Yes, even content strategy can start at back end

NEW YORK—Is content strategy going to be more effective if you consider it part of back-end development? If companies think marketing is all after the website or app is done, they should really think again. More than ever, structure is essential to making content future-friendly.

Carrie Hane of Tanzen Consulting, who works in both front and back end, said developers appreciate it even more if a content strategist can communicate with them about how content should be structured on the back end. Hane spoke last December 7 at the Huge meetup at its offices in DUMBO, Brooklyn. Hane is an independent consultant who helps organizations increase income and decrease costs by rethinking how they create, manage and connect their content.

“You will take blocks of content and break them down into smaller chunks which can be reused, remixed, restyled, and repurposed as needed. With a detailed content model in place, you can plan for implementation in a content management system (CMS) and for display across all your target interfaces,” she said.

She outlines the benefits of having back-end content strategy through the following:

  • Takes content out of its silos
  • Atomizes content, so it can be reused, remixed, restyled
  • Makes content available for each channel device, audience segment
  • Put technology to work to deliver content
  • Focuses on author as user in the design of the CMS
  • Ensures extensibility and scalability
  • Future friendly – ready for whatever is next

Taking this further, she said structured content is cross-platform ready and robot-readable.

Semantic meaning and relationships stored in the database and expressed through the interface. With relationships held at data level, rather than just at page level, you can design interfaces that allow readers to explore the content many different ways.

The future-friendly approach, she said, looks at structure as a developer would—separating out the model, the various interface views, and controlling interactions. “Designing content-first ensures the interface design supports the content. Not only will this process better serve the users, it will allow content to be created in parallel with the design and implementation.”

“Designing future-friendly content means applying as much effort to planning and creating content structures as you would to designing interfaces,” she said.

Some UX designers may consider a site or app’s flow and neglect to think about content as part of an entire back-end strategy, which could help immeasurably in terms of managing content and marketing it properly. It’s time designers think that loren ipsum text has a purpose beyond just being a placeholder text.

5 things you must know for effective content strategy

NEW YORK–At the Huge meetup last February 23 in Dumbo, Brooklyn, Kevin Nichols, renowned author of Enterprise Content Strategy and UX for Dummies, left the crowd wanting more only because he touched a nerve among content strategists who find that it’s not easy to pitch a content strategy in any organization used to instant results.

http://www.meetup.com/cs-nyc/events/228588778/

“The problem lies not just in understanding content as to be respected (for doing it),” he said adding that not many Fortune 500 companies are doing enterprise content strategies.

Making use of data like metrics and analytics may give it some respect, helping vet and validate the importance of content, as abstract as it may be for naysayers.

“People reward companies that invest in expected content experiences,” he said, citing how 20 percent of companies that were surveyed using a strong omnichannel approach have 89 percent customer retention rate and how 80 percent of those who don’t have only 33 percent retention rate.”

As Nichols tried to cram his book into a one-hour talk, Nichols covered several subjects.

The emphasis, he said, must be on eight basic phases of work–plan, assess, define, design, build, publish, measure/optimize and govern. “Continually measuring the optimizing the performance of content is essential to keep content relevant to consumers.”

On developing content strategy for enterprise, he suggests these five key takeaways: the consumer is always first; consumer experience needs to cross channels with strategy; operations and governance must feed consumer need and external realities; performance is everything and content experience requires a holistic approach.

Enterprise content strategy sets up and positions all content and tracks the consumer at each touch point, but it’s also about how it relies on performance and how it positions all content as business asset worthy of governance. He explained that the governance model is by committee like a visual style guide (produced by a team).

“Governance should incorporate cross-functional areas across the enterprise,” he said. The governance team can be individuals part of the brand, product, social, analytics, legal and technology departments working with those in strategy, operations, marketing, publishing, taxonomy and again, technology.

“Enterprise content performance defines future content priorities,” he said.

This was a valuable point that  Nichols raised, as sustained content campaigns is hard to sell to companies.

To better structure content, he listed the workflow as follows: (get) inputs, (hold) meeting and (produce) outputs.

In getting inputs, determine business needs, new products, new company, marketing campaigns, make content assessment, dig deep into industry insights and competitive trends; check analytics and metrics as well as sales data; generate new ideas from content teams and others; get inputs from users from their behavior or data.

After making sense of all these inputs, hold meeting quarterly or monthly with governance and content strategy in place. The participants should be the executive sponsor, governance members and content strategist.

The last workflow calls for prioritizing content areas– new content creation or archival of content, ideally with strategic intent, goals and high-level objectives as well as the identification of content owners, sponsor and shareholders in addition to alerting planning teams of new focus areas.

Efforts should include setting up content for success at all customer touchpoints.

In thinking of channels, Nichols could not stress user research enough, especially in building persona. Customer lifecycle requires journey mapping before content needs can be determined.

Quoting from emarketer reports, he said 46 percent of customers would purchase more if experiences were personalized.

“Put your consumer at the center of all content decisions — in omnichannels,” he said.

Brands that position content as its domain, or make an investment in setting up an operational model to support a holistic focus are emerging as leaders, according to him.

Nichols cited studies: 73 percent of marketers rate the impact of cross-channel interactions on conversion as “major”; 58 percent state cross-channel engagement as improving retention and 55 percent state cross channel ensures advocacy.