Once you have a defined content strategy, you then need to implement it. That’s where content operations comes in. 

“Content operations is the behind-the-scenes work of managing content activities as effectively and efficiently as possible. Today, content operations often require scaling a system with people, process, and technology,” says Colleen Jones, Founder of Content Science 

How an organization goes about executing its content strategy is not always well defined or documented. Often, the systems and processes behind publishing and maintaining content are ad hoc.  At Content Science, we have identified five distinct levels of content maturity:

LEVELDESCRIPTION
ChaoticNo formal content operations, only ad hoc approaches
PilotingTrying content operations in certain areas, such as for a blog
ScalingExpanding formal content operations across business functions
SustainingSolidifying and optimizing content operations across
business functions
ThrivingSustaining while also innovating and seeing return on investment

In our most recent study, 30 percent of participants reported that their companies were at level 3. Just 4 percent of participants reported their companies at level 5. The majority of companies are at either level 2 (piloting) or level 3 (scaling) out of 5 maturity levels.

Organizations that report being very successful with content are more likely to be at a higher content operations maturity level.  

However, nearly 4 in 10 reported not having the tools, technology, resources, and organizational support to succeed.

Benefits of Strong Content Operations

Truly operationalizing a strategy enables organizations to maximize their content assets. Streamlining the content lifecycle creates efficiencies via repeatable processes and playbooks. It improves content quality and consistency. 

Without a strong operational base, teams may struggle with duplication of effort, ineffective content, or even greater exposure to risks as a result of outdated material or compliance breaches.

“Less effective ContentOps relies heavily on the content producer, and the quality of the training they receive. Relying on individuals and training isn’t scalable, and is fraught with human error. Effective ContentOps seeks to remove these risks by embedding content requirements and standards into the production process, enabling organisations to rapidly increase their content production and onboard new content producers in minutes, not days of training and workshops.” – GatherContent

Content Standards and Processes

Content governance dictates how content is produced, published, and managed, ensuring everything is as and where it should be. This encompasses creation workflows, templates, standards and guidelines (including but not limited to style, inclusion, and accessibility), and objectives and tools for measuring the impact of content.

57% of companies start with content, then think about how to integrate process. – AIIM 

A useful way to think about and approach content governance is to break it down into the following four steps: Define and get agreement on content ownership and roles. Design and document content workflows. Produce and document guidelines, standards, policies, procedures, and tools to operationalize content governance. Deliver appropriate training to educate and align staff on content governance. – GatherContent

Content guidelines are the foundation of your enterprise content strategy. Often documented in a content style guide, they unite all of your content contributors — no matter where they work — and help them to standardize their writing style and tone. Content guidelines keep all writers on message and speaking in your brand voice. – Acrolinx 

Content standards are the “how.” They provide frameworks for moving beyond the fuzziness that characterizes some brand promises. – Content Science Review

88% of organizations report having style and brand guidelines in place. 65% of organizations report having content governance guidelines. And 60% have a taxonomy. – Content Marketing Institute

A typical blog post should take less than a day to create, an infographic about 8 days, while an ebook might take up to 12 days to produce. – Upland Kapost

“Apply governance however you can, even if it’s starting with a file naming convention for your assets. Baby steps.” – Emily Kolvitz, Head of Content at Bynder 

“Training is a big part of our formula for managing consistent, accessible, and satisfying digital experiences across more than 80 state organizations.” — Will Alford, Director, Digital Services Georgia

Content Teams and Roles

To make content a core competency, content needs a seat at the leadership table. Managers also need to be empowered to coach their teams on content issues. And it’s essential for everyone to have clarity about defined roles and responsibilities, and to have the right capabilities to deliver.

Broadly disciplined and vastly experienced senior content leaders are still elusive finds. Today’s content leaders are required to increasingly work across — and influence — other functions. In particular, CCOs and senior content executives must partner more than ever with heads of product, technology, commercial and legal. – Spencer Stuart

The majority of content teams consist of six members or fewer. –  Content Operations Study 

The three most popular content roles at companies are content writer/creator (54%), SEO content manager (38%), and social media manager (30%). – SEMrush 

There are four emerging content roles businesses need: Content Strategist (to identify and plan content opportunities), Content Analyst (to lead analysis and evaluation), Content Designer (to develop content for specific experiences), and Content Engineer (to enable dynamic content delivery). — Content Science Review

56% of marketers lack complete visibility into other departments’ campaigns and content. Upland Kapost

“What I have found to be really helpful is to establish a center of content excellence. A hub for talking about the latest and greatest and best practices, trends, lessons learned around content, the role of technology.”Colleen Jones

“We’ve brought the teams who deliver our onboarding, adoption, and help content into the same group. Our goal, ultimately, is to align our disparate strategies and function as a single, cohesive unit.” Anneliese Wirth, Senior Content Strategist, Cisco

Content Tools and Technology

Organizations face growing demand to provide the right content to the right customers at the right time at scale. Technology can assist with efficiently adhering to guidelines and standards, maintaining a consistent voice, and automating tasks such as localizing content, to name just a few. A content operation naturally relies on various tools to support its processes. These could include tools for authoring, project and workflow management, publishing, asset management, and analytics and reporting.

The top technologies B2B organizations use for content marketing are analytics tools (83%), social media publishing/analytics (80%), email marketing software (75%), and content creation/calendaring/collaboration/workflow tools (73%). Content Marketing Institute

WordPress is the most used content management system. With over 800 million websites worldwide using it, it makes up nearly half of total market share. Meanwhile, 43.6% of websites use a custom-made CMS. There are between 1,000 and 2,000 open-source CMSs.TrueList

DAM supports the entire content process, from asset ingestion through development, publication and measurement. DAMs can also handle all forms of content (e.g., text, images, videos and audio) and support different types of users (e.g., internal marketing talent, external agency talent, and non-marketing talent from HR or customer support). Gartner

Thanks to technology, dynamic content enables information to “update itself” based on user profiles (e.g. role, age, preferences, interests), time (e.g. the current date), or new numbers in your database (e.g. number of users). Writer

22% of organizations use machine learning or AI for content work such as distribution and generation. – Content Operations Study

At this point, AI can help content creators identify highly-searched SEO keywords, generate analytics reports, manage basic social media posts, send automated emails, and adjust online ad spend to prevent you from losing money.Hubspot

“Something that can be helpful is to address content operations as part of a technology platform change or initiatives. There are a lot of content operations issues that you can tag on to an effort that seems like it’s about something else. Strategically look for the opportunity to work in improving content operations to start some good momentum.”Colleen Jones, Content Science Founder

Conclusion

Content operations isn’t just the domain of a single team. It spans an organization-wide effort that requires buy-in across teams. While aligning people, processes, and technology at scale isn’t for the faint of heart, the results are well worth it, unlocking value and potential at every step for both internal stakeholders as well as customers or users. 

The Author

Content Science partners with the world’s leading organizations to close the content gap in digital business. We bring together the complete capabilities you need to transform or scale your content approach. Through proprietary data, smart strategy, expert consulting, creative production, and one-of-a-kind products like ContentWRX and Content Science Academy, we turn insight into impact. Don’t simply compete on content. Win.

Last Updated: January 21, 2022

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