Why Content Modeling is a Critical Element of Any Successful Content Strategy
By Mark Saunders
In the digital-first, digital-fast world, brands need their content to be available across all the channels, platforms, and devices their customers use. To accomplish that, they need a plan or strategy to support them. Unfortunately, according to the Content Marketing Institute, only 40% of B2B marketers have such a documented strategy in place.
A content strategy ensures that your content maps to your organization’s goals, and a vital part of that strategy is establishing a content model. Content modeling provides the foundation of reusable, scalable, and consistent content strategies and gives content structure. In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about content modeling — without it, your marketing team could waste precious time and resources and, perhaps more importantly, your user experience could suffer.
What Is Content Modeling?
Content modeling is a way for you to document the different types of content your brand publishes and how those different content pieces relate to each other. In using content modeling, we take a structure first approach to the design of our content and are able to define content types.
Content types are driven by the domain and context of the content to be created and common examples might include an ‘Article’ or a ‘Banner”. This is intended to help show you the content assets you have available so that you can know what should be published where, what can be reused, and what needs to be created.
Because of the number of channels and digital touch points available today, content models have evolved to include so much more than just websites. To help you manage your content strategy across multiple channels, content modeling also requires that the relationship between different content types also be acknowledged. With this, content can be deconstructed and reconstructed to fit the needs of different channel or interface that supports customer interactions.
So, we can see that three key elements make up any content model:
- Content types: By defining a content type, we get a template that guides us to make multiple pieces of content that follow the same structure. For example, this could be a template you use when creating a blog, a product page or a news item.
- Content attributes: The different elements that are combined to make a content type. For example, in the context of a blog page, this could include title, author, category, and link to a call to action.
- Relationships: The different content types may have relationships to other content types. In the example above, we see there may be a relationship between a Blog content type and a call to action content type. Similarly, the call to action content type may have relationships with other content types it could be reused on, such as a news item.
Why You Need Content Modeling
There are a few reasons you need content modeling within your organization, particularly if you’re delivering content to multiple channels with the help of a CMS.
Provides Structure for Content
The primary outcome of content modeling is that it gives content structure. Knowing what attributes make up a piece of content on a particular page or in a specific channel, as well as the relationships between different pieces of content, allows you to create a guide for your content that can be easily followed and repeated again and again.
Supports Content Reusability and Scalability
Content modeling will facilitate you reusing content in multiple ways. By breaking down content into manageable components, you can mix and match these components to create new pieces of content with consistent messaging without having to create new content at every turn. Blog posts can become social media campaigns and email blasts, allowing marketing teams to scale production across multiple channels.
Improves Collaboration Across Areas
Content teams aren’t just made up of content writers and marketers. Meeting the demands of today’s multichannel content publishing efforts takes support from a multitude of stakeholders, including design, UX and developers.
Having structured content will make it easier for us to document what content we have and where that content is used and reused. With an understanding of the structure of the content and the relationships within content types, we can better articulate intent between the different stakeholders such as content builders, designers, UX practitioners and development teams.
Content teams have a lot of content assets and campaigns to juggle, particularly when you factor in the number of channels where potential customers are. Understanding and documenting your content model can help better understand the use and the inter-relationships between content. With this information at hand, you can better assess where updates will have the most impact and can produce the best return on investment. Partnering this with a content audit can identify stale content, content in need of a refresh and duplicate content being managed multiple times.
What Happens If You Don’t Do Content Modeling
So, we’ve outlined the benefits of doing content modeling. But what about the drawbacks? How does your business suffer if you don’t have a content model in place?
Difficulty Scaling Content Production
Today’s brands have to produce content for multiple channels and personalize it for different audiences. Without content models in place, it’s hard to visualize the inter-relationships between content and reuse is likely to be limited. Without understanding what makes up specific content types, we run the risk of having to create additional content rather than complementary content. In a time when it’s already challenging to facilitate the amount of content required we don’t want exasperate the problem!
Issues Managing Multiple Campaigns
Content teams managing multiple campaigns often rely on a central content hub and map out ways that content can be reused to help them be successful. Without a content model, this strategy goes out the window, and multiple campaigns can be overwhelming for content creators. The common reaction to this is to treat each campaign independently, which often results in a dilution of the global messaging or branding we intend to deliver from an organizational perspective.
Negative Impact on SEO
A content model establishes how content should be displayed on your website. It allows the developers to organize all of the data and content attributes and for content to be presented methodically to improve page structure and user experience. Search engines like structure, without a content model, information on your website might be arranged haphazardly, making it hard for search engines to index in addition to being unappealing to visitors.
How to Create a Content Model
Now that you know the benefits of having a content model and the disadvantages of not having one, here are a few simple steps to help create one:
Identify Content Intent
The first step is to determine the type of content you need and the different ways in which it will be used. Gather any stakeholders on the content team together and discuss why a piece of content should be created, what information it should communicate, how it might be reused, and the types of actions you want visitors to take after viewing it.
Analyze Requirements and Resources Required
Once you know why content should be created, you can assess your current resources, whether you can reuse existing content assets, and the people involved. This will likely include a number of stakeholders, given you want to have design, structural and presentational aspects of the content considered.At this point, you will also outline content workflows so that everyone knows what’s required and what is yet to be done.
Determine Content Structure and How Content Should Look
Next, you need to establish a structure for content and how it should be presented on each page or within each channel. UX teams can then create wireframes and designs while their content managers impart strategy to outline how content will fit each use case. This is where you will also determine the content types, along with attributes that fit into each template.
Define Content Relationships
You need to consider how each piece of content relates to the others. Can it be included in or linked to another content type? Can only single instances of specific content types be included and are they optional or mandatory? Can multiple types of this content be utilized to build another version of the same content type – or, indeed, another content type altogether?
Get Your Content Models in Order with Content Bloom
Content modeling is a critical element of any successful content strategy. You’ll need proper support if you want to keep up with today’s competitive digital marketing environment.
Content Bloom’s digital marketing services are precisely what your brand needs to beat out the competition, stay relevant and deliver the exceptional experiences your customers require. We provide content production and strategy assistance backed by data.
We’re also experts in several modern content management systems. We can help you choose the right technology to support your individual business needs and put the right content models in place.
Contact us today to see how we can help you structure your content and improve your strategy.
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