Your organization has hired top-notch designers to create an attractive, branded look and feel. It may have even involved information architects, experience designers, and/or researchers to determine who to target and how to present information so that target audience members can find the information they need. And it has invested in servers and databases. But content, and those who create it, is often not involved in the strategy, inception, and creation of a public website, business-to-business portal or employee intranet.
Content is an ongoing commitment that begins long before a site launches or is redesigned, and it lasts as long as the organization exists. Content is a process — or, more accurately, a series of processes. While a site’s look and its organization should change infrequently, content needs to be revisited and updated as often as possible.
Managing content is the key task in keeping a website strategic and fresh. Content management requires commitments to develop and follow a standard set of publishing processes, archiving strategies/lifecycle rules, and coordination with marketing, sales, training and customer service.
What are the specific risks of not managing content, and how can making a commitment to content management foster the creation of a valuable website? This article examines the top five risks and their solutions.
1. Legal risk
Without content management, there is no way to identify content that is outdated or inaccurate. For an intranet, this can lead to disputes between employees and Human Resources on benefits issues, for example. And at least one major corporation was sued by a customer for not following through with a specific offer listed on its site.
To avoid this risk, an organization must define rules for the life cycle of each type of content – when it should be posted, when spotlighted and when removed from the spotlight position, when archived and if/when deleted from the site. In addition, links need to be reviewed and updated when content moves.
For example, when a CEO leaves a corporation and a new CEO takes over, the bio of the previous CEO is usually deleted from a website. However, old press releases quoting the previous CEO are not expunged from the site. If those press releases link to the bio of the previous CEO, the links should be removed.
2. Compliance risk
If an organization’s legal and security departments do not have the ability to review all content they deem necessary, content may be published that does not comply with industry laws.
Because of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, for example, corporations must keep and archive more content related to their governance and accountability. And although the act does not specifically address nonprofit organizations, those organizations also need to have a better handle on their content. This encompasses both financial data, for example, and the content explaining that data.
Organizations need a clear, consistent archiving strategy in order to ensure that they remain in compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley.
3. Unnecessary cost
Communicating online, in print, on the phone and in person should have one central nexus point. Having completely separate teams, guidelines and processes for each communication medium is both risky and expensive. It is extremely difficult to ensure that messages — and information — are consistent without regular collaboration.
Creating content that can be reused appropriately is a key technique to keeping costs down and developing information that works and is consistent. Reusable content requires that its creators have an understanding of the end goals of each audience that may see the content, and also a structure so that each piece of content can be stored centrally and used in many ways.
4. Missed business opportunities
Prospective clients or customers want to know about what they are buying and who they are buying from. If, for example, the description of a company is different on a product information page than in the “about us” section, that may create concern. If each part of a corporation acts as a completely independent entity, cross-selling products or services is more difficult than it needs to be.
If employees only know about their own business unit or product group, they cannot be effective champions for the organization as a whole. Combating this takes a commitment to keeping employees as informed as customers, about both small- and large-scale issues.
5. Untapped relationships with existing customers
Existing customers or clients require complex thinking. They are partially informed, and they are customers of a particular set of products and/or services. It is highly likely that they don’t know about the organization’s other products or services, which presents a business risk to the organization. “Existing customers” are actually both existing and new.
For this group, it is even more essential that information from all sources is consistent, and that this information reaches them. This content also must be structured to support them along their purchase cycle.
Managing content is complex and challenging, but it stands to bring the most return on investment. And its results are fast and measurable.
Content Company can help you manage your content. We can assess your existing content and processes, work with various groups of content owners in your organization, and develop standards and best practices specifically for you. We can also present the business case for content management to senior management. To discuss how we might be able to help your organization, please contact us.