Content Management

Content management

Quick definition: Content management refers to the end-to-end process of sourcing, creating, managing, and delivering content.

Key takeaways:

The following information was provided during an interview with Karthik Muralidharan, a product marketing team member for Adobe Experience Manager Sites product.

What is content management?
What are the main features of content management?
What is a content management system?
What are the benefits of using a CMS?
What other tools are necessary for managing content?
What is the content life cycle?
Why is content management important?
How do companies define a content strategy?
What challenges do companies face when managing content?
What are content management best practices?

What is content management?

Content management refers to the creation, storage, access, delivery, and optimization of digital media on one central platform.

What are the main features of content management?

The first important feature is the ability to create content. And you need the ability to make changes to that content and update it as needs arise. Content can’t be static.

You also need a set of processes and capabilities to deliver the content. If it’s digital content you intend to house on a website, you need a way to translate the content into HTML code.

If it’s content that needs to show up on a mobile device, you need a way to adjust the content to fit the screen.

What is a content management system?

A content management system (CMS) provides a systematic way for businesses to deliver content. It's a tool that helps companies build, manage, and make updates to an experience with the right user interface.

A CMS will tap into a separate system that stores all a company’s content assets, then extract that content and bring it into the experience being created.

One of the key components of a CMS is providing the capability for a content editor, who is usually someone on a marketing team, to make changes to digital content when it is in the format it will be published in.

Using a CMS, the content editor can easily preview a website and see how it will look when it’s finally rendered. Examples of web content management systems include WordPress and Drupal.

What are the benefits of using a CMS?

Companies don’t necessarily need a CMS to deliver content to a website. A company can own the domain name and, with a lot of coding, they can find a way to deliver that web page themselves.

But content management isn’t just one person's job. A brand might have 50 people working on content, and only certain people would be responsible for updating the experience online.

Certain people would just be contributors, while others would need to approve the content before it goes up. And without a proper system of record to track these workflows, it becomes difficult to manage.

So another purpose of a content management system is to help manage all those workloads between the teams and to ensure that a company efficiently creates, updates, and publishes content.

Ultimately, a CMS platform helps companies deliver content to more than just one website. If a company needs to deliver content to a different channel, that content needs to be adopted to a different form factor.

And if the company doesn't have a content management platform, they have to re-create the content separately for that different form factor. For example, if a company is delivering content to a website and a mobile experience, and they’re not using a CMS, they have to create those experiences independently.

But with the right CMS, a company can create the content once and deploy it or put it in the right format for all the other channels.

The other benefit is that it allows companies to better integrate content marketing within other systems – such as analytics – needed for the business to run. The main function of a website may be to display content, but that’s not its only purpose.

An  ecommerce site, for instance, will need to have the capability for people to not just view the content, but make a purchase. That means the site needs to have links or different checkout buttons that tie into a commerce platform the company wants those links to exist on the web experience, so the two need to be integrated.

It's extremely difficult for a company to have no system of management and still publish content regularly. Most businesses have multiple webpages or multiple people delivering content, and they need to centralize that process somehow.

A lot of companies will choose to build it on their own, but it’s expensive and hard to maintain. And it doesn’t generally make sense to invest so many resources when other companies exist to provide  content management systems.

Brands can't just deliver a static experience and expect to continue to engage and convert customers. They need to adapt to the latest trends and deliver the new information they want to communicate quickly and efficiently.

If a company created their own CMS and were  delivering content  manually, it would take a significant amount of time. The developers have to get involved whenever a company makes a change — even something as small as correcting a digit in a phone number.

And it can take two weeks to make this tiny change because of the back and forth between the marketer and developer, so companies don't want to lose that velocity for publishing content to change things.

A CMS is an easy-to-use tool that accelerates a company’s ability to deliver and update content. It allows a company to push out evergreen content and respond to changing consumer demands.

What other tools are necessary for managing content?

Having a digital asset management (DAM) system or document management system is crucial.

A small company that doesn’t have many assets will use Dropbox or another basic file-sharing tool, but a lot of enterprises will have thousands and thousands of assets.

Companies with a large number of assets need a DAM solution to make sure the content is up to date, in compliance, licensed, and properly tagged. A DAM system helps companies easily find the right content when they need it, which can then be pulled into their CMS for delivery.

What is the content life cycle?

It starts with ideation. The creative team comes up with an idea for content, and then they make it happen. Once the content is created, it’s added to the asset management solution, which serves as a living library that allows companies to access their content at any time.

The CMS will then pull the content as needed and publish it on a website or as part of an experience.

At that point, the content is live. It is being actively promoted. Customers are engaging with the content, and the company is tracking and analyzing how the content is performing.

At the end of the content life cycle, the company no longer needs customers to see or interact with the content at that time, so they remove it from the experience. If the company sees the potential for the content to go live again in the future, they will continue to store it in the DAM solution. If not, they will retire the content.

A piece of content can be retired, or removed from the digital asset library, for a variety of reasons. The content may be out of date or not relevant anymore, or the rights to an image may have expired.

While there are assets that a company may want to hold indefinitely, it’s not efficient to continue to store content that’s not being used. The library will keep growing. Eventually, most content will be either removed or modified.

Why is content management important?

Personalized content is how every company engages with their consumer. Although both in-person and digital experiences matter to a company, digital experiences have been growing in importance recently.

Every company has a website — even your mom-and-pop shops. Many companies have mobile apps too. Today’s consumers are engaging with content across even more touch-points, such as voice devices,  IoT, and wearables.

These digital experiences are nothing if they don’t have fresh, engaging content, which can only be effectively managed through a robust CMS.

How do companies define a content strategy?

Part of defining a content management strategy is making sure the company has teams aligned for each phase of the content management process and that the hand-off process between teams happens smoothly.

Another important piece is empowering the marketing or content teams to publish content. One of the challenges companies face if they don’t have a CMS is needing to rely on IT to publish content. And IT can handle everything from a technical standpoint, but ultimately, they're not the ones creating those experiences or figuring out what they should look like. Marketing teams need to be involved in the publishing process.

So, a good content management strategy helps keep the marketing team empowered within content strategy. Therefore, marketers need the right CMS - one that provides an in-context preview and drag-and-drop functionality, for example.

These tools and processes empower your marketing teams to more fully participate in the content life cycle. Without a good content management strategy, multiple teams are working on multiple pieces, and efficiencies are lost.

What challenges do companies face when managing content?

Mistakes can happen surrounding the emergence of new channels. Content management systems ultimately were designed to publish web experiences. And web experiences have traditionally been rendered with HTML.

Today, there are many new channels or types of web experiences that aren't powered by HTML, like a single-page application (SPA), which is a different front-end framework that's faster and more responsive.

But a traditional CMS doesn’t support delivering content to SPAs. Sending content up to new channels like single-page applications or even mobile or voice can’t be delivered by a legacy CMS.

One mistake that brands make is using a CMS that's not flexible enough to deliver to all those channels. What that means is that the CMS can only deliver for the web experience, so then they need their IT teams and developers to create those experiences for different front-end frameworks.

Another problem companies make is hyper-indexingfocusing on new experiences, independent of channel. Companies want to serve up content to any endpoint, so they choose a  headless solution  that allows them to deliver content anywhere.

But the problem with a headless model is it's a purely developer-centric model. And companies using a headless model then take the power out of their marketing teams and now have developers maintaining control of the look and feel of all the experiences, which can slow down how quickly they get to market with these experiences.

Although the company has gained some speed in delivering to these new channels, they lose out on the ability for marketing to approve experiences in the right way. And it creates more friction between the IT and marketing teams.

Companies face the challenge of figuring out how to support both a headless model and a CMS that empowers marketing teams to update and make changes to content.

What are content management best practices?

One best practice is to not create content silos. Companies will have separate teams creating content for different channels, which creates consistency problems.

If one team updates content, the company must make sure every other team makes necessary adjustments off of those updates. This can slow everything down. So, one best practice is to centralize content creation. Content should be created by one team and then published to different channels to maximize efficiency.

Content will look different on different devices. But if there is one team managing content for both channels, and the company needs to make a change to the content, the company won’t need to go to separate teams to request the change.

They only must inform one team, and that team can make sure the changes are made across all channels at the same time.

Another best practice is to have the mechanisms to analyze content and focus on  personalization. A lot of companies aren't actively tracking how that content is performing or they're not actively personalizing that content.

Delivering content is not enough — the goal is to convert customers. And customers won’t convert if they’re shown content they aren’t interested in.

Before a company ever delivers content, they need to have the right mechanisms to track it and tailor the content to users in different locations or on different devices.

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