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5 Steps To Build a Content Operations Workflow



5 Steps To Build a Content Operations Workflow

For smooth content marketing operations, your team members must have a clear workflow and the right process to make their work manageable.

Workflow is your set of tasks in sequential order to produce a content asset. Process is how your team executes those tasks efficiently and consistently. Together, they help team members understand their responsibilities, how to complete them, and how their work will be routed to the next step.

Detailing workflows and processes helps team members understand their responsibilities, how to complete them, and what happens next, says @joderama via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

This streamlined, five-step approach can help you map the workflow for any content format and build it into an executable process. The templates and examples can further help you complete each step.

Step 1: Audit your content formats

Create a template with these columns – content format, primary delivery platform, other delivery platforms, and special circumstances that might exist as part of your content marketing plan. Then, fill out the template with all the content formats your team produces:

  • Content format: Do you create articles? E-books? Live presentations? Webinars? Visual content? List every format your team regularly produces.
  • Primary delivery platform: Where does each format get published or shared first?
  • Additional distribution platforms: Does this content format appear on other channels? (These answers help surface tasks to add to the process for that content format. It also accounts for post-publishing steps to provide a consistent multiplatform experience.
  • Special circumstances and variations: Are some e-books gated for lead gen but not others? Are videos added to your newsletters only when you have an event or special offer? Any variations that require extra steps should be noted.

TIP: If you realize a content format is used significantly in multiple ways, break them into separate listings on the spreadsheet. For example, videos might be listed as Video – YouTube and Video – Instagram Stories.

At this point, focus only on the high-level tasks in your workflow. No need to think about the finer details like who creates the content, who needs to approve it, design features, etc., just yet.

Detailing workflows and processes helps team members understand their responsibilities, how to complete them, and what happens next, says @joderama via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Here’s an example of how a completed template might look:

Content Format Primary Delivery Platform Additional Distribution Platforms Special Circumstances/Variations
Editorial article Website (Blog) · Newsletter

· LinkedIn profile    page/group

· Social media

· Sponsored posts

· Crowdsourced posts

· Example collections

· Republished posts


Newsletter Email
E-book Website (Resources page) · Email campaigns

· Editorial article

· Sponsored         landing page

· Gated for lead gen

· Sponsored e-books



Video (livestream) Instagram · Facebook

· Twitter




· Created with influencers
Video (scripted) YouTube · Website blog

· Event microsite

· Website video page

· Sponsored webinars
Social media post LinkedIn · Facebook

· Twitter

· Instagram

Live presentation In-person event · Blog posts

· Virtual event

· Video snippets on social media

Use this framework to start the list of required tasks, mapping as workflows and building them into a unified process.

Step 2: List all tasks for each format

Next, you should list all the tasks needed to produce one content format for one primary platform.

You may want to start with the format produced most frequently or the one most critical to your content goals. Alternately, you may select your most complex asset – one that involves multiple teams or many extra steps to produce and distribute. You’ll see why in a minute.

Don’t worry about putting the tasks in order yet. Just list as they come to mind. For example, an “editorial article” might include this task list:

  • Determine topic.
  • Schedule for publication on the blog.
  • Edit submitted copy.
  • Load copy and images to CMS.
  • Format content for layout.
  • Send edited copy to author for revisions/approval.
  • Request sales/marketing feedback on topic.
  • Send links/assets to contact person for the daily email.
  • Design and develop images.
  • Gather author bio info/assets.
  • Brainstorm specific story angle.
  • Interview subject matter expert(s).
  • Assign author to write copy.
  • Proof and approve the final layout.

Some of these tasks have multiple sub-steps. For example, formatting the article could involve importing and resizing images, adding hyperlinks, setting category tags, etc. But for this exercise, stick to broad task categories.

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Step 3: Organize tasks by production stage

Next, organize the tasks into pre-production, production, and post-production stages in sequential order like the one shown below. This step allows you to map a seamless workflow (step four).

Stage of Content Format (editorial article) Task To Do
Pre-production stage Determine the topic.
Brainstorm angle.
Identify sources/subject matter experts.
Request sales/marketing feedback on the topic and approach.
Assign a writer.
Identify governance requirements.
Create/gather author bio info/assets.
Production stage Write content/receive author submission.
Edit/revise copy for style and substance.
Design/develop images.
Send a final copy to the author/stakeholders for approval.
Load/format copy and images for layout.
Set metadata details.
Proof and approve the final layout.
Post-production stage Schedule for publication on the blog.
  Publish content, including metadata.
Send content to [contact] for email alert/newsletter
Share links/assets with [contact] for additional promotion, repurposing, distribution according to content plan.
Collect metrics data and generate reports.
Share data with stakeholders to inform potential adjustments or future content plans.

Note these details to help organize your tasks in logical order:

  • Which tasks must happen before others can start?
  • Which tasks can happen concurrently?
  • How should each task be noted as completed and ready for the next task?

TIP: Your processes must account for standards and requirements set at the enterprise level or that contribute to other organizational functions. For example, you may need to align your content ideas with your brand’s governance or set metadata details according to your enterprise SEO strategy.

If you’re unsure what these tasks are, this is the time to find out. It makes your work harder if you need to plug in missed steps or reorganize your tasks later.

Step 4: Assign roles and map how work will flow among them

From here, you add a column to the chart for roles and detail who is responsible for each track. With this information, you can create a map showing how production efforts flow from one role to the next.

The first part is relatively easy, especially if you have a small, centralized content marketing team and clearly outlined roles. For collaborative tasks, include all roles. In this example, I slotted in some pre-production roles as a guide.

Stage of Content Format (editorial article) Task To Do Roles
Pre-production stage Determine the topic. Team leader
Brainstorm angle. Team leader

Managing editor

Identify sources/subject matter experts. Managing editor
Story editor
Staff writers
Request sales/marketing feedback on the topic and approach. Managing editor
Assign a writer. Managing editor
Identify governance requirements. Managing editor
Create/gather author bio info/assets. Copy editor
Production stage Write content/receive author submission.
Edit/revise copy for style and substance.
Design/develop images.
Send a final copy to the author/stakeholders for approval.
Load/format copy and images for layout.
Set metadata details.
Proof and approve the final layout.
Post-production stage Schedule for publication on the blog.
  Publish content, including metadata.
Send content to [contact] for email alert/newsletter
Share links/assets with [contact] for additional promotion, repurposing, distribution according to content plan.
Collect metrics data and generate reports.
Share data with stakeholders to inform potential adjustments or future content plans.

Determining roles can be more complicated for larger enterprises or those with shared content responsibilities across multiple departments. But once you slot the content marketing team members, you can see where gaps exist. That will help you identify the right teams to approach for collaborative assistance.

Assign roles to tasks listed in your #content workflow. Then, identify the gaps where collaborative assistance is needed, says @joderama via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

The chart now provides all the information needed to understand the editorial article format workflow. However, transforming it into a shareable graphic or map could be a helpful addition. It will help stakeholders visualize where their role fits in the production continuum and what still needs to happen.

Step 5: Operationalize and iterate

At this point, you have the tasks and order of operations mapped out for a content format. Now, implement it as a repeatable process. Create a mechanism to track and manage the tasks as they get done and ensure everyone has what they need to do their part.

You can use the detailed dashboards provided in project management tools like Asana or Jira to build a sophisticated system. You can also build customized trackers and checklists using cloud-based work tools like Airtable, Trello, or Monday. But the most straightforward approach may be to copy the information from the templated chart into a shareable Google spreadsheet or Excel document.

For example, the editorial team at CMI uses a multitab tracker similar to the editorial calendar template below. The process for managing scheduled content is tracked on the main tab, while brainstormed ideas and pre-production tasks get their own tabs. Each field is specific to the tasks required for those parts of the process.

1660644933 329 5 Steps To Build a Content Operations Workflow

Earlier, I mentioned you could create a process around one content format, then adapt it for other variations. Here’s how that works:

  • Revisit the original table that notes special circumstances and variations that require extra steps.
  • Walk through the chart denoting the tasks. Identify which tasks are unnecessary and should be deleted and what tasks should be added.
  • Add the roles to the newly added tasks. Using what you just did for editorial articles as a model, you can also build processes for other content types.

You can see why you want dedicated processes for content formats with completely different variations. You also can see why you might want to start with your most complex format. If you focus on a simpler format like livestream videos for Instagram, it will take a lot more work to map out the production tasks for more extensive efforts like e-books.


Build, revise, repeat

Content marketing teams juggle a lot of responsibilities. Why not make it easier by mapping your workflows and building reliable processes to achieve your marketing goals? If you decide to try this shortcut, drop a note in the comments to let me know how it worked – or what you changed to make it work better for your team.


 Register to attend Content Marketing World in Cleveland, Ohio. Use the code BLOG100 to save $100. 

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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How Does Success of Your Business Depend on Choosing Type of Native Advertising?



How Does Success of Your Business Depend on Choosing Type of Native Advertising?

The very first commercial advertisement was shown on TV in 1941. It was only 10 seconds long and had an audience of 4,000 people. However, it became a strong trigger for rapid advertising development. The second half of the 20th century is known as the golden age of advertising until the Internet came to the forefront and entirely transformed the advertising landscape. The first commercial banner appeared in the mid-90s, then it was followed by pop-ups, pay-by-placement and paid-pay-click ads. Companies also started advertising their brands and adding their business logo designs, which contributes to consumer trust and trustworthiness.

The rise of social media in the mid-2000s opened a new dimension for advertising content to be integrated. The marketers were forced to make the ads less intrusive and more organic to attract younger users. This is how native advertising was born. This approach remains a perfect medium for goods and services promotion. Let’s see why and how native ads can become a win-win strategy for your business.

What is native advertising?

When it comes to digital marketing, every marketer talks about native advertising. What is the difference between traditional and native ones? You will not miss basic ads as they are typically promotional and gimmicky, while native advertising naturally blends into the content. The primary purpose of native ads is to create content that resonates with audience expectations and encourages users to perceive it seamlessly and harmoniously.

Simply put, native advertising is a paid media ad that organically aligns with the visual and operational features of the media format in which it appears. The concept is quite straightforward: while people just look through banner ads, they genuinely engage with native ads and read them. You may find a lot of native ads on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – they appear in the form of “in-feed” posts that engage users in search for more stories, opinions, goods and services. This unobtrusive approach turns native ads into a powerful booster for any brand.

How does native advertising benefit your business?

An average Internet user comes across around 10,000 ads a day. But even physically, it is impossible to perceive this amount of information in 24 hours. So, most of them use adblockers, nullifying all efforts of markers. Native ads successfully overcome this digital challenge thanks to their authenticity. And this is not the only advantage of native advertising. How else does your business benefit? Here are just a few major benefits that prove the value of native ads:

Better brand awareness. Native ads contribute to the brand’s visibility. They seamlessly blend into educational, emotional, and visual types of content that can easily become viral. While promotional content typically receives limited shares, users readily share valuable or entertaining content. Consequently, while you incur expenses only for the display of native ads, your audience may go the extra mile by sharing your content and organically promoting your brand or SaaS product at no additional cost.

Increased click-through rates. Native ads can generate a thrilling click-through rate (CTR) primarily because they are meticulously content-adaptable. Thus, native ads become an integral part of the user’s journey without disrupting their browsing experience. Regardless of whether your native advertising campaign is designed to build an audience or drive specific actions, compelling content will always entice users to click through.

Cost-efficient campaign performance. Native advertising proves to be cheaper compared to a traditional ad format. It mainly stems from a higher CTR. Thanks to precise targeting and less customer resistance, native ads allow to bring down cost-per-click.

Native ads are continuously evolving, enabling marketers to experiment with different formats and use them for successful multi-channel campaigns and global reach.

Types of native advertising

Any content can become native advertising as there are no strict format restrictions. For example, it can be an article rating the best fitness applications, an equipment review, or a post by an influencer on a microblog. The same refers to the channels – native ads can be placed on regular websites and social media feeds. Still, some forms tend to be most frequently used.

  • In-feed ads. This type of ad appears within the content feed. You have definitely seen such posts on Facebook and Instagram or such videos on TikTok. They look like regular content but are tagged with an advertising label. The user sees these native ads when scrolling the feed on social media platforms.
  • Paid search ads. These are native ads that are displayed on the top and bottom of the search engine results page. They always match user’s queries and aim to capture their attention at the moment of a particular search and generate leads and conversions. This type of ad is effective for big search platforms with substantial traffic.
  • Recommendation widgets. These come in the form of either texts or images and can be found at the end of the page or on a website’s sidebar. Widgets offer related or intriguing content from either the same publisher or similar sources. This type of native ads is great for retargeting campaigns.
  • Sponsored content. This is one of the most popular types of native advertising. Within this format, an advertiser sponsors the creation of an article or content that aligns with the interests and values of the platform’s audience. They can be marked as “sponsored” or “recommended” to help users differentiate them from organic content.
  • Influencer Advertising. In this case, advertisers partner with popular bloggers or celebrities to gain the attention and trust of the audience. Influencers integrate a product, service, or event into their content or create custom content that matches their style and topic.

Each of these formats can bring stunning results if your native ads are relevant and provide value to users. Use a creative automation platform like Creatopy to design effective ads for your business.

How to create a workable native ad?

Consider these 5 steps for creating a successful native advertising campaign:

  • Define your target audienceUsers will always ignore all ads that are not relevant to them. Unwanted ads are frustrating and can even harm your brand. If you run a store for pets, make sure your ads show content that will be interesting for pet owners. Otherwise, the whole campaign will be undermined. Regular market research and data analysis will help you refine your audience and its demographics.
  • Set your goals. Each advertising campaign should have a clear-cut objective. Without well-defined goals, it is a waste of money. It is a must to know what you want to achieve – introduce your brand, boost sales or increase your audience.
  • Select the proper channels. Now, you need to determine how you will reach out to your customers. Consider displaying ads on social media platforms, targeting search engine result pages (SERPs), distributing paid articles, or utilizing in-ad units on different websites. You may even be able to get creative and use email or SMS in a less salesy and more “native”-feeling way—you can find samples of texts online to help give you ideas. Exploring demand side platforms (DSP) can also bring good results.
  • Offer compelling content. Do not underestimate the quality of the content for your native ads. Besides being expertly written, it must ideally match the style and language of the chosen channel,whether you’re promoting professional headshots, pet products, or anything else. The main distinctive feature of native advertising is that it should fit naturally within the natural content.
  • Track your campaign. After the launch of native ads, it is crucial to monitor the progress, evaluating the costs spent and results. Use tools that help you gain insights beyond standard KPIs like CTR and CPC. You should get engagement metrics, customer data, campaign data, and third-party activity data for further campaign management.

Key takeaway

Summing up the above, it is time to embrace native advertising if you haven’t done it yet. Native ads seamlessly blend with organic content across various platforms, yielding superior engagement and conversion rates compared to traditional display ads. Marketers are allocating higher budgets to native ads because this format proves to be more and more effective – content that adds value can successfully deal with ad fatigue. Native advertising is experiencing a surge in popularity, and it is to reach its peak. So, do not miss a chance to grow your business with the power of native ads.or you can do digital marketing course from Digital Vidya.

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OpenAI’s Drama Should Teach Marketers These 2 Lessons



OpenAI’s Drama Should Teach Marketers These 2 Lessons

A week or so ago, the extraordinary drama happening at OpenAI filled news feeds.

No need to get into all the saga’s details, as every publication seems to have covered it. We’re just waiting for someone to put together a video montage scored to the Game of Thrones music.

But as Sam Altman takes back the reigns of the company he helped to found, the existing board begins to disintegrate before your very eyes, and everyone agrees something spooked everybody, a question arises: Should you care?

Does OpenAI’s drama have any demonstrable implications for marketers integrating generative AI into their marketing strategies?

Watch CMI’s chief strategy advisor Robert Rose explain (and give a shoutout to Sutton’s pants rage on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills), or keep reading his thoughts:

For those who spent last week figuring out what to put on your holiday table and missed every AI headline, here’s a brief version of what happened. OpenAI – the huge startup and creator of ChatGPT – went through dramatic events. Its board fired the mercurial CEO Sam Altman. Then, the 38-year-old entrepreneur accepted a job at Microsoft but returned to OpenAI a day later.

We won’t give a hot take on what it means for the startup world, board governance, or the tension between AI safety and Silicon Valley capitalism. Rather, we see some interesting things for marketers to put into perspective about how AI should fit into your overall content and marketing plans in the new year.

Robert highlights two takeaways from the OpenAI debacle – a drama that has yet to reach its final chapter: 1. The right structure and governance matters, and 2. Big platforms don’t become antifragile just because they’re big.

Let’s have Robert explain.

The right structure and governance matters

OpenAI’s structure may be key to the drama. OpenAI has a bizarre corporate governance framework. The board of directors controls a nonprofit called OpenAI. That nonprofit created a capped for-profit subsidiary – OpenAI GP LLC. The majority owner of that for-profit is OpenAI Global LLC, another for-profit company. The nonprofit works for the benefit of the world with a for-profit arm.

That seems like an earnest approach, given AI tech’s big and disruptive power. But it provides so many weird governance issues, including that the nonprofit board, which controls everything, has no duty to maximize profit. What could go wrong?

That’s why marketers should know more about the organizations behind the generative AI tools they use or are considering.

First, know your providers of generative AI software and services are all exploring the topics of governance and safety. Microsoft, Google, Anthropic, and others won’t have their internal debates erupt in public fireworks. Still, governance and management of safety over profits remains a big topic for them. You should be aware of how they approach those topics as you license solutions from them.

Second, recognize the productive use of generative AI is a content strategy and governance challenge, not a technology challenge. If you don’t solve the governance and cross-functional uses of the generative AI platforms you buy, you will run into big problems with its cross-functional, cross-siloed use. 

Big platforms do not become antifragile just because they’re big

Nicholas Taleb wrote a wonderful book, Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder. It explores how an antifragile structure doesn’t just withstand a shock; it actually improves because of a disruption or shock. It doesn’t just survive a big disruptive event; it gets stronger because of it.

It’s hard to imagine a company the size and scale of OpenAI could self-correct or even disappear tomorrow. But it can and does happen. And unfortunately, too many businesses build their strategies on that rented land.

In OpenAI’s recent case, the for-profit software won the day. But make no bones about that victory; the event wasn’t good for the company. If it bounces back, it won’t be stronger because of the debacle.

With that win on the for-profit side, hundreds, if not thousands, of generative AI startups breathed an audible sigh of relief. But a few moments later, they screamed “pivot” (in their best imitation of Ross from Friends instructing Chandler and Rachel to move a couch.)

They now realize the fragility of their software because it relies on OpenAI’s existence or willingness to provide the software. Imagine what could have happened if the OpenAI board had won their fight and, in the name of safety, simply killed any paid access to the API or the ability to build business models on top of it.

The last two weeks have done nothing to clear the already muddy waters encountered by companies and their plans to integrate generative AI solutions. Going forward, though, think about the issues when acquiring new generative AI software. Ask about how the vendor’s infrastructure is housed and identify the risks involved. And, if OpenAI expands its enterprise capabilities, consider the implications. What extra features will the off-the-shelf solutions provide? Do you need them? Will OpenAI become the Microsoft Office of your AI infrastructure?

Why you should care

With the voluminous media coverage of Open AI’s drama, you likely will see pushback on generative AI. In my social feeds, many marketers say they’re tired of the corporate soap opera that is irrelevant to their work.

They are half right. What Sam said and how Ilya responded, heart emojis, and how much the Twitch guy got for three days of work are fodder for the Netflix series sure to emerge. (Robert’s money is on Michael Cera starring.)

They’re wrong about its relevance to marketing. They must be experiencing attentional bias – paying more attention to some elements of the big event and ignoring others. OpenAI’s struggle is entertaining, no doubt. You’re glued to the drama. But understanding what happened with the events directly relates to your ability to manage similar ones successfully. That’s the part you need to get right.

Want more content marketing tips, insights, and examples? Subscribe to workday or weekly emails from CMI.


Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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The Complete Guide to Becoming an Authentic Thought Leader



The Complete Guide to Becoming an Authentic Thought Leader

Introduce your processes: If you’ve streamlined a particular process, share it. It could be the solution someone else is looking for.

Jump on trends and news: If there’s a hot topic or emerging trend, offer your unique perspective.

Share industry insights: Attended a webinar or podcast that offered valuable insights. Summarize the key takeaways and how they can be applied.

Share your successes: Write about strategies that have worked exceptionally well for you. Your audience will appreciate the proven advice. For example, I shared the process I used to help a former client rank for a keyword with over 2.2 million monthly searches.

Question outdated strategies: If you see a strategy that’s losing steam, suggest alternatives based on your experience and data.

5. Establish communication channels (How)

Once you know who your audience is and what they want to hear, the next step is figuring out how to reach them. Here’s how:

Choose the right platforms: You don’t need to have a presence on every social media platform. Pick two platforms where your audience hangs out and create content for that platform. For example, I’m active on LinkedIn and X because my target audience (SEOs, B2B SaaS, and marketers) is active on these platforms.

Repurpose content: Don’t limit yourself to just one type of content. Consider repurposing your content on Quora, Reddit, or even in webinars and podcasts. This increases your reach and reinforces your message.

Follow Your audience: Go where your audience goes. If they’re active on X, that’s where you should be posting. If they frequent industry webinars, consider becoming a guest on these webinars.

Daily vs. In-depth content: Balance is key. Use social media for daily tips and insights, and reserve your blog for more comprehensive guides and articles.

Network with influencers: Your audience is likely following other experts in the field. Engaging with these influencers puts your content in front of a like-minded audience. I try to spend 30 minutes to an hour daily engaging with content on X and LinkedIn. This is the best way to build a relationship so you’re not a complete stranger when you DM privately.

6. Think of thought leadership as part of your content marketing efforts

As with other content efforts, thought leadership doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It thrives when woven into a cohesive content marketing strategy. By aligning individual authority with your brand, you amplify the credibility of both.

Think of it as top-of-the-funnel content to:

  • Build awareness about your brand

  • Highlight the problems you solve

  • Demonstrate expertise by platforming experts within the company who deliver solutions

Consider the user journey. An individual enters at the top through a social media post, podcast, or blog post. Intrigued, they want to learn more about you and either search your name on Google or social media. If they like what they see, they might visit your website, and if the information fits their needs, they move from passive readers to active prospects in your sales pipeline.

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