The 7 stages of (sales) content lifecycle management

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If your marketing and sales teams are struggling to keep up with the status of their content, content lifecycle management can help.

Marketers are embracing content marketing, but many feel like their efforts could yield better results.

In SEMrush’s State of Content Marketing 2022 Global Report, 97% of respondents said content was an important part of their overall 2021 marketing strategy. However, only 19% of companies believe their content marketing efforts were “very successful” in the same period.

When asked about their top content marketing challenges, “Attracting quality leads with content” was the biggest issue, alongside content generation and promotion problems.

In this article, we’ll explore the benefits and stages of content lifecycle management and look at what’s coming for the future of content marketing.

 

What is content lifecycle management?

Content lifecycle management is the process of creating, publishing, organizing, repurposing, retiring and tracking content within your organization.

Regardless of the form content takes – blog post, lead magnet, social update, or any other type – content has its own lifecycle with a beginning, middle, and end. The same also goes for sales content. When your goal is to achieve measurable results with the content you create, managing its entire lifecycle from start to finish is critical to success.

You’re already creating and publishing content, so why is content lifecycle management beneficial? Because you can:

  • Create more useful content for prospects and customers
  • Make your content more accessible to the intended audiences
  • Develop a unique and delightful user experience that helps you attract, convert and retain customers
  • Phase out obsolete content
  • Track the performance and effectiveness of every piece of content so that you can shape your content plan
  • Save time and resources
  • Make progress in meeting key business initiatives and revenue goals

The 7 stages of content lifecycle management

With a content lifecycle management system in place, content strategists from organizations of all sizes can effectively oversee their content programs.

The content lifecycle covers 7 stages:


  1. Plan
  2. Produce
  3. Approve
  4. Organize
  5. Distribute
  6. Measure
  7. Retire
  8.  

Let’s examine each stage:

Plan your content

During the planning phase, you set requirements and build the foundation of your processes and workflows. This stage could include:

 

  • Creating a central content calendar to schedule projects
  • Establishing standard operating procedures (SOPs) for content creation, approval, organization, publication, tracking, reporting, and retirement
  • Identifying or creating templates
  • Figuring out how to distribute and promote content
  • Eliminating barriers to content creation and distribution
  • Identifying and formulating performance metrics

In the planning stage, you take a 10,000-foot view of your organization and your content team to create an overall strategy that aligns with specific business goals or initiatives like increasing leads, improving customer conversions, or getting more email subscribers.

 

Produce your content

In this stage, you’ll create content and give it context by adding search-friendly metadata. Content strategists create content specifically targeted to the customer journey, so make sure you’ve identified your audience's biggest pain points and desires.

Involve different departments and stakeholders in the process, including marketing, sales, and support teams. Their perspective can help you create engaging content that represents the brand and engages prospects and customers.

“Content” means more than just text; videos, images, audio files, and other types of content might also be part of your editorial calendar.

This phase may also involve content localization – the process of adapting content so it resonates in another country or culture. While content localization might involve translation from one language to another in some cases, the process goes beyond mere translation to make content culturally relevant and easy to understand in another geographic area.

 

Approve assets

During the approval stage, your content receives a final review – or multiple reviews, depending on the industry and type of content. For example, pharmaceutical companies must have clear approval steps for country-specific legal requirements before distributing content. Other elements to review include:

 

  • Copyediting for grammar and punctuation
  • Aligning with brand style guides
  • Review by stakeholders like subject matter experts, product managers, or legal compliance
  • Ensure financial and pharmaceutical companies only show compliant information

You can use a content lifecycle management platform to streamline your content collaboration process and get to final approval and publication faster.

 

Store and organize

Once all the key stakeholders have approved your content assets, it’s time to store and organize them so they’re easily accessible for your content and sales teams. Ideally, you should use a central location like a content marketing platform to house and maintain content.

Make content easily searchable for your sales team by using consistent naming conventions and tagging everything appropriately for topic and type. If your content management system includes AI-powered auto-tagging, it can make categorization and organization faster and easier.

 

Distribute and promote

Now it’s time to maximize the value of your content by putting it in front of the right audience.

Consider distribution channels such as:

 

  • Email marketing, as part of an autoresponder, standalone blast, or newsletter
  • Paid channels like social media advertising or sponsored content
  • Organic social media platforms
  • Embedding content within website pages or posts
  • Sending to influencers who may be interested in sharing with their audiences
  • Amplification platforms that syndicate content

Ensure your sales, marketing, and customer teams are all aware of the new content and have access to it.

Some pieces of content will have a larger distribution push than others – put your content distribution energy and dollars where they are most valuable. Whatever channels you choose, make sure there is a way to track views and engagement so that you can measure performance over time.

Of course, promotion isn’t a “once and done” effort – you should be continually promoting evergreen content as part of your regular social media or email marketing campaigns.

 

Measure and report performance

Once distributed, examine performance data and insights of your content to identify actionable takeaways that shape future content planning. 

This works best when you have tools in place to aggregate data from your content management systems, search engine analytics, social media engagement, email marketing service providers, and other platforms.

The next level of insight into content performance is how it impacts the sales process. Pitcher pulls this data into one easy-to-read dashboard for full oversight on which content is driving engagement and at which point in the buyer journey it’s most effective. These analytics are essential for marketing and sales teams to refine messages as they discover what resonates best with prospects and customers.

As you track the performance metrics of your content, check the metrics against the KPIs you established in the content planning stage. Did your content resonate with your target audience? How did it perform compared to past content? Are there lessons you can apply to future projects?

Review performance metrics, report to key stakeholders regularly, and incorporate relevant insights into future rounds of content planning and creation.

 

Retire and preserve assets

High-quality, evergreen content can attract traffic for many years – but there may be situations when it needs to be removed or archived.

Content should be retired and replaced with updated versions if:

  • It no longer reflects your current brand image or your style guide
  • The content’s performance has been consistently poor
  • It is out of date or incorrect

Examine each piece of content carefully before you make your final decision on retirement. If the content still reaches your audience and earns moderate to high engagement, and if it still adds value for your audience, consider revamping, repurposing, or updating instead of retiring it. Updating older assets can be an important and effective part of your content calendar.

For the assets you choose to retire, file them in a separate archive to keep your content lifecycle management platform tidy and organized. Don’t delete! Keep your inactive content safe, but ensure sales teams only have access to new and approved content.

 

The future of content lifecycle management strategy

Content lifecycle management can be a huge job, and many marketing teams struggle to close the feedback loop on their content. How were the assets used, and for how long? How did customers receive the content? What, if anything, needs to be changed in the upcoming editorial calendar?

That’s why the future of content will continue to evolve towards a greater reliance on analytics and automation. Technology is closing the feedback loop – not only for marketing teams creating content but in the day-to-day sales activities that are increasingly driven by content. 

Automation is the key to having full control of your content. It places the most up-to-date and highest-performing pieces of content at the fingertips of marketers and sales reps and even delivers it automatically at the right time.

A sales enablement app like Pitcher seamlessly integrates intelligence and automation with the most common content management platforms and digital asset management systems.

With a fully-powered tech stack, combining content lifecycle management with sales analytics and content automation, you can:

 

  • Manage all file types and formats, including images, text, audio, and video
  • Import files individually or in bulk and transfer large file sizes
  • Store and organizes your assets logically by collection, metadata, or label
  • Use AI and image recognition to auto-tag assets with logical keywords
  • Enable quick retrieval, so your team can always find the content assets they’re looking for
  • Secure, store and share assets
  • Enable cross-functional collaboration 
  • Establish privacy, access controls and retiring content automatically
  • Track analytics and performance metrics on every content asset, so you can see which key message gets the most engagement
  • Empower sales performance with recommendations on which content to send prospects and when, based on real data

What the Pitcher app can do for you

With the Pitcher app, you can do everything from set your team permissions to easily converting all types of sales content into HTML,  delivering compliant content to your customers on the right channel at the right time and tracking it. Check out a more detailed list of Pitcher features below:

 

Content management and automation

  • Sustainable content Creation (SCC) = No duplicated content
  • Uploading HTML5 files
  • Powerpoint add-in
  • First upload and edit = Conversion (Pitcher enhanced Presentations)
  • Multi-category navigation
  • File duplication form
  • Linking files
  • Add and edit HotSpots (hyperlinks in the slides that point to related digital assets)
  • Chapter editor
  • Searching and filtering documents
  • Filter and categorize assets
  • Duplicated slide decks (allow production of content)
  • Retire materials and their usage and/or assign a date to expire (promotional use)
  • Allow custom decks
  • Share content assets - regionally, locally, or globally
  • Manage distribution
  • Automatically populate CRM data in your presentations

Account management

  •  User management and User permissions
  • Administer users and define user groups/roles
  • Make it easy for users to find content by keyword tagging
  • Multiple brands 
  • Change permissions (email, altering content)
  • Notify users when new content is delivered or updated

Analytics

  • Quick access to Pitcher Reporting and Pitcher Insight for analytics 
  • Track behavior, customer engagement and content usage
  • Report on usage down to a single user/ content/ page
  • Enable sentiment analysis  

Get more from your assets with Pitcher

From the moment you’ve created your content plan to the time an asset gets archived, you need a robust system to oversee the life and performance of your content.

Pitcher combines with your content management system, enabling you to streamline compliant content delivery, customer segmentation,  content recommendations and tracking – with full visibility of performance metrics that will help you get better results from all your content creation and distribution efforts.

Enable your teams to use the right content, at the right time for the right customer in the right channel.

Request a free demo today to find out how Pitcher can help you effectively use, manage and track a wide variety of sales content and maximize your efforts.