Organizations continue to place a strong value on content, serving as the catalyst for educating audiences about solutions and trends, as well as elevating thought leadership within their respective industries and beyond. When done correctly, content can become the greatest resource for driving business objectives and enabling success. However, many Marketing teams continue to struggle with understanding how to maximize content ROI, churning out high volumes of mediocre collateral with no clear roadmap for how to optimize content creation, serve its audience or best serve the organization.
In order for the ever-evolving role of content to serve organizational needs, the way in which we approach its lifecycle must evolve as well.
For any business, budgeting and consistently measuring the ROI on any initiative is a top priority. From Marketing campaigns to Sales process enhancements, leaders look to better understand how these investments are serving their needs. Content is no different – it must be actively managed and looked after in order to deliver maximum value. In order to deliver a piece that resonates, marketing teams must treat each content ideation as unique, ensuring it will withstand the question of ROI by connecting and optimizing each stage of its lifecycle.
Stage 1: Ideate
While generating high-value content ideas is the goal for any team, understanding how to create and prioritize the strongest concepts can prove to be challenging. The best way to optimize this stage of the lifecycle is to eliminate distractions and rid teams of formatting limitations, let people be free to be curious and ideate their own way. Although Marketing professionals tend to be hardwired to first consider form before content, take a step back to “reverse engineer” the process, focusing first on the audience and what challenges they are looking to solve, then the purpose and story can unfold. Formatting and structure can come later in the process.
While the impulse to collaborate might drive this process and work for some organizations, allow your teams to ideate in their own way, with ample time and freedom to explore topics the way they see fit. The most successful content ideas tend to be born from creative teams sharing their perspectives with no expectation of output – in other words, provide time for teams to brainstorm creatively, rather than have to think critically and create at the same time.
Once an idea is developed, test it within the market, get early audience feedback and iterate from there. Good ideas are about outcome, not output. Understanding how that topic has performed within the industry allows you to better understand the potential outcome of ideas.
Stage 2: Plan
Slow down to speed up, don’t rush the planning process and don’t default to old habits too soon. Creative teams must develop a schedule and truly take the time to plan how an idea will come to fruition. To do that you must understand the opportunity, organizational capacity, and feasibility. It’s important for Marketing professionals not to rush this process and begin creating without a clear plan in place.
Make sure everyone agrees on project objectives with specific KPIs you will use to measure them. While this may initially take longer to develop, the end result ensures the remaining stages are successfully approached with an enhanced understanding of what success may look like and how it can be measured so you can prove ROI that matters. Above all, teams must build flexibility into their content planning – allow your approach to remain agile enough to adapt to changing landscapes or directions.
Stage 3: Budget
It is crucial to understand the worth of any given content piece in terms of its outcome to the organization. To do this teams must clearly understand objectives and identify what their expectations are, but also be able to track and measure the content through every phase of the content lifecycle. For example: how many hours did it take to create? Was there overtime? Were new assets purchased? What’s the media spend or production costs to put it the market?
Through taking the approach of building budgets based on actual costs and outcome value, Marketing departments are given the flexibility to make informed decisions and adjust production and spending in ways that improve content creation and performance – ensuring they are allocating budget toward what’s working, rather than what’s not.
Stage 4: Create
In today’s world of modern Marketing, technology and process are critical to success. Once a team has developed their idea, built a detailed plan, and identified an outcome value-based budget, the creation process becomes more efficient and its content more successful. When it’s time to start creating, automating tasks and using AI is becoming the new standard. This allows creative teams to be more creative!
By eliminating the guesswork and information search, teams can focus on what they enjoy doing. This also ensures accuracy, speed, and the ability to measure outcomes. Imagine using technology to assign tasks to the best available resource based on AI, assign work at the right moment, and adjust according to capacity constraints – all of this is just the beginning. Automated workflows and approval processes not only move things along faster but give you the ability to measure outcomes so you can improve, report and prove success.
Stage 5: Manage
Creative teams must leverage technology to ensure the right assets are used, avoid the duplication of assets across the organization and manage rights to avoid fines. Properly structuring, tagging and storing all your assets is critical to success. With this management in place, teams can quickly search, find, reuse, repurpose, and remix assets to make multiple versions of the content for different use cases, markets, and audiences. In addition, you can measure an asset’s overall cost, value and content consumption. You’ll also know how your content is being used and how it’s performing in-market with integrated analytics.
Stage 6: Distribute
During the planning stage, you identified the right channels to distribute your Marketing – now it’s time to do it! Digital Asset Management solutions can streamline these processes to help make sure content goes out at the right time and in the right channels to support all the different points of evidence, triggered events, and buying signals that need to happen. Be sure to integrate all your content, processes, and data so you can more easily deliver relevant, omnichannel customer experiences. Keywords are critical to driving traffic back to your website and help with monitoring performance. Use metrics that measure audience behavior and align with the KPIs identified in planning so you can prove ROI and adjust content for better performance in the future.
Stage 7: Analyze
In order for the content lifecycle to truly come full circle, Marketing teams must continuously measure performance to better understand how it correlates with the desired outcome. Analyzing why and how audiences are engaging with content, what they are doing after engagement, and the relationship between its lifecycle and sales is critical when it comes to maximizing its ROI. This analysis empowers creative teams with the ability to incorporate a test-measure-adapt process into understanding how to improve content over time.
Optimizing content lifecycles enables organizations to maximize content ROI and draw stronger correlations between Marketing collateral and Sales revenues.
Although many Marketing teams tend to fixate on creating a large queue of content collateral, it’s important to focus and align with intended outcomes rather than output. In order to maximize ROI and drive performance objectives, marketers must effectively manage each stage of the content lifecycle: ideate, plan, budget, create, manage, distribute, and analyze.
Developing high-performance Marketing content isn’t easy. However, through taking the time to optimize the content ideation and creation processes, your business can turn performance headaches into business wins.