Content Life Cycle Management: What, Why and How

For many marketing and content practitioners, the concept of a content asset having a “shelf life” is not new. Once it’s published, it will be relevant for a period of time, until it’s not anymore. If you’ve ever been involved in a content audit, determining whether a piece of content is still relevant and accurate vs. outdated is often the primary goal of that exercise.

But content assets actually have more of a lifespan than just their shelf life. The life cycle actually starts much earlier, at conception of the original idea. And then each asset goes through many phases. People are obviously involved all along the journey and this entire process is called content life cycle management. Proper management of each piece of content ensures that the content performs optimally and meets the goals of your content strategy.

The reality is that many content teams are still early in the development of their own processes. Their operational maturity and strategic focus is still evolving. Content is being created because others have demonstrated its benefits. But as a result, a lot of content assets don’t perform well or go unused.

Content teams need to ensure that each asset serves a purpose and delivers value in some way, and managing life cycles is one way to do this. That’s especially true for enterprise content teams that have a large library of assets. Let’s dig a little deeper, shall we?

What Is Content Life Cycle Management?

It’s a process that encompasses seven phases:

  1. Planning: Content planning includes the ideation of topics and projects to meet content goals. These need to be in alignment with company goals, too. Planning also includes looking back at previous projects and data on their performance to find opportunities.
  2. Creating: In this step, content creators are developing the project. This stage is critical because nothing else can happen until the content is complete. It’s often the most inefficient cog in the wheel. It requires multiple people and time. Using content marketing software can help streamline this and keep projects on track.
  3. Optimizing: Optimization involves getting the content from draft to completion. Reviewing and editing will occur. It also includes ensuring it’s SEO-friendly.
  4. Organizing: In organizing, you’re determining where the content will live. That includes more than just where you publish it. For example, where will it live for sales to use it? And will you include it in other tactics like an email series?
  5. Distributing: Once published, you distribute the content through social media or other third-party platforms or content amplification tools. You can redistribute and repurpose the content to extend its reach.
  6. Measuring: You’re reviewing content analytics to understand performance.
  7. Preserving: In this final phase, you’ll often revisit old content and update it to reflect new data or points so that it continues to be relevant. You may also change up the keywords if you find emerging ones that fit the topic and are trending up in search volume.

The point of doing this is to improve the efficiency and quality of content so that it continues to attract and engage the intended audience.

Why Should Your Team Implement a Life Cycle Management Process for Content?

implementation of content life cycle management

Many content teams engage in most of these phases for projects. However, this process is more intentional in unlocking the value of every project.

Because you generate so much content in multiple formats on logs of subjects, life cycle management can help you focus on individual projects and their contribution to success. Your team can track each piece of content through the seven stages.

Implementing this should return results for you, both internally and externally. Here are some benefits you can realize:

  • You’re planning content with more intention, rather than just throwing stuff out to see if it sticks.
  • Content is truly complete at publishing, meaning it’s been through a comprehensive process to drive the most value.
  • You’re using performance data to improve existing content and inform future projects.
  • Sales teams have better awareness and access to content that helps them close the deal because it’s easy to find.
  • You revisit old content to enhance it so that it’s still meaningful to your audience.

How Do You Create a Content Life Cycle Management Program?

Adopting this strategy doesn’t have to be more operating procedure that gets eye rolls from your team. It’s not process for the sake of process. As indicated, it has significant benefits. Here are key tips for starting a program and sustaining it.

  • Get employee buy-in: As with any change, it’s critical to get everyone involved on board. Start by communicating the value of such a process and how it will streamline things and benefit each contributor. Also, ask for their input on how to execute the phases.
  • Deploy technology that makes it easy: Content marketing software is the ideal choice for life cycle management. It’s a central hub for all your activities. It has features for planning, creating, storing, distributing, and measuring. When you can leverage technology, that eases the implementation. Your team will appreciate how well it aligns with the seven stages.
  • Develop new workflows: While you likely have content workflows, you’ll want to revisit them to ensure they cover each phase accurately. With your platform, you should be able to create customized workflows, which will drive efficiency while also ensuring collaboration is easy.
  • Document everything: Any successful program has documentation on how it works. You can include this within your content marketing solution so it’s always accessible. It’s beneficial in onboarding new content team members. It can also explain the big picture to leadership or other parties that support content efforts like subject matter experts or the sales team.
  • Define updating parameters: You don’t want your content to become stale. If it does, it’s no longer working for you. Updating old posts can also support SEO and website traffic. (Check out this post on updating content for all the details.) You’ll want to set a cadence. Some subjects may be evergreen but might need a refresh now and then. Others will require a revisit sooner because they have stats that can become outdated sooner.
  • Formulate how data will impact the life cycle: Metrics on content performance will play a key role in the management of it. For example, if you see declines in traffic, you’ll want to determine why and if that content has completed its cycle. Or can you update it to preserve it?

Content Life Cycle Management Is Critical for Enterprises

Your goal as a content team is to consistently create relevant, engaging content that attracts and converts buyers. Developing a life cycle management program aligns very well with this mission. It adds another layer of strategy to your content efforts. And you can manage it all without barriers with DivvyHQ. See how it works today by starting a free trial.