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Where Do You Fall on the Content Operations Maturity Model?

We live in a world of comparison—brought to you by human nature and the convenient oversharing nature of the interwebs.

The impulse to compare is so addicting because it plays on our basal needs to identify our competition and strategize how to be better. There are times when a comparison is damaging, of course (insert image of photoshopped model, the dangers of social media article, etc.). But for all its faults, this urge also inspires people to push their limits and get better.

Comparison is instrumental for B2B organizations. There’s the obvious reason: You have literal competition to battle—and defeat. And, even if you don’t have precise overlaps with another business’s offering, if your audience overlaps, you’re competing for attention in a noisy marketplace.

In a world where 70% of B2B buyers fully define their needs before engaging with sales, your marketing efforts won’t trick anyone about your offering. So, what exactly is marketing’s responsibility to the buyer?

Providing an exceptional CX during the self-education stage (which, according to that last stat, is most of the journey) and enable sales and post-sales teams to carry on the torch and speak in one voice.

81% of marketing leaders agree: Customer experience is the battleground on which companies will fight for business. Which makes content, A.K.A. the backbone of virtually every customer and prospect interaction, instrumental in providing a winning CX compared to your competition.

So, as you walk onto the field with your competition, it’s natural to do a once-over—both of their operation and yours. And, ever fans of concrete values over wishy-washy, we’ve defined the five stages of content operations maturity.

The Content Operations Maturity Model

Before we get into the details, let’s take a bird’s-eye view:

As we dig into the meat of this maturity model, there are three key things you should think about:

  1. Where do I think my operation stands on this scale?
  2. What would my colleagues say?
  3. What would our competitors say?

Each and every one of these questions is important. And, while you probably can’t get the definitive answer for number three, numbers one and two are fair game. In fact, do you want to be sure of your stage before reading about all three?

Take the Content Operations Self-Assessment and get your customized evaluation.

Now, let’s get to the maturity model:

1. Reactive

Content Operations Model: Reactive

The kids’ table of the content world, creative teams are in a near-constant state of chaos. Without visibility and cohesion, these teams are often left feeling scattered, siloed, and chronically behind.

These organizations often look something like this:

  • Success is found…but rarely repeated.
  • Ad hoc requests dominate the day.
  • Undefined processes and responsibilities create siloed work.
  • Content communicates an inconsistent message.
  • Searching for assets wastes valuable time.

If this sounds familiar, don’t panic. Many teams begin here (some lacking the self-awareness to know it).

2. Siloed

Content Operations Model: Siloed

Siloed organizations often have real strategic goals, but are sabotaged by broken processes that block collaboration and result in disjointed customer experiences that lose sight of a coherent message.

You might be siloed if these characteristics ring a bell:

  • Individuals are confident in their own roles, but struggle to collaborate.
  • There’s no defined process for incorporating input into marketing planning
  • Goals are poorly defined and inconsistently measured.
  • The lack of a common taxonomy makes it hard to find, publish, and report on content.
  • Poor visibility leads to disjointed messages for your audience.
  • Inefficient collaboration wastes time and resources.

3. Mobilizing

Content Operations Model: Mobilizing

Mobilizing teams are well-positioned to make big, tangible strides. With a strong foundation of collaboration, they can use existing momentum to build tighter alignment and start to think seriously about measuring impact in a meaningful, consistent way.

Key characteristics:

  • A gap between high-performing teams and others cuts collaboration opportunities short.
  • An inconsistent taxonomy prevents meaningful reporting.
  • Content is centralized, but not necessarily accessible.
  • Content strategy is well-defined, but ad hoc requests get in the way.
  • Content is created in alignment to support key personas, buying stages, and themes, but isn’t always leveraged that way.

4. Integrating

Content Operations Model: Integrating

Second best has it pretty good—but not many have reached this high on the maturity model. Integrating organizations have refined processes in order to plan and produce strategically and effectively across multiple teams.

Their alignment—not just within the marketing organization, but to an extent with customer-facing teams as well—allows them to be proactive, not reactive. Instead of putting out fires, integrating teams can take a step back and consider the big picture.

What it looks like:

  • Consolidating and applying a universal taxonomy remains elusive.
  • Planning is strategic, but there are still opportunities to maximize investment.
  • Too many tools, not enough personalization.
  • Even with loads of performance data, ROI is hard to prove.

5. Optimized

Content Operations Model: Optimized

Content nirvana, you might call it. Even today’s most successful content operations rarely earn the distinction of being optimized.

Optimized teams work cross-functionally, within and without marketing, to create seamless customer experiences across all channels, touchpoints, and buying stages.

The promised land:

  • Cross-team collaboration yields a consistent message.
  • A tagged and current inventory allows for accurate reporting.
  • ROI is consistently measured and forms a foundation for planning.
  • Executive turnover still poses a threat.
  • Technology is comprehensive, but can always be better optimized.

You’ll notice that even the best-positioned teams can’t rest on their laurels. We wouldn’t be marketers if we didn’t always know there was room for improvement, right?

What to Do with Your Maturity Score

So—what score would you give yourself? If you’ve taken the Content Operations Self-Assessment, you already have the unbiased answer. If not, now’s the time to compare what you think you are to your actual evaluation.

Once you have the results, send it to your colleagues. Comparison within your own team can reveal hidden realities that need to be acknowledged.

If you’re feeling particularly bold, send the assessment to your competition. Think of the throwdown you could have:

“We got Integrating—I bet you guys don’t even get past Siloed with all those typos in your last launch.”

(Disclaimer: I do not take responsibility for any passive-aggressive email wars that ensue.)

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How does your content operation stack up?