When it comes to digital experiences — be it digital marketing campaigns or digital workplaces — faster is always better.

A speedy company website is no problem for most brands, but as brands bring more channels into their omnichannel strategy, pushing the right content towards the right channel at the right time can be a sluggish process.

Content creation is one of the most critical yet also the most challenging tasks for any organization. Between a lack of resources, growing competition, shifting trends and maintaining quality, brands can struggle without proper systems and processes in place.

A critical question for organizations attempting to improve efficiency of content operations is: How is content structured and managed? Is all content treated the same as self-contained autonomous blocks? Or, do systems and process support managing the content within content at a more granular level?  For example, can fragments and blocks of content within a given paper, blog, or article be tagged, managed, and accessible separately from the original source page or document?

In this blog we explore the case for managing the content within content as fragments or blocks of smaller reusable content.  When, where, and how should marketers try to manage content at this more granular level?

What is content modularization (and why is it useful)?

Content modularization is the process of creating small blocks of content that will be pre-approved, stored, and repurposed across channels.

The idea of content as blocks that can be reused and mixed and matched is beneficial when you’re going omnichannel. With this approach, marketers don’t need to create net new content. Instead, they have an inventory of previously created content (perhaps originally for another channel or campaign or region) that they can then reuse. Having such reusable content enables higher quality and greater consistency in content creation.

This process of modularizing content improves personalization efforts.  Tailoring content to multiple personas across various channels can be challenging for marketing teams. Content needs to be situation-relevant so that it can be adapted for different channels, something that is possible through content modularization. The modules make it easier to edit for context, facilitating speedier personalization campaigns for multiple channels.

Modularization also helps increase campaign creation speed, since marketers having access to these ready-made, pre-approved blocks will help them build campaigns faster. They don’t need to get content approved each time because it was already approved when it was first produced. For example, a brand may have product information on its website, a spec sheet and a mobile app. Each of these might have different levels of detail with a different layout and combination of the same kind of structured content. A modular piece of content can be created from these smaller elements and easily made available for reuse.

Modular content also supports agile marketing strategies. Traditional marketing strategies that lead to inefficiency and double work for marketing teams are being frowned upon as marketers urgently pivot to agile methodologies. Content modularization provides one step in that direction by enabling organizations to keep up with an ever-increasing demand for content from their audience.

To modularize, or not to modularize

Improving the speed of operations and extending the value of any piece of content through reuse are benefits from modularization, but for many marketers, the question remains, how do you decide where and when to modularize?

Ideally, content modularization begins at the creation stage. For many organizations, content gets created for a specific channel. Each channel works in silos, creating problems in terms of orchestration and consistency because these channels are not in sync. For efficient content reuse, this content needs to be centralized as it is created.

However, just because content is centralized doesn’t mean it will have the elements viable for content modularization. Organizations should analyze previously created content to determine if there are elements which can be combined to create a modular content piece.

A critical factor to consider when determining what to modularize is content shelf life. Is this piece of content going to be relevant in the long term? Is it evergreen, or timely news? The more evergreen it is, the better the case to granularize. If it’s only relevant for a month or two, modularization doesn’t make as much sense.

When and where to modularize content

Say no to clunky content 

Perhaps the case for modularization is best illustrated by what leads to a lack of modularization. When content is not centrally stored in small, pre-approved blocks that marketers can quickly find and use, it’s typically a result of content silos that lead to duplicated content and slow content delivery times.

When content isn’t modular, content delivery can be slow, but the creation process is stagnant as well. A lack of transparency into what other team members are doing across other channels can result in excess time being spent on duplication of efforts or tasks that don’t deliver valuable results.

Also, clunky content elements leave marketing teams susceptible to swift changes and limit their agility. There is a lack of predictability when creating campaigns and it can be difficult to quickly adapt to outside changes that can derail marketing efforts.

Streamline your omnichannel strategy

As content operations and channels grow, so do the processes and systems to support this evolution. As we have seen, a key part of the process is teams identifying what content should be modularized as well as agreeing to centralize their content libraries. The next step in ramping up to more efficient content operations is to ensure the underlying tech layer can easily access and broadly distribute modularized content.

For many content operations, a headless architecture is ideal for optimizing this process.  Headless solutions decouple the back-end that manages the content operations from the content delivery layer. A headless architecture makes content extractable and decoupled, enabling it to be managed efficiently across channels instead of being siloed in one area.

In Sitecore, different components can be stored as separate elements and then reassembled for other channels and touchpoints. This approach brings speed to the content lifecycle as mentioned above, as marketers have a library of pre-approved content to choose from and build campaigns.

When combined with the right technology, modular content can benefit content delivery through a two-pronged approach:

  1. With Sitecore Content Hub, you have efficient content creation, approval, and management, making it easy for marketers to build and find ready-to-go atomic content.
  2. With Sitecore Experience Edge you get a high-performing delivery platform that provides all the tools you need to deploy content quickly and easily across channels.

Easily accessible granular content paired with a marketer-friendly publishing experience is precisely what omnichannel marketing requires. When Innogy had content scattered across multiple websites, a headless CMS provided what they needed to get centralized and also a way to adapt to future trends.

“A common platform will enable us to respond more quickly to unpredictable developments, for example in the channels through which consumers and businesses contact us,” said Toon Wijnands, Enterprise Architect at Innogy.

Jose Santa Ana is Product Marketing Director at Sitecore. Find him on LinkedIn.