When it comes to building online visibility in the digital age, content remains the undisputed king of the marketing jungle.
It improves SEO.
It drives conversions.
It connects you with your audience and stimulates buy-in.
And yet, not all content is created equal. How you create a piece of content goes a long way in determining its ultimate impact.
With marketing teams far and wide facing mounting pressure to produce multi-channel and value-driven content at scale, it's never been more important for organizations to develop and maintain a uniform approach to content creation.
To put it simply, the days of ad hoc and piecemeal content marketing are over. In today's highly competitive business environment, your marketing team can't just throw everything at the wall and see what sticks.
You need a plan. You need a process. You need Content Operations.
Defining Content Operations
According to the experts at Kapost, the definition of Content Operations is as follows:
"A content operation is the set of processes, people, and technologies for strategically planning, producing, distributing, and analyzing content. When properly implemented, it unifies the customer experience across all departments and channels and allows marketers to focus on authentic, resonant, messaging that drives revenue and growth."
Content Operations (also known as "ContentOps") assist organizations in not only creating truly valuable content but in unifying the customer experience across all departments and organizational channels.
Although typically associated with traditional editorial and content revision workflows, Content Operations has evolved in recent years to become a robust end-to-end framework for all things content governance.
When properly designed and implemented, Content Ops empowers content teams to do what they do best:
Develop content that drives organizational growth.
Why Do You Need ContentOps?
Writing high-quality content requires a radically different skill set than managing a workflow of intricate creation procedures.
Back in the early days of content marketing, a single writer could easily handle the researching, drafting, editing, uploading, and distribution responsibilities for a single piece of content.
This was a rather reasonable set of tasks considering that most organizations were only producing one or two long-form blog posts per week.
Now, with more competition than ever to capture the attention of today's "all-digital, all the time" consumer demographics, marketing needs have changed. Organizations are desperate for a way to create high-quality content at scale.
This is no small task.
When you're always rushing to publish the next piece of content, things can get quite messy. In fact, many organizations are now suffering the consequences of having sacrificed content quality in the pursuit of content quantity.
Some of these consequences include a lack of procedural transparency, siloed creation workflows, sub-par content strategies, and ineffective content management.
And yet, there is hope.
After a year filled with enough pandemic-driven uncertainty to last a lifetime, companies are focusing on revamping their content marketing strategy in an attempt to correct course and get back to the basic pillars that make Content Operations truly shine.
The 3 Pillars of ContentOps: People, Process, and Technology
When it comes to content strategy, there is a consensus among marketers that they cannot plan, produce, or deliver content at a high-level without the effective alignment of all three of the core pillars of Content Operations.
From building a team to defining workflows to implementing a Content Operations Platform, successful content production manifests at the intersection of an organization's people, processes, and technology.
Employees execute effective Content Operations with defined roles and specific responsibilities.
Although this first pillar of Content Operations refers to the individuals who create, edit, approve and publish content, it's important to note that these roles and responsibilities are not strictly limited to an organization's broader marketing team.
In large companies, various subject matter experts curate content. These individuals work across both teams and organizational departments.
As such, the "people" portion of ContentOps refers to all stakeholders with the potential to influence an organization's marketing function.
Content Operations will depend heavily on the ability of an organization's content marketing manager to identify stakeholder communication silos before they take hold.
Without a clearly defined and unified strategy, different philosophies and work experiences can potentially contribute to the prioritization of one content strategy over another.
Effective ContentOps will align - under a single philosophical roof - all the stakeholders who have a role to play in content development.
Defining a clear process for creating content is a challenging but worthwhile endeavor.
The goal for an organization should be to provide content stakeholders with a structured set of processes for both inter-team and cross-departmental collaboration.
To effectively manage your content, your entire content team - from researchers to editors to subject matter experts - needs to be on the same page.
While not all ContentOps are created equal, an organization invested in its Content Operations maturity will look to incorporate the following procedures from the very beginning of their initiative:
- Content development and approval workflows
- Strict style governance (i.e., a style guide)
- A clearly defined content supply chain (i.e., researchers, writers, reviewers, approvers, etc.)
- A best practice framework for content storage and publication
Content Operations essentially comes down to defining and implementing a series of mandatory steps that all stakeholders must undertake when developing and managing content.
If you're wondering how your organization is doing in this respect, a simple series of questions can help you determine with relative ease if your content marketing program is on the right path.
- Do you have accessibility requirements?
- How long is your content lifecycle?
- What pieces of content do you produce(i.e., blog posts, ebooks, whitepapers, etc.)?
- How many steps are there in your content supply chain workflow?
- Who is ultimately responsible for content ownership?
If you struggle to answer any of these questions, there's a good chance that you and your organization need toreturn to the ContentOps drawing board.
And yet, there's no need to fear.
As luck would have it, our third Content Operations pillar (i.e., technology) goes a long way in helping content marketers define and align both their people and processes.
As a key facilitator of your marketing strategy, agile technology brings together the pieces necessary to develop a streamlined and strategic information workflow for creation - one that can be measured, analyzed, and optimized over time.
And while there are many technologies and content management systems to choose from, the goal should always be the unification of people and processes as they related to content.
Whether you're purchasing a single platform or taking an integration heavy "stack" approach, there are several key features and functionalities that you will want to consider.
These components will help you align any ad hoc efforts plaguing your organization as you look to implement a creation framework driven by value.
At WordAgents, whether we are developing a blog post, product description, or any other type of SEO optimized content for our writing services, our entire creation process is maintained and monitored via a stack of agile and highly configurable authoring environments.
It's time for B2B marketers to recognize that the days of word documents and spreadsheets are over. Content creation in the digital age demands an authoring environment capable of tracking and evaluating creation/editing workflows.
This should be priority #1 in terms of Content Operations technology.
A second essential technology component for modern ContentOps is some degree of marketing automation. While this may not be a single tool itself, the ultimate goal is to automate any process that is repetitive, time-consuming, or costly.
Automation will help avoid human error and save you big on time and money.
Analytics and Reporting
A content strategy is only as good as the data that drives it. Content teams need tools that can tell them how content is performing and how they should govern their approach to creation on an ongoing basis.
Over time, analytics create a valuable feedback loop that empowers all content stakeholders - from content writers to customers. As such, analytics should be one of the top business priorities for any marketing organization or team.
The 4 Benefits of ContentOps
While you are likely to expend a significant amount of time, effort, and financial resources in your quest to establish and optimize your Content Operations, there are many benefits to doing so. Here are a few that are worth taking into consideration.
Benefit #1 - Improved Content Strategy
The planning and delivery of your content operation are a whole lot easier when you are able to devise a strategy focused on your resources.
Let's take publishing a blog post as an example.
Once you know the people (i.e., the editors, the contributors, the subject matter experts, the approvers, etc.), the creation approach (i.e., long-form, short-form, style), and the technology in place to facilitate your operation, it's a whole lot easier to plan around your resources.
Content Operations connect silos and empower the people who matter most to the content process to develop and optimize realistic production and delivery expectations over time.
Benefit #2 - Streamlined Content Marketing
Another great benefit of Content Operations is that you end up producing more quality content - and faster.
Standard Content Operations elements such as style guides, templates, and development/approval workflows help teams scale in their production,as stakeholders can always return to a time-tested and repeatable process.
They also work wonders in reducing other annoying content operation headaches such as divergent writing styles and inconsistent formatting.
The best part?
Rather than starting from scratch each time you have to produce a piece of content, Content Operations will provide your team with defined roles and clear expectations at each stage of production for every piece of content in your current and future marketing pipeline.
In this way, everyone knows who is doing what and why.
Benefit #3 - Enhanced Customer Experience
A final benefit of implementing fully optimized Content Operations is that you provide value to your customers (and, in turn, your company) via a unified customer experience.
Whatever your content goals - from direct conversions to organic traffic - a great customer experience across all channels is not something you should take for granted. When companies fail to align content across departments, messaging can appear disjointed, even contradictory.
This is a common problem.
Content Operations solves this problem for your company by providing you with a content creation approach engineered to convey value. Without Content Operations, you leave your content to chance, and chance isn't a viable long-term strategy for customer satisfaction.
Content Operations - Dependable, Scalable, and Necessary
In the never-ending quest to produce high-quality content at scale, vague and fragmented workflows are a thing of the past. In 2021, marketing stakeholders must develop and maintain a uniform approach to content.
How do you implement your Content Operations? Is this something you do?
Let us know in the comments!