The Risks of Working without a Content Workflow
It is clear from the above sections that content workflows bring order and clarity into the content management process. What if the marketing team does not have a content workflow? What are all the risks they run into by managing content creation in an unstructured and unplanned manner?
1) Lack of Clear objectives:
Working without a clear plan of action or a well-defined content workflow the chances of failure of marketing or advertising campaigns are very high. People and processes are at the core of content workflows. Marketing content initiatives that do not include both these elements are heading towards imminent failure. The clarity in the objectives of the content marketing initiatives is a must for the success of the campaigns. A successful content marketing campaign must be clear on the expectations of the target audience, the USP of the product or service to be highlighted, offers and discounts that are being rolled out, etc.
2) Lack of clarity in process flow:
Without a clearly defined workflow that defines the sequence and dependency of tasks, the hand-off from one team member to another is messed up. For example: if the copywriter is not clear about whom to send their drafts to, the draft remains stuck with them and will not move further in the content creation process.
3) Scope for duplication:
content creation process that is not supported by clear-cut workflows lacks transparency about process flow. All the stakeholders are not clear about their roles in the process, as a result, duplication or wrong work allocations may occur. Duplication of work not only creates confusion but also increases the marketing costs.
4) Resource wastage:
lack of transparency in the content creation process flow results in wrong work allocations. Work assignment is not based on skills and competencies but on resource availability. Without a content workflow, resources are not utilized optimally. This results in a waste of resources and a dip in job satisfaction.
5) Time and cost increase:
inefficient resource allocation and lack of consistency in process workflows lead to wastage of time and an increase in costs. Content creation becomes an expensive process ridden with bottlenecks and inefficiencies.
An unstructured and unplanned content creation process is prone to risks such as increased costs, resource wastage, inconsistencies, errors, and duplication. A clear-cut mapping of content workflow tasks against resources ensures optimal resource utilization and brings down additional costs.
Understanding the Content Workflow Lifecycle
A content management workflow is a series of tasks carried out by a team (mostly within the content creation team) to plan, create, and publish content on time to reach out to targeted audiences. How the complexity of the content workflow depends on various factors like objectives, type of content, budget, and the scope of the project.
A typical content workflow would consist of the following steps:
1) Research on Type of Content:
this being the first step, sets the tone for the rest of the content workflow. The complexity of the content workflow depends on the type and nature of the content. The content strategy decides the type of content that needs to be created. Identifying the buyer personas is the first step to deciding on the type of content. Uncovering customers’ pain points, challenges, expectations, obstacles, and fears help create buying personas. Performance analytics on old content also provides insights into top-performing content and topics that the audience is enjoying. Keyword research is a great way to start researching for content creation. The decision on the type of content should be based on its uses. For example, blog posts are useful for building relationships with readers and nurturing prospects, while e-books are effective in attracting prospects. Video content is a great way to create awareness and engage customers and prospects about a particular topic.
2) Defining roles and responsibilities:
once the type of content has been decided, the next step is to identify and assign tasks to each person in the team. The tasks need to be identified and categorized into stages through the content workflow. Content strategist, content writer, graphic designer, subject matter expert, user experience designer, content editor, and email and social media manager are some of the roles in the content management workflow.
- Content strategist – in charge of conducting a thorough content audit and inventory and creating content briefs and style guides. Content strategists use various SEO tools for developing a content strategy.
- Content writer – the content writer will develop the main content based on the outline provided during the research phase and inputs from the content strategist.
- Graphic designer – the content strategist, copywriter, and graphic designer team up to decide on graphics and images appropriate to the developed content and overall strategy. The creation of graphics and overall design of the piece is the responsibility of the graphic designer.
- Subject matter expert – the factuality and overall quality of the content is reviewed by the subject matter expert. Updating or correcting the content is done at this stage.
- User experience designer – testing and optimizing the user experience of the content is done by the UX designer.
- Content editor – the content manager will do final approval of the content before it is published on the internal content management system (CMS). While uploading it on the CMS, internal links, images, and files are added, and SEO practices are applied to the final content. From the CMS, the content is published on the company website.
- Email marketing and social media manager– after publishing the content on the company’s website, the social media and email manager promote the content via social media websites and email lists.
3) Setting deadlines:
setting clear deadlines for each task in the content workflow is an important step. For setting timelines for each task, the tasks must be listed out. Holding an internal meeting is useful to brainstorm all the tasks in the content creation process. While listing the tasks, the time required for each task also must be noted. Other information like expertise within the team, duration of content projects in the past, and methods for estimating time for each task should be considered while deciding on the deadlines. Prioritizing the tasks before setting the deadlines enables efficient organizing. While setting the deadlines, it is advisable to have buffers in case of any unexpected delays.
4) Have a single reference source:
having a trusted employee oversee the entire content production process ensures a smooth flow of the content workflow. Overseeing each stage of the content creation process is important for successful completion. Senior managers, senior marketers, or content managers are ideal for performing this role.
5) Track and control content workflow:
you need to use the right business tools that help you track and control the progress of the content workflow. Using content workflow software is a smart way to keep track of the content management process.
Components of a Content Workflow
The content workflow is all about the people, processes, and tasks at the heart of content management. Choosing the people, processes, and tasks carefully is important for the health of the workflow. Let us look closely at the components of the workflow.
mapping the entire content creation process, from entry to exit points of content creation, approval, publication, and optimization helps learn where the content slows down in the process. Transparency and visibility into every stage of the process help identify the places where changes are needed to improve the efficiency of the process. The quicker the content is generated and published, the more relevant and responsive it will be. The approval workflow is an important stage in the content management workflow. Creating a seamless approval workflow improves the quality of the content and ensures that every piece of content that goes out is valuable and on-brand. A trusted and experienced person must be put in charge of improving all digital marketing content that goes out.
the smooth running of the content workflow depends on the tasks that are created as part of the workflow. While designing the workflow, you must consider all the tasks that need to be completed for a piece of content to traverse from ideation to publishing. The type of content that is required determines the tasks in the content workflow. For example, video content requires tasks like storyboarding, filming, editing, review, approval, finalizing, and publishing. Whereas, publishing a blog post will not require tasks like storyboarding or filming. Tasks like repurposing and reuse of content must be included to make the content useful and usable across multiple platforms. Using workflow software provides visibility into the status of tasks in the process.
the content marketers in the marketing team play a crucial role in the effectiveness and timeliness of the content project. Smooth operations are possible when each team member delivers optimal performance. The ultimate goal of content creation is to maximize the value for the clients. When each team member is aware of their roles and responsibilities in the content workflow, they work to their full potential. While creating new content processes we need to ensure that the right people are assigned to appropriate tasks and that each person is aware of their roles and responsibilities in the content workflows. Right assignment of tasks can be done by considering each member’s role and strengths related to content development.
In addition to assigning people to appropriate roles, establishing a clear communication network between team members. For example, when a content writer writing a blog post requires clarification while developing content, they should be able to easily communicate with the content strategist to get it clarified.
Developing a Content Management Workflow
Developing the right content workflow must be done after several considerations. While you map out the content workflow by covering every type of content to be created, you must bear in mind the following points for creating content management workflows are:
- How each content piece fits into the overall content marketing strategy
- What are the tasks that each team member must complete to create good content?
- Appropriate mapping of each team member against each task
- Resources required by each team member to complete their tasks
- Time required by each team member to complete their tasks
- What condition needs to be satisfied for the project to move to the next stage?
- What happens after the completion of a task? How is task completion communicated to the rest of the team?
- Ways to streamline the content workflow to avoid repetition, duplication, or redundancy
- What happens when exceptional circumstances occur, and the content project needs to be fast-tracked
There are several ways to map the content management workflow, the most effective way being flow diagrams. Visual representation of the content approval process ensures smooth flow as the process moves forward. Content approval workflows are useful for any business that works with a content strategy. While even a small business might benefit from content approval workflows, it becomes a must for growing enterprises. A typical content approval workflow comprises the following components:
Content request – the workflow begins with the request for a particular type of content. The request can come from any source- leadership of the organization, marketing team, or subject matter experts. The workflow must be designed in such a way that various types of requests can be accommodated. The request for content is directed to the editor or content strategist who reviews it to ensure that it is aligned with the overall content strategy. If it does not fit into the strategy, it is rejected at this stage itself.
SEO Input – once the topic is approved, the brief is passed on to the search engine marketing expert. At this stage, the right keywords are assigned to the topic and the structural elements of the content are decided. In case the request is sent by the SEO expert, then this step is taken care of.
Content writing – once the topic is fixed and relevant keywords are assigned, the writer is assigned the task of developing content. If it is an article, then it should include details like a comprehensive brief, keywords, references, and a deadline. If this is a task for developing specialized content, then an additional step may be added for seeking clarity from a subject matter expert (SME) or the requestor.
Design and review of content – once the content is ready, the next step is to enhance readability by adding visual elements. The graphic designer is responsible for adding visual content to the developed content. After adding the visual content, the editor reviews the complete piece. Any changes to the text or images are communicated to the appropriate person for editing. After the changes are incorporated, the content comes back to the editor for final approval.
Publishing and distribution – the approved content is then taken to the publishing stage and distributed to various channels as per the content marketing strategy. Community engagement experts are tasked with the distribution of content to various channels.
Benefits of using Content Marketing Workflows
Content management workflows are useful in increasing the output of the content creation process and improving the quality of content. A well-planned content workflow eliminates repetitive tasks and minimizes the time teams spend on organizing and tracking work. Some of the key advantages of using content management workflows are:
1) Helps manage complex workflows –
content workflows are relatively complex compared to other business workflows. Different types of content require different workflows with additional workflow elements. Different types of content workflows require different content marketing strategies as well. Using content workflow software helps the teams organize, configure, and visualize these elements with a no-code, drag and drop interface. Workflow software is highly adaptable and flexible according to changes in the process of scaling as the team grows.
2) Eliminates repetitive tasks –
workflow software automates repetitive processes in the content workflow. Complex content workflows entail back and forth communication between various stages of content creation, regular status updates, document creation, high volume tasks, and notifications. Content management workflow automates all these tasks so that the team can focus on more important tasks like planning, writing, editing, and publishing content.
3) Improves collaboration –
successful execution of content strategy is a team effort. Inputs are required from many people for planning, producing, and perfecting the content. By integrating workflow software with email and messaging apps, teams can enhance collaboration and create a single source of truth for each stage in the content creation workflow. Seamless communication within the workflow enables timely notifications upon task completion or task updation or approval, so that content is delivered on time.
4) Improves consistency across content workflows –
missing or incomplete information is a common challenge faced by marketers. Content management software allows users to apply rules that prevent content to move through the content process unless required fields/information is filled. Standardized forms ensure consistency across the content management process.
5) Provide deeper insights –
content management software provides deeper real-time insights into the status of tasks through dashboards, reports, and multiple data views. Multiple sources for insights provide the team flexibility to always monitor work. Reports and analytics on created content can be created instantly. Content workflow software also helps the teams understand the cost aspects of creating content.
6) Better content planning and inventory –
content planning involves understanding existing content and gauging its performance and suitability for specific campaigns or new marketing activities. The software also provides a reliable and accurate inventory that helps maintain a content library.
7) Integrates content creation tools –
several content marketing teams use different tools to create and publish their content. Workflow management software integrates a wide range of content creation and publishing tools and platforms for seamless communication and collaborative experiences. Tools like content management systems (CMS), email and messaging, document sharing, calendars, e-commerce, and social media publishing tools can be integrated by workflow software.
8) Helps teams to stick to deadlines –
delays and re-writes are staples in any content production cycle. Sometimes writers miss the mark or deadlines which ultimately delays content creation and publishing. A workflow management system makes it easier to stay on target and be aware of deadlines.
9) Reduces wastage –
content management software helps manage waste by bringing consistency to information, improving collaboration, automating repetitive tasks, and integrating tools. Automation of repetitive tasks enables the team to focus on strategic tasks.
10) Organizes content requests –
content requests are received from several departments within the organization. Organizing and prioritizing a high volume of requests through manual methods can be a daunting task. Content management software helps in organizing and prioritizing content by creating a single point of entry for all the content requests.