It’s time to build a content governance framework

Enterprise content governance is a discipline created in response to the skyrocketing amounts of (and demands on) customer-facing content. So developing a content governance framework is an inevitability in every enterprise.

So what is it and how do we define it?

Enterprise content governance operationalizes and maintains content strategy and impact over time. 

It takes the key elements of your content strategy — your goals, priorities, and policies — and turns them into actionable content processes, workflows and metrics.

Every organization’s content governance journey is different, but they all tend to cover these four essential steps:

1. Capture and digitize your content strategy

It’s hard to operationalize a content strategy that’s locked in a slide deck or PDF and stuck on a server somewhere. 

The first step in content governance then is to create a documented strategy that’s clear, defined, aligned, and deployable. And that means to establish a set of goals, policies, processes, and metrics — and making them instantly available wherever content is created, edited, reviewed, and tracked.

Think of it as capturing your content strategy and style guide, then attaching APIs to it, so other software, processes, and systems can access it when they need to.

Digitizing your strategy and policies lets you put them right where writers write (in Microsoft Word, Google Docs, etc.) and where content lives (GitHub, WordPress, etc.).

Sales pitch alert
Running your content governance in the way we outline here — with any degree of scale — depends on having a software platform that automates guidance and tracks governance.
We make such a platform and we’re proud of it. But we don’t want to turn this into a sales brochure, so we’re kind of biting our tongue here. Later in the blog, we’ll drop our squeamishness and tell you what the platform does and how it supports a content governance model.

2. Establish where you are today

You’ve translated your strategy into things you can deploy and measure. Now it’s time to see how you’re currently doing.

At this stage, you compare your strategy to reality, using the metrics and targets you established in Step 1 to identify gaps. Your data-driven findings may look something like these: 

  • “Only 6 percent of our content gets reviewed before publishing, compared to our goal of 75%.”
  • “Our compliance with approved terminology is running at 44 percent across the board but 12 percent in our Sales content. We need that to be 70 percent across the board by February next year.”
  • “Our tone of voice is inconsistent across different support articles and content owners.”
  • “Our bounce rates for our product pages are too high, and, interestingly, we’re also seeing clarity issues with the content on these same pages.” 

Once you’ve captured performance against your agreed metrics and targets, the major gaps leap out at you and it becomes easy to prioritize your governance (and remedial) efforts.

The Enterprise Content Governance Playbook It’s time to create impactful content that performs

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3. Deploy your governance and guidance framework

A content governance framework can’t just be about measuring and tracking your content’s effectiveness. It also needs to let you step in and improve the effectiveness and impact of published content. That’s where the guidance function comes in: actively helping your content writers and editors to raise their game. 

So how should you deploy your enterprise content governance model and guidance framework to help content creators across your organization?

At the point of creation. Guiding writers as they write, alerting them when they’re using an outdated product name, or missing a ™, or an opportunity to use an SEO key phrase, or straying from your target tone of voice.

In their content creation tool of choice. Whether that’s Microsoft Word, Google Docs, WordPress, or any other tool you use now. A guidance sidebar can review your work, spotting errors and diversions from strategy, and applying natural language processing, AI, and writing guidelines to help you improve content effectiveness and impact on the fly.

Using transparent metrics. A guidance sidebar shows writers a numerical score, reflecting how close you are to delivering content that’s on-strategy, on-brand, and on-voice. You can see why they got that score and exactly how to improve it before pressing “submit” or “publish.”

4. Measure, report, and improve

For global organizations, a successful content strategy must consider the impact of new and existing content. The challenge many organizations face is the inability to understand the impact their content has over time. Published assets can quickly become outdated, off brand, and can even risk compliance, meaning content audits are a must. 

In essence, when you think about content strategy, you shouldn’t just be thinking of content creation, but also maintenance across the content lifecycle of what’s already published. That’s why the term governance is so important. 

Metrics and data have the power to improve both published and net new content. And metrics used on the guidance side of the house also inform the governance side. 

But how and what do you want to track, measure, and report on so you can improve your content value? Here are a few ideas that the Acrolinx Platform supports:

  • Governance Analytics Dashboards. Monitor, query, and track your content KPIs over time. Your global content governance dashboard lets you see your overall performance against your chosen metrics and goals (by department, content type, writer, editor…) You can also point the governance tools at any content repository (from a DAM system to GitHub) for a scheduled or batch quality analysis.
  • The Content Cube. Pair your existing website analytics data with the quality of your digital content. See which content needs the most improvement based on engagement metrics. Easily understand how content improvements are impacting performance. Learn more about the Content Cube here. 
  • The Content Analyzer. Quickly assess a group of content to understand the quality and impact of your content. The Content Analyzer scans a repository of local content or website content and presents scores for each piece. So you can retroactively address already published content. 

That’s the four-step enterprise content governance path: capture your strategy; assess where you are today; deploy guidance and governance to raise your game; and track it over time to keep improving.

Now let’s learn a little more about Acrolinx!

If you care about customers, you care about content

Acrolinx is 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). 

So we’ll use the Acrolinx Platform to show you how the content governance framework works, in practice.

The Guidance Sidebar

This is where you deploy your digitized content guidelines — based on your content strategy — to the forefront, where writers write. The Acrolinx guidance Sidebar is a non-intrusive Sidebar that 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.

The writer decides

The guidance Sidebar provides just that: guidance. It doesn’t force writers to do things they don’t want to do. It simply shows them where their content may be straying from the strategy and guidelines, then makes suggestions for closing that gap. The writer is always in control.

Your strategy, your guidelines

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.

The Acrolinx Score is a single number that represents the degree to which a given piece or body of content complies with the relevant strategy and guidelines.
It’s a quick, easy way to measure, track, and compare content quality, impact, and performance. Execs can choose a threshold below which they won’t accept content.
The score isn’t a universal quantity: it’s a reflection of your strategy and the guidelines you apply to your content. 

The Content Cube 

The Acrolinx Content Cube functionality gives digital content creators visibility into how their content is performing by aligning performance metrics with content quality data and providing actionable insights. Enterprise marketers can then use the Acrolinx Sidebar feature to improve the original content and track results.

Performance metrics are easy to capture and understand. But performance doesn’t provide full insight into why your content performs the way it does. The Acrolinx Content Cube extension blends your metrics with the fitness of your website content to provide insights into “the why” of its performance. It also uncovers opportunities to influence your content strategy and improve content impact.

Want to take your content governance framework to the next level? Download our Enterprise Content Governance Playbook to learn more or let’s talk to see how we can help!

The Enterprise Content Governance Playbook It’s time to create impactful content that performs

Download now

Charlotte Baxter-Read

is a Communications and Content Manager at Acrolinx, bringing over three years of experience in content creation, strategic communications, and public relations. Additionally, Charlotte is the Executive Producer of the WordBirds podcast — sponsored by Acrolinx. She holds a Master’s degree from the John F. Kennedy Institute, at Freie Universität Berlin, and a Bachelor's degree from Royal Holloway, University of London. Charlotte, along with the Acrolinx Marketing Team, won a Silver Stevie Award at the 18th Annual International Business Awards® for Marketing Department of the Year. She's a passionate reader, communicator, and avid traveler in her free time.