What Is Content Operations and Why Do You Need It?

In This Guide to Content Operations, You’ll Learn:

What Is Content Operations?

Content operations is the set of processes, people, and technologies needed for strategically planning, creating, managing, and analyzing all content types for all channels across an enterprise.

It is, in essence, a framework for how an enterprise creates the content that powers their customer experiences (CX). But that’s just the beginning.

Content operations, sometimes called content ops, impacts every business unit. Marketing, sales, the C-suite, human resources, R&D are all directly affected by the content and experiences that come from a company’s content operations. Any part of the business that creates, consumes, or shares content is part of the content ops ecosystem—which is, let’s face it, nearly all of the business.

Content operations allows a brand to unite its operating model on a common set of capabilities across departments, agencies, and channels. But not enough brands take content operations as seriously as it deserves to be treated.

Content is the one thing that marketing teams produce the most of but somehow isn’t understood as a strategic function for the business as a whole. As a result, companies try to skip deploying a content operations solution and find themselves simply unable to deliver the personalized content experiences that customers everywhere have come to expect, hurting the entire brand experience.

A truly successful content operations framework lets enterprises unleash the power of content in pursuit of personalized customer experiences that result in business growth. It also speeds up content creation, management, and delivery by breaking down silos between teams that gum up every content process.

Who Needs Content Operations?

Everyone can benefit from content operations software. Any business that wants to make an empathetic, human connection with their customers needs content operations software to make it happen.

Customers demand personalized experiences. In fact, 89% of digital businesses are investing in personalized content, including Coca-Cola, Fableticks, Netflix, Sephora, USAA, and Wells Fargo, according to research by Forrester.

Having a strong content operations software solution solves fundamental challenges by empowering teams in every stage of content creation, from planning through performance analysis. Content ops helps marketing teams:

  • Optimize planning and execution
  • Maximize content creation efficiencies
  • Optimize production workflows
  • Manage content centrally, maximizing findability and usage
  • Remain on-brand and compliant
  • Gain confidence in how content contributes to the bottom line

Content has always been critical to business. Archaeologists have identified examples from as early as 35 B.C. of a fish sauce purveyor in Pompeii using product branding and content production to differentiate product types, presumably to reach customers more effectively.

The investment in building customer experiences is only expected to grow. Both businesses and customers agree that customer experience outweighs both price and product. 86% of customers would pay more for a better experience. 45.9% of business leaders report prioritizing customer experience over product (33.6%) and pricing (20.5%).

From blog posts to sales pitches, effective content is the means by which brands connect with customers. Without an optimized content operations solution in place, creating personalized content takes much more time and consumes many more resources. That’s why your content operations framework is so important.

Content Ops is Essential to the Enterprise

While every business benefits from content operations, companies in regulated industries that rely on personalized customer experiences to reach and convert customers (and who doesn’t!) simply can’t move forward without it.

In industries like financial services or insurance or life sciences, producing content offers big gains—and risks. Your content is subject to global regulations, customer perceptions, and the needs of multiple business units. The right content operations solution can give you big wins. The wrong one can cost you millions.

Content ops helps brands in regulated industries maintain customer trust and connections and, with the reliability of automated workflows, removes a substantial amount of risk from the entire digital content operations ecosystem. Content ops ensures content, even when it’s localized, always works for the business, never against it.

When the stakes are high, a strong content operations solution ensures the right content meets the right audience in the right place at the right time.

Mid-Market Needs Content Operations to Grow

Since your content operations strategy is fundamental to building and maintaining customer connections, mid-market organizations have the most to gain from content ops.

Huge, multi-national organizations usually benefit from an already established brand. Mid-market organizations are seeking to build that broader recognition by strengthening content strategy and marketing efforts.

At this level, content operations is critical to business momentum.

Content operations offers enormous returns on any opportunity—be it a new product, market, or demand shift. How? A fully stacked solution with automated workflows, smart content tagging, and cross-application integrations enables rapid production of personalized content and delivery that instantly greets customers with a resonant message.

SMBs Use Content Ops to Optimize Efficiency

Even small organizations benefit from content operations solutions because, without a doubt, content is critical to their business. With SMBs, content ops is all about efficiency. When your content teams need to produce content that actually converts, they need the right information at the right time.

This is especially true for start-ups that need to be scrappy and resource efficient by their nature. Content operations gives sorely needed reliability to  support the broader organization’s initiatives. It helps facilitate better content marketing in every channel and makes delivering personalized customer experiences that are necessary for engagement a reality.

Staffing Your Content Operations Team

The team responsible for orchestrating your organization’s content ops needs people with diverse backgrounds and skill sets—folks like content marketers, writers, designers, and strategists. While your team will largely be based around achieving specific objectives for your brand, there are three areas that all team members should understand and know how to execute on:

  1. Understand Content Marketing – To manage content horizontally and vertically across the organization, content ops teams need a keen understanding of the ins and outs of content marketing.
  2. Understand Business Strategy – While content marketing is the underpinning of content ops, teams need to understand how it fits into the company’s overall strategy and business balance sheet.
  3. Know How To Make Data-Driven Decisions – Content ops teams must be able to put their gut aside and make informed decisions based on trusted data—made possible by in-depth reporting from a powerful content operations solution.

The best content operations teams have experience creating content and who understand how the nuts and bolts of the business fit together.

Most importantly, content ops teams need to clearly understand your customers. They should also have experience managing projects from start to finish, understand the business, and have a strategic mind for creating efficiencies and driving new initiatives.

Getting Your Content Operations Strategy Right

Designing your content operations strategy takes an intimate understanding of the content operations ecosystem. You need to understand how the various elements of content operations connect both internally and externally with the enterprise’s broader operational units.

The core components of content operations include four primary capabilities.

  1. Digital Asset Management (DAM)
  2. Marketing Work Management (MWM)
  3. Strategic Planning
  4. Embedded Technologies

Together, these four components make up the basics of your content operations solution.

The larger content operations ecosystem includes these core capabilities and two additional components: the content ops techstack and your core integrations.

Content operations is, at its core, about making the best use of cutting-edge technologies. By designing an effective tech stack—with a content operations solution as the proverbial meat and potatoes of the tech stack—and implementing the right integrations and marketing automations, you lay the groundwork for delivering generative, personalized customer experiences across channels.

What Is The Content Lifecycle And Why Does It Matter To Content Operations?

Content strategists and marketers are familiar with the sequence that begins with content planning and ends with content distribution and reuse. At Aprimo, we call this process the content lifecycle. High quality content for B2C and B2B marketing follows a straightforward workflow.

  • Ideation
  • Creation
  • Strategy
  • Distribution
  • Reuse

Content operations is the framework for helping companies manage the content lifecycle from start to finish. Content ops helps you plan campaigns, design and create them, get reviews and approvals, push them live in every channel, and gather content metrics and performance data—connecting all the pieces of content creation to facilitate growth.

With content operations, you can start to optimize content marketing with content classification, taxonomy, and metadata. You can layer on processes and third-party integrations that facilitate team collaboration. You can add on the content distribution layer and the content consumption layer. You can find and pull the right content from DAM into experiences and campaigns without leaving the app, delivering the right content pieces to creatives and customers quickly.

Content operations pulls it all together.

Why Do You Need Content Operations?

The benefits of cross-organizational enterprise content operations are enormous. Content operations unites disjointed strategies, breaking down silos and bringing teams together.

Content Ops Instills Confidence

Trust between customer and brand is fundamental. And today, personalized content is the experience customers trust most.

When you use content operations you are putting the experience of the customer at the center of strategy. That’s what today’s genius brands are doing, putting experience at the intersection of content and data.

Yet the customer experience is only a facet of content operations. For marketers and creators, content operations gives you confidence that your customers are seeing the experiences that most apply to them in the channels they most use.

Content Ops Makes Your Organization More Efficient

  1. When content creators don’t need to run verification emails back and forth with Jim in legal to confirm the message is compliant with regulation.
  2. When content ideators do not operate in a vacuum outside of business value and customer demand conversations.
  3. When content operations managers have the right content in the right system for the right channel.

That’s how you maximize efficiency.

Too often, enterprise brands struggle with content. Why?

  • It takes too long to make.
  • It doesn’t hold enough business value.
  • It isn’t prioritized correctly.
  • It doesn’t provide insights.
  • It doesn’t deliver measurable ROI.
  • It isn’t even the right content.

Content operations dismantles these obstacles and maximizes performance across the enterprise. Your graphic designers and copywriters always have the approved content in hand. Your customers see what you want them to see when you want them to see it. And marketing can report on how the content performed, and make data-driven adjustments that positively impact the bottom line.

Content Operations Delivers Content Accountability

Marketing operates with a strict cost-time-volume equation. Too often, marketing lacks the insights to accurately calculate ROI. Content operations solutions remove the guesswork.

Gain content accountability with content operations and know down to the tiniest detail how content is performing across different channels. Measure your key performance indicators (KPIs). Assess your diagnostic content metrics. A powerful content operations solution gives you the ability to quickly and easily understand what’s working and what needs to change

Start to accurately answer your key marketing performance questions:

  • How well did a piece of content perform on each experience channel?
  • Which content drives the most engagement? Conversions? Subscriptions?
  • How much does it cost us to create any given piece of content?
  • How long does it take to produce any given piece of content?
  • Which content has the most value for our business?
  • What is our ROI for marketing as a whole?
  • What is the ROI for content marketing?

As mid-market and enterprise marketers, we know content is important. Gartner, Forrester, G2, IDC—nearly every report hitting the digital streets shows that content experiences are how enterprise brands differentiate themselves.

Put your own data to work to report on how the content your teams create drives business value for your enterprise using content operations.

Get Started With Content Operations

Content ops is how you scale, how you grow, and how you connect with your audience.

Sure, you could try and manage it piecemeal, but a solution Frankensteined together won’t deliver the same ROI, the same experience, or the same efficiency that a discrete content operations solution offers.

Content  impacts every business unit: Marketing, Product teams, Legal, Training, HR, eCommerce, R&D. For this simple reason, having a content operations solution in place reliably improves a wide swath of the business.

Enterprises moving into the next generation of experience marketing rely on content operations. With a content strategy informed by good data, any enterprise in any industry can build better customer connections even as channels continue to evolve.

You need a framework on which to build your content strategy, technology stack, and methodology. Content operations is that framework.

About the Author

Ed Breault leads a team of marketing strategists and thought leaders who partner with top enterprise brands to navigate complexity, disruption, transformation, and change to the modern marketing organization. During his career, Ed has significantly contributed to the marketing operations business discipline, consulting for more than 100 marketing organizations around the globe and addressing marketing challenges within all industry verticals.

More Content By ED BREAULT
Ed Breault - Chief Marketing Officer, Aprimo
 

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