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What is content management? Definition, benefits, and more

Content isn’t static — it should evolve with your customers. This requires ensuring the content you produce is up-to-date and relevant to each customer. After all, the goal is to make lifelong relationships with customers, not just deliver excellent content.

Despite content being so important, managing it can be difficult. To overcome challenges with content management, companies can avoid content silos by providing standout digital experiences that are effectively managed through a robust content management system (CMS).

This article about content management will consider:

  • Content management definition

  • Structured vs. unstructured content

  • Governance in content management

  • Benefits of content management

  • The content management lifecycle

  • Systems and tools for managing content

  • Strategies for successful content management

  • Content management strategy template

  • Tips for managing content

Content management definition

Content management (CM) is the creation, storage, access, delivery, and optimization of digital media on one central platform.

Structured vs. unstructured content

Content can be structured or unstructured. Both forms can be built into customer experiences, but the way they are formatted differs. Structured content is organized in a specific format and uses metadata. It has a set purpose that’s easily understood. Some examples include databases and spreadsheets.

Unstructured content is not formatted in a specific way, making it more difficult for computers to read. Still, plenty of the content is unstructured, including text documents, videos, and images.

The content needs of an organization are diverse and often overflowing, so both structured and unstructured content are needed to build specific experiences.

Most content management tools work with both types of content, though some tools can manage one better than the other. For example, CMS is better at handling structured content, while a digital asset management (DAM) solution is better for unstructured content.

Governance in content management

In general terms, governance is the framework that guides every stage of the content lifecycle. The most common types of governance are content governance and digital content management governance. Content governance helps creators make content that’s consistent and follows regulations. It includes guidelines on inventories, risk management, and more. It’s especially helpful when large organizations with multiple teams need to create content that feels cohesive.

Digital content management governance is the set of guidelines that help streamline the processes involved in content creation. This includes assigning ownership for content and controlling who has access to what content, as well as defining standards for metadata, versioning, and approval workflows that all help ensure content is created, stored, and used efficiently.

Common tools to govern content include content workflows and taxonomies. These act as resources so creators can keep content organized.

Benefits of content management

Personalized content is how every company engages with its consumers. Although both in-person and digital experiences matter to a company, digital experiences are an increasingly valuable way to reach customers across a variety of channels. In fact, global digital marketing revenue is predicted to surpass $1 trillion by 2027.

Today’s consumers are engaging with content across even more touchpoints, such as voice devices, IoT, and wearables. When digital experiences are managed properly, brands can see major benefits, including:

  • Increased efficiency. Automate and organize workflows so the right team members know when to create, edit, and publish content.

  • Improved customer service. A self-service portal helps answer customers' questions without contacting customer service.

  • Reduced operating costs. Automating tasks can save money and resources by helping teams work more efficiently.

  • Enhanced online visibility. Optimizing your content means your website will be more relevant to more customers and will help you rank better in search.

  • Convenient information. Brands can organize and deliver content to customers in ways that are more meaningful and relevant.

  • Greater content control. Content management systems allow organizations to control who has access to different types of content and how it’s used.

  • Simple delivery. Easily access the right experiences for the right channels, like your website, social media, and email.

The content management lifecycle

Content starts with ideation. The creative team comes up with an idea, and then they make it happen. Once the content is created, it’s added to the asset management solution, which serves as a living library that allows companies to access their content at any time. The CMS will then pull the content as needed and publish it. At that point, the content is live, and it’s being actively promoted. Customers engage with the content, and the company tracks and analyzes how it’s performing.

Let’s take a closer look at each stage in the content management lifecycle.


Before you create content, you need to decide what to create and where to publish it. This includes determining what message you want to convey, to which customers, and on which channels.


Content has many forms, including blog articles, guides, infographics, and videos. Each form shapes the way information gets conveyed to your customers, so some may be better suited for specific kinds of content than others. For example, an infographic is a great way to deliver metrics in a digestible format, while a video may work better to highlight key product features.


Once content is created, it needs to be stored in a location that’s easy for the right teams to access. Before content is delivered to customers, it’s typically stored on a DAM. Once it’s ready for customers to engage with, it’s typically stored on a website, repository, or blog.


To create and manage content, multiple people within an organization need to collaborate. Establishing a workflow keeps content moving between the right people according to an organization’s policies. It also ensures easy accessibility and consistency among projects.


Editing is also sometimes referred to as versioning. Make sure feedback is given and that everyone who is supposed to review it does so on time and in an organized way.


Content can be published through a variety of channels like a website, social media, or email. If the content is meant to communicate a message internally, it can also be published on a company’s intranet.


Removal is also sometimes called archiving. When content is no longer relevant, it’s removed from whatever channel it was published on. Companies may decide to remove content that is out of date or low on engagement.

Systems and tools for managing content

When it comes to managing your content effectively, having a DAM or document management system is crucial. A small company that doesn’t have many assets will use Dropbox or another basic file-sharing tool. Companies with a large number of assets need a DAM to make sure the content is up to date, in compliance, licensed, and properly tagged. A DAM helps companies easily find the right content when they need it.

Let’s explore the different tools and systems for managing content.

Content management system (CMS)

A CMS allows you to store, track changes on, publish, and update website files as needed — creating a unified look across web pages.

Enterprise content management system (ECM)

Like a CMS, an ECM stores, manages, and delivers content, but at an enterprise level. This includes documents, images, videos, and other forms of content that are important to an organization.

Digital asset management system (DAM)

A DAM is a type of CMS that stores and manages documents, videos, audio files, and other rich media types. The most powerful DAMs allow teams to make edits to content as they’re building them into digital experiences.

Social media content management

Content created for social media is managed within a social media content management framework. It helps organizations create and deliver a strong social media marketing strategy across different channels.

Mobile content management (MCM)

An MCM platform enables a company to deliver content to smartphones, tablets, and other smart devices.

Strategies for successful content management

Part of defining a content management strategy is making sure your company has teams aligned for each phase of the content management process and that the hand-off process between teams happens smoothly.

Another important piece is empowering the marketing or content teams to publish content. Without a strong content management strategy, multiple teams end up working on multiple pieces, and efficiencies are lost. A strong content management strategy starts with the right CMS — one that provides an in-context preview and drag-and-drop functionality, for example.

A company might use content management to update their website with the latest product information or create an online store for their growing business. If they’re looking to reach customers through more channels, they can also use content management to develop a mobile app. And if they want to share information internally, they can use content management to bring the right content to the employees who need it.

Depending on the kind of content, your company may consider different strategy types like the following:

Lead generation

A lead generation strategy is focused on using content to get new customers to opt-in to engaging more with a brand, like subscribing to an email list. It uses content that educates customers on where they could improve and promises to provide valuable experiences to help.

Thought leadership

This strategy is focused on increasing your reach by being recognized as an industry leader or expert. It involves delivering innovative, in-depth, and new content about a topic related to your business.

Search engine optimization (SEO)

Optimizing your content for search engines is a powerful way to drive lead traffic to your company’s website. This strategy involves knowing what people are searching for and formatting your content for search engines to easily identify.

Enterprise content marketing strategy

Companies with over 1,000 employees can use an enterprise marketing strategy to deliver relevant content to key audiences. This strategy considers how to optimize your organization’s resources to create content at scale.

Content management strategy template

There’s a lot that goes into building a content management strategy. Consider these elements:

  • Type of content. Decide is what type of content you want to create. This could be a blog article, guide, infographic, video, or webinar.

  • Title. A working title helps keep your content organized during creation.

  • Personas. Indicate customer personas to make sure the right information is presented in the right way within your content.

  • Targeted keywords. Determine which primary keywords will help bring traffic to the piece.

  • Status of content. While content is in progress, let others know if it’s in the research, drafting, revising, publishing, or prompting stage.

  • Writer. Indicate who will be writing the content to keep projects and workloads organized.

  • Draft due. Keep the due date visible to ensure everyone is on track to deliver the content on time.

  • Editor. Assign an editor early so they know their responsibilities and the timeline.

  • Edits due. Clearly state when edits are due so feedback arrives on time.

  • Publication date. Select a publication date and build timelines by working backward from it.

  • Publication location. Decide where the piece of content will be published.

  • Images. Include any images that will enhance the piece.

Tips for managing content

Implementing best practices can help your content management on track. For example, companies utilizing separate teams for content on different channels often encounter problems with consistency. One best practice is to centralize content creation, so that one team creates and publishes content to different channels.

Another best practice is to analyze content and focus on personalization. By integrating personalization into your content management strategy, you can deliver content that’s more relevant to each unique customer.

There are some additional best practices to consider for managing content:

  • Categorize content so you can get the most out of it. Create a detailed inventory of all your content using metadata, categories, and tags within your CMS.

  • Use an editorial calendar to remain organized. You need to know what content you’re creating, where it’s going to be published, and when to identify gaps and opportunities early on.

  • Establish and maintain accountability for your content team. Create clear guidelines for processes like following content workflows, maintaining version control, tracking progress, and adhering to style guidelines.

  • Foster a culture of collaboration that keeps everyone invested. Make sure your creative teams are connected. This includes encouraging subject matter experts, writers, and designers to build relationships that help reviews and approval processes stay on track.

  • Choose the right tools to keep things running smoothly. Provide tools to collaborate on content while it's being produced. This helps avoid issues that can delay publishing.

Manage content across all channels with automated tools

The need for content is ever-growing. Having a strong content management strategy can help you keep up with the demand and overcome common challenges, like breaking down content silos. It can also help your organization provide consistent, standout digital experiences across channels.

Now it’s your turn to make the most of your content. To start building your content management strategy, you’ll need the right technology. Adobe Experience Manager combines digital asset management and content management into a unified solution that uses automation to source, adapt, and deliver relevant, personal, and engaging experiences at just the right moments.

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