The content chaos problem
Big companies often produce, publish, and promote large amounts of content. In fact, the biggest ones can have hundreds of thousands of documents in their content libraries. And while that’s great in theory, since content is critical to communicating with prospects and customers, in practice it can cause you problems.
If you’ve got lots of different stakeholders creating content, all with varying styles and quality levels, it often winds up being inconsistent, off-brand, or below your company’s standards. We call this content chaos.
To get around these issues, companies typically try to govern the content creation process. They might create a content strategy, develop editorial and brand guidelines, or use editors to help bring their content into line.
And while these are all steps in the right direction, you really need to implement a content governance model. Which is especially important at large organizations where there can be thousands of people creating content across different departments and geographies. Here’s why:
Enforcement is virtually impossible
As a leader of a content team, you can create all of the guidelines, strategies, and process documents you want. But getting people in your organization to actually follow these resources is difficult.
That’s especially true when the people creating content aren’t actually part of your department or line of business. Worse yet, you may not even be aware of everyone who writes content in your organization, let alone have any influence or authority over them. Add in all of the third-party resources your company engages with to help create content, and the challenge of sticking to a governance plan becomes all the more complicated.
Unfortunately, even if you could make everyone in your organization read your content strategy and guidelines, or consult your company’s terminology database, getting them to use these and other tools consistently is an uphill battle. The reality is that manual governance tools can be cumbersome, and most content owners just don’t have time.
It’s a static approach
Content strategy, style, brand, and even terminology are all fluid. They can change over time to meet the evolving needs of your business. And while you can manually update your guidelines and strategy to reflect such changes, doing so and rolling them out in real time just isn’t realistic. Making content management a top priority.
As a result, there’s always going to be a delay between where you want your content to be and how your content creators produce it. Of course, that’s assuming your content creators are using the tools and workflows you provide them in the first place. If getting them to adopt your content governance model is difficult, try changing communication habits once they’re established!
It’s impossible to scale
Lots of companies try to get around the issue of enforcement by hiring editors to review content before publishing it. And while you can train those editors on all of your company’s standards and guidelines, and get them to apply them all to the content they review, the problem is that’s not a scalable solution.
Editors are costly and can dramatically slow down the content creation process. Meanwhile, you’d need a small army of them to review 100% of the content that large enterprises produce. Since that’s just not realistic, it means that even a few great editors aren’t nearly enough to keep pace with your needs.
A better way to achieve content governance
The bottom line is that if you take an old-school approach to content governance, you’re probably going to run into problems. Thankfully, Acrolinx provides a solution to these challenges. Our content governance platform learns how your team, department, and company writes, while capturing your enterprise content standards. It then applies those content standards by guiding your writers to the correct preferences right in their favorite authoring tools. By seamlessly integrating governance into the content creation process, it becomes automatic. The result is total compliance.
Remember, a good content governance model is critical. But for it to work and drive value for your business, you’ve got to ensure a modern, technology-driven approach. Here’s what you’ve got to do:
Before you take your content governance model enterprise-wide, you need to prove that it works. That’s why it makes sense to start small — usually with one set of content in one department.
The idea is to show quick, quantifiable wins. So align with a stakeholder who understands the value, has a problem to solve, and some clear metrics to improve. Product content is a common place to start. There’s a lot of it, it’s notoriously plagued by consistency and clarity problems, and the metrics of success are often clear to all.
Show the need and sell your vision
To get your first project off the ground, you’ll need to sell it to a number of critical stakeholders. This means you’ll need a strong business case. Part of this will be success metrics but it should also include data on the cost and risk of doing nothing.
You need to show how a lack of content governance is actively damaging the business and the specific metrics your governance program will affect.
The next step is articulating your long-term vision. How will this project lead to others? How will it affect the business as a whole? When will your program start delivering value?
Find an executive sponsor
It’s much easier to sell a new discipline with a sponsor on your side — someone who has influence at the highest levels and is willing to champion your program around the business.
Most likely, they’ll be a senior leader who owns customer-facing disciplines — so a contact center lead, Head of Product, Head of Content Marketing, etc. But go as high as you can.
Dusty DiMercurio of Autodesk was able to recruit his CMO as a sponsor by explaining how content governance could optimize business outcomes, while simultaneously improving the customer experience. Dusty highlights:
“Our main objective is to improve content quality and impact but we also want to boost efficiency, streamline processes, and get better at measuring results.”
Recruit your transformation team
To go beyond a single department, you’ll need content governance allies across the business.
Every department that owns customer-facing content will be a source of potential partners. You’ll need to package up your early wins to convince them to join your cause and frame potential benefits in terms they’ll understand, using their specific KPIs.
Many content governance leaders establish a content council to propel change across the business and maximize impact. Decision-making frameworks like RACI or DACI can help make sure your program doesn’t suffer analysis paralysis.
Establish goals and KPIs
Your goals will change as your program evolves, but you should always align them with the strategic objectives that the business cares most about.
For example, if a goal is to improve the customer experience in call centers, you could measure performance by showing how content improvement drives up CSAT scores. If onboarding customers faster is the goal, tie content performance to time-to-value, retention, and lifetime value metrics.
Content governance metrics will help you improve. But business metrics will earn you the support you need to succeed. As Tom Williams of Autodesk says, “When you go to the executives, it’s important to understand how they measure success.”
Guide, measure, report, and improve
The job of content governance is never done. Once you have effective processes and systems in place, it’s time to measure results, hone your strategy, and look for new challenges across your business. Demonstrate how your improved content workflow is delivering results, not just for content creation, but also for content maintenance.
Market your successes
People across the business need to see how content governance powers business outcomes. Don’t hide your successes in PowerPoint decks. Get out there and market your wins to the leaders, content teams, and stakeholders who can benefit most from better content. And let’s be honest, everyone can benefit from a content governance initiative.
A final note on why your business needs content governance
An enterprise content governance platform, powered by Artificial Intelligence, makes it possible to apply rules, manage content assets, enable writers, and measure performance — with very little human intervention.
It’s proactive. Content governance combines guidance at the point of content creation with strategic content governance across a discipline, department, or entire enterprise. It doesn’t just set rules, it helps writers and editors follow your content strategy.
It’s automated. You save time and money when using technology, AI, and natural language processing to automate and operationalize your content strategy at scale.
Applying a content governance strategy truly sets your enterprise apart from your competitors. Not only does it guide writers to create more impactful content, but it also unifies your content creation across the enterprise. Say hello to strategy-aligned, effective, and compliant content!
Acrolinx is here to help you
We’re currently the only enterprise content governance and impact platform on the market (there are tactical content quality tools, like authoring assistants, but, so far, Acrolinx is the only enterprise-class governance platform).
Through the Acrolinx Sidebar, you can deploy your digitized content guidelines — based on your content strategy — to the forefront, where writers write. It integrates with over 50 different content creation tools (from Microsoft Word and authoring tools to CMS applications).
The Sidebar spots terminology, grammar, spelling, clarity, inclusive language, scannability, and tone of voice issues. Guidance includes the reason for highlighting the issue and the specific remediation suggested.
No one sidebar is right for everything. The customer support team may put clarity first. The marketing team may want to emphasize tone of voice considerations. And a bank may want to prioritize compliance with legal regulations. So you can tailor your guidance to be industry, department, or content type specific.