5 Tips for Helping to Design and Build Content Production Workflows

One of the most annoying/difficult/frustrating (pick your own word) things about being a modern marketer is the constant pressure to produce fresh content that supports all of your organization’s needs.  According to the Content Marketing Institute, most marketers acknowledge that their content marketing efforts are kind of ‘meh’ when it comes to success, with only 39% of marketers thinking that their organizations are beyond the “adolescent” stage of content marketing maturity.

So, if you’re thinking about using workflow technology to mature your content marketing efforts, here are five tips to help you design your own content production workflows:

Tip #1: Collect the operations questions you get asked and what answers you want to provide

This seems obvious of course but lots of people forget this step! Talk to your teammates and colleagues to create a list of common questions you get asked. This simple step will help you design effective workflows and easily create the data for a dashboard. This is also a good opportunity to ensure that your higher-ups understand that these are the right questions to answer with a workflow to avoid chasing vanity metrics and instead supply the insights they need to make critical decisions.We recommend you focus on these three metrics to help you become more agile and effective in your content delivery:

  1. Efficiency: how many deliverables per resource
  2. Cycle Time: how long does it take to deliver a type of deliverable
  3. Throughput: how much are you delivering of a type of deliverable

Tip #2: Align internally on the depth of automation 

The biggest question we get from new users is whether it’s right to try and automate every aspect in the production process versus automating at higher level views of each step. You could automate everything, of course, but it’s important to balance automation with the human element of content production. If you try to track everything, like time spent, every step in a checklist, or every correspondence, most workers will rebel against such strict and over-the-top management. In fact, overengineering a solution is the primary reason for the ‘graveyard of process software’.So, unless you have a significant business reason (compliance, contract workers, etc.), we suggest you focus first on getting the flow of work correct, encouraging initial adoption, and then rolling out more advanced capabilities that yield more granular process data

Tip #3: Involve all content stakeholders, not just marketing

Most people immediately think content production workflows are just a marketing problem. But the reality for most businesses is that content is not just a marketing thing. It’s a company-wide initiative with subject matter experts and approvers living in multiple departments.  So if you’re buying a tool just to make it easier for marketing to do their individual job in the process, let me warn you now: best of breed tools have their place in small implementations, but as you expand, things like adoption, satisfaction, and overall ROI break apart quickly because of the tremendous overlap and duplicate entry those tools require.

A better way is to consider all stakeholders in the process and align everyone on a single solution or, at minimum, a fully supported integration of suites to minimize duplicate work. If you’re the business owner of a content production workflow, consider reaching out to your IT colleagues to make sure you get your integration strategy right. If you’re the IT buyer, confirm you fully understand the business use case so that you can best advise the way forward.

Tip #4: Connect into a standard request approval process

An easy win for content production workflow automation is to connect everything into a standard request portal. Most organizations have several portals which together cause confusion and massive inefficiencies. A client of ours reported that they had over 70 different ways to make a request!

Create dynamic forms that sends your users to a single location, but then have the right form for every  possible request type. If you’re using something like Aprimo AI, you can even create certain variables that allow you to rush projects or expand/contract a project depending on scope, so that no content requestor can go outside the approved process!

Tip #5: Build in content data automation

If you’re creating content to be used alongside customer data, it’s critical that you have deep content data to help you personalize as many experiences as possible. However, only a portion of content data can be automated by artificial intelligence, and that’s the content that’s visible to the naked eye. Content has a lot of non-visual elements to it, like campaign data, digital rights information, and contextual information about the content, all of which can be enriched by specifically-configured workflow automation tools. Starting with the request form and all the way through each step in the production process, modern workflow tools can attach metadata to its content for easy use in your external marketing.

Good luck with your content production efforts! If you’re considering technology to help you accomplish your goals, you’re in the right place: Aprimo Productivity Management is one of the most common tools marketers use to improve their content marketing efforts.

You can learn more about your content marketing options in a complimentary copy of The Forrester Wave™: Marketing Resource Management, Q3 2018 to get a sense of the trends in the industry and what to look for in a technology partner.

About the Author

David Schweer is a Director of Product Marketing for Aprimo focusing on solution positioning, field enablement, and managing release information for the Aprimo platform. He has held various roles in Solution Consulting, Product Marketing, and R&D for London-based SDL, plc, Teradata, and Prysm. David received his MBA from Butler University and is based in Indianapolis, IN.

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