The In-Depth Guide to Buying a Content Marketing Platform

When you began to execute content marketing in your organization, it was probably at a scale that was manageable for a team of one or few. Simple tools like spreadsheets or Google Calendar probably fit the bill. But your content marketing has likely evolved from its humble beginnings. Everyday, you’re probably realizing that your current system of endless spreadsheets, status meetings, and emails is way more painful than it should be.

With more people, ideas, and processes to manage, you may be considering buying a content marketing platform altogether.

So what type of content marketing platform do YOU need? The short answer is, “It depends.” There are several variables to consider when a company is looking at software to manage their content marketing.

If you’re concerned about the disruption to your organization, the cost, the implementation, and ROI, that’s normal. To understand if it’s the right time to introduce software into your content organization, there are specific questions you’ll need to answer to see if your team is ready to use such a powerful tool effectively. Use them to choose your platform wisely and make sure your team can make optimum use of it.

What is the size and structure of your content team?

Solo or small teams may be able to get by with less-sophisticated tools like Excel or Google Drive (calendar/spreadsheet/docs) to manage their process. But as teams grow, these solutions get cumbersome and inefficiencies start to thwart output. We’ve outlined the pitfalls of spreadsheet-based solutions here.

Large organizations that often have multiple departments/teams contributing to content marketing should look at a more robust content marketing platform (DivvyHQ, Upland, and others) that offers shared, scalable content calendar architecture, content-centric workflow tools and CMS-backed platforms that become the centralized repository for all content created across an organization. These platforms can significantly increase efficiency and output, as well as improve collaboration and content quality.

How much content do you produce?

Along the same lines as above, lower volumes of content typically equate to smaller levels of “process pain”, so organizations that don’t create a lot of content can get by with less-sophisticated solutions (Excel, task management systems). As the volume increases, pain levels increase and getting content planned, produced and published efficiently becomes a real challenge. High-volume content teams need well-defined workflow processes and a software tool needs to be customizable and mold to those processes.

Do you struggle with content planning?

Way too many companies today are reactively developing content without a strategy or a plan to back it up. Content teams are like content vending machines, creating whatever is demanded by different stakeholders throughout the business. And inevitably, these content teams get so busy, they lose site of the importance of a content strategy and regular content planning.

Introducing a content marketing platform all but forces the issue for teams to switch their mindsets to a more strategic, audience-first state. The software also keeps your content strategy and content plan visible, allowing you to better communicate your plan and volume of current projects in the works. Best of all, those projects are guided by your strategy, which is exactly what you want.

What types of content do you produce? What are your distribution channels?

When evaluating software platforms, it’s important to consider the different types of content that your organization needs to produce and through which channels that content will be published/distributed. For example, B2C organizations may focus heavily on social and visual content, and thus a solution like Percolate may be ideal. B2B organizations may produce more long-form content (blog posts, ebooks, webinars), and thus solutions like DivvyHQ or Kapost may be a better fit.

And let’s not forget about all the other types of content that are produced inside of your organization. Employees are arguably your most important audience and internal communications teams need good tools too! Feeding intranets and internal social networks take just as much planning and process efficiency as external channels. Just imagine external comms and internal comms sharing assets and collaborating efficiently!

Are you leveraging some form of content calendar, and if so, is it useful?

Content calendars are considered the pillar for planning your content marketing efforts. It’s the place where content projects come to life and includes all the essential information for each piece of content. Your content calendar is your hub for organization and collaboration.

If you currently have a content calendar, good for you. But if it’s living in a spreadsheet, you may be encountering challenges. A spreadsheet, even a shared one, isn’t a dynamic environment. And as your content operation grows and your team is tasked with managing a wide variety of content channels, your spreadsheet(s) will get unwieldy really quick.

On the other hand, when you introduce a content calendar as part of a robust content marketing platform, you’re immediately able to scale your planning in an environment that is specifically built for content.

Within each content calendar, all stakeholders can have access, so there’s never any doubt on the status of a project or who is responsible for what. Plus, with a calendar powered by software, important changes are communicated automatically to impacted parties.

Are inconsistent processes hurting productivity?

Content workflows allow you to control and scale your content production, no matter the environment. Without the consistent use of workflows, things tend to slip through the cracks, bottlenecks occur, and your team’s productivity inevitably suffers. That inconsistency in the process can also impact the quality of the content.

By utilizing a content marketing platform, you can have defined content workflows that anybody can easily follow and the platform helps to hold team members accountable. All producers know their part in the process, and management can see the status of any particular asset at any time.

Is collaboration an issue for your teams?

As your organization grows, there are more people involved in content creation. Thus, being able to facilitate easy content collaboration is critical. Otherwise, it becomes an obstacle, not a strength. Your SMEs, writers, designers, strategists, and editors need to be able to work together in a natural way. And this doesn’t mean long, ineffective meetings.

Instead, software enables collaboration that’s pain-free. Your team is your most valuable asset. When they work together well, it will elevate all that you do.

Is your content performance data accessible?

You have to be measuring and monitoring the performance of your content so you know what’s working and what isn’t. And it’s certainly helpful when your entire team has visibility into that. Content analytics can provide you the insights to tweak your content plan, leveraging what you’ve learned about your audience’s preferences.

This is hard to do when A) you’re not regularly reviewing your performance data, or B) you use multiple platforms or manual processes for reporting. How do you aggregate data now? Does it take considerable time just to collect the data?

You can access all your metrics in one centralized spot with content analytics software. The software does the heavy lifting of collecting data from all your sources. Then you can track important metrics on a dashboard and create reports to share with others.

Would automation capabilities make life easier?

Thanks to evolving technology, our ability to automate many of the manual, mundane tasks that make up the content marketing process has greatly increased. To quantify if content automation would be a benefit, try to determine the number of hours it takes your content team to do any or all of these tasks:

  • Input content requests for review
  • Define workflows
  • Route content assets for review via email
  • Publish content
  • Post on social media
  • Aggregate data
  • Create performance reports

Odds are, much of the work to execute any of these things is highly manual. The amount of time could be 10 hours or more each week. Think of the possibilities of reducing this and getting your resources focused back on strategic initiatives.

Content automation not only saves time, but it also provides additional benefits as well. It reduces costs, generates better leads, and improves accountability.

Do you need to scale your operations?

One of the most common scenarios that necessitate a purchase of a content marketing platform is when teams need to scale. Whether that be due to a merger or acquisition, or more resources have been dedicated to take on a larger scope of content initiatives.

It’s true that in many cases expanding your content can deliver more views, visits, and leads. You may also be ready to scale because you’re venturing into other industries or are introducing new products. If your company is growing, your content marketing needs to as well.

The easy way to scale is to have the right content marketing software that delivers the features and functionality that makes producing more content easy and quick.

Beware of Generals and Swiss Army Knives

A few words of caution as you’re narrowing down your platform options… Beware of “generals”, as in general/generic project management systems that aren’t tailored for managing the unique aspects of content strategy and content marketing. They simply don’t have content-centric workflows, automation and native fields that are vital for managing this very unique process.

Also be careful with “swiss army knives”, the platforms that claim they can do EVERYTHING, but do nothing well. The best tools are those that specialize and go deep into a small part of the process. Think of a chef trying to cook a meal with a swiss army knife. Sure, he could probably get the job done, but to make something special, he needs his set of specialized knives, spatulas, pans, etc.

So, think about what you really need. Which parts of your process are the most painful? Where are you really struggling? Before you start spending valuable dollars and time on platforms that may not be the most efficient or effective, take time to consider the above variables and discuss with your key stakeholders. When you remove the hassles of coordinating your content marketing in impractical ways, you’ll be able to focus on what you’re here to do — create and publish great content.

Now that you’ve explored these questions, are you ready to consider buying a content marketing platform? Before you make an investment or start down a road of endless demos, try out DivvyHQ for free today! Take a test drive to see if it’s what you need to elevate your content game.