“Yay!” nobody ever said when thinking about significant changes. However, we advise making significant changes when we say marketers should focus on content operations rather than just content marketing.
Content Operations is the overall view of all content-related content in your company, from content strategy to content creation to content governance, measurement of content effectiveness and content management.
We often hear that content operations are not required – that everything works fine without them. But it won’t.
Without content operations there is content chaos. And you will suffer enormous opportunity costs.
The financial return on content messaging harmonization in your company can be enormous. So here are 10 steps to getting content operations to mature.
Step 1: State the purpose of your content team
Your team’s purpose may be to deliver content to in-house industry teams such as sales, marketing, and corporate communications. Maybe it’s because of delivering content to external customers. Regardless of the purpose, it must support your business goals. If you haven’t already aligned your strategy and roadmap with your business goals, do so before following these steps.
Step 2: define your content mission
Is your content’s mission to attract new employees, build branding, and deepen relationships with customers? And do you have a buy-in from the organization – especially from the C-Suite?
Can you speak clearly about your mission? Have you created a unique voting or value proposition that every business should have?
All of these questions need to be answered if you are to consolidate your content mission.
Step 3: measure, measure, measure
Content resources are called assets for one reason: they have real value and they add to the profitability of your business. Accordingly, you need to measure its effectiveness.
There are three measurement levels:
- Gates are quantifiable goals for the content effort, regardless of whether the market share increases by 10% or the turnover increases by 25%. Goals are where the money is.
- Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) Inform your progress towards your goals; They tell you if the needle is moving in the right direction. Are you seeing a growing number of visitors to your website? Fewer abandoned shopping carts in your online shop?
- Metrics are the hard numbers that you will use to determine KPI trends. The number of “likes”, “follow”, “shared content” and “traffic” are all metrics.
Step 4: choose your approach
Your approach is how you organize your team and how it fits into the larger organization. We identified three different approaches to content operations:
- The Rebel approach is intended for people with an entrepreneurial startup mentality and is usually found in companies with individual departments, products and regions. If you are a rebel, you are agile and work autonomously in smaller groups. This works well when you have multiple marks with no overlap.
The downsides include the lack of shared best practices and resources. Content, people, expertise, technology – there is a lot of costly duplication.
- The Competence Center (COE) is a central team that operates outside of the business areas and yet exercises control over all content company-wide. This approach focuses heavily on editorial news with clear roles and responsibilities. You are required to achieve excellent brand compliance and voice consistency.
However, scaling is difficult. If the COE is not performed efficiently, it can become another silo or roadblock.
- ONE Hybrid approach is the best of both worlds. You create an integrated network of content operations experts that spans the entire company. These professionals are embedded in the business areas. You create and manage content tailored to the specific needs of your business, but use a single COE for general content needs, guidance on content messaging and standards, and collaboration on integrated content that is customized at the industry level.
Step 5: Perform a skills audit
Evaluate what resources are available to you. That mostly means your people. What are their skills? Do these skills suit your needs?
It sounds simple and straightforward, but doing an audit can be really insightful. Because you’re not just asking people what they do, but what they can do. You will find hidden treasures: great speakers who have never used their skills for the good of the company, and creative people who no one knew about.
During your audit, be aware of the gaps in your competence portfolio and then plan to close them.
Step 6: organize your content operations team
After you have determined which approach you will take (Rebel, COE or Hybrid) and the skills you will need, arrange your content operations team. What will the structure look like? Who will report to whom?
Here is an example of an org chart we developed for a Fortune 50 company.
Step 7: train your team
Setting up a content operation can’t be done in a vacuum: it’s a journey and you need to take your team with you.
The training should cover three areas: your content strategy, the impact of that strategy on customer experience, and data to optimize content effectiveness. And training is an ongoing process, not a one-time thing.
Step 8: Introduce formal governance
Governance ensures that your content organization adheres to the agreed goals and standards. And governance can be sexy! Seriously. We saw magic happen.
First, let a management attorney – ideally someone from the C-suite – guide you through building your governance structure. This is the only way to get recognition – and budget.
Then create an editorial team. It should include a representation of all the functional groups in the company using content, each of which gives you both input and overview.
The Content Operations team does its part to ensure that the content guidelines are followed and that the quality remains high. You will set up processes at strategic points in the content workflow to examine the content for tone, messaging, and overall alignment with your business goals.
There is a tendency to focus on getting the content out and saying that you will find out the governance later. However, the companies investing in governance structures are having real impact – for example, double-digit growth in content effectiveness. Companies gain in efficiency and effectiveness. You keep stop creating the same content. Quality increases. Budgets rise.
Step 9: Create efficient processes and workflows
We recommend that you get an overview of all content-related processes. How is content generated from start to finish? You might find 27 ways to do this. However, your goal is to create 70% or more of your content – whether it’s an infographic, advertisement, or a speech for the CEO – the same way.
As you reuse content, see the big picture – not just what is needed now, but what you will need later. When interviewing subject matter experts (SMEs), ask questions about all future topics. That way, your SMEs won’t get tired.
Step 10: provide the right technology
Technology doesn’t have to be fancy. An Excel spreadsheet is one of the most important tools that you can use. The aim is to make your life easier and simpler.
How many tools do you use? Many companies grow through acquisition and therefore inherit duplicate components in their content stacks. You may have two or three content management systems (CMS) and multiple marketing automation platforms. See where you can streamline.
Identify how you can automate. For example, if you have a campaign that you run every first Monday of the month, provide technology that can automate that process.
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Introducing a robust framework for content operations requires both cultural and organizational changes. It requires sponsorship from the top of the organization and adherence to corporate goals at all levels of the organization. None of this is easy. But the payoff is more than worth it.