Managing your content lifecycle in the cloud

Branded content draws eyes to your company and helps you boost revenue generation. Internally, content brings your people up to speed on important news, like company events and process changes. And in business-critical processes like research and development, content enables your teams to find innovative ways to improve operations.

All this content can be hard to keep up with when your organization lacks the proper protocols. Outlining a plan for end-to-end content lifecycle management (CLM) lets you gain control of your content, helping your organization flourish.

But what is lifecycle management, and how can you use it to boost your organization’s efficiency? Keep reading to find out.

Content

What is content lifecycle management?

Put simply, CLM is the process of managing your organization’s content through every stage of its life, from creation to disposition. The ultimate goal of the process is to make the content lifecycle more efficient and eliminate barriers to success, from departmental silos to process bottlenecks.

A CLM strategy is most appropriate for big companies and enterprises that create large amounts of content, which can include anything from white papers to social media posts.

Some of the most significant benefits of using a CLM strategy to standardize content management processes include:

  • More efficient content production
  • A consistent brand style and voice
  • Greater visibility into team progress at every stage
  • Optimized workflows for each type of content
  • A clearer understanding of how your content contributes to your bottom line
  • Increased agility to take advantage of new opportunities

A CLM strategy also ensures you get the maximum value from your content by making it easier for your people to use. According to a study by LinkedIn and the Content Marketing Institute, 80% of content created by marketing teams goes unused by sales. The majority of participants believe misalignment between marketing and sales departments is a key contributing factor to this problem. 

Creating a standardized strategy for managing and using content can help realign departments and reduce wasted content. Having a documented CLM strategy can enable your organization to look beyond resolving process bottlenecks and resource expenditure issues so you can plan for your business’s future. 

Planning how to manage every stage of your content lifecycle will get your organization started on the path to more effective creation and usage.

The 8 stages of content lifecycle management

The content lifecycle can be broken down into eight distinct stages. We’ll explain what each stage entails and how making the cloud part of your content strategy can maximize the benefits of CLM.

Stage 1: Develop a strategy

A strong CLM strategy enables your organization to develop creative content and track its performance throughout its life. The larger and more distributed your team, the more vital it becomes to thoroughly plan and document your CLM process. As this is the foundation of your CLM plan, you can expect to spend a good portion of your time here planning and researching.

Having a clear idea of how your content management strategy relates to your overarching business and marketing goals is critical for success. Here’s a very basic example of how you might use content to meet your business goals:

  1. Business goal: Expand your customer base
  2. Marketing goal: Increase conversions and leads
  3. Content goal: Create blog posts that attract web traffic and generate leads

Making sure your goals align also helps your strategy down the line, so you can evaluate how well your assets are performing based on each goal. Creating an editorial team to oversee and manage the content lifecycle provides a solid foundation you can build on to keep achieving your goals — even as they evolve. 

Finally, this stage involves defining content categories. This step helps you establish important guidelines for creating each type of content, which your people will use to develop consistently high-quality content. 

Stage 2: Define workflow

Once you have a content strategy in place, define your creative workflows. This step is crucial for determining how your content lifecycle will work.

Effective workflows give you greater control over your content management system, helping you increase content efficiency and accuracy. They also help you identify areas for improvement, enabling you to quickly address issues as they arise.

The process of defining your workflow involves creating a detailed outline of what the lifecycle for each type of content looks like. It’ll also include the various procedures and tools required for each step of the workflow, so you can get rid of process bottlenecks early on.

Some essential considerations for this stage include:

  • Creating a timeline for each type of content
  • Establishing roles and responsibilities for creators, editors, and other stakeholders
  • Setting the number of necessary approvals and reviews
  • Mapping out the design process
  • Developing the editing and feedback process

A cloud content management (CCM) solution with a no-code builder allows you to create workflows in just minutes, enabling your team to get more work done with fewer IT tickets. Workflow automation features help your teams get started on projects right away with pre-built and custom workflow templates for each department. 

Cloud-based project management tools also help provide visibility into the status of every active workflow so you can stay up to date on what your team is doing. Virtual Kanban boards and Gantt charts are helpful features for monitoring production progress and ensuring team members meet deadlines. They can also help you understand weak points in your existing processes so you can more easily come up with effective solutions.

Choose programs that integrate seamlessly with the rest of your tech stack to reduce inefficiencies and improve the chances that your workflows will function as planned. Integration can streamline adaptation for your team members, too, because they won’t have to learn an entirely new system to manage content.

Stage 3: Create content

Now that you know how you’re going to approach your content strategy, it’s time to get creative. Depending on your organization and your business goals, you might produce videos, infographics, blog posts, white papers, images, and more. 

The goal of the creation stage is to store content and make it accessible to the right people. Making project documentation readily available by hosting it in the cloud is one way to get everyone on the same page. 

Some key questions to consider in this stage include:

  • What is a reasonable deadline for content creation?
  • Who is responsible for developing each type of content?
  • Do you have documentation available that defines your brand voice, style, and content best practices?
  • What are the necessary resources for creating each type of content?

One of the most challenging aspects of this stage is determining how much creative guidance is too much. Too little guidance, and your creators might miss the mark and produce content that is irrelevant to your organization. Too much, and you could accidentally stifle creativity, leading to cookie-cutter content. 

Finding the balance between extremes is key to getting content that meets your business needs. You’ll also want to establish where creators will save their content upon completion so it can move to the next stage.

Stage 4: Store and organize

Storing your created content in an organized cloud repository or CCM solution makes each iteration of your content more available and accessible to everyone in your organization. It also enables you to create a single source of truth for all your content and mission-critical data, eliminating departmental silos and increasing process efficiency.

Plus, access control and permission governance features ensure the right people are using the right content. You could restrict access to view only, download, edit, or a combination of all three. Or you could use other features like shared links that provide access until a set date.

Devising a functional file-organization strategy helps your people use assets across various projects. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Folder systems: A well-organized folder system enables you to group content together according to categories, like content type, project, and team, so team members have a centralized place for everything they need
  • Metadata organization: Tagging, categorizing, and organizing your content assets using embedded metadata helps your people search for and share materials as needed
  • File-naming conventions: Implementing and following a universal naming method lets your people understand what’s in a file before they open it

As with the other stages of the content lifecycle, thorough documentation is essential for helping your people know how to use your organizational system.

Stage 5: Edit

To get consistently excellent content, you need consistently excellent editing processes. Careful documentation is key here. Creating a detailed style guide for your brand and for each type of content gives team members a clear idea of what to shoot for without limiting their ability to make decisions for themselves.

Cloud-based collaboration tools help editors and creators work together, even when they’re in completely different locations, enabling close collaboration across teams that integrate with existing workflows. Here are some examples of how cloud collaboration tools change the game:

  • Editors and creators can work together on the same document in real time
  • Editors can make edits and leave comments for creators to address later
  • Automatic notifications can keep editors and creators up to date on the changes made to a project

Any time your editing processes change, someone needs to update the relevant documentation. Keeping your documentation up to date helps keep everyone on the same page and sets you up for future success. A cloud storage solution provides a centralized place for storing this documentation and enables authorized users to edit it from anywhere, on any device.

Stage 6: Publish and distribute

You want to make it available when and where your audience is most likely to see it, which is why choosing the right distribution channels is so important. Ideally, you’ll be able to track your content’s performance using metrics such as “time on site” and social media shares. Potential distribution channels include:

  • Owned media: The channels your company owns, such as your website pages, company blog posts, email newsletters, and social media posts
  • Earned media: When people voluntarily share your content through press releases, guest posts, share links, or even discussions on public forums
  • Paid distribution: When you pay others to distribute your content, like influencer posts, paid advertisements, and sponsored content

You can stick with one type of channel or use a mix of all three. The most effective channels for your organization will vary depending on your industry and business goals. For example, a fashion company might publish a blog post about the trend forecast for the upcoming season and promote the post through social media channels and paid influencer content.

Creating a publishing checklist for each type of content can help you ensure it consistently meets your standards by the time it’s ready to publish. 

Here are some points you could include on your checklist for a blog post or similar content:

  • Is the title effective?
  • Does the content have a clear point?
  • Is it visually interesting?
  • Are the visual elements optimized for SEO?
  • Does the content have a meta description?
  • Has the post passed through all editing stages?
  • Has the post been scheduled?
  • Do you have a plan for promoting this content?

You can test how well your checklist works by having someone with less experience follow it. Testing your checklist will help you identify redundant procedures or steps you may have missed, revealing potential ways to improve the publishing process.

Lastly, consider how frequently you will publish content. Will you post to your blog on a weekly or monthly basis? How often will you release each type of content?

Stage 7: Update content

Just because your content has been around for a while doesn’t mean you need to get rid of it completely. Some of your older content can be refreshed to generate new conversions and bring in new traffic without having to spend as much as you would on creating something new. 

Performing a content audit can help you identify potential opportunities for updates. Here are some signs a piece of old content could benefit from a refresh:

Each type of content will require a different refresh approach. It could be as simple as adding a few hundred new words to an article or replacing outdated or broken links. Or it could be as complex as completely reworking a page to meet updated branding guidelines.

Of course, there comes a time when you’ll retire every piece of content. Here are some signs that content has reached the end of its useful life:

  • User engagement is low or nonexistent
  • The content has no known owner
  • It is irrelevant to the user’s needs or internal processes
  • It no longer represents your brand
  • Similar or identical content exists somewhere else on your site

If a piece of content meets one or more of these criteria, it’s time to retire it. Retired content moves on to the next stage to be archived. 

Stage 8: Preserve content

In the final stage of the content lifecycle, you archive the content you have decided not to refresh. This process involves several steps:

  1. Identify content that is ready for retirement
  2. Inform content owners about the change, if possible
  3. Contact other relevant stakeholders
  4. Remove the content from the site or distribution channel
  5. Identify existing links to retired content and replace as needed
  6. Archive the content in a digital storage solution and update your content inventory
  7. Update your servers and delete the page, if necessary

Preserving your expired assets in a designated archive separates it from your current content, reducing clutter in your repository and ensuring your people are only using current content. Or, you may have compliance standards to follow regarding retaining data for a set amount of time, making this process critical for some industries.

Your archive can also be useful for storing the raw files you used to create your content. For example, you might store raw video footage for future use in other campaigns. 

That said, you’ll need a significant amount of storage space to hold all that data. The cloud is highly scalable, making it excellent for content preservation. If you find you’re running out of space, you can easily scale your cloud storage to meet your company’s growing needs.

CLM in the cloud

Cloud content management solutions provide powerful tools for the entire content management lifecycle. These solutions help you build a secure, reliable online environment for your content at any stage, from creation to disposition.

A CCM solution with built-in security and compliance functionalities, such as governance and permission controls, gives you full control over your content without compromising on flexibility. This security is especially critical for highly regulated industries such as healthcare, finance, life sciences, and government.

Other advantageous features for efficient content creation include:

  • Document version control: Automatic file version control ensures your users always have access to the most recent version of your content — and they can revert to a previous version any time they need to
  • User-friendly interface: A good cloud solution provides an excellent user experience with a low learning curve so, no matter what department your users are in, they can quickly learn and use your solution with confidence
  • Workflow automation: Your solution can trigger workflows based on schedules, task events, external application usage, or on demand, getting everyone moving quickly and efficiently
  • E-signature: Whenever you need a signature for materials like contracts and service confirmations, a cloud-native e-signature feature speeds up the process by allowing the signer to sign and return the document regardless of their physical location
  • Software integrations: A solution that seamlessly integrates with various content creation and collaboration applications consolidates your organization’s tech stack, enabling users to access the programs they need quickly and easily

Discover the power of the Content Cloud

With a single secure platform for all your content, Box enables you to manage the entire content lifecycle: creation, collaboration, version control, classification, retention, eDiscovery, disposition, and so much more. We make it easy for you to collaborate on content with anyone, both inside and outside your organization. Frictionless, enterprise-grade security and compliance are built into our DNA, so you get total peace of mind that your content is protected. And with 1,500+ seamless integrations — as well as a range of native capabilities, like Box Sign — the Content Cloud provides a single content layer that ensures your teams can work the way they want.

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