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Understanding the "Content Lifecycle" and how to master it

Siavash Moazzami-Vahid
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Storyblok is the first headless CMS that works for developers & marketers alike.

If you look at content as a product, it makes sense to see it evolve through different stages. From its inception as an idea, to its creation, publication, and maintenance, content can go through different stages of its “lifecycle”. Understanding the content lifecycle is an essential part of any endeavour that deals with content, be it a huge media corporation or an independent online shop.

Content as a product, going through different stages of its lifecycle.

Section titled What is “Content Lifecycle”?

Depending on who you may ask, content lifecycle can be many things. In the most fundamental way, it simply refers to all the different stages that a piece of content goes through before it either reaches its final form, or ideally is repurposed as new content.The stages of the lifecycle can be quite different based on the nature of the content itself and that’s why if you look around, you’ll find many, many, many different interpretations. However, all of them can be re-structured in a few key categories which explain the most important stages of the content lifecycle:

Content going through all the major stages of its lifecycle, including strategy and planning, production and creation, management, publication, preervation, and repurposing

Section titled 1. Strategy and Planning

The initial phase usually starts by the team leaders defining a clear strategy and a roadmap, before any form of creation takes place. This is true for both completely new content, and also for repurposing older content. A clearly defined vision is content in its conceptual stage, where its possible character, properties, and effects are conceived. At this point some key questions will be answered:

  • Who/What is this content going to be made for?
  • What is the ideal outcome of creating this content?
  • What are the challenges surrounding the process?
  • How does it connect to other pieces of content and the general plan overall?

Once the vision is there, the team will move on to create a plan for its creation and eventual future. Team members will be assigned to different tasks, typically a schedule will be put up, and a workflow will be created for better progress and communication between different members/teams.

Section titled 2. Production and Creation

After a clear workflow is settled, the content creators can get to work. In an ideal case, the creators would take the specific target audience into account while working, resulting in a piece of personalized content which is what everyone is striving for nowadays. The huge impact of content creation is evident, according to recent research, showing that content marketing creates three times more leads at a 62% lower cost than traditional outbound marketing. Additionally, 56% of businesses worldwide intend to spend more on content creation.
In cases where content has even a higher significance like e-commerce platforms or media companies, a bulk of the operation may be handled by AI through what is called Intelligent Content.

Section titled 3. Management

In addition to the management team which oversees the process, content requires management technology. Management technology is necessary in efficiently handling content in all stages: it offers a platform to create, revise, publish, refine, and preserve content of any form. The technology is usually referred to as CMS, short for Content Management System.

Depending on your needs, you have a choice between the traditional (think Wordpress) or the “Headless” approach. In short, the headless solution is suitable for cases where multi-platform publication (website, phone app, smart watch, etc), intelligent content, speed, and most importantly for the content lifecycle “Content Repurposing”, have higher degrees of importance.

Section titled 4. Publication and Maintenance

After content is created, it's usually shared with the public by using a CMS (Content Management System). The amount of effort required for publishing varies depending on the CMS type, with usability and editing features being important factors. CMSs with a user-friendly interface make creating, editing, and publishing content easy for content teams. Meanwhile, some systems may be more difficult, especially if they lack a preview option or require technical skills to create and edit new content elements or publish beyond a website.

Another thing to consider is SEO, as it helps your content to be visible in search results in Google, Bing, or other browsers. Tagging and optimizing content is also a part of the content lifecycle within a content management system.

That's why choosing the suitable CMS for your needs is crucial, as it can significantly impact the ease of content creation and management in the long term.

So, after hitting the "publish button," it is the first time in the content's lifecycle where it is finally observed by its target audience. At this point, the marketing team is done with the bulk of the operation and can enjoy watching their creation find its place through time.

Section titled 5. Preservation and Repurposing

Older content must be regularly updated and maintained so it stays relevant to its viewers. Although sometimes they are completely wiped out after serving their purpose, the more common options are either to archive them for later use, updating them after proper research to fit the new goal, or recycle them (or parts of them) as brand-new content .

Repurposing a piece of content means getting the most possible outcome of your investment, both in terms of time and resources. Repurposing can be as simple as adding new tags to a picture or keywords to a text, or more substantial like creating a completely new piece of content by combining and changing older ones.

Whether you implement traditional or intelligent content, repurposing is vital in keeping your audience engaged, and more so, in offering them a personalized experience.

Section titled How Important is an Optimized Content Lifecycle?

Lifecycle is simply a natural and inherent part of any content, and it exists whether there is any active input from the creators or not. What any enterprise dealing with content should do, is to first understand it thoroughly and then optimize it, so it serves their specific needs in the best way possible.

In a 2020 survey of 249 businesses, 74% of respondents reported that they view content as a “core business strategy”, yet only 23% said that their organization is either “extremely” (1%) or “very successful” (22%) in strategically managing their content.

How can an optimized content lifecycle help those organizations which are not satisfied with the way their content is managed?

Unoptimized lifecycle resulting in reduced user engagement, and higher costs for the creator.

Section titled A. Better Handling and Streamlined Production

Except for very small projects, content usually goes through different departments and different team members within each department during its lifecycle. With every added step (or person) the whole process becomes more complicated and more prone to stagnation. In worst cases, content can even get stock in a creation limbo that lasts far longer than it should. The opposite can also happen where due to the high number of people or steps involved, content does not get enough attention as it is simply passed around.

Setting up the custom content workflows removes bottlenecks and streamlines the content creation cycle. An optimized lifecycle acts as a tiny roadmap for each piece of content and makes sure no matter the number of handlers and steps, it always receives the proper input before going to its next stage.

Optimization also helps in quality assurance, where the same standards can be applied much easier across the whole content spectrum. In an organization where the content output is relatively high, all these issues become even more important. An optimized lifecycle, especially if implemented alongside intelligent content, is an absolutely necessary part of creating a streamlined content production for those organizations.

Section titled B. More Revenue

Through streamlining content production, many time consuming bulky tasks are reduced to simple routines. As a result, the marketing team and the creators can focus on creating fresh content, repurposing older content, and keeping a close eye on the clients’ expectations. This means a substantial amount of resources can be saved without sacrificing any quality.

Additionally, by making omnichannel publication effortless (see the next point), the content reaches its audience easier and faster. This in turn not only saves resources, but also helps in the general growth of the company’s audience and widening its potential clients.

Section titled C. Seamless Multichannel Publication

As more personal devices get access to the internet, it becomes more important for any modern business to maintain an omnichannel presence. Doing so requires having the right technology. It is shocking to hear that 73% of businesses believe that they either do not have the right technology in managing content, or that they are not using it to its full potential. So how should they address the problem?

Since multichannel publication and omnichannel personalized experience are relatively recent phenomena, companies should invest in technologies that are made exactly with these issues in mind. A Headless CMS is typically made to be used in cases where these two criteria are considered to be extremely important.

Unlike traditional content management systems, a headless CMS can have as many “heads” (the front-end) as necessary, while using the same “body” (the back-end). Instead of keeping the content stuck to the front-end (what the audience sees), a headless CMS keeps all the content in a centralized hub, which developers can access and subsequently publish the content in any platform and channel at the same time with incredible ease. The developers use application programming interfaces (APIs) to do so:

A marketer using a headless system to deliver content to different platforms, using API technology.

By implementing the appropriate technology, businesses can make sure that their contents’ lifecycles are properly managed and easily optimized, and let their marketing teams and content creators focus on creative solutions. A well defined content lifecycle means getting the absolute most out of each piece of content, and then recycling it as a brand new one!

Ready to optimize your content lifecycle?

To learn more about the new ways you can organize your content, make sure to contact our specialists.