Content management is the systems and processes used to collect, curate, publish, and update marketing content. It is, therefore, a vital ‘backroom’ function for good content marketing. What’s more, as more and more content is shared digitally, content management is becoming more important as a way to stand out from the crowd, and ensure that your content is discovered.
These processes broadly follow the customer path, from awareness and interest, through engagement, to decision-making. Content marketing can be relevant at all these stages—so content management is also important.
The changing face of marketing
Before looking at content management, it may be useful to take a quick detour into how marketing has changed, and particularly the increasing importance of content marketing. This helps to set the scene for the rise of content management.
The digital age has changed how we engage with companies. We expect to be able to engage and interact, not simply transact and move on. We also expect to be recognised, across multiple channels if necessary. This has led to suggestions that companies need to change how they think about marketing. Far from focusing on the old ‘4 Ps’ of product, price, promotion and place, it is essential to think about customer engagement and personalisation, connectivity across channels, information about customers, and how this can inform marketing and new technology, and managing marketing across media.
Taken together, these place customers at the heart of marketing activity. For more about the changing face of content marketing, read our article on moving on from the 4Ps.
Getting the right content
Content management starts with getting hold of the right content to publish. Increasing amounts of content is now written by subject-matter experts. They know all about their subject—but they do not necessarily know about marketing, or what’s important to marketers. A good content brief is therefore an important first step in getting the right content.
There is, however, an art to creating a good content brief. It may be considerably longer than the content itself—but that is appropriate in some cases. Time spent on a content brief will be repaid in lack of time required to amend the content later. A good content brief:
- Explains exactly what you want to achieve, including the key messages you want to give;
- Sets out any essentials for content, medium or style, such as video, first-person stories, or curation (see box);
- Gives the writer the context, including any emotional subtext that is required; and
- Uses simple language without marketing jargon, because your content creators may well not speak ‘marketing’.
For more about how to create a really good content brief, and get the content you need, read our article on the subject here.
The context is, of course, all important in content marketing—but there may be more to it than first meets the eye. If you have ever tried to read an article on mobile, and given up in disgust because it’s just too long, or takes too long to scroll through, you will know that this is true.
There are some particular ‘rules’ for writing for mobile, and your content creators need to be aware of those. They include making sure your readers care enough to read on, keeping it short and simple, and aim for instant understanding.
For more, read our article on how to write effectively for mobile.
Managing and updating content: the importance of content intelligence
Publishing content can sometimes feel like the end of the content marketing process—but in fact, it’s barely the beginning. Publishing simply gets your content ‘out there’. It is then up to you to monitor and manage it to maximise its impact. This is where content intelligence matters.
Content intelligence is the systems that look at data about content, and turn it into insights to enable you to improve your impact. It uses some fairly advanced analytics, and would be almost impossible to do manually. It provides information to help marketers to work out what to share and promote, what to update, and even how to update it. It is all about understanding how your content is being used—and then improving on it.
For more about how to get benefits from content intelligence, have a look at our article on this issue here.
One important role in all of this is the marketing analyst. This is a relatively new role, emerging as analytics and data-driven decision-making become more important, including in marketing. Marketing analysts are responsible for a range of areas, including assessing the impact of marketing in various ways—customer acquisition and retention, for example, but also the impact of content. They are heavily involved in forecasting, which is likely to become increasingly important in the future, particularly with advanced analytics. They also act as custodian of marketing ‘best practice’—unsurprisingly, since they are the first to see what is working well.
For more about this important and emerging function, read our article on what marketing analysts do.
A final thought: Is content marketing too important for marketers?
Is content marketing actually too important for marketers to deliver? It is possible to argue that this is the case. Customers want to be in touch with the experts—they want to hear from those who know what’s happening, not the person who crafts the marketing message. Just as customer service departments are no longer the only people who can communicate with customers, so marketing teams are no longer the only ones creating marketing materials.
This is perhaps the biggest change in marketing in the last few decades: increasingly, content creation is by other people, not marketers. However, marketers still have an essential role in managing that content. Their role is, perhaps, similar to that of an orchestra conductor: they have an overview, and direct the action. On their own, they could not produce anything worthwhile, but they help all the content creators to produce something coherent, better than the sum of the individual parts, and they also help to ensure that it is suitably amplified, monitored and managed.