Processes and tools for content management
For the success of your content management, the right methods are an essential foundation. Otherwise, you’ll waste a lot of time and effort on better investing in quality content. It also recommends useful content management tools for daily content work.
Part 1: Processes
Why do we (as a rule) need structured processes and clear responsibilities? Because we are human. People make mistakes, and in the stressful day-to-day business, it is quite possible that one overlooks an important production detail or relevant content information or “dwarfs” a deadline.
Also, reasonable rules prevent us from falling into blind actionism when dealing with web content that jeopardizes the success of our cumbersome strategy. Established processes and procedures also help us deal with our content in a more efficient and disciplined way. Finally, they ensure that colleagues stay in contact with each other, as long as active exchange and close cooperation are not yet fully anchored in the corporate culture.
My request: Do not be afraid that structures and defined workflows could inhibit creative processes or leave no room for the implementation of spontaneous, up-to-the-minute topics.
The opposite is the case: if the content base is right, there is ultimately more room for the professional implementation of short-term planned content (marketing) ideas. Because then one thing is always guaranteed: No matter which way your target group ultimately lands on your website – thanks to its stringent content management, it is always received by attractive and useful content.
The following sections will introduce you to seven processes that can help you manage your high-quality content.
1. Content request process
Now that you have started your content strategy with a great deal of effort and effort, you must now avoid having to cope with the drowsiness in dealing with content back into your daily work.
Above all, if your company wants to become active in the area of content marketing or is already active, solid process structures and strictly guided planning processes are essential, so that the content topic will not sooner or later fly around your ears. The ultimate goal is to have your content under control at all times, and thus your budget and resources, and not succumbing to any seductive content (marketing) idea.
Of course, you may occasionally also deliberately put new content on the trial-and-error test bench – after all, we will also learn from our experience with new topics, and they must also be able to be implemented “on the short service route”.
Nevertheless, with a sophisticated content request process, you make sure that primarily those contents are produced that are targeted for your business. The recommendations below are designed to help you create your business process.
First, define the task distribution in the request process:
• Who is allowed to submit new topics (marketing, PR, purchasing … or in principle everyone)?
• Who collects the applications?
• To who are they forwarded for examination?
• Who and how does the applicant know if his content topic has been approved?
• Who presents the suggestions in the regularly scheduled Topic Meeting?
Develop a template for the applications, such as the following:
• A new topic or existing content?
• Which content format is desired?
• Why is this new content needed?
• Why does this content need to be revised?
• How can this content action help you achieve your business goals?
• Which priority do you give this topic (1-3)?
• Does material already exist (online or offline) that can be used for content production?
• Are there any examples of already implemented content actions of this kind?
• How high do you estimate the time required for production?
• What are the estimated production costs?
• When is the content needed?
• How long should he stay on the page?
• Which channels and on which pages should the content be linked and advertised?
• When do you need feedback on whether the application has been approved?
• What should be tracked?
• Do you need a “legal check” for this topic?
• Is the new content part of a cooperation or marketing deal? If so: What does this deal look like (short description/key data of the deal)?
In smaller companies, the procedure certainly does not have to be so formal. The points presented in the application form should then be discussed and examined as part of the joint thematic meeting.
Is your company a one-person (or one-woman) show? Then the questions formulated above also help you to find out whether the planned new content is relevant, feasible and useful. Use this checklist to discipline yourself and never lose sight of the actual strategy focus.
2. Planning processes
Content planning is one of the fundamental pillars of your successful work with web content. That’s why it’s important to start sound planning processes early on. Clarify the following questions as soon as possible:
• How do you plan your content (Excel sheet, planning tools)?
• Which planning meetings and workshops should take place at which intervals?
• Who are the contact persons for content planning?
• Who is responsible for the time and cost plan?
Keep in mind that planning mistakes can cost a lot of money, and make sure you do not waste a penny here unnecessarily. Your budget can invest better – for example, in high-quality web content!
3. Release processes
To keep the time required for internal discussions in daily business as small as possible, you need clear rules on who is allowed to release which content. Define in good time how to deal with the following questions in your company:
• Do all content have to go through the same approval process?
• Who initiates the approval process?
• Who cares about the releases from the legal department?
• How many clearance hours are there?
• How do you deal with different change requests from certifying staff?
• In what form can employees deposit their comments on the documents/content?
• Do several approvers have access to a document at the same time?
• How do certifying colleagues learn that a document is ready for assessment?
• What happens if a reviewer does not give his feedback on time?
• Who represents a legitimate colleague in holiday and illness?
In any case, the effort you put into the release preparation pays off because you ultimately have the authority over the final content and you do not run the risk of becoming a plaything for internal disagreements. When everyone wants to have a say, there is seldom anything good going on. To determine who is allowed to have a say early on.
4. QA processes
If you have enough resources, please do not go to the wrong end: Give your content a thorough Quality Assurance (QA) process. Only high-quality, error-free, functioning content fulfills its purpose. A professional QA process deals, among other things, with the following questions:
• Who edits and monitors the content? Is there a final editorial office?
• Who tests links and new content features?
• Do the graphics match the size specifications?
• For larger projects: Is there a bug tracker? How are mistakes made? Where are they collected?
• Who ensures that SEO-related topics are well implemented?
• Who ensures that the requirements of the created guidelines are met?
You can continue this list individually and tune it to the respective content to be tested: Does the tonality of a statement fit? Is the infographic error free? Depending on the content format and targets, new requirements arise, which should be critically scrutinized after completion.
5. Analysis processes
The insightful information from your web analytics will make you and your staff real content masters. Therefore, build a solid analysis process in your company. The following questions are in focus:
• Which reports are needed when (weekly reports, daily dashboards, monthly analyzes, controlling at the end of the year)?
• What do I want to track (which Key Performance Indicators)?
• Who is the contact person for content controlling in your company?
• Which SEO indicators are relevant?
• Where and how are the Web metrics numbers provided to the teams?
As a content owner, make sure that your company puts content control at the top of the to-do list. Without valid numbers, from which you can learn a lot about your target audience and your content performance in the long term, you will never get the best results. The tracking of content should be a matter of course – in reality, it is (still!) Rather a rarity.
6. Test processes
You should regularly put your content to the test, because only the method “test, test, test” leads you successfully to the content strategy Olympus. Record in a document what tests should be performed in your organization (and in which regularity). Here are some suggestions:
• Quarterly A / B test of a landing page via an outdated marketing campaign (Google AdWords, Facebook, etc.)
• Half-yearly customer survey on the website or Facebook about your content
• Monthly product text test (conversion optimization)
• Annual usability test for content perception and usage (eye tracking, survey, A / B tests)
• Regular testing of new features after their roll-out
But do not be scared off when a topic starts slow. Build up the topic, give it a chance to develop, and decide after two or three test runs, whether it’s worth further elaboration. Otherwise, you might say goodbye to an excellent content idea that was launched just at the wrong time or just needed some time to mature. As in the “real” life, there are also in the Web world late bloomers. Give them a chance!
7. Archiving processes
What happens to your old or no longer needed content? And what is your best approach to filing, so that you can have quick access to the documents at a later date when needed? These and the following questions should be clarified at the beginning of a sound archiving process:
• Where are the old documents stored?
• Where were these documents linked? Who ensures that all links are taken offline?
• Do we need a redirect for the deleted page?
• Is there a concrete date on which the content should migrate to the archive (for example, the end of a Christmas campaign)?
• What exactly should be archived?
• Text documents
• Graphics versions
• Copyright information
• Info from when until when the page was online
• Information about the performance of the page or content (related reporting)
• Are there guidelines for naming storage folders and documents?
Work together with your IT to create a transparent and straightforward archiving process, so that you can use your content several times, thanks to fast access on demand.
As part of an audit, one of my clients once found a Christmas special on the topic of “international Christmas customs,” which had been put together a great deal of effort several years earlier.
Since it had not lost its relevance in the meantime, it could also be on the big Christmas website stage in the following years. If the company had a well-organized archive, then it would have been much easier to use the special again. Do you know which content treasures are still hidden from you? And do you know how to access it?
Part 2: Content Management Tools
When it comes to content, the challenge is to handle all the necessary tasks in the context of large content projects as well as in daily business error-free. Many responsible persons traditionally rely on Excel.
In principle, there is nothing wrong with that – but you should know that there are other content management tools that can facilitate the work in the content management everyday life: On the Web you will find numerous freely available open source solutions as well as practical paid software for the Creation of project plans, the use of release processes and the management of deadlines.
The following compilation of selected examples gives you a small insight into the comprehensive tool offer for effective content management. For every company and every organizational need, there is certainly a suitable solution on the web.
If you would like to learn more about content management systems, we recommend the following two UPLOAD contributions:
• “Content Management: Choosing the right CMS for simple tasks.”
• “Small Decision Support: 13 Open Source CMS Introduced”
Among other things, DivvyHQ offers an easy-to-use editorial calendar, which is also suitable for larger editorial departments and is recommended for the content management of multiple websites. The monthly package price depends on the number of software users or on which individual requirements the customer has of the tool.
GanttProject is free software for transparent content project planning. It enables the creation of a detailed timetable for the implementation of projects including important basic dates. The export function of the plans is ideal for sending status reports. For individual tasks, team assignment functions are also offered.
The Open Source Open Atrium tool supports the workflow of teams spread across different departments. It enables transparent team communication, regulates access to documents and offers, among other things, a calendar planning function.
Wedoist was an easy-to-use task management tool for up to three users, which, among other things, displays the processing status of an assigned task. It has been discontinued after the publication of the book. As an alternative, the same creators now offer two separate content management tools: Todo as a Todo app and Twist as team communication, which wants to find a middle ground between email and offers like Slack.
Flow provides all the functionality needed to manage a content project: document management, task distribution, scheduling, team discussions … A trial account is free for 14 days. Then you can book different price packages – depending on the size of the company and the intensity of use.
5 pm is a very comprehensive project management tool with a friendly, intuitive interface. Again, a free two-week trial account is offered.
Base Camp is a similarly comprehensive project management tool with a clear and appealing interface. Its versatile management capabilities for managing your content in small and large teams can be tested for free for 60 days.
No matter whether you work with Excel or a planning tool – one requirement remains the same: the data and entries must be carefully maintained and kept up to date. In other words, managing your content requires a lot of “manual work” and discipline that cannot be replaced by any tool.
After each topic plan meeting, timings must be checked and adjusted and project delays noted in the project calendar. In this respect, content management does not differ from the usual project management, in which it is just as essential to meticulously record all tasks and timelines and actively communicate with all project participants.
Part 3: The Content Life Circle
To keep track of all content tasks and get a routine into your content management life, you should work with two plans: a production plan and a theme plan. To be able to fill both plans (in Excel or with the help of a technical solution), you first have to define the content tasks that occur daily in the operating business, weekly, monthly or quarterly.
The following lists give you an excellent impression of how content can be “lived” continuously in your company.
Daily content tasks
• Post Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn company updates
• Check off all daily to-dos in the production calendar
• Create the content needed on the day
• Content research for creating the next content tasks
• Review comments on Facebook, Twitter and blogs
• Quality check of the new live content (SEO, links, tonality)
• “Processing” of product texts
• Send a reminder to colleagues for upcoming deadlines
• Agency control in the operative content daily business
• Short number scan for noticeable “outliers” (social media monitoring, rankings, traffic drops, high bounce rates)
• Updating the theme and production plans (delays in the project, early delivery of content, early live events)
• Media check: Which news is available in relevant blogs and magazines? Which are interesting for a next team meeting and should be taken up for further discussion?
• Note down all ideas, observations, “website finds” or impulses for creating relevant content for the upcoming theme plan meetings
Weekly content tasks
• Newsletter Production
• weekly blog post
• Update of teasers on the most important pages (homepage, category pages)
• The thorough evaluation of business figures, website numbers and social media responses
• Check the keyword development and, if necessary, adjust the current keyword list
• Summary of content-related topics from the analyzes for the next topic plan meeting
• Conduct the topic plan meeting with all colleagues involved in content questions
Monthly content tasks
• Create landing pages for the planned marketing campaigns each month
• If possible, publish one press release per month
• Check Landing Page Performance of Past Marketing Actions (SEM Campaigns, Sweepstakes)
• Thorough media monitoring: What are the current trend topics? Who could be an interesting partner for content collaboration?
• Team meeting to discuss and evaluate all content controlling results: The meeting is intended to discuss current problems in the operative handling of content (missing functions in the CMS, complaints in connection with external service providers) and to provide an overview of all planned marketing and communication activities offer (on and offline)
• Keyword “self-marketing”: Every month send an internal newsletter to all colleagues who informs about current content topics and presents successful cases
Quarterly content Tasks
• Development and implementation of more comprehensive contents relevant for content marketing: videos, SlideShare presentations, e-books…
• Audit and Business Review: What is our content situation after the first quarter? Which content can we archive? What insights can be derived for further year content planning? What goals have we achieved? Which content projects have disappointed?
• Through social media analysis: Which channels are relevant for our business? What information did we receive about our users?
• Create content-topic planning for the following quarter
• Say goodbye to larger content projects for the upcoming quarter
• Check: Are the existing guidelines still up-to-date?
• implement at least one test case quarterly (for example, conversion test for product texts)
• Extensive competition check: What has happened to the competition in recent months? Which competitors have been added? Which ideas can we take up?
Annual content tasks
• Renewed (partial) audit (quantitative and qualitative)
• Content archiving and “cleaning up” the website
• Perform a content workshop for the coming year
• Create content planning based on the workshop results
• Renewed “ordering” of all content producing colleagues on the current guidelines (refresher)
• Adherence to the findings from the current year
• Document training needs of employees and request appropriate content training measures
• Review the current content strategy: Are we still on the right track? Do our personas still fit? Which business goals need to be redefined?
As you can see, a solid organization will soon make you a content veteran. This exemplary workflow framework can help you consistently carry out regular tasks. Among other things, it reminds you of the evaluations to be made, when it encourages you to review your content continually, and it prevents a company blog from lying fallow because it is not fed consistently with fresh contributions.
Daily content management has some pitfalls but above all offers many opportunities to advance your website successfully. Therefore, set the course for efficient and profitable content management in your company by
• Launch a well-positioned, cross-departmental content team that centrally manages all content production (PR, marketing, editorial, shop content, social media, HR, agency, etc.),
• Equip your employees (for example through training courses) with the necessary know-how,
• Provide the necessary technological content management tools (CMS, editorial tools, tracking capabilities, project management software …),
• Contribute to the content being planned, tested, and analyzed and solidly managed (Content-Life-Circle),
• Provide someone with a clear content responsibility (as well as a decision-making power over when which content should be created and how),
• Make sure your content management is on a solid planning pillar,
• Create awareness in the company that the daily content management tasks are intense and demanding and require excellent teamwork,
• Support the establishment of various processes so that content is not blindly produced on an “ad hoc basis,”
• Encourage compliance with content guidelines,
• Reduce internal communication barriers as well
• Think in terms of cross-media and get your “offline” colleagues on board as part of holistic content management so that all communication topics can be linked and presented in the best possible way on the website.
Bottom line, managing content is not just about investing a lot of effort, but being smart, structured, and focused. Because that saves, in any case, an unnecessary extra effort, your well-managed content will thank you by working successfully for your business.