Guide to content operations


By: Amelia Wallace

As a marketing manager, you’ve got a content vision, and you’ve got a content strategy — and you know what kind of content you want to offer. And you’re also committed to establishing a system of content intelligence to inform content decisions. 

But executing all of this may be more of a stumbling block than you imagined. Plus, it’s come to your attention that your content may be suffering from misuse or ineffectiveness. So what’s missing? How can you better connect the dots? 

There’s a growing discipline called content operations, and it may be your missing link. It can help you sustain and scale your implementation while ensuring effective and efficient work from your team.

What are content operations?

Content operations are defined as the people, processes and technologies that empower an organization to implement its content strategy to produce and deliver content effectively. It’s considered the behind-the-scenes work of managing content activities. 

Unfortunately, content operations are not often the priority for companies. Too many organizations justify scrambling once or twice a month to throw content together. If this sounds familiar, you might need to rethink your content work. To be able to sustain and scale effective content, you need to develop mature content operations.

Why pay attention to content operations?

It may feel like that monthly scramble is good enough for your creative and content marketing teams, but there are several benefits to implementing content operations at your org. 

Ultimately, implementing content operations better aligns your backstage activities with your content vision and strategy, so you reduce the risk of failure while repeating or scaling success more quickly. 

In more specific terms, content operations will help you make the most of your content assets by:

  • Creating or streamlining repeatable processes with content playbooks

  • Putting the right people in the right roles

  • Distinguishing between content maintenance and ongoing content innovation

  • Choosing the right tools and tech to support your operations

Content operations also help your organization avoid these costly growing pains:

  • Duplicate efforts on content

  • Conflicting or inconsistent content 

  • Off-brand voice or tone

  • Gaps between customer needs and your content marketing

  • Failure to grow content capacity and supply chain to meet demand

  • Failure to optimize processes to create, deliver and manage content

  • Purchase of duplicate or incompatible content-related technologies and tools

These aren’t the only things you can improve with content operations. A content science study found 51% of participants were scaling content operations across business functions. In that same study, it found that 65% of content goes completely unused by sales reps. Content operations can curb the production of unused content by guaranteeing that it gets used because it’s effective and fulfilling your team’s needs. Additionally, content operations offer a better ROI for your content along with unified customer experiences.

How to get started with content operations

That’s all well and good, but where do you go from here? If you feel your team and organization could benefit from implementing content operations, then let’s go over how you can get started.

Get the right talent on your team

Your team won’t be able to thrive if you rely solely on one content rock star. Your team needs to consist of content gurus who can make your content operations shine. 

Consider hiring people who can tackle a variety of content jobs, such as these roles: content analyst, content strategist, content engineer and content designer. For your more basic or entry positions in content marketing and writing, make sure you look at people with these qualities: high output, curious, systems-thinking, considerate and competent in their content skill or role.

Implement brand templating

Brand templating has myriad benefits for content teams. When it comes to content operations, templatizing content helps reduce the costs of wasted and unused content. Templates can be stored in a central location and therefore accessed by all members of your team — and you can even give access to other members of the organization. 

Because, realistically speaking, a lot of people are involved in the content creation process  (even beyond your team), so giving access to templates ensures that branding and prospective customer engagement are consistent. It also gives people more autonomy with the knowledge that they are producing content in line with your content strategy and goals.

Empower analysis and evaluate the performance

Having access to data will help your team to make decisions around your content more effectively. It will also enable you to assess past content decisions and marketing performance, and ultimately providing your team with deeper insights and intelligent content. Innovation helps your organization push beyond the status quo of content.

You don’t have to rely only on metrics, though. Feedback from your team can be a great place to find recommendations. Including your team in the process will help boost morale and encourage innovation.

Make content a core competency

Content can and should not be siloed — it needs to function as a core competency in your organization. This competency will cut across business functions just as competencies like design and information technology cuts across business functions such as sales, product, marketing and support. By not elevating content to a core competency, you may end up suffering problems that cause your content to be ineffective while making its operations inefficient at scale.

A few ways to make content a core competency in your business are to hire a chief content officer or executive, empower content coaches and advocates, and create a center for content excellence.

Where there are content operations, there’s effective content

Now that you know what content operations are and how to start building yours, you’re ready to move forward. If it feels overwhelming or you're stuck on a budget, unable to hire new talent, focus on one of these steps and then move onto the next as time and finances allow. Don’t try to implement them at once, as you may overwhelm your team and yourself with so many changes. Your first step could simply be to check out our ebook on creating effective content.

Free eBook download

2021 Content Effectiveness Report

A follow-up to our 2019 State of Brand Consistency, this report is a deep dive into the content ecosystem. We surveyed 452 business professionals from various backgrounds to find out how content is affecting their brands. We’ll look at how confident we are about content (both our own and other businesses’), how content is paying off, and how much time it’s taking to produce.

Learn more

Amelia Wallace

Amelia Wallace has been writing content for far too long. Her expertise ranges from home decor to insurance to marketing and beyond. She is an avid movie-goer, retains only the best kinds of useless information, and is the worst to go hiking with since she’s constantly stopping to take photos.

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