I'm sure we've all read the great case studies of organisations who have used relevant content to become trusted brands, benefitting from turning their online audience into long-term, high-value customers. I'm also sure that none of these organisations would say that content success is easy.
Developing a successful content marketing strategy and ecosystem comes with significant challenges. Success lies not only in creating great content, but also in the management, maintenance and localisation of content and its related systems, in a way that is flexible, efficient and sustainable.
With the increasing significance of personalisation, the deluge of content is set to get even bigger. Users are increasingly seeking information specifically relevant to them, in a context that works on their terms and is delivered directly to whichever device and channel they desire. Global organisations have the added challenge of needing this content translated, transcreated and localised for its operating markets.
If all of this sounds daunting, you are not alone. We've had a look at some of the current content trends, to help you to prepare for the content challanges that lie ahead for your organisation.
83% anticipate an increase in content
According to a recent statistics compendium from Econsultancy, 64% of global marketing decision makers say that their organisation creates ‘moderate’ amounts of digital content and assets, with 17% stating they are producing ‘enormous’ amounts of content.
Whether you are in the 'moderate' or 'enormous' content camp, or among the 19% who said they were producing small amounts, it’s likely that this is going to increase across the board. A whopping 83% said that they expect to be producing more content two years from now.
So, how ready are organisations to cope with this increase? The same report suggests that just over half feel adequately prepared to deal with the amount of content that has to be produced today. Since 46% don’t feel prepared right now and there is more to come, it’s clear that all organisations need to think carefully about what their strategy will be.
Production & Management
When we talk about content, we’re not just referring to a great landing page or blog article. It is an umbrella term for information guides, email campaigns, press releases, event calendars, promotional videos, product listings and everything in between.
So who is generating and managing all of this new content? The short answer is, everyone. From social sharing infographics produced by the marketing team, to whitepapers produced by technical staff, to user generated material – it’s all content.
While some organisations have chosen to build their own in-house content/editorial teams, others outsource as much as possible. It is unremarkable for there to be an array of arrangements, with local marketing teams responsible for some elements, and various agencies used for others.
The increase in the amount of content needed has led to many enterprise organisations using freelancers and third party agencies to help create and manage their digital assets. According to Hubspot, the use of in-house staff for content creation fell by 5% in 2014/15, and the use of agencies and freelancers increased 3%. As the curve in content volume shoots rapidly skyward, we would expect to see a spike in outsourcing in the coming years.
Obstacles to handling content
Recent reports have discovered a range of obstacles to the overcoming content challenge. Forbes highlighted fragmented technology infrastructure as a major barrier to dealing with content. PulsePoint also indicates lack of budget and resources as a key obstacle to doing more with content. An Econsultancy survey shows that marketers would like to use data to improve customer experience but struggle with merging data points and comprehensive data management.
In Econsultancy's most recent compendium, the top three reasons why content is difficult to create and manage are:
- Lack of skilled talent.
- Deficiency in technology.
- Overall process issues.
This compounds Building Blocks’ opinion that before undertaking any digital initiatives, organisations must align themselves to four foundational pillars - People, Process, Platform and Performance. Doing this will provide the core structure for you to build your strategy on, whilst helping you decipher where investment needs to be made.
Is your CMS ready for it?
A best-of-breed content management system (such as Sitecore or SDL Tridion), can be the difference between a well-managed, connected and efficient platform, or a disjointed, disorganised mess with a poor return on investment.
When preparing your global content strategy, you should undertake a full technology audit, so that there is clear transparency of all the systems your organisation uses. A technical architect will be able to develop an integration infrastructure to optimise the efficiency of your systems, maximise the data each contains, and break down operational silos within your organisation.
There is no point in investing in the latest CMS capabilities without first assessing what you have already. The audit may unearth obsolete systems which are no longer fit for purpose, or identify areas where an upgrade or new implementation is required to achieve the goals of the business.
Let's not forget business users either; sales, marketing and front-line staff need content in a highly organised system, so that they can maximise the insight from the vast amounts of data gathered from your digital estate. This is not only imperative for improving customer experience across all channels, but holds particular importance if creating a single customer view is on your digital roadmap.
Key questions you should ask are:
- Is your content management system able to deal with the amount and types of content you need to create?
- Do you need to upgrade or replace your existing CMS to one which can service your global content needs (such as personalisation, localisation, channel integration etc)?
- Do your employees have the resources and knowledge to provide the necessary technical, testing and content support?
- Do you need to outsource content creation, management and optimisation to a suitable agency, like the Building Blocks Digital Operations Services team, with a specialism in your chosen platform?
Using an agency
It is important to consider how a third party could support you with your digital activities. A report from Ascend2 shows that 75% of those asked feel the best way to create content is to combine outsourcing with in-house resources. With the right agency partner, outside support and expertise can be an incredible resource, helping you to maintain and continuously improve your content and your platform.
A good agency will have expertise across multiple disciplines. It will have core processes to help you work more efficiently, and will be focused on getting things done, maximising your budget, and allowng your own staff to concentrate on all of their other responsibilities. A reputable agency will also have the technical infrastructure and vendor relationships in place, to help you build an ROI-driven platform that fits in with your plans and current setup, while helping you to make better use of data.
Agencies often have dedicated teams with deep knowledge and experience of CMS, design, testing and content support. For example, the Digital Operations Services team here at Building Blocks is made up of experienced developers, testers and content editors, who support clients in all aspects of managing and delivering content and more.
Whether you decide to manage everything in-house or out source your content support, to remain competitive the content challenge must be tackled. Now is the time to put the foundations in place to improve customer experience and ensure optimum ROI of your digital estate.