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Improve your content marketing efforts with content governance

Updated: Nov 22, 2021

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 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 complex set of instructions – brand guidelines, content development best practices, asset templates, content maps, etc. – and a dedicated Content Management System (CMS).

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 the 2020 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.

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.

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