Whether you’re a publisher or a marketer, content is pivotal to your role – it either is your product, or your product’s success depends on it. But creating the content is only half the challenge – the remaining half is delivering it to your audience where, when, and how they want it.
To say “this can be the complicated part” is somewhat of an understatement. Let’s just look at some of most common owned channels: Desktop web, mobile web, print, Android apps, and iOS apps. For every piece of content created, that’s 5 different outputs, before we’ve even considered the endless devices or formats those actually represent.
Running – Just to Keep Up
For many organisations, that growing number of outputs has become a real challenge. Over the years, as new channels emerged and were adopted by content consumers, the content creators added output capabilities piecemeal, often grabbing at whatever was the quickest or (seemingly) easiest solution at the time.
In their rush to serve the channels, publishers devoted little time to designing the business processes that would come to underpin the majority of their outputs – often allowing them to evolve organically.
The compound effect of these legacy systems and self-defined processes has left ostensibly well-resourced teams running just to keep up. It has baked in reliance on key individuals who know all the quirks, led to content production bottlenecks, and caused organisations to expend significant budget and resources to maintain the status quo.
This isn’t Working
For organisations which find themselves in this situation, the solution is… change. That might sound obvious, but the biggest hurdle is often the ability to realise this, and begin to take appropriate action.
For those who’ve already acknowledged a need, planning for change starts with asking the following questions:
What’s going on now?
Conduct systems reviews, talk to staff, analyse existing business processes, and audit existing content. Avoid the temptation to address small problems, in favour of getting a complete picture of your content operation.
What does your business need?
Do you need to reduce time-to-market for your content? Is the cost of ownership rising for your systems? Do you need to improve your operational continuity? You may even know (or think you know) the answer to these questions – but go through the process of gathering and recording them.
What does your audience want?
Clearly identifying your audience and understanding their needs is key to any content strategy. Gather and analyse data that you already have, such as analytics or customer feedback, and conduct further research as necessary. Seek to ascertain everything from what devices they use, to how your brand fits into their lives from a content perspective, and where you could improve.
With this information, you’ll be able to identify the disparities between expectation and delivery, and pinpoint many of the issues causing them. Importantly, you’ll also have the evidence you need to gain organisational buy-in for what comes next.
Multi-channel Content Delivery
Delivering content effectively across all the channels that modern customers expect begins with defining processes. This is an important step, because your whole team needs to understand, and be part of those processes. A simple example might look like:
This “simple” process of creating 1 piece of content has 7 steps, involving multiple people. That’s 7 opportunities for processes to be delayed or forgotten about, which need to be effectively managed by someone – all to deliver just one piece of content. And that’s not all! After this, the content exists, but it hasn’t gotten to a single member of your audience. The process for which, is typically less simple:
It’s that mysterious cog in the middle that can take so many forms. Often, it’s comprised of a disparate set of people, systems, and sub-processes – making it very difficult to get from start to finish.
So, organisations have a real challenge on their hands! Specifically; in analysing these two workflows and how they fit together – before optimising them, then identifying systems to help deliver them.
To achieve this across all the channels that modern consumers expect requires a platform-agnostic approach, pushing content to Android, iOS, and the web (including mobile and desktop) simultaneously, and without preference.
Engines exist – which can repurpose and deploy content in this way – that are already being used by some of the world’s leading brands and publishers. Likewise, front-end solutions which enable real-time updates to mobile apps and web platforms, can be quickly and easily coupled to these engines, greatly simplifying the workflows and reducing time-to-market. Most importantly, this enables content creators to focus on developing better content, and more of it – rather than chasing colleagues, and servicing antiquated technology.
Ultimately, the role of content is (directly or indirectly) to create revenue and/or reduce cost. Having made content faster to produce, cheaper to deploy, and easier for your audience to consume, you’ll have achieved both.