How Effectively Are Companies Managing Content Operations?

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Within the last few weeks, two research reports have been published that provide several important insights about how marketers are managing content-related activities and processes. One report is by the Content Marketing Institute ("CMI"), and the second is by Altimeter.

Content marketing has become nearly ubiquitous among both B2B and B2C companies, and the volume of content required to "feed the beast" has been growing exponentially. The need to produce and deliver content that is personalized and contextually relevant in near real time has also increased dramatically. As a result, we are seeing more research that addresses various aspects of content operations.

In this post, I'll review some of the major findings from the research conducted by CMI and Altimeter.

The CMI Research

Source:  Content Marketing Institute

CMI recently published the results of the 2021 Content Management & Strategy Survey (the "CMI Survey"). The CMI Survey was fielded in April of this year and produced 263 responses.

Eighty-three percent of the survey respondents were with B2B or B2B/B2C companies. Forty percent were with companies having 1,000 or more employees, and another 43% were with companies having 100-999 employees. Seventy-nine percent of the respondents were located in North America.

Seventy-eight percent of the respondents in the CMI Survey said their organization takes a strategic approach to managing content, and 81% strongly or somewhat agreed that their company views content as a core business strategy.

The strategic approach is evident in the factors the survey respondents take into account during their content planning process.

  • 61% said they always or frequently use structured, repeatable content production processes
  • 49% said they always or frequently consider the need to deliver consistent experiences throughout the customer journey
  • 26% said they always or frequently consider the need to deliver personalized experiences

CMI asked survey participants about the content development aids they are currently using, and the following table shows the nine aids most frequently identified by survey respondents.

The CMI survey also revealed that marketers are using a variety of technologies to support their content management work. More than half of the survey respondents reported using the following technology tools.

  • Email marketing software (85%)
  • Social media publishing/analytics (84%)
  • Customer relationship management (73%)
  • Content management system (72%)
  • Content distribution platform (51%)

The picture is more mixed when it comes to how effectively marketers are using their technology tools. For example, 31% of the survey respondents described their company's proficiency with using content-related technologies as expert or advanced, but 42% said they aren't using their technology tools to their full potential.

CMI also asked survey participants about the content management challenges they are facing. Half or more of the respondents cited the following three challenges.

  • Communication among teams so everyone is on the same page (58%)
  • Enough staff skilled in content strategy (53%)
  • Using user experience (UX) design to improve the overall experience a customer has with our organization (50%)

Only 15% of the survey respondents strongly agreed that :  "Our organization extracts meaningful insights from data and analytics derived from the consumption of content." And only 41% somewhat agreed with that statement. So, it's surprising that the ability to use data effectively didn't show up as a major content management challenge. It's possible, of course, that CMI didn't include a data-related challenge in the list provided to survey participants.


The Altimeter Research


Source:  Altimeter

 Altimeter (a Prophet company) recently published the results of The 2021 State of Digital Content study. This research was based on a survey of 375 senior content team executives and practitioners in companies having at least 1,000 employees. Respondents were located in the United States, the UK, Spain, Germany and China. Survey respondents were with companies operating in five industry verticals - banking/finance, healthcare, manufacturing, retail and technology.

The Altimeter study focused on a wide range of content-related topics. In this post, I'll focus on the survey findings that are most related to content management.

Ownership of Content Strategy - Altimeter's research found that in a plurality of the companies represented in the survey (31%), multiple business functions in the company "own" content strategy. With this approach, a company actually has multiple content strategies, which can result in a disjointed customer experience. Fifteen percent of the companies represented in the survey used a hybrid model where senior leaders from relevant functions jointly develop a holistic content strategy. The content team then owns the production of content based on the holistic strategy.

Content Production Model - Fifty percent of the respondents in the Altimeter survey said they use a centralized, dedicated team to create content for any business function in the company that needs it. This model can be described as an "internal agency" or "center of excellence" approach. But 32% of the survey respondents said they are setting up multiple content creation centers within their company to meet the ever-increasing demand for content. These centers are typically focused on different products, regions or functions.

Major Content Challenges - Altimeter asked each survey participant about the biggest challenge they face in creating and delivering content. The following table shows how the survey respondents answered this question.

The Takeaway

The findings of these two research studies provide ample evidence that managing content operations is still a work-in-progress at most business organizations.


Top image courtesy of EpicTopTen.com via Flickr (CC).

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