This article is Part Two of a series on the needs of a content-centric marketing organization. Read the full series for more coverage.
In the earliest days of content marketing, in the days when it was mainly an SEO play, content planning was, if not necessarily easy, at least simple. A list of content topics; a calendar of deadlines; ready, set, execute.
Today, a robust content plan better resembles a complex system than a simple list. Marketers are charged with doing the seemingly impossible: delivering a unified brand experience across all channels throughout the customer journey. At the same time, content is dispersed across many channels and media—and often delivered by disparate parts of the marketing organization (social, PR, demand gen, and more) or even beyond (sales, for instance, or customer service).
On one hand, there’s a tremendous opportunity for content marketers to assume a central role in powering the end-to-end brand experience. On the other hand, there’s serious potential for a logistical black hole.
Approaching the issue from the top down instead of the bottom up, the major theme underpinning the difficulties of content planning is a lack of visibility. The content manager needs to be able to view the entire content production pipeline to ensure everything is running smoothly and individual contributors are being held accountable for their responsibilities—no small feat when there are more people involved in content production and deployment than ever before, and when many of those people work in different teams within the marketing department.
The CMO, in turn, needs to see at a glance how content is supporting major marketing initiatives. For the content marketer, being able to communicate that big picture simply and effectively can be the difference between a well-resourced content operation and a slashed budget.
These visibility needs are stymied by the deeply siloed nature of the typical enterprise marketing department, where size exacerbates the difficulties of sharing information across different functions and divisions. In a 2015 study by Teradata, 80 percent of respondents identified silos within marketing as the reason they lacked an end-to-end view of the customer across channels. Delivering on that unified multichannel customer experience in this environment is challenging, to say the least.
There’s ample cause to invest in solutions that enhance visibility into content planning, not least of which is that it saves time and money in the long run. From a production standpoint, better visibility means identifying roadblocks and bottlenecks sooner rather than later, allowing content managers to course correct and reallocate resources before they cause costly delays.
On the flip side of the coin, lack of visibility means not being able to take advantage of opportunities to drive more value from content. Easy communication of content plans helps marketers identify opportunities to collaborate across functions and to relay an integrated message by promoting content across distribution channels.
Particularly within a dispersed marketing organization, redundancies in content creation can add up. Producing quality content is an investment, so it’s worth identifying opportunities to adapt and repurpose existing content rather than creating a new asset from whole cloth. For example, global enterprises may find that transcreating content can greatly reduce the burden of launching a content program for a new region.
Image attribution: Lonely Planet
Simply building a content calendar may have worked in the single-channel days of content marketing, but it’s not sufficient for the needs of a large marketing organization executing a multichannel marketing strategy. Enterprise-wide content planning needs to address two concerns to be effective: First, it should maximize cross-functional visibility of content in production, and second, it should minimize the administrative burden of managing the content pipeline.
Addressing the first concern means that content plans need to be easy to share. This might take the form of widespread access to the editorial calendar, sharable snapshots on demand, or some combination of the two.
Beyond making content plans widely available, however, marketers also need flexibility in how those plans are presented. Capturing all of the planned and in-progress content across all channels throughout an enterprise is an absolute torrent of information. The ability to toggle between views and filter by division, channel, or campaign makes a content calendar meaningful to different audiences within the marketing organization, who are likely approaching the same information with markedly different needs depending on their role.
What’s more, keeping that torrent of information up-to-date has the potential to be a job unto itself. Deploying resources intelligently means letting the content team focus on strategy and content creation, not updating spreadsheets. Fit-for-purpose content marketing technology that facilitates project management directly from the content calendar keeps teams organized without dedicating precious time to administrative activities that don’t drive value.
Planning out content operations is without a doubt a bigger job than it used to be. Scaling content planning to meet the needs not of a single channel or a single division but across an enterprise requires taking into account a greater demand for visibility and ease of operations. They may be hurdles in the short term, but by addressing them early on, marketers can open up new opportunities to drive more value from content and solidify its role as a cornerstone of all marketing.
Read the full series for more on the needs of a content-centric marketing organization.
Featured image attribution: Alvaro Reyes