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The Seven Needs of a Content-Centric Marketing Organization, Part Five: Activate

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This article is Part Five of a series on the needs of a content-centric marketing organization. Read the full series for more coverage.

It’s understandable that, for most content marketers, priority number one will always be the creation of content. A steady stream of high-quality content is a prerequisite for strong returns from content marketing. And yet, by itself, it’s ultimately not enough.

Heard the one about the tree falling in the forest with no one around to hear it? The best content ever created is worthless if no one consumes it—which is why distribution can’t be an afterthought.

The Finish Line Isn’t Approval; It’s Go-Live

The content team’s job doesn’t end when a piece of content is approved, but the significance of that milestone tends to give us tunnel vision. Shepherding content from ideation through development through final approval is no small task. Still, until that content reaches its intended audience, it does nothing to provide value. That final step, pushing content over the real finish line, can’t be discounted in the content planning process.

activate your content before it dies

The pressures of publishing content at scale across an enterprise can amplify the many small inefficiencies of the content distribution process. These inefficiencies are annoying, but mostly manageable, when content marketing is treated as a channel unto itself—a self-contained blog being the classic example—but today content is increasingly deeply integrated into many aspects of marketing, which in turn lends new scale and complexity to what is already an overlooked aspect of content production. Every new content type, every new distribution channel, and every new team involved presents opportunities for added friction, delaying publishing and ultimately eating away at the value that content should be generating.

Activating Your Content Before It Dies

Minimizing that friction needs to be a high priority if marketers hope to produce content at scale. Ideally, publishing content should be a turnkey operation: approving a piece of content should automatically push it to its publishing destination.

The reality can diverge significantly from that picture, especially in an organization where the content team does not own the publishing destination. Having to involve other teams like web development in order to publish content means working around other teams’ priorities, necessarily leaving content waiting in limbo—and, given that timeliness is often a major asset for content, actively losing value in the meantime.

The regular volume of content that comes from an always-on content strategy makes a solid publishing infrastructure not a nice-to-have but a must-have. Content marketing leaders should connect with IT and web development teams to determine a straightforward, repeatable process for publishing the most common content types to their main publishing destinations. A content marketing platform that integrates directly with your website’s content management system makes publishing automatic, without requiring technical knowledge on the part of the content team—or even leaving the content marketing platform. Barring that solution, the ability to export finalized content in publish-ready formats (HTML or CSV, primarily) can greatly simplify the work required to transfer content to the CMS.

smiling man working on a laptop

Image attribution: Csaba Balazs

If You Build It, They Still Might Not Come: Distribution Beyond the CMS

But this discussion only takes into account half of the battle.

The early days of content focused heavily on content as an SEO play, driving content consumption via organic search. Today, more sophisticated search engine algorithms, coupled with a well-saturated content space, make organic search traffic more difficult to gain—and, conversely, additional distribution strategies more important for content performance.

What’s more, content is becoming increasingly central to aspects of brand communications as varied as demand generation, PR, and sales enablement. Looking beyond a single point of activation isn’t just an imperative spurred by a more competitive search environment; instead, it’s an opportunity to derive additional value from content by integrating it more closely with other marketing channels.

In establishing a publishing infrastructure, marketers have to look beyond their CMS and consider how else they plan to distribute content. What social media channels will they use to push content to their target audience, and what will the publishing workflow look like? How will they use content in their outbound marketing efforts, and who will own that process? Creating simplified, repeatable workflows that exploit integrations between the content marketing platform and strategic distribution channels—social media platforms, email marketing software, etc.—makes an otherwise unwieldy process efficient.

Integrate to Activate

Ultimately, integration capabilities are the unsung hero of a scalable content operation, and nowhere is that more evident than in activating content. A content-centric marketing organization’s distribution needs are complex, spanning many channels and many marketing functions. By minimizing points of friction in publishing content, marketers can take aim at that complexity and begin driving value from their content as quickly as possible.

Read the full series for more on the needs of a content-centric marketing organization.

The Seven Needs of a Content-Centric Marketing Organization

Featured image attribution: James McKinven

Rachel Haberman is a consummate word nerd with a lifelong fascination with all things language. She holds a BA in Cognitive and Linguistic Sciences from Wellesley College. Before joining Skyword, Rachel managed content marketing for an international development and strategy consulting firm. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts with her husband and two cats named after physicists.

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