Great content is a critical part of any organisation’s marketing strategy. It’s a powerful way to both reach new audiences and better connect with and engage existing ones. But like all good things, it takes a bit of work to get it just right.
Overcoming obstacles around the creation and management of content can be a tricky business. Sometimes the root cause of a problem isn’t immediately clear. Other times it simply seems like too big a job to audit overgrown content archives, overhaul ingrained processes and change culture.
One thing’s for sure: it’s a seriously worthwhile exercise, especially if you’re in the process of delivering a new website. Here’s a handful of the most commonly experienced obstacles in embedding sustainable content creation processes within your organisation – plus some practical steps you can take to overcome them.
1. Content overload.
It really is possible to have too much of a good thing. It’s great that you’ve got a lot of information to share, but it’s only of value if people can find what they’re looking for. This is often a particular problem when your organisation’s content is created by multiple departments (see more on this under the next point).
First thing’s first: do you know what content you already have? It’s always worth carrying out a full content inventory to identify where you may have gaps, and where your content might be duplicated. This information can also be used to inform decisions around restructuring content areas to make them more user-friendly, or in preparing to make decisions around the migration of content to a new website.
Also think about conducting a sample content audit. This is an effective way to identify recurring themes and problems with your content, which will enable you to put a plan in place to improve what you’ve got and set out best-practice guidelines for future content creation.
2. Lack of clear governance.
Time and again, our clients come to us with problems that stem from poor content governance – from delays in approval of content, to lack of consistency in approach, to problems with the quality of the content itself.
Whether or not it’s effective, you will almost certainly already have some kind of process in place for commissioning, creating and approving content. Like any business process, this should be continuously monitored. If you’ve not done so for a while, take a step back and assess how well it’s working.
If any problems or gaps become apparent, don’t be afraid to make changes. A new governance structure might seem like a pain to implement, but the rewards can be huge and you’ll likely make considerable efficiency savings further down the line.
It’s quite likely that the responsibility for content creation and curation spans multiple teams, so everyone should have a clear understanding of who is responsible for what and exactly how the process – new or otherwise – works. Most important of all is having shared and clearly defined priorities. Clarity of process and objectives is the best way to minimise the risk of disruption due to internal politics.
3. Not knowing your audiences.
It’s all well and good creating awesome content, but if it doesn’t resonate with your audiences, it’s all for nothing. Behind all effective content is a clear understanding of who you’re speaking to and what they’re looking for – one that’s backed up by research.
If you’ve already created a set of audience personas for other marketing activities or product design, then you’ve got a head start. Use these to validate decisions around everything from subject matter and tone of voice, to the time of day and channels used to promote your content.
Each persona’s needs and priorities will be different, so don’t worry about creating content that serves every single one of them – just be sure that your content speaks to at least one of these groups.
If you don’t have personas or haven’t updated them for a while, it’s time to get out there and talk to your audiences. Better yet, get someone outside of your organisation to do so – a fresh pair of eyes can be enlightening and can help to filter out assumptions.
4. Lack of direction.
All content should have a purpose. Before creating anything, you should have a plan in place to inform both what it’s there for and how it will meet your objectives. Just as important is understanding what that content is not there to do – this will help refine the message.
This is a good moment to refer back to your personas. Use these to form and agree priority messages for each audience group to ensure that you stay consistent when creating content across the organisation – whether on your website, on social media, or in print.
By defining clear direction, you can be confident that the valuable time spent creating content is all worth it. Plus, clearly setting out what it is that you want to achieve through content will go a long way in helping to define what that content should look like.
5. Lack of internal capabilities.
This doesn’t necessarily mean bad writing – although that might be one aspect of it – so much as content that’s just not getting results. This might be due to having insufficient content creators, or alternatively an abundance of them using inconsistent styles.
Most importantly, you should have best-practice content guidelines created specifically for your organisation and your priority audiences. These can be easily shared amongst stakeholders and are the most effective way of ensuring the consistency and quality of content created by multiple content authors.
Consider arranging a training session to provide content creators with the opportunity to put guidelines into practice within a safe environment. Best of all, content created during these training sessions and as homework can go straight into the bank for future use!
Finally, if you’re in a position where you simply don’t have enough resource or time to create your own content, source external help. You might be surprised by how effective content can be in engaging your audiences and ultimately achieving your wider organisational objectives.