What is Content Lifecycle Management: 7 Stages of Content Lifecycle Explained

Discover how to manage your content’s lifecycle to ensure that your every idea transforms into an amazing content asset.

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Sometimes, these snarky comments make me so mad, you know? 

Like when a colleague from another department is making a fuss that getting their content ready took far too long. 

It was just a blog post, after all, they say. 

But you and I know that creating content, any content, isn’t that simple. Sure, the finished product might seem to others like it was easy to do. To them, it really might be just a blog post, white paper, product image, or a social media visual. 

But to us, it’s a result of a lengthy process coupled with countless roadblocks and frustrations. 

What’s more, unless we understand and manage that process well, it can all fall apart with ease. We’ll face delays, endless cycles of reviews to approve the content, and overall failure of the content strategy. 

That’s why this guide exists – To help you understand that process and discover how to work with the stages of content lifecycle management.

What is Content Lifecycle Management?

When we speak of the content lifecycle, we actually refer to the evolution of any content asset – be it a blog post, a visual, a video clip, a social media post, etc. 

What’s that evolution, you ask? Well, as you know, all these (and naturally countless other) content assets start as ideas. Throughout their lifecycle, however, they transform into drafts, drafts become revised versions. Eventually, those turn into signed-off and published pieces of content. And those can become republished assets, repurposed content, and finally, archived items in your digital asset management system. 

The process of overseeing that evolution is called content lifecycle management. 

But personally, I like to think of content lifecycle management as a process that allows us, content creators, marketers, etc., to control what happens with our content. 

Because, let’s face it, quite a lot happens to every content asset we create. We looked at some of those changes just moments ago, but naturally, that wasn’t the full list. And without that element of control over the whole thing, chaos creeps in, delays become the norm, and every aspect of the content creation process turns into a bottleneck. 

The result might not be as drastic as this. Then again, there are times when we come close…

The situation is different when you have that control. Suddenly, we become highly efficient and not only go through content development swiftly, we absolutely crush it! Even the approval process is no longer something you pull your hair over. 

But efficiency and faster production aren’t the only benefits of implementing content lifecycle management.

Here are several other advantages that content lifecycle management delivers

Benefit #1. Clearly defined content production. With the lifecycle management process in place, everyone involved, from the marketing team, content teams, and content strategists to third-party vendors, knows what they need to do and when. 

Benefit #2. Fewer bottlenecks and barriers to success. Naturally, with almost complete control over the process, you and your team will experience fewer bottlenecks and delays. For one, the process will define everything in such detail that overseeing the complete production will be easy. But also it will help you identify and prevent potential bottlenecks and delays before they happen.

Benefit #3. Faster approval process. I bet that if you were to name the aspect of content production that’s typically holding everyone up, you’d say reviews because the amount of time you often have to wait for comments to come in is simply borderline crazy. 

The good news is that content lifecycle management creates a structure around the approval processes too. As a result, the process runs more smoothly, and you get to have an asset signed off faster. 

Benefit #4. A greater understanding of content’s performance. Content lifecycle management allows you to gain control over the entire evolution of an asset. You control how it is briefed, created, reviewed, distributed, but also used. You can tell how many times a particular asset has been implemented and quickly identify the most successful projects.

Benefit #5. Maintaining brand reputation. I admit it; this sounds like a vague benefit of content lifecycle management, but please do hear me out. You see, with all the problems and issues with content, it’s not just the production that suffers but the brand too. Take a simple yet unfortunately quite common error of using the wrong version of the file in a project. It’s not only a costly mistake if the asset went to print (rather than being used as web content that you can replace quickly.) It could have portrayed the brand unfavorably too. And even if you didn’t accrue any costs associated with replacing it, the hit to the brand image might have been significant nonetheless. 

A content lifecycle management process reduces the possibility of such errors and as a result, positively impacts the brand image. 

What Does a Typical Content Lifecycle Management Look Like?

When we talk about content lifecycle management, we talk about the evolution of a content asset from an idea to the point where you archive it. So, the process contains all the stages any content asset goes through:

#1. Planning

This stage is all about coming up with and defining an idea for a new asset. And so, the content lifecycle would define what happens with an idea, from how it gets defined, translated into a brief, and finally, delivered to relevant content creators. 

#2. Content production

Often, this is the longest stage of the content lifecycle. It defines everything relating to transforming the idea into an initial draft. And so, content production will define the process for setting up a project in the digital asset management system and selecting relevant tasks to complete it. It will define who needs to be involved in various aspects of the content creation, and when their tasks are due, and so on.

Note that I said initial draft, through. That’s because it’s rare to complete a content asset without having at least several stakeholders review and approve it. 

This brings us to the next element.

#3. Review and approvals

Usually, once the initial draft is ready, the madness begins. Chasing comments, sending reminders to reviewers, and piecing together feedback from emails, phone calls, and quick conversations in passing. 

Content lifecycle management eliminates all that by introducing a formal process for reviews and approvals. The process not only defines who needs to comment but also how much time these people have to do so. Not to mention that it brings all feedback into one place through an online proofing platform

#4. Routing the content to distribution channels

Once the asset’s been signed off, it’s time to distribute it to various channels. These channels could include your website, social media sites, and any other outlet where you intend to publish the content. 

Content lifecycle management will define the process for routing relevant assets to the right channels so that nothing gets misplaced or misused. 

#5. Storing and organizing the content and associated assets for reference and future use

As soon as content assets get routed to final destinations, they should be stored in the digital asset management system. This way, they remain available for future use – be it updating and reusing them in future campaigns, or republishing in another format. 

That said, the process of storing assets involves more than just uploading the final version of a file to the DAM. You need to ensure that the asset is easy to find for everyone who might ever need it. That involves categorizing it correctly, tagging, and adding relevant metadata so that others can search for it easily. 

#6. Updating content

Some content assets get reused, and others go live once and then remain archived in your DAM. The content lifecycle management process will define all steps required to assess whether a particular content asset could be used again and how to update it, review, approve, and route. 

#7. Content performance analysis

Finally, the process will also define the steps required to analyze and report on the asset’s performance. This might include analyzing how often a particular asset has been utilized in different campaigns or retrieved by teams. 

Unfortunately, even with a clearly defined content lifecycle management, it’s not always smooth sailing.

So, let’s talk about the common challenges companies face with the process

Bottlenecks can still happen. Usually, these come as a result of the following: 

  • Miscommunication about projects responsibilities, 
  • Inefficient collaboration (It takes just one team member not following the content lifecycle process to throw a spanner in the works, after all.)
  • Misplaced or mislabeled assets become impossible to find, and so on. 

The review and approval process sometimes needs tweaking. You might find that what you thought to be a bulletproof process turns out to have some weak spots after all. 

Keeping content consistent across several channels can be tricky too. However, this challenge is quite easy to resolve with clear brand and content guidelines. 

How to Manage Content Lifecycle With Dedicated Digital Asset Management Software?

Digital Asset Management (DAM, for short) is a process of managing, organizing, and distributing digital assets from one content location or hub. Companies turn to DAM systems to keep track of the growing number of digital assets better and ensure that relevant teams can find the assets they need quickly and efficiently.

But there is another aspect of DAM – It can help you manage the entire content supply chain, including the lifecycle of every content asset you create. 

With a solid DAM system, you can manage the entire content lifecycle:

  • Plan, create, and deliver the perfect content for any point of the customer journey.
  • Manage content end-to-end and fully utilize your marketing assets across all digital touchpoints.
  • Route and deliver content to relevant channels to fuel your sales and marketing strategies.

Introducing CELUM - the best digital asset management software to manage the entire content lifecycle

CELUM (disclaimer: this is our tool) is a complete digital asset management solution for organizations that need to improve how they manage and deliver amazing content to their audience. 

Because of that, CELUM is packed with features and capabilities to help you oversee every aspect of the content’s lifecycle. With CELUM, you can:

  • The ability to store, organize, and manage even the largest digital asset collection in one central location. 
  • Work with multiple file formats, including documents, audio, video, and other digital content assets. 
  • Manage digital assets, set up folders, and collections, define metadata and tags, and use other advanced strategies to make each asset easy to find and retrieve.
  • Create flexible node structures and asset collections so that you and other team members can go through vast amounts of files and find anything in an instant. 
  • Define relevant asset types and categorize your content based on a variety of formats and use cases.
  • Gather usage data from connected systems to visualize where your assets are and how they are related to each other.
  • Set up review and approval workflows.  
  • Manage rights and responsibilities to ensure that only the right people can access the right assets. 
  • With CELUM, you get access to Ai-based capabilities to assist your teams with finding similar assets, detecting duplicates, and auto-tagging your content.
  • Powerful integrations and more.

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