Whether you’ve heard of content engineering or not, it’s a critical component to future-proofing your content. To content strategists and marketers, “engineering” can feel a little out of our wheelhouse. It’s surprisingly not and it’s essential to seeing our complex, innovative content strategies come to life.
This is important.
When your content lives within a content management system (CMS) as a big unstructured chunk of text, the output generally ends up being confined to a web page. It’s inefficient and not aligned with the future of a holistic multi-channel and multi-device customer experience.
When you incorporate content engineering, you’re designing a structure that connects the CMS to multiple endpoints. These endpoints make content personalization, targeting, reuse, and multi-channel distribution possible. Today’s endpoints include Google AMP pages, schema rich snippets, social sites with open graph, chatbots, marketing automation systems, and personalization applications. With an endless amount of new endpoints on the horizon, content engineering will ensure your content is ready to support them. 1
The bottom line: if you want your content to be a part of the cool new digital things that are happening these days, you need content engineering to make it possible.
So what is content engineering?
Content engineering is the process of designing the shape, structure, and application of content. Content engineering is broken down into seven specialties: model, metadata, markup, schema, taxonomy, topology, and graph.2
- Model: Content modeling creates a visual of types of content, their elements, attributes, and relationships.
- Metadata: Metadata is content that provides useful information about other content. Metadata helps applications, authors, and robots use and relate the content in smart ways.
- Markup: Broadly speaking, markup is everything wrapping content that’s not the content itself. It allows web browsers and search engines to understand the content so it can be displayed properly. Markup can include XML and content transformations.
- Schema: Schema is a form of metadata that provides meaning and relationships to content. Schema often involves published standard vocabularies, such as schema.org, for describing content using standard terms. Robots use schema to understand and relate ideas.
- Taxonomy: A map of related concepts that are applied to content, often as tags. Taxonomy enables the relationships of dynamic collections of content items. It also supports features like related content reuse, search, navigation, and personalization.
- Topology: Topology is the design of organizational structures across publishing systems. It focuses on definitions for files, folders, asset-tracking IDs, and other areas that store content. Think: names of files and folders in a media library, which generally get overlooked.
- Graph: Graph architecture and design competencies connect various parts of an enterprise content ecosystem and customer data platform. Graphs form node-based relationships between customer states and the modular content needed to deliver fluid, personalized experiences.
In simpler terms, please?
Content engineering structures content so that you can create it once, and use it for various applications, across devices and channels.
How this benefits you (or your client).
There’s more to content engineering than just powering the latest digital features for your audiences. It has real internal benefits as well.
- More efficient developer cycles and time investment. Without content engineering, software engineers spend time on configuration and strategy rather than development.
- Customer experience insurance policy. Even if your organization isn’t ready to implement jaw-dropping personalization or that super neat chatbot, content engineering ensures you have the structure in place to flip the switch when you’re ready.
- Improved sales life cycle, performance, metrics, and channels. Content engineering directly influences sales by connecting buyers with the content and products that interest them most. It enables segmentation and the creation of detailed reports of content engagement. Improved customer satisfaction. Personalization improves your audience’s experience with your organization, making interactions more relevant and rewarding. Content engineering makes personalization possible.
- Marketing and IT harmony. Content engineering helps to bridge the gap by making the visions of marketers and content strategists come to life. It helps to define the requirements which support your developers.
- Market advantage. Content engineering improves the value of content assets across your organization, and intelligently connects those assets with your audiences.3
Ready to engineer some content?
Ok, so you might not be ready to jump in headfirst, but here are things to think about to get the ball rolling. It’s important to determine whether you’re going from zero to sixty, or if you already have the thinking in place to make content engineering seamless. Start by assessing your organizational maturity in a few key areas:
- Content strategy. You’ll need to have a content strategy in place first to help guide the creation and delivery of content. This will help to inform exactly what is needed from content engineering.
- Technology-savvy marketers. 31% of marketing departments now have a technologist on their staff, and this percentage is increasing. These marketers will create relationships with IT departments, including extensions of IT that serve only the marketing department.
- Marketing-savvy technologists. As IT budgets continue a shift to marketing, IT needs to understand how departments are interrelated. When IT experts know how to translate a content strategy into an implementation plan, they become valuable stakeholders.
- Sophisticated digital capabilities. Seek out content strategy and engineering specialists versed in the particular nuances of large-scale enterprise implementations.4
If you’re already embracing technology within your marketing department, it will be easier for others in your organization to get on board with content engineering.
Invest in future-ready content.
Whether you’re ready to jump in today, or just getting your feet wet, content engineering is a critical component to creating future-ready content.