Beyond Text Searching: a Marketer’s Guide to Voice and Visual Search Optimization

In the mid-1960s, Star Trek’s Captain James T. Kirk summoned the on-board computer on the USS Enterprise in the same way we casually ask Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri to play music for us today. Voice search and its cousin visual search are rapidly gaining ground as technology catches up with things we used to watch on television.

In 2019 alone, an estimated 3.25 billion digital voice assistants were being used in devices worldwide. Forecasts suggest that by 2023 the number of digital voice assistants will grow to eight billion — similar to the earth’s population at the same time.

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Artificial intelligence and machine learning have brought yesterday’s sci-fi to today’s fingertips. As smartphones get smarter and more digital assistants move into our homes, customers are interacting with content in new ways. Instead of looking at a map, we can ask Siri for directions. Visual search capabilities turn every moment into an opportunity for brands as consumers point their smart devices at objects to learn more about them.

Like Captain Kirk’s voice queries, end users don’t see the algorithms that go to work locating the information for which we ask. However, marketers need to know about the back-end processes that make their content easy to find, no matter how someone is searching for it.

This guide helps marketers understand the latest search methods and how to adapt your content to capture traffic from increasing voice and visual searches.

The Evolution of Content Searching: How We Got to “OK Google” and Why it Matters

In the early days of internet content, tools like WebCrawler ushered in text-based searches. Yahoo! Directory soon followed, along with search engines like AltaVista, MSN Search, and Google. These search engines have long relied on keywords to find content that matched our wants.

But with the advent of artificial intelligence (AI) that’s smart enough to deliver content based on human requests and questions, hands-free voice search came on the scene.

Instead of using a few short keywords, voice searching is more like a dialogue. With voice search, people ask longer questions as if they’re speaking with another person. For example, when we want directions, we say, “Hey Siri, get directions to the nearest gas station.” When we want the weather forecast, we ask, “Alexa, what is the temperature outside?” If you plug those words into a search engine, you’ll generate quite different results than if you type a more concentrated query like “St. Louis weather” or “gas stations in Albuquerque,” even when you’re after the same information.

Speed and hands-free capability top the list of reasons why people like voice searching, but ease and accuracy follow closely behind. Voice searching is also a powerful accessibility tool for users who can’t use text-based search methods.

why-people-use-voice-search.png

Then there’s the newest frontier — visual searching. With a visual search, the image itself is the search query. For example, if you see something you’re curious about — like a beautiful sofa — and you want to know more about it, you can snap a pic, upload it to a visual search engine, and look for matches. For a furniture retailer with a catalog full of high-quality sofa pictures, visual searching can shorten the sales journey by reducing the steps a customer takes from wanting something to finding and buying it.

Voice and visual search optimization help you differentiate your brand and create more engaging experiences for the growing number of customers poised to take advantage of this technology. By employing voice and visual search optimization tactics, you can now get a step ahead of your competition. Let’s look at how you can achieve that.

The Nuts and Bolts of Voice and Visual Search Optimization

Tech-forward marketers can follow these tips to adapt their content for voice and visual search.

Write How You Speak

The best way to optimize for voice searches is by writing how your customers speak.

Blending conversational phrases seamlessly into your content helps ensure that voice-enabled search engines find your material. When used alongside your regular keywords, your content will offer the added context that will help elevate your relevance in search results.

The key is to consider this from your customer’s point of view. What kinds of questions would they ask if they’re searching for something that your company can provide? What are the answers to those questions? If you sell running shoes, your natural keywords might include stability, motion control, or neutral support. In a voice search, your customers might ask, “What are the best running shoes for people with bad knees?”

If you want to bring more precision to writing for voice queries, try readability tools like the Flesh-Kincaid reading test (which is conveniently embedded in some word processing programs) to match your writing level to that of your target audience, thereby increasing the probability that your content matches their style.*

Look Local

If your business has any local component, a great way to level-up your performance on voice searches is to focus some energy on optimizing your content for local searches. 

Research shows that in 2019, almost a third of online consumers in the United States used the internet to search for local businesses daily. And nearly 60% used voice search specifically to look for information on companies in their area.

voice-searcher-preferences.png

Incorporate High-Quality, Optimized Images for Visual Searchers

Visual searches help people searching for something quick, or that isn't easy to describe using text. The first thing to consider with visual searching is whether your company would benefit from the effort. Some service-focused industries may not generate the same ROI from the visual search that product retailers would. The simplest way to measure this is by asking: “Can I photograph what we offer?”

If the answer is yes, you can improve your discoverability by incorporating your products' images into your content.

visual-information-preferences.png

In visual searching, AI and machine learning algorithms identify the objects in an image and try to match those with images of similar objects. Quality matters, both for the image itself and the surrounding text. High-resolution photos will make it easier for search engines (the most popular ones are Google, Bing, and Pinterest) to process your image and match it with a search. Search engines prioritize results from high-quality sites, which are those with fresh and original content — including pictures. Stock photos won’t perform nearly as well as original images.

Remember that quality still shouldn’t come at the cost of usability. Don’t use large photo files. Use a well-known image format, such as .png or .jpeg, and compress your photos to ensure they load quickly.

In addition to the image itself, search engines make excellent use of the related metadata, such as captions, image titles, alternate text descriptions (also called alt tags), and URL paths. Customize these, and be sure to use relevant keywords that accurately describe your images, to help improve accuracy. Lastly, your images should align with the surrounding content on your web pages and be placed as close as possible to the most relevant content.

The More Things Change, the More SEO Best Practices Stay the Same

The trend toward voice and visual searching emphasizes some standard best practices in search optimization, including prioritizing website speed and mobile usability. Voice searches tend to use more words than text-based searches, which means your content may get longer and take more effort to load. Likewise, visual searches are heavier on bandwidth. Don’t disappoint potential customers by making them wait.

It’s also important to remember that voice and visual searching are increasing in popularity precisely because of our growing reliance on mobile devices. While optimizing for mobile devices used to be an afterthought, it is increasingly worthwhile to design your content with a mobile-first approach. After all, over 90% of websites report more unique visitors from mobile devices than from desktops. And Google says, “Mobile-friendly sites show up higher in search results.”

And of course, the most effective SEO tool of all is offering straight-up amazing content designed for humans, not for search engines.

The Final Element of Your Content Optimization Strategy: The Right Content Management System

The process of voice and visual search optimization is infinitely easier with a content management system (CMS) that makes creating, optimizing, and delivering voice- and search-friendly content a breeze.

Headless CMS streamlines voice and visual search optimization by storing all of your content assets in highly-accessible modules. So instead of the exhausting process of rewriting, redesigning, and relaunching content every time you want to publish it to a new channel or audience — marketers enjoy a single source of reusable content which can be run through various translation integrations, SEO plugins, and more before being published anytime, anywhere.

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To keep learning about the new digital technology and trends that are reshaping business and how to adapt your strategy to keep up, enjoy complimentary access to Forrester’s report: “Digitize Your Business Strategy.”

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What Intelligent Content Is and Why It’s Important

In today’s omnichannel business environment, the best and smartest content in the world might as well be invisible if it can’t be delivered to consumers within the right context, featuring personalization, and via the device or channel of their choice. That’s a job for intelligent content — but what it sounds like is not exactly what it is.

The following article explains what intelligent content is, whether it’s right for your business, the benefits of implementing intelligent content, and how to make sure your content is intelligent and ready for the omnichannel experience consumers have come to expect.

What is Intelligent Content?

Intelligent content is a content management technique in which you structure content as a modular, format-free, and semantically-rich business asset. This practice makes it easy for the content creators and users to find and reconfigure for various occasions. And, more than likely, your business needs it. Here’s why.

Does My Business Need Intelligent Content?

What business and which content creators wouldn’t benefit from content that’s well-structured, usable, and all-around intelligent?

But to be more specific, intelligent content is essential for businesses that:

  • Produce more content than can be reasonably managed manually
  • Sell products or services with enough commonality that you can reuse content among them
  • Have omnichannel delivery requirements
  • Are using or will use chatbots or similar automated content delivery methods

If any of the above points describe your business, keep reading to learn more about the benefits of embracing intelligent content.

The Benefits of Intelligent Content

From making content more usable to empowering your sales team to close more deals to boosting your SEO efforts — the benefits of intelligent content are huge for businesses.

Makes Content Reusable Across Channels and Platforms

When content is removed from the context of presentation (such as a web page) and stored in modules that are labeled with semantic metadata (which is data that describes other data), it’s much easier for business users to both find and implement as needed.

This metadata enables marketers to create content just once, refresh it, and then republish it across any channel or digital device without rewrites or reformatting — saving time and increasing consistency. In other words, intelligent content enables the creation of omnichannel shopping experiences for consumers, which is a powerful differentiator for businesses in the modern age.

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Empowers Your Sales Team to Take Advantage of More Useful Content

Today, the sales funnel has more touchpoints than ever. And that means salespeople need to be able to access and deliver content that will add value and differentiate their business along the way. Because of the metadata labeling and modular storage, intelligent content is accessible for the sales team to locate in their company’s knowledge base or content management system (CMS), personalize as needed, and deliver via the lead’s preferred channel or device.

The best part is, to the potential customer, it looks like your company dropped everything to thoughtfully develop and deliver content that has been created especially for them.

Increases Content Discoverability to Boost Internal and External Search Results

Simply put, digital content that can’t be identified by computers might as well not exist. This is where the intelligence of metadata shines. Using metadata labels or “tags,” companies can attach additional information to their digital content to describe it in more detail. This metadata tagging makes it easier for search engines to find, identify, and display when a user is searching for a related topic.

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This discoverability goes beyond external search engines to include a company’s CMS or internal knowledge base where an employee may be looking for customer info, product documentation, etc. Wherever the search is done — the better the metadata, the better the experience and the results.

How to Make Sure Your Content is Intelligent and Ready for the Future

Intelligent content isn’t so much about the words and images that make it up as it is about how you create, store, manage, and deliver the content. Luckily, there’s a tool that can set you up to serve intelligent content and the resulting omnichannel experience that consumers crave.

Headless CMS empowers modern organizations to create their content in entirely presentation-independent modules, organize and store it in a semantically-rich way with metadata, and deliver it to any device or channel — all thanks to the power of an architecture built on application program interfaces (APIs).

This separation of content from formatting allows content teams to create content just once and distribute it anywhere and technology teams to build the best frontend presentation without either stepping on the other’s toes.

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Contentstack’s industry-leading headless CMS, in particular, empowers organizations to take advantage of best-in-class integrations that enable users to seamlessly integrate CRM platforms, AI tools, A/B testing applications, analytics parsing, personalization engines, and almost anything else that the future of intelligent content may require.

Contentstack is a critical element in every business’s technology stack if it aims to create intelligent, omnichannel content. Find out how much you could be saving with our ROI calculator or contact us today to create a free proof of concept.

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Comparably Recognizes Contentstack for Leadership, Diversity, and Professional Development

Out of tens of thousands of companies, Contentstack was chosen for four different awards by Comparably, an organizational culture and compensation evaluation platform. Contentstack’s CEO and co-founder Neha Sampat was recognized as one of the best CEOs for women and for diversity, while the leadership team as a whole also made the Best Leadership Teams list, alongside companies such as Microsoft, Zoom, and Drift.

Separating companies into two categories, large and small/medium, Comparably’s awards were based on employee ratings over the past year, including recent months as companies have faced the challenges of the pandemic.

Best Leadership Teams

In the smaller firms category (companies with fewer than 500 employees), Contentstack was 10th on the list of Best Leadership Teams. Although Comparably listed the top 50 for each category, the awards included ratings of 60,000 U.S. organizations.

Best CEOs for Diversity

With more and more firms recognizing the importance of a diverse and inclusive workforce, Comparably reviewed the ratings by employees who are people of color to identify CEOs who create an inclusive work culture. Contentstack’s Neha Sampat was honored as one of the top 25 CEOs of small and mid-size companies, one of only two female CEOs on the list.

Best CEOs for Women

Neha Sampat was also recognized as one of the Best CEOs for Women, based on the ratings of female employees. At number three, she was the highest-rated female CEO on the list. Noting the continued gender pay gap and scarcity of female CEOs, Comparably stated, “It’s more important than ever to know who women deem as the best leaders to work for that also inspire a positive workplace culture for all.”

Best Companies for Professional Development

Last but not least, Contentstack was chosen as one of the Best Companies for Professional Development. One employee said, “We are able to pursue the projects that we find personally interesting or important, and have our managers' support to experiment and freedom to fail." Whether promoting from within or developing interns into full-time employees, we strive to empower the people that make us who we are.

From our executive leadership to our people team to the 180+ employees bringing their best every day, Contentstack is proud to be a leader in our industry and beyond. Our company has grown massively in the last couple of years, and awards like these tell us that our passion and positive culture have only grown with us.

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Our Content Delivery GraphQL API Beta Version is Now Public

After several months of testing, Contentstack’s Content Delivery GraphQL API Beta version is now live and available for you to explore. We have also released a Postman collection for this API. 

Our Content Delivery GraphQL API Beta version now facilitates optimized schema handling, returns error debugging responses, uses database resources efficiently, and prevents malicious requests to the database. In other words, the API is now more stable, with better performance and improved security features.

Here’s a quick look at some of the significant changes that we have introduced since the alpha version:

  • Paginate responses for referenced data and assets
  • Query multiple content types in a single request
  • Pass access tokens in the header of the API request instead of the URL
  • Search using more flexible regular expressions
  • Batch multiple API requests to the server
  • Retrieve data for custom fields through GraphQL queries
  • Traditional Reference field schema has been deprecated
  • New and improved error response bodies
  • Higher rate limit
  • The release of a postman collection for our GraphQL API

Let’s dig a little deeper to understand the changes in detail.

Use Relay Specification to Paginate and Traverse Reference and Asset Field Data

Contentstack’s GraphQL API Beta now supports relay specification for Reference fields and assets. This means that you can paginate the list of referenced entries or assets returned in the response using the skip and limit parameters.

You can sort and filter the response data to request only for a specific list of nested references. This helps avoid overloading the database with unnecessarily large data requests.

Relay specifications take into account the data graph for an application. The data graph specifies the different connections that exist between each entity of the stack. This data graph consists of the following entities:

  • Node: A node represents individual resources within the stack, for example, a particular content type (e.g., Product) or asset.
  • Edges: Edges represent the contextual data that defines the connection between two content types, for instance, when a Product content type refers to the entries of another content type (e.g., Categories).
  • Connection: Connection represents a standardized connection model to specify one-to-many relationships between a parent content type and its referenced child content types. You can paginate the referenced content returned in the response body using the skip and limit parameters.

Let’s look at an example to understand how relay specification works in Contentstack.

Consider a scenario where a few Blogs have references to related blog posts of the same content type or other related blog posts such as Sales Blogs and Marketing Blogs. Let’s say you want to fetch the value of the Title field of the basic blogs along with the values for the Title field of the Sales Blogs and Marketing Blogs.

The GraphQL API request for this appears as follows:
{
  all_blogs {
    items {
      related_blogsConnection(
        limit: 5
      ) {
        totalCount
        edges {
          node {
            ... on Blogs {
              title
            }
            ... on SalesBlogs {
              title
            }
            ... on MarketingBlogs {
              title
            }
          }
        }
      }
    }
  }
}

If you want to view only the first five titles of the referenced blogs, you can use the limit parameter to paginate the list of referenced entries in the response body.

The GraphQL API request for this appears as follows:
{
  all_blogs {
    items {
      related_blogsConnection(
        limit: 5
      ) {
        totalCount
        edges {
          node {
            ... on Blogs {
              title
            }
            ... on SalesBlogs {
              title
            }
            ... on MarketingBlogs {
              title
            }
          }
        }
      }
    }
  }
}

Note: You can only paginate response data for multi-content type referencing fields and single content type referencing fields that have been marked as “Multiple.”

Do Away with the Traditional Reference Field Schema

We have deprecated the traditional GraphQL query schema used to traverse through Reference fields. Now, you can use the relay specification logic to traverse through Reference field data.

However, one thing to keep in mind is that you can only paginate referenced entries for single content type referencing fields that have been marked as “Multiple” and multi-content type referencing fields in the response body.

The following table indicates the change in the schema of API requests that fetch Reference field data:

Old Reference Field SchemaNew Reference Field Schema
query {
  all_product {
    items {
      title
      home_appliances {
        ... on Electronics {
          title
          appliance_details
        }
        ... on KitchenAppliances {
          title
          kitchen_appliance_details
        }
      }
    }
  }
}

query {
  all_product {
    items {
      title
      home_appliancesConnection {
        edges {
          node {
            ... on Electronics {
              title
              appliance_details
            }
            ... on KitchenAppliances {
              title
              kitchen_appliance_details
            }
          }
        }
      }
    }
  }
}

Query Multiple Content Types in a Single Request

Contentstack’s Content Delivery GraphQL API Beta allows you to fetch the values of fields belonging to multiple content types in a single request. You can run a complex query to fetch data from multiple content types of the schema with a single request.

Consider a scenario in which you want to fetch all the values of the Title field of all Blogs and of Authors who have written a blog.

The GraphQL query for this request appears as follows:
{
  all_blogs {
    items {
      related_blogsConnection {
        edges {
          node {
            ... on Blogs {
              title
            }
          }
        }
      }
    }
  }
  all_author_details {
    items {
      title
    }
  }
}

Regulated Rate Limiting to Shield the Origin Server

Contentstack's GraphQL API Beta now sets a maximum rate limit of 3 requests per second per organization for uncached GraphQL requests. Request-based rate limiting safeguards our origin server from malicious queries and provides a stable platform for any app that consumes our GraphQL API.

We do not set any rate limits on the GraphQL requests that fetch content from our CDN cache.

Retrieve Data Using More Flexible Regex Search

The Content Delivery GraphQL API Beta uses regular expression objects to define the search criteria for a query. The regex queries will now use the pattern parameter to filter out query results.

Here is how the syntax for regex searches has changed in Beta:

Old Regex SyntaxNew Regex Syntax
where: {
    field_uid_regex: "regex_value"
}
where: {
    field_uid_regex: {
      pattern: "regex_value"
    }
}

Paginate Documents Within Your Introspection Schema

Contentstack’s Content Delivery GraphQL Explorer only creates an introspection schema for the first 100 content types fetched from your stack. It was not possible to refer to content types other than the first 100 available. Querying content types that failed to load within the introspection schema resulted in breaking changes. This restriction no longer exists.

While fetching all the content types within your stack, you can provide arguments in the introspection query to paginate the introspection schema details.

For example, if you have more than 100 content types in your stack, you can get the rest of the batches’ items using the skip parameter in subsequent requests. To paginate the output of the request for introspection schema, you can use the limit parameter.

So, for instance, let’s say the Product Catalog stack contains more than 100 content types. To fetch content types other than the first 100 in batches, use the skip=100 and limit=4 query parameters to get only the first four content types other than the first 100: 

https://graphql.contentstack.com/stacks/blt20962a819b57e233?environment=production&skip=100&limit=4

Dataloaders to Batch GraphQL API Requests

Our Content Delivery GraphQL API Beta uses dataloaders to traverse the relationship between a Reference field and its referenced entries. Possessing the ability to accept an array of keys and return an array of values as requested, Dataloaders reduce the number of calls made to the database. This supersedes the basic resolver functions that instead make a host of calls to the database while traversing the referenced entries of a Reference field.

Consider a scenario where you need to fetch the values of the Title field of a Product and the title of the Category to which it belongs.

The GraphQL API request appears as follows:
query {
  all_product(
    total
    items {
      title
      categoriesConnection {
        totalCount
        edges {
          node {
            title
          }
        }
      }
    }
  }
}

Here, a single product may be grouped under several categories, or a category can relate to several products. The resolver function that returns products cannot assume how many categories can be returned. This means that resolver functions will make several round trips to the database to fetch content.

The dataloader function instead batches multiple requests and makes a single call to the database for all the data related to products.

Fetch Data for Different Types of Custom Fields

Our Content Delivery GraphQL API Beta now allows you to retrieve data relayed by a custom field extension of a content type. Whether it may be a custom field of “boolean” data type or “JSON” data type, you can easily specify the “extension UID” to fetch field data.

Let’s consider a simple scenario to understand the query structure.

To retrieve the value for the “Product Description” JSON Editor field, your query will appear as follows.
query {
  product {
    title
    product_description
  }
}

The response body of this query includes details of the “Product Description” custom field in JSON format.

Detect and Debug Errors On the Go

Contentstack now follows GraphQL’s error specifications while returning error messages for an API request that failed to execute.

Error responses now state the exact reason for failure, hints to detect the erroneous entity, and requests to debug the error.

Let’s look at an error message that is returned when an API request does not specify the publishing environment to better understand this improvement:

The error message appears as follows:
{
  code: 'MISSING_ENVIRONMENT',
  message: `The environment query parameter is required.`,
  details: {
    hint: "The url pattern should be '/stacks/{stack_api_key}?environment={env_name}'."
  }
}

Postman Collection for Our Content Delivery GraphQL API

We’re excited to announce Postman Collections for our Content Delivery GraphQL API. This collection lets you connect to your Contentstack account and try out our APIs using Postman’s native app. Click on the button below to get started.



Now that you know the benefits of our Content Delivery GraphQL Beta, check out our documentation to learn more about it and try out these new features.

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Content Operations of the Future

Content operations is all about seeing the forest despite the trees. Underlying every quarterly calendar and big-picture marketing strategy is the minutiae of developing and disseminating content. From basic research and focused writing to optimizing for SEO and tracking results, content marketers must juggle a lot to consistently produce great content.

The pressure to publish regularly must be balanced against the need to analyze content impact and improve the process — that’s the essence of content strategy. Amidst all of that, organizations need methods and practices for wrangling all of that content (and the strategy behind it).

Enter content operations.

Positioning human and technological resources to build and manage content isn’t a novel concept. The unique part of modern content operations is what companies are doing at scale in an omnichannel context. Setting up a strong content operations infrastructure allows them to deliver more timely and personalized content for target audiences. That’s the difference content operations can make.

Here’s everything the modern content strategist needs to know about how content operations will continue to evolve and how to build a strategy and deploy the right technology today to meet tomorrow’s emerging trends and challenges.

Why Content Operations Matter: The Future of Content is More Complex Than Ever

As the internet becomes more saturated, the value of good content that stands out continues to rise. At the same time, the channels on which to share content continue to diversify and multiply. Content playbooks keep expanding, and businesses are forever finding more creative ways to build and leverage content.

Companies must now navigate content environments that are more diffuse and diverse than ever before. They all have increased stakes for their bottom lines.

Search Engines Prioritize Expert, Authoritative, and Trustworthy Content

We all need to E-A-T. That’s what Google seemed to be telling everyone with their core updates in August 2019. This was Google’s clarion call that content marketers need to focus on demonstrating expertise, authority, and trust (E-A-T). 

Beyond familiarizing yourself with the Search Quality Rater Guidelines, here’s how a content marketer proves their E-A-T:

  • Keep the site and its content updated regularly with accurate and current information
  • Offer links to authoritative sources with supporting data and facts
  • Give basic information such as author credentials on “About” pages
  • Earn links from other authoritative websites

These E-A-T guidelines apply to individual contributors authoring content on sites as well as brands and companies.

Plus, Your High-Quality Content Needs to be Ready for Consumption Across Every Channel

Customers demand omnichannel content coverage. Companies have no choice but to deliver smooth integration of content across all channels for consumers. That process begins with a deep understanding of how they prefer to consume content and various other contextual factors that impact content deployment.

Where is the customer in their journey?

What informational needs might they have?

How can your content operations system leverage key insights on the fly?

Omnichannel content operations means doing more than merely reusing content across different channels and devices. It’s about building a system that can answer such questions in real time while getting the right content into consumers’ hands to drive increased conversions and sustained engagement.

companies-using-multiple-channels.png

And Did We Mention All That Content Needs to be Individualized, Also?

Today, it’s all about those micro-moments in which constantly-connected people have started expecting answers in the exact moment they’re ready to know, go, do, or buy. The right content, deployed with strategic timing, will move customers from the exploratory phase to taking action and eventually making a purchase. What makes the content “right?” Being helpful and responsive to consumer needs at that moment.

This means that content operations systems have to understand the individual consumer and the circumstances surrounding that point of engagement. Personalizing content for the individual is no small task and relies upon vast quantities of data with a bit of strategy added into the mix.

How to Build a Futureproof Content Operations Workflow

Content consumption will only grow more complex as advancements in technology continue at a rapid clip. Don’t get left in the past — use these tips to create a content operations workflow that’s ready for the future.

Develop a Content Strategy

Having a plan is a must. That said, many marketers fail to do just that. Over 90 percent of B2B marketers are using content marketing, but only 37% have some sort of documented strategy. This is a recipe for turmoil on your team. Mistakes are much more likely to happen when stakeholders don’t have some foundational strategy to ground their efforts.

Therein lies the distinction between content operations and content strategy. Operations involve running everything smoothly. Strategy determines your target audience and your tactics for reaching them (and why). You need both.

content-marketing-without-strategy.png

Create Guidelines

Guardrails keep cars on the road. Similarly, guidelines keep your content marketing on track no matter how many drivers get involved. With some luck, your blog or website will be successful and grow. To ensure that all of the additional contributors who will inevitably add content to your site are well-guided regarding how that content should appear, you’ll need brand guidelines and a style guide.

Don’t make guesswork out of your brand’s key topics or tone of voice. Brand consistency and quality should be your guideposts. The folks over at MailChimp are a great example of how a brand can speak with one voice across many content creators.

Outline Your Ideal Content Production Flow

Content operations is where project management meets content strategy.

Your content production workflow doesn’t just determine what content you should be producing, but how it gets created, where it fits into the greater strategy, and how to ensure each piece aligns with brand and quality guidelines.

Take, for example, something as simple as a naming convention for files. When mishandled, it can throw an entire content operation into a crisis. When your team is working on a deadline and can’t access the necessary assets to complete a piece of content or doesn’t know who’s next in line to move an article through the editing phase, your content operations process needs another look.

Every content operation has a specific lifecycle that is personalized to a company’s individual needs. An effective content operation, at the most general level, will include these basic stages:

  1. Plan the strategy
  2. Define workflows
  3. Create content
  4. Store assets
  5. Edit content
  6. Publish content
  7. Archive and update

Adopt Content Management Technology

content-lifestyle-management-stages-chart.png

Fortunately, there’s technology out there to help you build a strong foundation for content operations. Here’s a quick rundown of the various functions of content management technology:

  • Analytics/Reporting (e.g., Google Analytics)
  • Authoring (e.g., Google Suite)
  • Automation (e.g., HubSpot)
  • Design (e.g., Adobe Suite)
  • Editorial (e.g., Airtable)
  • Imagery (e.g., Unsplash, Shutterstock)
  • Research (e.g., Ahrefs, Moz)
  • Project Management (e.g., Asana)

And of course, you’ll need a content management system (CMS) where you’ll create and store content and bring together all your other content technology under one roof.

Leveraging a headless CMS is an effective way to tackle all of the disparate tools within a broader content operation. Contentstack pioneered headless CMS — a content management system without a built-in front-end that predetermines how and where content is displayed. This enables enterprise companies to develop quality content one time and publish it virtually anywhere, any time.

Headless CMS eases the burden on content managers through smart content architecture that easily integrates the best personalization engines to allow for segmentation and optimization of content. AI-enabled widgets help to analyze content to improve SEO and performance.

For enterprise business users, Contentstack is platform-agnostic marketing at its best. For developers, the headless CMS offers greater scalability and security that modern IT stacks need.

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Hire The Right People

Even the best CMS is at the mercy of the people running it. Content operations need to be strategically planned and tweaked over time. The cast of characters behind any functional content operation, therefore, matters a great deal. Here are a few roles to consider when onboarding your content ops team:

  • Content Creators: From freelance writers to subject matter experts (SMEs), there can be a wide range of individuals responsible for developing the written content.

  • Content Strategists: These are the managers who keep the wheels spinning by moving projects forward and ensuring consistency and quality.

  • Content Specialists: Beyond writers, these are your designers, developers, and other creatives who add flavor to your content — often through visual additions.

A significant part of a robust content operations workflow is figuring out ways to ensure cohesiveness and collaboration among these roles. With such distinct skill sets, this can be challenging, but it’s imperative to create high-quality content.

Build a Bright Business Future with Content Operations

With the right mix of people, process, strategy, and tools to make it happen — your organization can rise above the clamor of content online.

To further evaluate your current web content management strategy; apply responsible, accountable, consulted, and informed (RACI) models to reach your content transformation goals; and increase your readiness to support omnichannel engagements by adopting modern content operations — enjoy free access to Gartner’s report: “2020 Strategic Roadmap for Web Content Management.”

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