Every business owner knows the essential role content plays in digital marketing. But scaling that content to support business growth can be a complicated, and sometimes overwhelming, endeavor. That’s where content operations comes in. This set of tools and approaches helps you to envision your content creation not as a series of discrete tasks, but rather, a structured and efficient process that can produce measurable results.
What Is Content Operations and Why Is It Important?
Content operations is the lifeblood of your content creation process. Collectively, it’s the administrative roadmap that ensures that you produce your content on a timeline with a set objective. That way, you can make sure your content contributes to your overall digital marketing strategy.
Elements Involved in Content Ops
Content ops is about how people, processes, and resources contribute to the execution of your content strategy. Efficient content production requires these elements to work together seamlessly and on a continuing basis.
People: Teams’ Roles and Responsibilities
Content management involves team members with discrete roles and responsibilities. However, they work collaboratively to execute a single goal: data-driven, quality content that creates results. Your content operations strategy team includes people working in:
- Content creation
- Data analysis
These individuals, including writers, designers, public relations specialists, data researchers, SEO specialists, and financial analysts, all contribute to the overall map of your content creation process. They each have a key role to play, no matter where they fall on the content marketing organizational structure.
Processes: Content Creation Workflow
Your content governance involves putting into motion a precise sequence of events. Ultimately, these events will lead to the development of a content ecosystem your business can rely upon for effective digital marketing return on investment.
Here's an example of the task management workflow you might create to develop content assets:
- Step 1: Research. This includes understanding customer pain points and SEO analysis of keywords and topics that can address those pain points to improve the customer experience.
- Step 2: Sales and marketing input. Your sales and marketing teams can work to discuss content that might address those pain points, including what platforms and content types are crucial for your target demographics.
- Step 3: SEO and content plan creation. Your content strategists can work to develop a content plan including briefs to ensure SEO optimization.
- Step 4: Content development. Your in-house or outsourced content specialist creates quality content to distribute according to your digital strategy.
After you've put this strategy into place, you can also evaluate whether the content strategy is meeting your digital marketing goals. High-quality content is not always the same as effective content, so your team should use analytics to measure content performance.
Resources: Tools and Collaborations
Your marketing team can't function without the right technology, and that’s even more important when you're working with an outside content marketer on your blog posts and other types of content. Examples of the content operations tools you might use are:
- Collaboration platforms where marketing teams can communicate and share ideas
- Task management solutions so content operations managers can ensure everyone is on time and on task
- Data analysis tools to help SEO content writing teams choose topics and align strategies for each piece of content
- Publishing platforms where content writers can deliver the final product
How To Optimize Your Content Lifecycle Management
With the basic elements of content operations in place, think about specific tasks to streamline and optimize the lifecycle management of your business content. Collectively, these tasks draw on the skill sets of everyone on your team, from content operations specialists to marketing experts.
Define Your Business and Content Goals
The first step of content operations optimization is identifying the “why.” Your business and content goals are the starting point for everything that flows afterward. Your goals might be to increase ranking on Google search engine result pages, or SERPs, provide in-depth product and industry information for mid-funnel clientele, or drive brand awareness. You might also want to achieve all of these goals but need different types of content to drive each one.
Identify Your Target Audience and Their Interests
Your target audience might be synonymous with your target customer. But what characterizes that person? Your marketing team likely has a few customer personas that identify key attributes of the individuals you envision buying your product.
Knowing those details can help you decide what type of content to produce. Your target audience has particular pain points you want to address. They also consume content in a specific way and are engaged by different topics and types of content. Your content development varies drastically if you're writing an in-depth piece of text for your website versus filming marketing videos for TikTok.
Map Out Your Funnel Stages and Audit Your Content
The sales funnel is also known as the customer journey. It outlines the stages a customer goes through before conversion, or buying your product. The stages are:
Examples of discovery content are explainer videos and overview content that give people still learning about your product a starting place. Awareness stage content starts to address pain points and trends, as you build up to the consideration stage, which matches your product to the needs of customers. At the decision stage, you offer evidence and validation encouraging the customer to choose your product. Testimonials and webinars are important here.
Take an inventory of your existing content to see which stages it fits into. Assuming your current content is up to date and still relevant, you might still have gaps you aren’t aware of.
Perhaps you have a lot of content for the discovery and awareness stages, but don't have much that supports your goals of further engaging interested leads. That's why it's important to review where your content is at and whether you need to make changes or additions.
Organize Your Topics in a Customer Journey Map
Next, you'll think about your topic ideas and how to produce specific content to attract potential customers at each one of the funnel stages. As you begin to plan your content strategy, consider what you will offer to customers at each stage of the buying journey.
Use RACI To Organize Your Content Operations Team
Responsible, accountable, consulted, informed (RACI) is a way to map the tasks and responsibilities of each member of your content operations team. Depending on the task, a team member might have any one of these roles:
- Responsible: The team member does the work of the task.
- Accountable: The team member delegates the work of the task and is the last to review it.
- Consulted: The team member provides input on the task or on the deliverable specific to their own work or area of responsibility.
- Informed: The team member stays in the loop about the progress of the task.
By using RACI, each member of your content operations team can see the role each person or team plays in a task in the content creation process.
Take the following example of a company creating a webinar. Using RACI, the teams and departments each have an assigned role. The person responsible might be the marketing team members who take action to develop the campaign. The chief marketing officer is then accountable as they oversee the campaign's progress. Product and content managers can continuously consult with the other involved team members, offering advice for strategy and improvement. Lastly, the sales team stays informed about the campaign so they can use its results for conversions and intake.
If you want a deeper dive into how to use RACI effectively, checkout our on-demand webinar, "Balancing Creativity and Efficiency: Optimizing Your Content Operations to Drive Results".
Collaborate Effectively and Include the Right Tools
As the RACI matrix demonstrates, every member of the content operations management structure has a defined role. Some tasks and objectives require daily involvement, while others only need mere check-ins or arms-length oversight. Fundamentally, your content operations team needs to use the right tools to help support collaboration, both between individual team members and across departments.
Choose technology that is easy to access, use, and maintain, while still giving everyone the tools they need to succeed. Some tools are critical for all team members, like task management and scheduling platforms, while others are department-specific. While designers might require tools like Adobe Photoshop and Canva, writers can use Google Docs or WordPress. Data teams might need Google Analytics and other robust data collection and visualization tools.
Communicate frequently with your team members so you know what resources they prefer to use — and which ones are more trouble than they are worth.
Approach SEO by Focusing on Providing the Best Answer First
Search engine optimization (SEO) is an essential companion to content creation. It helps you decide on topics to prioritize, and it’s critical to making content visible to your audience. Once you know what your target audience is looking for online, SEO gives you a framework for how to provide relevant answers in your content.
But these days, when every business is investing heavily in digital marketing and content creation, simply giving an answer isn’t enough. Each content piece should provide a useful answer, and it should be the best answer to a particular question.
Google ranks search engine results in part using a formula called E-E-A-T: Expertise, Experience, Authority, Trustworthiness. With a robust content operations management strategy, you should aim to elevate your E-E-A-T overall by increasing your reputation as a go-to site for information on your particular industry.
Measure Your Results Through Content Analytics
There's no point to your content operations strategy if it doesn’t produce results. There are a few ways to measure your results, all connected to your data analytics. The numbers tell you whether you are reaching your target audience, increasing your conversions and click-throughs, and improving your SERP ranking.
Leverage Quantifiable Data and KPIs
Data is in abundance. You’ll have no problem finding numbers to attach to your new content. But how do you interpret those numbers? It’s essential to use quantifiable data that you can connect to a particular business goal. You can think of these as SMART marketing goals for your content.
There is a virtual laundry list of marketing KPIs (key performance indicators) that offer insight into the success of your current strategy. By reviewing them after you’ve had some time to give your new strategy a try, you can assess whether you need to stay the course or make changes.
Do Not Neglect Zero and First-Party Data
To many digital marketers, third-party data and cookies are fundamental to data analysis. But with increased privacy concerns and the capacity of consumers to turn off cookies, it’s become ever more important for marketers to focus on other sources of data.
Zero-party and first-party data both come directly from consumers. Zero-party data includes information you get from surveys and direct feedback. When you ask a customer, “How would you rate this product?” and they give it 4 stars out of 5, that’s zero-party data. First-party data, on the other hand, is information about your customers' activity on your site. For instance, it shows how they got to your site, how much time they spend on a page, and where they go when they leave.
Conduct Post Mortems
There’s a relatively new idea in digital content that can support your online strategy: agile marketing. In essence, it means you’re willing to adopt a new strategy or make tweaks when something isn’t working. In the rapidly evolving world of online content, agile marketing seems like a no-brainer. After you conduct a post mortem on your marketing activities, assess whether you need to repeat the same process or make changes. Making changes involves responding to less-than-optimal results or adjusting to a changing online marketing landscape.
Learn How Experts Drive Results by Optimizing Content Ops
Content operations optimization is a new but vital aspect of content creation. To learn more about the topic, watch our webinar on content operations, featuring seasoned content marketer and strategist, Amy Higgins.