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Why SMBs need to take content operations more seriously

Say goodbye to the old myths of easy content creation. Modern businesses need to face the reality of strategic content operations, where bold vision meets execution—and where content not only supports marketing efforts but also emerges as a valuable business asset.

TL;DR

  • People, processes, and technology are the pillars of content operations
  • Content operations frameworks should be structured and targeted
  • Technology and tools play an essential role in enhancing content operations
  • An investment in content operations is necessary for business alignment and efficiency
  • AI is revolutionizing content operations through automation and personalization

What are content operations?

Content operations revolve around three pillars: people, processes, and technology, with the overarching goal being to create content both with purpose and measurable outcomes. The days of viewing content as a mere offshoot of marketing are over—today’s business leaders recognize the need to make informed decisions.

Think of content as a product in a supply chain. By visualizing this ecosystem, businesses can understand the intricacies of content operations and see them for what they are: a crucial aspect of holistic success in contemporary business.

The business case for content operations

Content operations provide a structured framework for businesses to efficiently produce, manage, and distribute content that engages their target audience. By analyzing data, companies can tailor their content precisely to user preferences, which is critical considering that personalized content significantly impacts purchasing behavior.

Content operations focus on unifying content creation, management, and delivery processes to ensure that every piece of content serves a strategic purpose and strengthens the customer-business relationship. This approach is about exceeding customer expectations through consistently relevant and compelling content that drives conversion.

Put simply, investing in content operations means aligning fragmented strategies and genuinely connecting with audiences in meaningful ways.

Key components of efficient content ops

Content operations help to produce and maintain the quality, relevance, and effectiveness of content in achieving business objectives. Let’s explore the core components that form the pillars of a robust content operations strategy:

A. People, roles, and the content operations team

The human aspect of content operations and team structure is irreplaceable. Clear roles, devoid of overlaps and ambiguities, set the stage for effective content delivery. An aligned team, aware of its responsibilities and embedded in a content-friendly culture, can transform a business’ content marketing efforts.

The alignment of a content marketing team should begin with a solid foundation, where a defined brand book and marketing approach illuminate shared goals, preventing overlap and streamlining efforts.

Defining each person’s role with precision means that task management is met with accountability and contributes effectively to the team’s collective output. This clarity not only amplifies individual performance but also fortifies the team’s overall content strategy.

Communication is the bedrock of an effective content operations framework

Once roles are clarified, nurturing an environment of open communication and continuous learning is key to dynamism. Regular brainstorming sessions—combined with a culture that values feedback—steer innovation and improve skills. By investing in training and recognizing personal development, content teams thrive and stay ahead of industry trends, ensuring their work remains fresh, relevant, and impactful.

Example: At The New York Times, the distinction and clarity of roles within their content operations are paramount. The editorial team is structured with reporters, editors, and sub-editors, each responsible for their part of the content journey—from researching to writing and from editing to fact-checking. This delineation guarantees that content is produced efficiently, is of high quality, and upholds the newspaper’s reputation for reliable journalism.

B. Processes in action

From the initial ideation to the final publication, processes guide the journey. Implementing structures like production workflows, governance models, and style guidelines allows for a smooth content creation process.

A process-driven approach to content creation is essential for marketing scalability, regardless of budget size. Talented strategists advocate for a structured journey to smooth production, save time, and facilitate data-driven decisions. For small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), this structured approach is particularly beneficial, allowing for agility and easier transitions when pivoting strategies.

Production workflows: Guide content through each stage of creation, involving multiple checks for quality.

Governance models: Establish the rules for content management, emphasizing long-term content value and accuracy. Together, these systems create a robust framework that supports consistent and efficient content production.

Style guidelines: The creative linchpins that make all content consistent with the brand’s voice across multiple channels, providing content creators with the direction needed to produce engaging and high-quality content assets.

When content processes—production, governance, and style—are in sync, it boosts the quality of the content and means that each piece effectively communicates the brand’s message, driving engagement and delivering on marketing objectives.

Example: Take Salesforce, for instance, which uses a strategic content operations process to maintain its status as a CRM leader. They have a stringent quality control process where every piece of content, after being written, goes through several layers of review—technical accuracy checks by product experts, legal compliance vetting, and, finally, linguistic polishing by professional editors.

This thorough, step-by-step quality assurance process ensures that the content not only aligns with the brand’s voice but also meets regulatory standards and provides accurate information to its customers. Salesforce’s commitment to such rigorous content verification sets a high bar for quality and authority in the industry.

C. Leveraging technology

Today, technology acts as the mainstay of successful content operations. Whether it’s managing projects, executing content, or diving into analytics, tools and platforms empower businesses. Embracing technology in content creation and management is a non-negotiable—a true game-changer in saving time and enhancing efficiency.

Selecting the right tools can be overwhelming, but with a myriad of options like AI and project management software, finding the perfect fit for your team’s needs is key. These tools support everything from managing tasks to deciphering analytics, evolving with the industry to cater to the dynamic nature of content demands.

When it comes to content marketing strategy, automation plays a pivotal role in several areas. It begins with ideation—crafting a concept that dovetails with your marketing strategy and resonates with your audience. Then there’s editing and optimization, which involve refining content to match your brand’s voice and optimizing it for both search engines and real readers.

Project management is equally important, ensuring that each task is tracked, deadlines are met, and resources are allocated efficiently, all of which streamline the content creation process and enhance productivity.

Finally, a strategic approach to publishing solidifies audience engagement and brand reliability, while a rigorous system of tracking and analyzing content performance provides actionable insights. This analytical approach enables a business to discern which content works best, refine strategies, redirect resources, and set measurable goals. Collectively, these practices form an ecosystem where content not only thrives but also drives growth and retains relevance in the competitive digital space.

Example: Airbnb uses technology to smoothen its content operations. By employing a robust CMS, they can manage listings and content across different regions and languages. Additionally, they use analytics tools to measure user engagement and content reactions, which informs their content strategy and helps them tailor experiences for their audience. This strategic use of technology supports their position as a leader in the hospitality and travel industry.

Why should SMBs invest in content operations?

Effective content management goes beyond creating a stream of posts and articles—it involves orchestrating a strategy that speaks directly to your business objectives. Content operations unlock this potential by establishing a pathway from what your brand stands for to how it communicates.

For example, a company like Patagonia is known for its commitment to sustainability and environmental activism. Their content operations might involve a meticulous strategy that encompasses the creation of in-depth blog posts, user engagement through social media, and educational videos—all emphasizing their core mission of responsible consumption and nature conservation. 

Content becomes a powerful tool for brand loyalty and customer retention, encouraging a community of like-minded consumers who are aligned with the company’s ethos and more likely to support them in the long term.

Aligning vision with execution in content strategy

Mere content production without direction can lead businesses astray. Centralizing your content strategy through content operations ensures you get every piece aligned with the company’s goals. Take the case of a startup promoting eco-friendly products. If their content team is unaware of the core vision, they might produce content that doesn’t emphasize environmental conservation, leading to a mismatch in messaging.

Content operations boost workflow by dismantling data silos and fostering teamwork, which leads to a unified approach and eliminates duplicated efforts. A practical example would be a content calendar that prevents overlap, where two writers might otherwise inadvertently create content on the same topic, saving both time and resources.

Establishing trust through tailored content creation

Consider a financial advisory firm that routinely delivers content catering to different life stages—from recent graduates to those approaching retirement. The content showcases the grasp of their clients’ evolving needs, thus building trust and securing customer loyalty. Effective content operations take into account the lifespan of their content and develop in tandem with their customers.

Guaranteeing consistency

Content operations bring a systematic approach to content creation and distribution, ensuring uniformity and the ability to scale. As an example, a clear process manual can help maintain brand voice and message across all platforms, avoiding the confusion of mixed signals to customers.

Improving cost-efficiency

Implementing content operations has been shown to lead to better resource management, resulting in cost savings. Businesses optimize their budgets when they avoid unnecessary tasks and focus on effective content production.

Tracking and enhancing performance

With content operations strategy, companies aren’t just guessing about outcomes—they’re equipped with analytics to measure the impact of their content, identify areas for improvement, and refine their strategies for better results.

Embracing content operations for strategic project management

Companies ready to leverage content operations can start by assessing their current content creation and management processes. The first step is often to establish a content strategy that aligns with business goals and customer needs. From there, organizations can adopt various methods to integrate content operations into their routine:

An image showing how content operations aids strategic project management
  1. Workflow definition and documentation: Clearly define each step of the content lifecycle, from ideation to publication and beyond. This often involves creating an editorial calendar, style guides, and governance policies.
  2. Cross-functional team building: Assemble a cross-functional team with members from marketing, sales, customer service, and IT to create a holistic approach to content creation and dissemination.
  3. Technology implementation: Leverage technology solutions like Content Management Systems (CMS), Digital Asset Management (DAM) platforms, and Project Management tools to organize the content operations process.
  4. Training and change management: Offer comprehensive training for your team to adapt to new tools and processes, and manage the change to give smooth transitions.
  5. Performance measurement: Set up Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and utilize analytics tools to measure the effectiveness of your content and refine your strategy accordingly.

Selecting the right tools is essential for successful content operations. A robust CMS can serve as the backbone for content creation and management, while collaboration tools like Slack or Asana can enhance team communication. DAM systems can organize and distribute digital assets efficiently, and SEO tools like Semrush or Ahrefs can optimize content for search engines and help reach the intended audience.

The role of AI in content operations

Artificial intelligence (AI) is rapidly transforming content operations by offering predictive analytics, personalization, and automation. AI can assist in identifying content trends, suggest content topics likely to engage readers, and automate routine tasks like data analysis and keyword research. Tools such as Grammarly and Surfer employ AI to improve content quality with grammar checks, optimization, and style improvements, significantly reducing the editing workload.

AI-driven chatbots and virtual assistants can curate personalized content experiences for users, increasing engagement and customer satisfaction. Harnessing the power of AI empowers companies to not only achieve operational efficiency but also gain a competitive edge in crafting relevant and compelling content that engages their audience.

Content generation

AI assists in the initial drafting phase of content. For instance, tools like OpenAI’s GPT-4 can generate blog post outlines, ad copy, and even full articles based on input keywords or topics. This allows content teams to scale their output by automating the generation of first-draft content, which human writers can then edit and personalize.

SEO optimization

AI-powered tools can analyze content against current search engine algorithms to suggest optimizations. These might include keyword suggestions, readability improvements, and content structure changes that could help the content rank higher in search results, driving more organic traffic to a website.

Content personalization

Artificial intelligence can tailor content to individual users in real time, learning from their behavior, preferences, and interaction with previous content. By integrating with customer data platforms, AI can dynamically personalize email marketing campaigns, product recommendations, and website content to enhance user experience and increase conversion rates.

Predictive analytics

Use AI to process large volumes of data to predict trends and suggest content topics that are likely to engage audiences. By analyzing past content and current market trends, AI can guide content strategists in planning their content calendar and prioritizing topics that have a higher likelihood of appealing to their target demographic.

Automated image and video creation

AI isn’t limited to text-based content. Graphic design tools exist that can generate images, infographics, and videos based on textual descriptions or data inputs. This can dramatically reduce the time and resources needed to create visual content and, when used in conjunction with content campaigns, can provide a richer and more engaging user experience.

Final thoughts

Content isn’t just about words and visuals—it requires strategy, execution, and quantifiable outcomes. SMBs can take advantage of today’s powerful tools, woven together with the human touch, to build solid, lasting impact. Wordbrew’s hybrid content creation platform can incorporate your strategy and branding to wield meaningful results. Contact us today to find out how.

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