As a content geek I often speak with heads of marketing, technology and digital transformation about their businesses, and understanding their goals, projects and requirements is essential.

What are they trying to achieve and what is the potential of their content? I find myself speaking about the importance of structured content all the time—how businesses need to make sure they future proof their content and create lasting value from it.

But this is a vast topic and all too often, businesses are more focused on how a website is going to be presented to their end users. This is fine at a certain point in the process but early on it’s really a misstep to be thinking about presentation and design. We need to focus on the foundation of our content strategy. Only through information architecture can we begin to design a content strategy that brings long-term business value out of your content.

Content is like cars, not all are meant to be classics.


Not all of your organization’s content will remain as timeless as this 1966 Alfa Romeo Duetto but it’s important to structure your content and take full advantage of it across devices, channels and platforms. After all, your users are everywhere and today’s lemon could be tomorrow’s classic.  

With the sheer abundance of content your business probably creates today, it’s fair to say not every article, blog post or product page holds lasting business value. Examples could be landing pages pushing your latest webinar, eBook or conference. Content like this needs to look sharp and convert on desktop, tablet and mobile, and your marketers may want to duplicate a landing page and modify it for the next webinar, but this is more a matter of work efficiency than business value. In many cases, content of this nature can and should be created using responsive templates, and nothing more.

But what makes some content so valuable?

Imagine you’re a news publisher and one of your section editors has selected the 10 most high-impact local news stories of the week. Whether a month later or years into the future, your users can look back and easily find the most important stories of those specific seven days. Your top 10 list takes on a new life as a digital time capsule.

Another great example of content with long-term value is TV Guide. Since the 1980s, it asked its writers to create descriptions of shows in three different lengths—short, medium, and long. Later, TV Guide inked deals to have their short-form content display on digital program guides for cable. Their medium-form content would soon be displayed on DVR services like TIVO. And their long-form content was repurposed for their very own native app.

What do you do with your gems? A look at KitchenAid.

Long-term value of content does not only apply to media companies. Today most companies are doing content marketing to sell their products and services. An example I really like is from one of our customers KitchenAid, which is a leading manufacturer and seller of kitchen appliances.

One might think that beautiful product pictures and descriptions are most important to KitchenAid. Even though this is a central part of their product catalogue, they also provide cooking recipes online to engage consumers, drive sales and increase use of their products.

Cooking recipes are quite obvious when you think about it. KitchenAid wants to create valuable content for their existing and potential customers. Showing which meals you can make with their products is a great marketing strategy. This is why they have created a cooking recipe service internally.

Structured Recipe Content

If you structure your recipe content, you can semantically link a recipe to its ingredients, restaurants and articles. In turn, you can easily suggest to the user a list of recipes that contain a specific ingredient, or a list of articles related to that ingredient, among other things.

KitchenAid’s recipe content service is a channel-neutral hub for storing recipes in multiple languages. And, of course, they have a super structured approach where you do not just have a blob of text—content is stored in chunks such as ingredients, cooking time, allergens, chef and appliances.

As we’ve discussed previously, having structured content really opens up new possibilities for your content.  For example, KitchenAid could create an iPhone app for  people with gluten sensitivity and deliver Content as a Service (CaaS). They would simply point their app developer to their recipe API and fetch recipes that do not include gluten. And voila, they have a targeted app using existing  content that could potentially deliver real business value. Of course, they could also repurpose the content in cooking books, on websites, mobile, native apps, Facebook Messenger and other platforms.

Preparing your content for the future

I often speak with media companies that have a huge repository of content, also cooking recipes, but stored in a non-structured print-ready PDF format. Because they have no means of applying structure and meaning to that content, it is very hard and expensive to monetize it on today’s channels, platforms and devices. When these companies created their cooking magazines in the early nineties, it was hard to imagine that someday people would wanted to look up recipes on their phones. Likewise, if we try to envision which channels and devices will be popular in 15 years, we can only guess (or scratch our heads in wonder).

With all this uncertainty, two things are clear: you need to place some bets on which content you believe will have lasting value for your businesses, and you need to start structuring it, if you’re not already. After all,  the content you are creating now just might be the core of a new business model ten years down the road.

At eZ, we believe in the power of setting your content free. We accomplish this by providing a CMS with a channel-neutral, semantic repository. If you’d like to see how it works, you can schedule a demo of eZ Enterprise with one of our experts. We look forward to seeing your content take on multiple lives!

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