The Smart Marketer’s Black Book of Content Operations

The content operations ecosystem includes more than just your content team. It impacts all enterprise areas involved in planning, creating, analyzing, promoting, and sharing content. It’s a key area of your organization that you’ll want to invest in to streamline production and ensure consistency.

But what’s the secret to mastering content ops? And why should you make it a priority? Let’s find out.

What Are Content Operations?

Content operations, or content ops, describe the processes, people, and technology necessary to plan, create, manage, and analyze content. It encompasses all content types and channels.

You could think of it as a framework for the people and workflows necessary to take a project from conception to completion. It should be spelled out as part of your content strategy, and optimizing it drives significant benefits, including:

  • Defining roles and resources necessary
  • Ensuring quality
  • Supporting approvals
  • Identifying bottlenecks and addressing them
  • Getting to deployment faster

The Importance of Content Operations

If you look across your organization, you likely have standard operating procedures (SOPs) for most functions. Content marketing needs them, too, even though it’s not typically considered a business function. However, it should be.

Content is vital to every aspect of business, not just marketing and sales. All stakeholders get something out of content. However, the brand itself can only harness the power of content marketing when it has robust operations behind it.

Without it, you’ll face challenges around meeting your content frequency goals. Further, you won’t be able to track where the breakdowns are in the process. Finally, it could result in content lacking quality control or not following compliance rules, such as with regulated industries.

What Every Smart Marketer Needs for Optimal Content Ops

Whether you’re building content ops from scratch or revisiting it to make improvements, there are components that every plan should include.

Start with a Content Operations Platform

Before you can optimize content ops, you need a content operations platform. Such a solution is a hub for planning, scheduling, creation, collaboration, and measurement. It’s accessible to all parties that need it and delivers transparency around processes.

When choosing a platform, you should seek out:

  • Dynamic content calendars that can be multilevel and allow for task prioritization, the ability to duplicate, and filter and search functionality
  • Workflow and collaboration features that include task management, the ability to build custom workflows, and automated notifications to contributors
  • Integrations for publishing and scheduling
  • Content collaboration tools to make it easier for different teams to work on projects harmoniously
  • Internal content production analytics so you can pinpoint blockages
  • Content analytics hub that pulls data from multiple sources into one dashboard

That’s the technology part of content ops. It enables you to create the processes, but you still must define and refine them.

Build Processes and Content Workflows

content operations - build processes and content workflows

Your technology tools are only as good as the processes you develop and the team’s adoption of them. So, you need to break down what goes into content production. While projects have unique attributes, there is a way to streamline them.

Content workflow best practices:

  • Consider all content formats and the resources they require. For example, infographics need writers and designers.
  • Design content workflows for each type of content into sub-tasks, such as first draft, review, writer revisions, copyediting, design, creation of special links, design needs, publication, and distribution.
  • Determine the timeline for each sub-task. For instance, if you have multiple reviewers, this might represent three days versus a shorter amount of time.
  • Think about caveats and nuances that could disrupt a workflow. One example would be if you’re creating content with a partner. They may have different processes that would skew your timeline.
  • Keep users accountable with reminders and alerts. Additionally, the owner of ops should follow up when others are causing delays to determine why and how to avoid it in the future.

In addition to workflows, the process also goes back to your content strategy. It has the style guide and parameters of content. Those need to be part of your content operations platform so that every person touching content is following them. You may hit all your deadlines without these, but what you produce may not hit the mark.

The third part of content ops is the people.

Define Roles and Determine Gaps

Last but not least are the people. They are your brand’s most valuable assets. As an enterprise content team, your group may be large. There is likely some overlap, but each member plays a specific role. The question is, do they know their role? And what about those outside the content team?

team member roles for content planningSource: DivvyHQ’s 2018 Content Planning Report

Within your content team, you should designate each person’s primary and secondary responsibilities. For example, your senior content writers may handle long-form content, while junior writers focus more on short blogs and social media posts.

Outside your content team, various people are participants as well. Bring them into the circle and share how they support content and what you need from them. From sales reps, it may be that they channel feedback from customers or are the liaison with case studies. Compliance and legal may be necessary for reviews of certain content to ensure it follows regulations.

After defining roles and communicating these, you’ll also find you have gaps. You might not have an SEO specialist or a video production manager. How will you address these? With freelance support, or is this something you add to your headcount? It’s important to figure this out because it will cause hiccups in your operations.

Connecting the Technology, Processes, and People

You can’t win at content ops without connecting all three elements. The technology needs to have all the features and functions. Your processes need to be well-defined and documented. And you need the right people in the right roles, and all parties have buy-in. Those are all the things to fill your black book.

We can help by delivering an award-winning content marketing platform. See how it can improve your operations today with a free trial.