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Content has never been more important— but good content is hard

Content has never been more important— but good content is hard

Content has never been more important— but good content is hard

Content has never been more important— but good content is hard

Angus Edwardson

Co-Founder and VP of Product, GatherContent
Content has been working its way up many lists of priorities long before the pandemic. The 'changes' we’ve all been experiencing in the way we work have just accelerated this; further amplifying the urgency and importance of content.

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The idea of "content marketing" has become, for a lot of people, just “marketing”. The idea that a government, or any public institution, could have services that were not available online, is rapidly becoming an accessibility issue. These services require a lot of people to create large amounts of content.

For business and enterprise, good quality content is essential if they are to compete. In effect, if an organisation fails to create this 'good quality content', Google will quickly make them non-existent, regulatory risks open up, user needs go unmet, and related business objectives fail. All of these things will stunt growth opportunities.

‘Good content’ is a very clear competitive advantage.

And when you add to the mix how the world is adapting to the way we work —from small business to enterprise— our reliance on ‘good content’ is growing exponentially. 

I think we can agree: 

Having ‘good content’ is important;  content that truly connects you with the customers, buyers, communities and users you serve, and perhaps more importantly: 

—it connects you to the outcomes you are looking for.

But creating ‘good content’ is hard

Even writing a simple point of view in an article like this one can be difficult.

So what about the multiple teams of people... responsible for creating large volumes of high-stakes content... in complex business environments... that need to be published to an increasing number of channels and customer touch points— using a mish-mash of different tools and technologies?

Makes you lose your breath, doesn’t it?

Think about these stats for a moment— at the time of writing this: 

  1. The internet is now doubling in size every two years, resulting in 50-fold growth of content and data [¹]
  2. The average university maintains over 100,000~ web pages [¹]
  3. Over 20,000 websites(!!) exist for only 183 enterprises [¹]
  4. GatherContent customers created 90,000+ new content items in the last 60 days
  5. Around 4 million blogs get published every day. The average blog post is 1,269 words, up 57% since 2014 [¹]

 

 That’s a lot of content— then consider that content is:

  • increasingly critical to an organization's goals— be that growth, or serving other customer needs
  • high-stakes, possibly regulated, and needs mitigate any relevant legal risk
  • passed through increasingly complex content workflows and operational environments— more people, more standards and more approval stages required before publishing, more updates, more, more, more.

It’s 2021, and the expectations of content, and the people responsible for it are high. Very high.

It’s critical to successful digital transformation.

Writing this article suddenly seems quite straightforward...

Need to know: The GatherContent platform brings clarity to complex content workflows. See how you can increase productivity, improve content quality, and support content compliance.

And what even is 'good content'?

A bit like the process of looking for a house— what seems on the surface to be an obvious set of requirements quickly reveals itself to be fairly complex and demanding. 

Requirements for content are intense.

We hear a lot of sweeping statements, many of which are true for a large proportion of us:

  • Content must be optimised for SEO
  • Content must be 'on brand' and/or adhere to a style and quality guidelines
  • Content must be structured (for a lot of 'channels' at least)
  • Content must be legally compliant
  • Content must be legally accessible
  • Content must meet user needs
  • Content must generate business outcomes
  • Content must deliver measurable results
  • Content must be available in multiple languages
  • Content must be published quickly
  • Content must be scaled up ("we need to produce more content")

I'm sure we could further elaborate on this list, but I think we all get the idea that ‘good content’ is anything but simple.

"Good content means you’ve spent more time getting it right than the audience spends reading it."
Sarah Winters
Founder, Content Design London

💡 See also: The essential guide to Content Creation: Practical advice to help you create effective content

Need to know: The GatherContent platform enables your content team and stakeholders to scale the creation of effective content. Everyone aligns around a single content hub, content workflow, and guidelines using structured templates.

Intentional content workflow makes life less hard

There is clearly a need for dedicated roles and technologies that can facilitate content collaboration, production and approval across an organisation.

When the usage of technology increased for most companies, we saw a move away from generalist "webmaster" or "website manager" roles, to more sophisticated roles and processes. 

CTOs became more common in large enterprises, and DevOps became a widely adopted way to talk about this new approach to technology and infrastructure. More importantly, we developed ways to ensure the technology worked for us, was reliable, and delivered value. Technology quickly became a business asset.

I think you know where this may be going...

Smart organisations are investing in content 

We are now entering an era where content is truly being realised as a business asset, and with that move, we’re seeing huge shifts in investment— the people, the processes and technology— everything required to make sure content, too, is delivering value.

Here are just a few interesting ways we’ve seen this manifesting:

  • Over 1,300 Content Strategy, Content Design, and Content Management roles went live on one content strategy jobs site last quarter 
  • 60% of marketing leaders predict a rise in MarTech investment for 2021 [¹]
  • “Dedicated content studios and ‘factories’ rapidly becoming a necessity in the enterprise”— Alice Deer, CEO GatherContent
  • Content Creation and Marketing Operations share 20%+ of allocated marketing budget in 2021 [¹]
  • ​​MarTech still dominates the CMO’s 2021 budget; taking 26.7% of the year’s total allocation [¹]
  • More and more organisations with complex content workflow needs are chronicling their digital transformation efforts [¹] [²] [³] [] []

What is Content Operations?
Content operations (also known as ContentOps) is the combination of people, process and technology that are required to produce, distribute and maintain effective content in an organisation.

Three core components to consider for successful content operations

Building on the points above— to support effective organisation-wide content operations we should consider three core components:

Content operations (aka ContentOps) venn diagram of people, process and technology as core components with GatherContent logo at the centre
GatherContent is tech that brings together people and process. The platform helps you create better content and take it to market faster.


People: Building teams with the right specialists

Defining stakeholders, roles and permissions for broad collaboration, implementing training programmes, establishing approval processes and governance responsibilities. As a starting point.

Process: How good content manifests 

Production workflows, policy, style guides, content design principles, audit trails, measurement and reporting. As a starting point.

Technology: Delivering good content to the end user

A stack of well integrated tools for creating, publishing and measuring the impact of content. Scheduling, personalisation, automation. As a starting point.

Colleen Jones, CEO of Content Science, and former Head of Content at MailChimp says:

"If a company does not elevate content to a cohesive core competency, then the company is likely to suffer problems that make content ineffective and that make its operations inefficient at scale."
Colleen Jones
Founder + President, Content Science

So, how do you match up?

Colleen even went as far to create a great "Content Operations Maturity Model", where you can see how your organisation is performing. More importantly, this can help you prioritise where to get started in improving.

Interesting to note: Christopher Echols, Director of Digital Communications lead the University of Tennessee from crisis communications to complete content operations transformation with GatherContent.

Content isn’t a side hustle: Content is a product 

It seems that the organisations that are adapting to the digital shifts most effectively— especially in response to the pandemic— have a different way of viewing content.

"Content is not King. Content is a product."
Noz Urbina
Founder, OmnichannelX

These organisations don't see content as a side-hustle, and they don't have a few isolated people pushing for the importance of content, screaming "content is King!", hoping someone will listen. They have truly embraced it as a part of their way of working, and above all else, they understand that content is a product.

Deep focus on content— good content, and the way it is manifested is a surefire way to better your chances of succeeding in whatever market you serve.

Establishing and investing in the way your organisation navigates content workflow seems like the most sensible way forward in giving your organisation the good content it needs.

I’d wager that this has never been more important.

The idea of "content marketing" has become, for a lot of people, just “marketing”. The idea that a government, or any public institution, could have services that were not available online, is rapidly becoming an accessibility issue. These services require a lot of people to create large amounts of content.

For business and enterprise, good quality content is essential if they are to compete. In effect, if an organisation fails to create this 'good quality content', Google will quickly make them non-existent, regulatory risks open up, user needs go unmet, and related business objectives fail. All of these things will stunt growth opportunities.

‘Good content’ is a very clear competitive advantage.

And when you add to the mix how the world is adapting to the way we work —from small business to enterprise— our reliance on ‘good content’ is growing exponentially. 

I think we can agree: 

Having ‘good content’ is important;  content that truly connects you with the customers, buyers, communities and users you serve, and perhaps more importantly: 

—it connects you to the outcomes you are looking for.

But creating ‘good content’ is hard

Even writing a simple point of view in an article like this one can be difficult.

So what about the multiple teams of people... responsible for creating large volumes of high-stakes content... in complex business environments... that need to be published to an increasing number of channels and customer touch points— using a mish-mash of different tools and technologies?

Makes you lose your breath, doesn’t it?

Think about these stats for a moment— at the time of writing this: 

  1. The internet is now doubling in size every two years, resulting in 50-fold growth of content and data [¹]
  2. The average university maintains over 100,000~ web pages [¹]
  3. Over 20,000 websites(!!) exist for only 183 enterprises [¹]
  4. GatherContent customers created 90,000+ new content items in the last 60 days
  5. Around 4 million blogs get published every day. The average blog post is 1,269 words, up 57% since 2014 [¹]

 

 That’s a lot of content— then consider that content is:

  • increasingly critical to an organization's goals— be that growth, or serving other customer needs
  • high-stakes, possibly regulated, and needs mitigate any relevant legal risk
  • passed through increasingly complex content workflows and operational environments— more people, more standards and more approval stages required before publishing, more updates, more, more, more.

It’s 2021, and the expectations of content, and the people responsible for it are high. Very high.

It’s critical to successful digital transformation.

Writing this article suddenly seems quite straightforward...

Need to know: The GatherContent platform brings clarity to complex content workflows. See how you can increase productivity, improve content quality, and support content compliance.

And what even is 'good content'?

A bit like the process of looking for a house— what seems on the surface to be an obvious set of requirements quickly reveals itself to be fairly complex and demanding. 

Requirements for content are intense.

We hear a lot of sweeping statements, many of which are true for a large proportion of us:

  • Content must be optimised for SEO
  • Content must be 'on brand' and/or adhere to a style and quality guidelines
  • Content must be structured (for a lot of 'channels' at least)
  • Content must be legally compliant
  • Content must be legally accessible
  • Content must meet user needs
  • Content must generate business outcomes
  • Content must deliver measurable results
  • Content must be available in multiple languages
  • Content must be published quickly
  • Content must be scaled up ("we need to produce more content")

I'm sure we could further elaborate on this list, but I think we all get the idea that ‘good content’ is anything but simple.

"Good content means you’ve spent more time getting it right than the audience spends reading it."
Sarah Winters
Founder, Content Design London

💡 See also: The essential guide to Content Creation: Practical advice to help you create effective content

Need to know: The GatherContent platform enables your content team and stakeholders to scale the creation of effective content. Everyone aligns around a single content hub, content workflow, and guidelines using structured templates.

Intentional content workflow makes life less hard

There is clearly a need for dedicated roles and technologies that can facilitate content collaboration, production and approval across an organisation.

When the usage of technology increased for most companies, we saw a move away from generalist "webmaster" or "website manager" roles, to more sophisticated roles and processes. 

CTOs became more common in large enterprises, and DevOps became a widely adopted way to talk about this new approach to technology and infrastructure. More importantly, we developed ways to ensure the technology worked for us, was reliable, and delivered value. Technology quickly became a business asset.

I think you know where this may be going...

Smart organisations are investing in content 

We are now entering an era where content is truly being realised as a business asset, and with that move, we’re seeing huge shifts in investment— the people, the processes and technology— everything required to make sure content, too, is delivering value.

Here are just a few interesting ways we’ve seen this manifesting:

  • Over 1,300 Content Strategy, Content Design, and Content Management roles went live on one content strategy jobs site last quarter 
  • 60% of marketing leaders predict a rise in MarTech investment for 2021 [¹]
  • “Dedicated content studios and ‘factories’ rapidly becoming a necessity in the enterprise”— Alice Deer, CEO GatherContent
  • Content Creation and Marketing Operations share 20%+ of allocated marketing budget in 2021 [¹]
  • ​​MarTech still dominates the CMO’s 2021 budget; taking 26.7% of the year’s total allocation [¹]
  • More and more organisations with complex content workflow needs are chronicling their digital transformation efforts [¹] [²] [³] [] []

What is Content Operations?
Content operations (also known as ContentOps) is the combination of people, process and technology that are required to produce, distribute and maintain effective content in an organisation.

Three core components to consider for successful content operations

Building on the points above— to support effective organisation-wide content operations we should consider three core components:

Content operations (aka ContentOps) venn diagram of people, process and technology as core components with GatherContent logo at the centre
GatherContent is tech that brings together people and process. The platform helps you create better content and take it to market faster.


People: Building teams with the right specialists

Defining stakeholders, roles and permissions for broad collaboration, implementing training programmes, establishing approval processes and governance responsibilities. As a starting point.

Process: How good content manifests 

Production workflows, policy, style guides, content design principles, audit trails, measurement and reporting. As a starting point.

Technology: Delivering good content to the end user

A stack of well integrated tools for creating, publishing and measuring the impact of content. Scheduling, personalisation, automation. As a starting point.

Colleen Jones, CEO of Content Science, and former Head of Content at MailChimp says:

"If a company does not elevate content to a cohesive core competency, then the company is likely to suffer problems that make content ineffective and that make its operations inefficient at scale."
Colleen Jones
Founder + President, Content Science

So, how do you match up?

Colleen even went as far to create a great "Content Operations Maturity Model", where you can see how your organisation is performing. More importantly, this can help you prioritise where to get started in improving.

Interesting to note: Christopher Echols, Director of Digital Communications lead the University of Tennessee from crisis communications to complete content operations transformation with GatherContent.

Content isn’t a side hustle: Content is a product 

It seems that the organisations that are adapting to the digital shifts most effectively— especially in response to the pandemic— have a different way of viewing content.

"Content is not King. Content is a product."
Noz Urbina
Founder, OmnichannelX

These organisations don't see content as a side-hustle, and they don't have a few isolated people pushing for the importance of content, screaming "content is King!", hoping someone will listen. They have truly embraced it as a part of their way of working, and above all else, they understand that content is a product.

Deep focus on content— good content, and the way it is manifested is a surefire way to better your chances of succeeding in whatever market you serve.

Establishing and investing in the way your organisation navigates content workflow seems like the most sensible way forward in giving your organisation the good content it needs.

I’d wager that this has never been more important.

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About the author

Angus Edwardson

Angus is Co-founder and VP of Product at GatherContent, where he focusses on the product and research areas of the business – looking into the future of content management, and trying to improve the way organisations create and deliver information. A board member of the European Information Architecture Summit, he has been heavily involved with the Content Strategy, CMS, and product management communities for several years, and frequently writes and speaks around the intersection of these disciplines.

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