How Effectively Are Companies Managing Content Operations?

Over the past few weeks, two research reports have been published that provide many important insights into how marketers manage content-related activities and processes. One report from the Content Marketing Institute (“CMI”), the second from Altimeter.

Content marketing is becoming almost ubiquitous among B2B and B2C companies, and the volume of content required to “feed the beast” is steadily increasing. The need to produce and deliver customized and contextual content in near real time has also increased exponentially. As a result, we are seeing more research addressing different aspects of content processes.

In this post, I will review some key findings from the research conducted by CMI and Altimeter.

CMI Research

Source: Content Marketing Institute

CMI recently published the results 2021 Survey of Content Management and Strategy (“CMI Scan”). The CMI survey was conducted in April of this year and produced 263 responses.

Eighty-three percent of survey respondents were B2B or B2B/B2C companies. 40 percent were with companies with 1,000 or more employees, and another 43% were with companies with 100-999 employees. Seventy-nine percent of respondents were in North America.

Seventy-eight percent of respondents to the CMI survey said their organization takes a strategic approach to content management, and 81% Strongly or Little They agreed that their company views content as a core business strategy.

The strategic approach is evident in the factors that survey participants take into account during their content planning process.

  • 61% said they always or frequently use structured and repeatable content production processes
  • 49% said they always or frequently think about the need to deliver consistent experiences throughout the customer journey
  • 26% said they always or frequently think about the need to provide personalized experiences

CMI asked survey participants what content development aids they currently use, and the following table shows the nine aids most identified by survey respondents.

The CMI survey also revealed that marketers use a variety of technologies to support their content management business. More than half of survey respondents reported using the following technology tools.

  • Email Marketing Software (85%)
  • Social media post analytics (84%)
  • CRM (73%)
  • Content Management System (72%)
  • Content Distribution Platform (51%)

The picture is more mixed when it comes to how effectively marketers use their technology tools. For example, 31% of survey respondents described their company’s proficiency in using content-related technologies as expert or advancedHowever, 42% said they are not using their technology tools to their fullest potential.

CMI also asked survey participants about the content management challenges they face. Half or more of the respondents mentioned the following three challenges.

  • Communicate between teams so everyone is on the same page (58%)
  • Enough employees skilled in content strategy (53%)
  • Using User Experience (UX) design to improve the overall customer experience with our organization (50%)

Only 15% of the survey participants Strongly Agree That: “Our organization extracts meaningful insights from data and analytics derived from content consumption.” and only 41% Somewhat agreed with this statement. Therefore, surprisingly, the ability to use data effectively has not emerged as a major challenge to content management. It is possible, of course, that CMI did not include a data-related challenge in the list provided to survey participants.

Altimeter Research

Source: Altimeter
Altimeter (one of the prophetic companies) recently published the results The state of digital content for 2021 study. This research was based on a survey of 375 senior executives and content team practitioners in companies with at least 1,000 employees. The respondents were in the United States, the United Kingdom, Spain, Germany and China. Survey respondents were with companies operating in five industry sectors – banking/finance, healthcare, manufacturing, retail, and technology.

The altimeter study focused on a wide range of content-related topics. In this post, I will focus on the survey results that are most related to content management.

Content strategy ownership Altimeter’s research found that in the plurality of companies represented in the survey (31%), multiple business functions in a company’s content strategy. Using this approach, the company already has multiple content strategies, which can lead to a disjointed customer experience. Fifteen percent of companies represented in the survey used a hybrid model in which senior leaders from related functions jointly develop a comprehensive content strategy. Then the content team has to produce the content based on an overall strategy.

Content production model Fifty percent of respondents to an Altimeter survey said they use a centralized, dedicated team to create content for any business function in the company that needs it. This model can be described as an ‘internal agency’ or a ‘center of excellence’ approach. But 32% of survey respondents said they set up multiple content creation centers within their company to meet the ever-increasing demand for content. These centers usually focus on different products, regions, or functions.

Key Content Challenges – The Altimeter asked each survey participant what their biggest challenge in creating and presenting content. The following table shows how survey participants answered this question.


The results of these two research studies provide ample evidence that content process management is still being implemented in most business organizations.

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