The digital content lifecycle in 7 stages… and how to optimize it!

8 Feb


Written by

Louise McNutt




The digital content lifecycle in 7 stages… and how to optimize it!
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From content planning to recycling, via production and good management, what stages does your marketing content follow throughout its lifecycle? Have you ever thought about optimizing it? This is what we propose in this guide, to boost efficiency while having a positive impact!

Your images, videos, sound recordings and social media templates are the cornerstone of your digital strategy. To get the most value from them, you need optimal lifecycle management, from planning to archiving, from production to organization and distribution… among other things!

As more and more companies (70%) incorporate marketing content into their strategy, it’s essential to look at its lifecycle stages (or content lifecycle) to understand and optimize them. If you increase your ROI (Return on Investment), improve your team efficiency and reduce your carbon footprint in a move towards more sustainable marketing, it’s a win-win situation! Let’s take a closer look at each of these stages and areas for improvement to boost your digital strategy and increase your process efficiency.

Digital content lifecycle: what exactly are we talking about?

With the growing trend for multi-channel marketing, the demand for diverse content (photos, infographics, videos, white books, sales presentations etc.) is on the rise. But you already know this: content is king and can really pay off.Your marketing content helps your brand stand out and shine. As the first point of contact between your company and your target audience, it gives your leads and customers more detailed information about your value proposition and highlights your expertise. All with your very own brand personality.You also know that producing this content requires time, money and resources, which could be wasted if you don’t have a strategy in place to manage, store and archive your valuable digital content. This is where your digital content lifecycle comes in, because it involves the entire data production process:

  • Planning
  • Production
  • Organization
  • Distribution
  • Analysis
  • Optimization
  • Archiving

All your content, existing or new, fits into one of these phases. We will see below what each one involves.

Why optimize it?

Not all your content is of the same importance or intended for the same use. Having a good understanding of your content lifecycle will help you save time and be more efficient, giving you good ROI.More specifically, monitoring and managing your content lifecycle enables you to:

  • Unlock the full value of your content to reap the benefits of your hard work
  • Know exactly where and how much effort you should put into each of your assets
  • Archive obsolete content, to always guarantee the best user experience and not damage your brand reputation
  • Identify superfluous and inefficient activities to reduce their ecological footprint and reduce the impact of your digital habits.
Computer ans plant

The 7 stages of the content marketing lifecycle

Your content management does not follow a strictly linear process, and the same is true for this lifecycle. Here we talk specifically about your visual content, which represents an important part of your marketing activity. The stages outlined below are some of the most common in content management. They do not necessarily occur in chronological order, and can be adapted to suit your own needs.And what about the environmental impact? What follows will help you define your own content lifecycle management so it is both more efficient and better for the planet!

1. Planning

To create your content lifecycle, start by trying to answer this question: with all your hard work, what goal(s) do you hope to achieve with your existing content or the content you plan to create?Here are some ways to think about this:

  • Do you want to increase your brand awareness?
  • Are you looking to increase traffic to your website?
  • Do you want to solve a problem encountered by your target audience?
  • Do you want to improve customer retention?

Setting your goals will put you on the right course to move forward. Once that course is set, you can focus on developing a content strategy that will be your best way to achieve it.Here are some examples of questions to ask yourself:

  • What are the expectations of your target audience?
  • What content formats will help you achieve your business goals?
  • Which marketing channels will be the most appropriate to distribute your content?
  • How often do you want to publish your content?
  • Which analysis tools can you use to check if your marketing efforts are achieving the desired results?
  • What processes will make your content management efficient, accurate and seamless?

👍 Tip: in conjunction with your marketing and creative teams, analyze possible sticking points in your existing content management. To do this, review data and performance indicators from previous campaigns:

  • What worked well?
  • What can be reused?
  • Conversely, what work needs to be done?

For example, a Digital Asset Management (DAM) tool can help you measure the actual consumption of existing content with its Content Scoring feature. This will serve as a basis for identifying assets that work best and creating even better content.Optimal planning and thinking carefully about the expectations of your target audience will get you on the right track to achieve your goals.This analysis can be facilitated by a Digital Asset Management (DAM) solution that provides you with valuable data on the performance of your media. The Content Scoring feature helps you measure the effectiveness of your existing visual content, so you can understand what works best and create even better content.

2. Production

Building on all your existing data, goals and content database, you’re ready to create media content (videos, PDFs, videos etc) that excites your audience and addresses exactly the issues they encounter. Now it's time for the creative phase!It’s time to shoot videos, organize a photo shoot, write a podcast script etc. Ideas come together in brainstorming sessions, creative briefs do the rounds, team members collaborate, challenge each other and check their output. You bring your projects and marketing campaigns to life.By working together, creative, marketing and support teams will be able to produce attractive, impactful and engaging content to create experiences that capture the attention of your target audience. This collaboration between different departments reflects well on your content expertise: you have in-depth knowledge of your industry, show it!

👍 Tip: to make it easier for teams to collaborate and avoid wasting time searching for files, consider storing and saving your content in a place where everyone can find it. A DAM platform for example is the ideal solution to centralize your content, and all your media production activities thanks to its APIs. Instead of juggling tools, folders, files, and even versions, marketing and creative teams can go straight to the tool and get easy access the digital assets they need.

Notebook plant

3. Organization

Once your beautiful content is created, it’s essential to set up optimal management. This phase is like the oil in the workings of your content lifecycle, it helps it run as smoothly as possible - so to speak!It involves various activities such as:

  • Downloading files or data
  • Storage using a tree structure, with the precise location noted
  • Defining access, modification or validation rights in accordance with user profiles,
  • Keeping versions up to date etc.

This step is intertwined with all the other content lifecycle phases. If it's well thought out, it guarantees the proper use of your content, with up-to-date, validated files, while maximizing its lifespan.

👍 Tip: create a map of your content to get an overview of all your digital assets, identify possible duplicates, obsolete content and sort it.You can get this clearer overview from a solution that centralizes and streamlines your content management such as DAM software. The advantage is being able to understand content that can be deleted or archived to free up storage space, reduce bandwidth and thus reduce energy consumption - as well as its environmental impact.

4. Distribution

Your content is produced, finalized and organized: time to distribute and promote it! Depending on your initial strategy, choose the most appropriate marketing channels, the ones that are bound to reach your target audience (social media, blogs, newsletters etc.) and at a time best suited to its habits.You and your teams need fast, secure and measurable access to your content for an effective distribution phase.

👍 Tip: to transfer files to the right person at the right time, using email can quickly become difficult to track: who has the latest version? Has it been validated? Were all the right recipients copied?

What's more, attachments containing large creative files can be very cumbersome, with a high carbon footprint.To this end, be sure to use a method other than sending media via email or file transfer platforms, which involves downloading your documents and saving them locally. Managing your content distribution from your DAM will make you more efficient: all the users concerned have easy access to relevant content, the right versions are easily identifiable and processes are automated. By reducing duplicates, unnecessary bandwidth and emails, the environmental impact is also reduced.

5. Analysis

How do you ensure that your marketing content is high-performing and delivers the results you want? To understand whether the content you produce was relevant and generated conversions, it’s a good idea to track Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) based on regular reports, every month for example.Choose the indicators that best measure the outcome you expect: open rates for your emails? Number of views for a marketing video? Click-through rate for a banner on your website? Number of participants in a webinar? It’s up to you to define and observe those that will be most important to measure your content performance.This will help you make sure that you’re hitting the mark by responding effectively to your audience’s issues and that your messages are specifically tailored to your target audience. It will also help you identify any obsolete content, with the aim of updating or archiving it, if necessary.

👍 Tip: you can also think about your digital marketing tools: are they suitable and do they provide you with the data you need? You need to know how the target audience reacts and interacts with your content, depending on the point of contact and context.This information tells you if your content achieves a satisfactory ROI.You can find it on a DAM platform that has an analytics dashboard that works with analytics systems such as web analytics and audience analysis (CDP and CRM etc.). Its Content Scoring feature mentioned earlier allows you to analyze the performance of your media: a specific marketing campaign, a given type of format, the objects represented on the visuals, etc.Generally speaking, this data about your content informs your decision-making, helps you adjust your strategy, and makes you more efficient with regard to the content you produce and distribute. Another advantage is that you can control your output by only producing what works best and what generates the most value for you and your audience: you discard the superfluous and only keep the essentials that are guaranteed to be profitable!

Computer spreadsheets

6. Optimization

Thanks to your in-depth analysis, you will have identified valuable information to adjust your strategy and optimize your existing and future content. What conclusions can you draw that you can apply to your upcoming campaigns?Before you start producing new content again, think about recycling existing content! Among your creations, there are undoubtedly many that deserve to be slightly transformed or adapted to create something new out of “something old”. Yes, your content is maturing and evolving! It’s up to you to re-imagine it to extend its life cycle: think about making it impactful in different ways, using different channels and even with another audience, to get the most value from each existing digital asset.

👍 Tip: What strategy should you put in place? Try to get the most out of topic based content, by using it in various formats: for example, a blog post about something important or something your target audience likes can be reused in infographics, webinars or even podcasts! This way you ensure that you upcycle existing content, that your hard work pays off by not starting from scratch and you produce more eco-friendly content.This optimization process can be found at all stages of the lifecycle: before, during and after your content distribution, you can evaluate the results from all your channels to keep what is most effective.

You can also use A/B testing, which will give you an indication of the best strategies to adopt. Again, make sure you have the right marketing tools.

7. Archiving

Content archive management is just as important as all the other phases. When used strategically, digital archiving keeps your inactive content in a safe place, while your active content is readily available and accessible. So archiving is not only about old content, but also large files, such as unused photos or videos, that will be used to produce new content.It’s not about end of life, but a smart option to rationalize costs, time and storage space. Set aside temporarily, these digital assets can be recycled or reused to increase their return.

👍 Tip: you might want to know which visual media to keep, archive or delete. It depends on your brand strategy and your company’s practices. Some photos or logos will be kept to keep track of changes or create retrospectives, for example, but you might ask yourself if every image format is necessary. Other types of content are also a reflection of your previous graphics, communications, fonts used etc.It’s a question of finding the right balance between the need to keep a record and the need to declutter what is no longer useful and still holds some importance. If you use DAM, reduce your storage space by cleaning it regularly: you free up space and thus reduce your energy consumption.

You’ve come full circle!

Your content management is cyclical and follows a constantly evolving process: creation, evolution, transformation, optimization … Without paying attention to the best way to produce, organize and distribute your multimedia content, you are at risk of content overload! If files are not properly managed it can impact your team effectiveness, consume time and resources unnecessarily and be a source of digital pollution.So to avoid the risk of content overload, the first step is to be sure to adopt an eco-responsible digital communication strategy (the checklist roduced by ADEME is a handy guide which is well worth a look). Your communication will be more effective, because it is well designed and carefully targeted, and less resource intensive.Then, as we have seen, be sure to track and manage your content lifecycle with the right workflows and tools, which will boost your efficiency while reducing your ecological impact.Wedia specializes in smart multimedia content management, and can help you develop a more sustainable marketing strategy and embrace digital sobriety. Opting for a DAM solution helps reduce your carbon footprint by centralizing your digital assets and streamlining the production, management and distribution of all your marketing and media content.

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