Learn about content management — definition, benefits, and more

Smiling woman with dynamic images from a CMS in the background

Content isn’t just a static entity — it’s a dynamic, evolving aspect of your brand that grows and adapts with your customers. The key to creating lasting relationships with your audience isn’t just about delivering top-notch content, but keeping it fresh, relevant, and personalized to each customer’s needs and preferences.

However, the task of managing content isn’t always a walk in the park. It comes with its own set of challenges, such as the dreaded content silos. These can be effectively tackled by delivering standout digital experiences, curated and managed through a robust content management system (CMS). For instance, consider a global fashion brand that uses a CMS to deliver personalized style recommendations to its customers based on their browsing history and past purchases. This not only enhances the customer’s digital experience but also ensures the brand’s content remains relevant and engaging.

In this comprehensive guide to content management, we will discuss:

Content management definition

Content management, often abbreviated as CM, refers to the process of generating, storing, accessing, delivering, and refining digital media through a unified platform.

Structured vs. unstructured content

In the realm of content, there are two primary types — structured and unstructured. Each has its unique characteristics and uses, and understanding the difference is crucial for effective content management.

Structured content is organized and formatted in a specific way, making it easily readable by computers. It’s often tagged with metadata, which provides additional context and meaning. Examples of structured content include databases and spreadsheets, where information is neatly organized into rows and columns.

On the other hand, unstructured content lacks a specific format, making it more challenging for computers to interpret. This category includes a wide variety of content types, such as text documents, videos, and images. Despite its less organized nature, unstructured content forms a significant part of the digital content landscape.

Organizations typically deal with a mix of both structured and unstructured content, each serving different purposes in creating unique customer experiences. Therefore, it’s essential to have a strategy that effectively handles both types.

Most content management tools are equipped to manage both structured and unstructured content. However, some tools may be more adept at handling one over the other. For instance, a CMS is typically more efficient at managing structured content, while a digital asset management (DAM) system is better suited for handling unstructured content.

Governance in content management

Governance in content management is the guiding framework that oversees every phase of the content lifecycle. It primarily encompasses two types: content governance and digital content management governance.

Content governance is a set of guidelines that ensures the consistency and regulatory compliance of the content produced. It provides a roadmap for content inventories, risk management, and more. This becomes particularly beneficial for large organizations with multiple teams, where the need for a unified and cohesive content strategy is paramount.

On the other hand, digital content management governance focuses on streamlining the processes involved in content creation. It assigns ownership of content, controls access to it, and sets standards for metadata, versioning, and approval workflows. The goal is to make sure that content is created, stored, and utilized in the most efficient manner.

To effectively govern content, tools like content workflows and taxonomies are commonly used. These resources aid creators in keeping their content well-organized and easily accessible. By implementing a robust governance framework, organizations can ensure their content remains fresh, engaging, and aligned with their brand’s core values and unique attributes.

Benefits of content management

In the digital age, personalized content is the key to engaging with consumers. Both physical and digital experiences are crucial, but the digital realm offers a unique opportunity to connect with customers across diverse channels. In fact, it’s projected that global digital marketing revenue will exceed $1 trillion by 2027.

As consumers interact with content across an expanding array of touchpoints, including voice devices, IoT, and wearables, effective management of digital experiences can yield significant benefits for brands. These include:

By harnessing the power of content management, brands can create engaging, personalized digital experiences that resonate with their audience, driving innovation and transformation in the digital landscape.

The content management lifecycle

Flow chart of the content management lifecycle

Content management is a cyclical process that begins with a spark of creativity. The creative team breathes life into an idea, transforming it into engaging content. Once crafted, this content is stored in an asset management solution, a dynamic repository that allows businesses to access their content whenever required. The CMS then retrieves and publishes the content as needed. Once live, the content is actively promoted, attracting customer engagement. The company then monitors and evaluates the content’s performance, gaining insights to fuel future creative endeavors.


Planning is the first and crucial step in the content management lifecycle. It involves identifying the type of content to create, the message it should carry, and the audience it should reach.

For instance, a tech company might plan to create a series of blog posts about their latest product, targeting tech enthusiasts on their website and social media channels. This strategic planning ensures that the content is relevant and engaging — and reaches the right audience at the right time.


Content comes in a variety of formats, such as blog posts, guides, infographics, and videos. Each format has its unique way of communicating information to your audience, making some more suitable for certain types of content.


Once the creation phase is complete, the content must be securely stored in an easily accessible location. This is where a CMS or digital asset management system ( DAM) comes into play. When it's time for customer engagement, the content is then transferred to a customer-facing platform such as a website, blog, or digital repository.


Workflow in content management is the orchestrated and repeatable pattern of activities that guide the progression of content from its inception to its final output. It’s the backbone of any content management strategy, keeping content flowing seamlessly from one stage to the next, involving the right people at the right time.

This process not only facilitates collaboration among various teams within an organization but also ensures that the content aligns with the brand’s core values and unique attributes. It’s about maintaining consistency across projects, so that every piece of content resonates with the audience and reflects the brand’s commitment to creativity and innovation.


The editing phase, often termed as versioning, is a critical step in the content management lifecycle. This is where the content is refined and polished to perfection. It’s crucial to have a systematic approach to feedback in which all stakeholders review the content in a timely and organized manner. This collaborative process not only enhances the quality of the content but also makes sure it’s concise, engaging, and ready for the audience.


Publishing is the stage where your content finally meets its audience. It’s the act of making your content available to your target audience through various platforms. This could be your company’s website, social media channels, or even via email.


Removal, often referred to as archiving, is the final stage in the content management lifecycle. It involves retiring content that has served its purpose or is no longer relevant. This could be due to outdated information, low engagement, or a shift in the brand’s messaging. By effectively managing the removal process, companies can ensure their digital experiences remain fresh, engaging, and aligned with their audience’s evolving needs and preferences.

Systems and tools for managing content

In the realm of effective content management, the importance of a digital asset management system or a document management system cannot be overstated. For smaller organizations with fewer assets, basic file-sharing tools like Dropbox may suffice. However, for larger corporations with a vast array of assets, a DAM becomes indispensable. Content in the DAM stays current, compliant, licensed, and appropriately tagged, thereby facilitating easy retrieval of the right content at the right time.

Now, let’s look at the various systems and tools.

Content management system (CMS)

A content management system (CMS) is a powerful tool that serves as the backbone of your digital content strategy. It’s a software application that allows you to create, manage, and modify digital content on your website without needing specialized technical knowledge. With a CMS, you can easily store content, track changes, publish updates, and maintain a consistent look and feel across your web pages.

Enterprise content management system (ECM)

An enterprise content management system (ECM) operates much like a CMS, but it’s designed to handle the vast content needs of large-scale organizations. It’s a powerhouse that manages, stores, and delivers a wide array of content types, from documents and images to videos and more. But the true strength of an ECM lies in its ability to streamline content workflows across different departments, fostering collaboration and ensuring consistency in content delivery. With an ECM, enterprises can effectively manage their content lifecycle, so their digital experiences remain fresh, relevant, and aligned with their brand’s core values and unique attributes.

Digital asset management system (DAM)

A digital asset management system (DAM) is a specialized form of a CMS, designed specifically to handle the storage, organization, and management of rich media content such as documents, videos, and audio files. It’s more than just a digital storage unit. It’s a dynamic tool that enables teams to edit and refine content as they integrate it into their digital experiences.

Social media content management

Social media content management is a crucial component of a comprehensive content strategy. It’s a framework that enables organizations to craft, curate, and deliver compelling content across various social media platforms. This approach not only ensures consistency in messaging but also allows for the creation of personalized experiences that resonate with diverse audiences. By leveraging social media content management, brands can effectively engage with their audience, fostering a sense of community and driving meaningful conversations.

Mobile content management (MCM)

Mobile content management (MCM) is a transformative tool that empowers businesses to deliver engaging digital experiences directly to the hands of their audience. It's more than just a platform for content delivery; it’s a strategic asset that enables brands to connect with their audience on a personal level, anytime, anywhere.

Strategies for successful content management

A successful content management strategy is one that aligns with your company’s core values and unique attributes. It’s about creating a seamless workflow such that each phase of the process is handled efficiently and effectively.

One of the key elements of a successful strategy is empowering your content or marketing teams to publish content. Without a robust strategy, you may find multiple teams working on different pieces, leading to inefficiencies. A strong strategy begins with the right CMS — one that offers an in-context preview and drag-and-drop functionality, for instance.

Whether you’re updating your website with the latest product information, creating an online store for your growing business, developing a mobile app to reach more customers, or sharing information internally, content management is the key to delivering the right content to the right people at the right time.

Four content management strategy types and corresponding icons

Depending on the type of content, your company may consider different strategy types. Here are a few examples:

Content management strategy template

Crafting a content management strategy involves a multitude of elements, each playing a crucial role in the successful execution of your content plan. Here’s a more detailed look at these components:

Tips for managing content

Managing content effectively is a crucial aspect of any successful digital strategy. It involves not just creating engaging content, but also keeping it organized and accessible, and making sure it delivers a personalized experience that resonates with your audience. Here are some best practices to help you manage your content effectively:

Manage content across all channels with automated tools

In the ever-evolving digital landscape, a robust content management strategy is your key to overcoming challenges like content silos and delivering consistent, standout experiences across all channels.

Your journey to effective content management begins with the right technology. Adobe Experience Manager Sites can help by merging digital asset management and content management into a single, powerful solution. With its automation capabilities, Adobe Experience Manager Sites sources, adapts, and delivers content that is relevant and personalized.

Ready to transform your content management strategy? Discover the power of Adobe Experience Manager Sites by watching our overview video or exploring the product page.