Updated: Nov 13
Every discipline needs an organizing structure to help practitioners achieve their goals. For a baker, that structure might be an annotated recipe book. For a gardener, it could be a detailed landscape plan. For content marketers, that structure is known as content governance.
Implementing content governance, which puts your content strategy plans into action, can increase your marketing team’s productivity by tracking content development to eliminate redundancies. It can improve the performance of your content by helping you assign the best marketer or team to create each piece, increasing content relevancy for the target audience and therefore content performance. And high-performing content can help demonstrate marketing ROI.
Content governance is a set of guidelines that determine why, when, and how your marketing content is created. It entails establishing strategic guidelines, processes, and standards that ensure the content is aligned with the brand's voice, goals, and regulatory requirements. It can be as simple as an editorial calendar that outlines which content is published when and a shared drive for collaborating on that content. Or it can be a more complex systematic framework that guides the creation, management, and control of all content-related assets.
If you have a content management system (CMS), you can use it hand-in-hand with your content governance strategy - with them playing complementary roles in the successful execution of a content strategy. The CMS serves as the technical platform enabling the tangible application of content governance principles. It provides the tools needed to create, manage, and distribute content, helping businesses streamline their content production and distribution processes.
Implementing a Strategic Approach to Content Governance
Implementing a strategic approach to content governance aids in maintaining consistency across all communication channels, enhancing the brand's credibility, and ensuring a coherent and impactful customer journey. Moreover, robust content governance mitigates risks associated with non-compliance, misinformation, or brand misrepresentation, thereby protecting the company's reputation and bolstering customer trust.
How you structure your content governance will likely be defined by factors such as your content goals and the size of your marketing department. There are content governance resources such as guides, templates, forms and checklists freely available on the web, so don’t feel you have to start from scratch. But whatever approach you come up with, you’ll want to make sure that your content governance system is designed to help the marketing team address the following questions:
● Why? This is the most important question to answer before everything else in content marketing – why am I developing this asset? The answer should be simple – to promote a new product, raise brand awareness, influence audiences on a topic, instruct customers on how to use a new feature…whatever the case may be. This is the goal of your content, and your content governance system should ensure this goal can be articulated before content development begins. This can be done by building the question “Why are you developing this asset?” into content templates or creative request forms and ensuring it is answered before advancing to the next stage of content development.
● When? Coming up with a simple editorial calendar to plot out a schedule for your content can be as easy as putting some dates and content descriptions in a spreadsheet. And that’s a great way to ensure consistency in the frequency of pushing out content, which is crucial in building an audience. It doesn’t matter as much how often you blog as how consistently - daily, weekly, monthly - you blog, so that readers know when to look for your posts. By documenting a content release schedule, you can also make sure that content is publicized in a logical way (i.e.: that the second blog in a series is posted after the first one), that you avoid duplication, that you ensure everything that’s developed gets posted and promoted, and that you know when to revisit content for updating.
● How? Who is responsible, and best suited, to create which content? What’s the process, from brainstorming ideas to the finished product? What internal and external resources, from on-staff SMEs to third-party designers, are available for content creators? Putting basic parameters around the ‘how’ of content creation will help produce consistent output, allow you to more easily train new marketers, and enable freelancers to jump into the process. Documenting how content is created can be as simple as building a text document or as complex as using project management software.
By making sure your content governance efforts address these three questions, you can begin your journey to implementing a content strategy that fits your organization today and grows with you.
Key Steps to Implementing Content Governance
But maybe your marketing team hasn’t developed its own processes for content governance because you’re just trying to keep up with the organization’s content development needs. The No. 1 reason why organizations don’t take a strategic approach to managing content is a lack of processes, according to a Content Management & Strategy Survey by the Content Marketing Institute. If you step back for a minute and consider the benefits, you’ll realize the content governance processes are well worth hammering out.
Define Your Content Standard. This refers to the guidelines and standards that all content must adhere to, such as brand voice, tone, style, messaging, SEO, and accessibility. It should also outline your target audience, their pain points, and how your content aims to solve them. Having a clear content standard in place ensures that all content produced by your company is consistent and aligned with your brand and marketing goals.
Create a Content Governance Team. Content governance cannot be successfully implemented without a dedicated team in charge of overseeing and managing all content. This team should consist of individuals from different departments, such as marketing, legal, and compliance, to ensure that all aspects of content are properly addressed. The team should also include a content manager who will be responsible for creating and implementing the content standard, as well as monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of the governance process.
Map Out Your Content Lifecycle. A content lifecycle refers to the stages that content goes through, from creation to archiving. It includes planning, creation, review and approval, publishing, maintenance, and retirement. Mapping out this lifecycle helps in identifying any potential bottlenecks or gaps in your content governance process.
Establish a Content Review Process. Having a clear and structured content review process is crucial for maintaining the integrity of your content. This includes establishing clear guidelines for reviewing and revising content, as well as setting deadlines for completing these tasks.
Monitor and Evaluate Your Content Governance Process. Regularly monitoring and evaluating your content governance process allows you to identify areas for improvement or potential issues. This can include conducting audits, gathering feedback from stakeholders and customers, and tracking key metrics such as content performance and engagement.