gotten you measurable traction—leads, backlinks, website conversions, etc.

Was it an infographic? A webinar? Or was it whitepaper downloads and blog posts? If your podcasts get zero social lift, while your blog covering the same topics generated 15 leads, why waste your time creating more podcasts?

Create Streamlined Workflow to Facilitate Teamwork & Reduce Friction

It’s essential to remove points of friction to keep your team running efficiently. That may seem obvious or simple, but so many teams have still not mastered workflow. There are many reasons for this, whether they are your team’s lack of knowledge, lack of visibility, or lack of dedicated work. No matter the situation, facilitating teamwork can be easy with the right tools.

In a world where marketing must be up-to-the-minute, waiting for approvals can mean losing out on major opportunities. Platforms that integrate email systems can show exactly how many times an influencer, prospect, or journalist has been touched, with all communications in one clearinghouse.

This kind of system provides complete transparency, so long as you have an established process and chain of command when it comes to getting your content written, produced and promoted. When organizing multiple people across multiple tasks, removing excuses becomes the easiest way to prevent content from getting stuck in the quagmire of the approval process.

Measure Content Engagement With Your Influencers

How many likes does your company have on Facebook? What if I told you that that number doesn’t matter, whether it’s 500 or 50,000?

Of course these numbers matter, but blasting the same self-promotional content to an already-engaged audience won’t do you much good at getting in front of new audiences. Passive social stats like retweets or likes are simply vanity metrics—they give you no insights into how those stats moved the needle on your bottom line.

Now think of how you could improve your content marketing with actionable data. Instead of measuring numbers like favorites, find out exactly how your content was shared and where it generated conversations by determining the metrics that tell the whole story of your content.

Marketing software like Audienti delivers marketing strategies based on your audience segments and how they behave throughout the funnel. Someone familiarizing themselves with your brand for the first time will obviously want different content than repeat customers, so it’s important to deliver the right message to the right people at the right time.

By identifying personas within your audience, you can automate much of your lead generation, nurture process and influencer identification. All that’s left is for you to be the creative genius you always wanted to be but never had the time to become because of administrative and research tasks.

Use Real-Time Communication to Remove Confusion

Consider each content piece that moves through your production system as a mini-project. Information related to this project may include references, quotes, ideas, options, graphics, status notes and more. They may be spread across many emails, shared drives, document clouds and social media sites. It can be confusing as what is where or which email attachment is the most current version.

What if you created an online project page where you can keep all information related to the project together? A Trello card or a Google Doc are great options to try, but if logging in to an account is too cumbersome for everyone, use a tool like Teamup Calendar.

In addition to not requiring any login, Teamup provides easy access to any individual calendar event as a stand-alone web page with a unique web URL. You can publish directly to the page, upload files as attachments, display inline images, or simply link to the original sources. All your updates stay on one page that is accessible to your team in real-time so that you do not need to email back and forth.

Manage an Organized, Updated Schedule to Keep Content Production Running Smoothly

A well-structured editorial calendar turns content marketing strategy into actionable implementation plans. There are many tools and countless Excel templates that are helpful for setting up editorial calendars.

But content planning does not stop at creating an editorial calendar. It is an ongoing process. Does your editorial calendar have enough space for all the details as you execute each of your mini-project plans? How much time do you spend updating your Excel sheet and communicating changes among your team?

Consider using an online calendar to simplify the process. Online calendars offer endlessly expandable space and anchor points for adding details to your content schedule. They’re especially handy if you need to break down a mini-project into multiple tasks or workflow stages.

Changing a scheduled post or re-assigning a topic to a different author is as easy as holding the mouse to drag-and-drop the event. Keeping track of important industry events or holidays in a color-coded sub-calendar can be very helpful as well. The result is a constantly updated schedule that’s instantly accessible to everyone at any time with the appropriate access permissions.

Building an efficient content marketing operation sets the foundation for content marketing success. Focusing on the aspects of your performance that matter the most will keep the big picture clear and ensure resources are used wisely. Though not a quick or easy process, these measures to streamline workflow and enable real-time communication can help achieve the transparency and accountability on your content marketing team that you desire.

This article was co-authored by Quin Woodward Pu & Jenny Zhan