As the Equinix marketing team considered bringing on a new platform to build our content operation, I remember thinking, “A content marketing platform? It might be a little early for that. First, we have several foundation pieces to put in place.”

I knew we needed a common taxonomy across internal teams, a consistent workflow process for all content creators to take part in, and team alignment to make sure the taxonomy and workflows were followed. Could a content operations platform really be effective without those already established?

Then the lightbulb went on in my head—we didn’t need to set everything in place before we even considered platforms. In fact, our decision to devote resources to a platform was the perfect incentive to gather stakeholders in the same room and walk out with a consensus and a married taxonomy.

Now, don’t misunderstand me: Software investment doesn’t need to precede a company-wide taxonomy. For us, having the deadline and financial commitment was the perfect incentive to implement a taxonomy, but if your organization has another incentive—say, a leadership-driven initiative to make the customer experience more cohesive—that can be all the better.

In other words, forget about the software for a minute. The process of getting our content operation ready to deploy the software—essentially defining and refining the strategy behind it—was impactful in itself.

The Marketing Organization and Content Creators Were Invested

Before deploying a content operation platform, getting team buy-in and approval for a taxonomy overhaul project was an uphill battle.

The first challenge was trying to get the team to understand why we needed to do the work in the first place. When people are used to working a certain way and don’t have glaring issues, it’s hard to see the full impact that defined taxonomies and workflows would have at the team and individual level.

The second challenge was one of the team’s most valuable resources: time. With a full workload sitting in front of each team member, it’s hard to set time aside to identify ways to work more efficiently, and to implement the improvements at scale across 150+ people. And who can blame them? Creating a taxonomy wasn’t in anyone’s core role—including my own.

However, our priorities shifted when we decided to invest in a content operation platform. The necessity became imminent: We all had to collaborate to define a content operations strategy in order to successfully deploy the content operation platform. And that’s where I have advice for you: Don’t just talk about getting a content operation platform, do it. Make it concrete.

Creating a Content Operations Strategic Roadmap

Now that the teams had agreed that we needed a strategic approach to building a content operation, it was time to collaborate and make it happen.

Individual stakeholders completed a survey based on our viewpoint of the maturity of our content operation. Then we all came together—literally in the same physical space—to discuss the results, identify our weak points, and build a roadmap on how to move forward to achieve our goals.

With this exercise, we built a shared cross-functional taxonomy for customer journey stages, personas, industries, and more. We identified the optimal workflow for each piece of content, and each key stakeholder gave their stamp of approval.

We used Kapost’s professional services team to help us with these exercises and while I highly recommend you hire someone to help you through this process, Kapost has some resources to help you get started. The Content Operations Self Assessment or Marketing Workshop Facilitation Cards.>

The Immediate Impact of Defined Taxonomies and Workflows

I am fascinated with the impact of the software implementation process. You can see and feel the changes in efficiencies as well as employee happiness.

Even before the Kapost platform was fully implemented, we saw across the board upticks in author satisfaction as a result of the deployment process. The internal survey we use to measure this showed that content was easier to find with the taxonomy in place, and that made people happier.

By getting into a room to talk about how to organize content, all of a sudden content creators understood the content process and how their projects across different channels worked together to build customer experience.

For the first time, their taxonomy is rationalized against others’ and it’s easier to find the content they need to complete tasks, reference similar pieces, or even repurpose existing assets. With the new lived experience, it’s easier to understand the impact of the strategic process and how it makes their job is easier. Overall it’s led to a better experience with content.

The improved finabilty from the common taxonomy allows us to reuse content efficiently. With Kapost we have a clear understanding of what content is being created across regions and functions and are gaining valuable insight into what content has already been translated to each of our 12 languages.

Even more than that, content creators can make a clear argument for not producing content if it does not offer new value to our users or support company-wide goals. The content we now create is more impactful and provides a better customer experience.

Next Step: Software

Our implementation was done in three phases. In fact, we’re still working through phase three. By the end of this quarter, we will have retired two content repositories and workflow engines in less than one year. This improves user experience and saves us money.

We’re working on multiple integrations and when all is said and done, Kapost will allow our team to create and track content in production and distribution, as well as serve as our single content repository.

Now’s the Time to Start

It’s a long journey—and not without its challenges.

However, as someone who has come out the other side, I promise it’s worth it. The software is valuable, sure, but it’s what it enables that really matters: scaling content operations strategy at your organization. To truly do that, the software isn’t enough—you’ll need the people and process to support it as well.

The work we’ve done so far earned us the title of Content Operation to Watch in the 2018 Kapost Awards. This is the only beginning of what our team will accomplish now that we have a strong foundation to create content in more personalized, impactful ways.

James Goldman

About James Goldman

James Goldman was previously a senior manager of content marketing at Equinix with over 15 years of professional experience developing initiatives to engage users. James works with clients to help them understand the process of data driven innovation and the need for definable success criteria. He’s passionate about creating user first content marketing strategies and frequently publishes on the subjects of Content Strategy, Content Marketing and User Experience.