Structured and unstructured data is often a technical conversation. However, these terms apply to content types as well. Most content is unstructured, which may be a shocker. We think of all the purposeful formatting and structuring of our content. Because it doesn’t fit into a column or row, it’s unstructured.
So, what do enterprise content teams need to know about structured and unstructured content? Keep reading to learn why it matters!
Structured vs. Unstructured Content Types
Structured content refers to content in a database that has units of table, row, column, and words. The type of data is only text, inclusive of letters, numbers, punctuation, and other font-generated characters. The source of structured content includes that from business systems (e.g., CRMs and other software), either through automation or human entry.
To retrieve structured content, you would use field-limited searching. Its purpose is typically for reports or automation triggers. An example would be searching for properties based on filters on real estate websites. All the content around these properties has structure, as it’s part of a database.
Unstructured data is not easily translatable to databases. Its units are files, paragraphs, sentences, tables, words, and graphic elements. There are more data types within unstructured, such as text and its formatting and positioning, as well as graphic elements and their positioning.
The source of this content is human production, not automation. It’s everything you create as a content team. To find unstructured data files, you can use metadata searches (more on this later!). Its objective is to be viewable and interpretable by humans.
Watch the video below for a short intro to structured and unstructured content.
Why Is Content Unstructured?
As noted, the content you produce doesn’t have standardization and won’t easily flow into those roles and columns of databases. As a result, it can be hard to search, which can impact your ability to locate, update, or repurpose it, all of which are important in content marketing.
The amount of content you create and its innate attribute of being unstructured require you to be aware of several things.
What to Know About Unstructured Content
As a primer to better management of your content, regardless of its structure, you’ll want to remember these takeaways.
- Unstructured data is everywhere! According to experts, 80 to 90 percent of all data is unstructured. That may be closer to 100 percent for the content types you produce.
- Unstructured data resides in containers, such as .doc, .ppt, tiff, .html., etc. As a result, you need a software tool to read or edit it.
- Managing unstructured data is a pain point. Because it’s in these containers, it’s hard to know what’s in each one. That’s the crux of why the topic is relevant to content marketers, going back to the earlier point about finding, updating, or repurposing it.
- XML is necessary for easier reuse and sharing. XML is a language that transmits content without the container. Lose the container, and the content is more manageable. You can then migrate it to a template (e.g., Word, the web, PDFs, etc.). So, storing it as an XML makes it easier to find.
- Metadata management is critical for unstructured data so content creators, editors, publishers, and others can find content assets.
Next, we’ll dive deeper into metadata management.
Unstructured Content Types and Metadata Management
With a robust metadata management strategy and a system to support it, managing unstructured content is simpler. Here’s a primer on how that works.
What Is Metadata?
Metadata is data that provides context or information about other data. It’s not a reflection of the actual content but a way to classify, discover, and identify.
With lots of assets, effectively organizing them is difficult. Metadata eliminates this, which is essential for content operations.
How Metadata Management Helps with Unstructured Data
Metadata tags describe digital assets, improving findability and usability. It’s essential for unstructured data because it:
- Provides a way to organize and categorize content, and you can do that by content types, product groups, audiences, or any other component
- Supports reporting and content analytics functionality to understand the gap analysis of your content
- Keeps digital assets secure so that only authorized users can access them
- Improves search-ability so that users don’t waste time looking for content
Your content production velocity will likely only increase as the demand for it rises. That means more unstructured data. Having a metadata management strategy and the technology to support it enables greater efficiency and productivity.
So, what can you do with metadata management of unstructured content?
Metadata Management of Unstructured Content Types: Benefits for Content Teams
When you use metadata to manage unstructured content types, you can expect these benefits:
- It creates a hierarchy: When you’re working on new projects and want to refer to previous ones, you can find these. That helps messaging stay consistent and provides backlinking opportunities.
- Content audits are easier: Those metadata tags are very useful for content audits. You should be auditing your content at least twice a year. Doing so ensures your content production matches your content strategy in terms of topics, audiences, buyer stage, and keywords.
- Personalization is easier: If you’re launching dynamic personalization, you’ll need metadata to define what assets appear for each segment. Then, you can identify gaps and find content to repurpose.
So, where does all this activity take place? You’ll be able to manage unstructured content and its metadata most effectively with a content marketing platform.
Divvy’s Robust Metadata Management Empowers Content Marketers
The Divvy platform includes a library to store all your assets, tagging architecture, and other metadata management capabilities. The design of this framework is for content marketers, so it fits your workflows and needs. Other solutions won’t have this custom feel.
You can view these features and more by starting a free trial today.