Sean Schroeder

Communicators: It’s Time to Start Seeing Content as a Service

By: Sean Schroeder | November 26, 2018 | 
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content as a serviceWouldn’t it be wonderful to spend less time creating content and more time using it to grow your audience or create new customers?

Content as a service, or CaaS, allows marketers to streamline their content for multiple distribution points.

With some changes, companies can use a single source of content to target different channels and devices.

In the intensity of today’s content-driven environment, this approach allows marketers to use existing content more efficiently.

Thanks to the proliferation of smartphones, voice-enabled devices, chatbots, and the enormous pressure to maintain a consistent voice across channels, brands yearn for a COPEing (create once, publish everywhere) mechanism.

Content as a Service: It’s Not a Dream

That concept has long been a dream for marketers, but CaaS makes it a reality.

Cybra reports that marketers who fail to use an omnichannel strategy face a 10 percent drop in revenue.

Consumers now use multiple screens and accounts to consume content, and brands that fail to create a consistent presence across those experiences will suffer the consequences.

In the face of these problems, CaaS can be the solution.

Marketers can finally stop scrambling to reinvent content for every channel under the sun and get more value from the content they’re creating.

The Right Kind of CaaS

Every marketer should be tired of the familiar refrain “the right message to the right person at the right time.” And rightfully so.

However, I would propose adding one more factor to the mix: the right context.

But creating and executing a strategy to support the idea has been elusive for many of us. If only because we’re tasked with so much that orchestrating multiple channels for multiple audiences is downright overwhelming.

In many organizations, customer-facing content is hard to find, hard to share, and hard to recycle.

CaaS, however, empowers marketers to store and manage content in a single location.

And they can deliver that content to any device or channel with the right context, creating an experience that feels personal because it’s contextually relevant.

Considering the continued proliferation of channels, the need to simplify production and distribution will be imperative.

Content as a Service: Employing a CMS Component

Enter CaaS. Many systems allow content to be granular enough that repurposing among even a few channels can be empowering.

But if you need to go beyond that to truly liberate your content, a component CMS allows you to get granular and supercharge your CaaS strategy.

Embrace what Ann Rockley calls “intelligent content,” and you can use the same material across channels for documentation, spec sheets, marketing content, and more.

And if the web channel is important (and I think you would be hard-pressed to find someone who says it isn’t), it’s worth familiarizing yourself with a CMS or digital experience platform that can be headless or decoupled.

A traditional content management system handles everything from managing content to presenting it online.

In a headless CMS, the system allows users to control the content. But, it does not provide a way to present that content to audiences—that’s left to the development team.

There’s a lot of freedom, but it can also mean a lot of development overhead (though that isn’t necessarily a reason not to consider it).

If you have the development resources to support a headless CMS approach, it can be a great boon. But it can be difficult to anticipate future needs, which means marketers can either wait for an already over-tasked development team or make do.

Content as a Service: Deliver Content Where You Need It

And “making do” often means buying and mastering multiple solutions to fill the gaps. This can end up increasing your martech overhead unnecessarily.

When marketers decouple the content from the CMS—rather than bind it to the system or chop the presentation layer—they get the best of both worlds.

Teams are able to deliver content wherever they need it, but they can also use an agnostic presentation layer to create experiences that don’t rely solely on development resources.

This doesn’t eliminate all development work, but it’s more palatable than starting from scratch.

A decoupled CaaS strategy helps marketers maintain messaging consistency while measuring the effectiveness of content in multiple contexts.

In many ways, it’s the best of both worlds.

And as consumers increasingly differentiate companies based on the quality of their content, it’s a necessary step forward.

Six Keys to CaaSing In

While there are technical implications to adopting content as a service, you can get ahead up by taking key steps:

  1. Identify opportunities. Pick one audience that means the most to your organization. Once you have that target, identify the most meaningful channels for that audience. The internet will play a role, so start there and add others. Keep in mind each channel should be accessible by services that can consume content via API.
  2. Audit your content. What content do you have to support this audience? Will that content foster a meaningful conversation over time? If it doesn’t, you can always add material later. But knowing what you have at your disposal makes the next steps easier.
  3. Create your plan. Create a plan to orchestrate content-driven experiences across channels you’ve identified. Consider what Ardath Albee calls a “conversational” approach. Instead of pushing the same content to every channel, deliver different content that supports the same concept or topic in a way that both leads and drives conversations.
  4. Structure your content. Every channel might have different requirements affecting how you optimize your content. Structure content in a way that allows you to deliver it appropriately Content modeling can provide the structure.
  5. Adopt a CaaS delivery platform. Unfortunately, there’s no way around this. If you don’t have a platform that supports content as a service (perhaps via API), you’ll need one. In addition to liberating your content, you gain several significant benefits: value, freedom, speed, interactivity, and creativity. The biggest benefit? Once you’ve adopted a headless platform, you’ve future-proofed your site and content.
  6. Deliver according to plan. With your content structured and in place, you’ll need to deliver it to the channels in your plan. Your dev team is likely to have an opinion on which framework or library makes the most sense. Lean on them, but don’t let the system limit possibilities—add new delivery options when opportunities arise.

Content as a Service: Poised to Become Industry Standard

It’s important to note that this process requires diligence and dedication.

Not only do marketers need to follow these steps for all existing content, but they must also create a means to ensure future content adheres to the same standards.

One less intensive (though less flexible) approach is to repurpose content on channels that permit reuse. This is particularly useful for organizations which might be unsure about their commitment to CaaS.

CaaS is poised to become the industry standard, but that’s certainly not something we should fear.

On the contrary, marketers should embrace this change and its promise to make content creation and distribution simpler and more effective.

Photo by Jan Vanveen on Unsplash

About Sean Schroeder


Sean Schroeder is the CCO of Blue River and co-founder of the Mura Platform . A former graphic designer and front-end developer, Sean is a self-confessed app junkie currently consumed with creating content-driven experiences that spark meaningful, relevant connections.

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