For marketers, creating compelling content that connects with the intended audience is the main push of their daily work. But once this content is created, what happens next? How will it be disseminated, redeveloped and warehoused for future use?
“Marketers who have developed a strong content lifecycle have a leg up.”
Content: No longer disposable
Marketers who have developed a strong content lifecycle have a leg up when it comes to managing their materials and potentially reusing it for later campaigns. Columnist Robert Norris recommends the development of lifecycles to help craft content that resonates with different groups of customers and can remain effective across a variety of channels. To do this, he advocates moving away from treating content as a disposable material and toward viewing content as a living, evolving entity worthy of attention and careful consideration.
“Critically, we realize that these audiences have very specific needs for which we have the expertise—if not yet the processes —to craft and maintain targeted knowledge base resources,” Norris writes in The Content Wrangler. “Moreover, we recognize that the task of creating and publishing these resources must receive the same diligent attention to detail that we apply to our goods and services because poor publishing reflects upon our credibility just as harmfully as does a poor product or service.”
The content lifecycle
To ensure that content reaches its full potential, Norris proposes a lifecycle based on constant evaluation and redevelopment. The steps he puts forth include:
- Production – Where content is developed, based on existing data components.
- Approval – Content is reviewed and vetted by editors and administrators before being slated for release.
- Publish – Content is configured and fully optimized for a publishing platform, as well as made discoverable by adding meta-data and setting prominence.
- Curate – Ancillary resources are integrated into the content.
- Improve – Feedback, telemetry and analytics are used identify and address successful aspects as well as deficiencies in the content. Once identified, the content is tweaked to address these pain points.
- Re-certify – An often missed step, data used in content must be reverified periodically to ensure it is still relevant and accurate based on more recent findings.
- Update – Aside from recertification, consideration of timeliness and cultural relevancy can warrant changes from minor updates to major revisions.
- Retire – Once a piece of content has reached the end of its relevancy, archiving it is warranted. Make sure the content and its metadata are tagged for ease in locating it later.
With a hypertext-based content paradigm like DITA, this lifecycle is made even simpler by being able to evaluate and repurpose content on an XML component level. Analytics can show the efficacy of a single data element, and automation driven by content tagging can streamline campaign variations to audience segments to gauge impact. From there, each element of the lifecycles is a chance to refresh and swap metadata into more compelling content.