Cathy McKnight is VP Strategy at the Content Advisory and a founding Partner at Digital Clarity Group. With over 20 years' experience in content strategy, content management, intranets, marketing technologies, and customer experience, we knew she was someone who could bring some critical insights to the strategies behind content-driven experiences.
Listen to the entire conversation below or on iTunes or Google Podcasts, or read a summary of our conversation.
Her Role at Content Advisory
The Content Advisory is a storytelling organization - that is they help organizations tell their story better. McKnight is the VP Strategy, and along with Robert Rose, Tim Walters, and others she provides research and advisory services, strategic consulting, education and thought leadership.
McKnight's focus these days is on content operations and strategy and its importance to the overall success of an operation.
The Ecosystem for Content
McKnight said that it's important to have someone on your team who understands both the technology and its impact on content and business.
Second, a good martech stack is one that is organized and purposeful - each part working with the others. She said you don't want to under buy, but you also don't want to overbuy.
McKnight said there are four fundamental technologies needed to deliver great content experiences:
- CMS: The anchor to the marketing tech stack, provides both content and context. You need one that is easy to use and easy to support. McKnight pointed out that many organizations are outsourcing the CMS support through Cloud and SaaS solutions.
- DAM: Digital asset management is quickly creeping up in importance. If it's not the key technology, it's sitting right beside it. Dropbox, SharePoint, and similar tech are not DAM solutions, McKnight said. They are great repositories, but they don't provide the capabilities needed including licensing, metadata, brand management, and tracking usage.
- Analytics: You need to get comfortable with analytics - they help you understand what your customers better and they help you understand your content better.
- CRM: A CRM helps you manage customers, data, and interactions.
We talked about DAM tools as standalone solutions or capabilities embedded in some CMS solutions. McKnight said, "There is no one right answer, it's very dependent on what the organization is looking to achieve and what they need out of the system." This is true for all technology selection.
The one tool she didn't manage was marketing automation. McKnight said she thought it would jump higher on the interest list, but that it's the most underutilized technology. MA is used for email marketing and some campaigns, but it's not well used from a workflow, customer journey perspective. And it's not used internally - McKnight said organizations should be creating campaigns to engage, encourage and inform employees.
The CMS Selection Process
The CMS is an enterprise-wide tool, said McKnight. When you are doing primary internal research, you need to talk to everyone, not just the marketing team. Ask people across the organization in different departments what they need to help you lay out the requirements for your CMS.
You shouldn't be looking for one particular thing, but you should be looking for what the company needs:
- Who will support it?
- Who are its users?
- Does it need to integrate with your DAM or other key applications?
- Can it integrate with your eCommerce solution?
Content marketing has influenced content management systems a lot. For successful content marketing, you need to break down content into components so you can leverage elements of the content in different assets or across different channels. You need to create content in a way that enables your team to mix and match it the way the customers' need it at any point in time.
The Strategic Role of Content Operations
McKnight said that organizations are so focused on the technology that they don't think about what's happening behind the scenes. It's important to think about and identify who is a part of the content team, what SME's to incorporate into the team. Make content a part of employee's job responsibilities. You also need to understand the technology and its impact.
"It's not about breaking down silos, it's about making it permeable, giving a line of sight into what other people do and the content and data they have so that others can leverage it from their own perspective. Different roles in a company see things differently.
It's also about a strong governance backbone and having clear KPIs to help you measure what you are going to do and help you figure out what to stop doing.
Finally, McKnight talked about setting up a Content Center of Excellence - to enable organizations to be efficient and effective at scale. "You focus on how content works and contributes to an organization and a define a process for getting it out there." It's a strategy that needs to integrate and align with corporate goals.