By Mark Gross, President, Data Conversion Laboratory, for Chief Digital Officer
Repurpose content assets, streamline delivery, and extend the customer base to open new revenue channels and reduce costs
Chances are, you have never considered legacy content created throughout your company as revenue-producing assets. In 2015 you should reconsider. Those thousands of words and images painstakingly created and delivered via sales teams, customer support reps, trainers and account managers need not remain fallow, collecting dust on bookshelves or taking up space on servers and hard drives.
Can you extract strategic value from the content: Increase the CLV (Customer Lifetime Value) of your key customer base? Yes.
Improve time to market? Yes.
Reduce Overhead? Yes.
That’s why more companies are striving to implement emerging data conversion and automated content management technologies, to unlock new revenue streams and drive down costs by repurposing the content assets they already own. For Chief Digital Officers, understanding the financial potential of your content management strategy and effectively communicating its benefits to your senior staff is vital to future growth. Here’s some guidance on focusing your digital strategy to maximize your revenue opportunities in 2015.
As the role of content in today’s businesses continues to grow exponentially, so do the challenges in producing it. These challenges often manifest in three key areas:
- Management: The sheer volume of content assets in your organization, including the formats and versions, and the structures (or lack of them) used to create the content often appears overwhelming. Standards and automated processes for managing content, from creation to archival, keep costs down and streamline work efforts across the board.
- Access: The ease with which your content consumers—customers, prospects, sales staff and more—can find and use the content you have impacts your existing revenue streams. For instance, out-of-date white papers, current and previous data sheets that can’t be searched make it just that much more difficult for a prospect to find the information they need to make a buying decision.
- Reuse: User documentation, training materials, research and scholarly articles, and other in-depth technical content requires a large investment to produce. If you could digitize and modularize that content into reusable components, you could extend the shelf life of what was once obsolete, extracting additional ROI. New audiences and additional outputs mean new revenue streams.
A strategy that maximizes your revenue and streamlines the costs of getting good content in the hands of more prospects, customers, vendors, and other stakeholders isn’t impossible, but neither is it easy or quick. We suggest a three-phase analysis strategy:
Content Inventory. More than a list of the files you have stored on your servers, a content inventory aims to identify:
- Volume of existing content: how many pages, images, books, files, etc.?
- Content quality: Is the content accurate, complete, current or obsolete?
- Format: Is your content in paper, microfilm, or electronic files (images, text files, video, audio, etc.)? Is it structured or unstructured?
- Condition: not only the condition of physical content such as books or photographs, but also the condition of electronic content. Are the file types usable as is?
With this information you can identify the value of content, and the costs of conversion and maintenance, allowing you to prioritize the content that should be included in a reuse strategy.
Alignment with Business Strategy. Your specific goals—such as increased market share for existing products, entry into new global markets, new product launches, or higher levels of recurring business—will drive your decisions on managing your content conversion processes. Analyze the affected stakeholders’ requirements to uncover how content can support new goals. For instance, your conversion process may need to incorporate content translation if you plan to enter new markets, or compliance reviews if you’re in a regulated industry. In both cases, modularized content decreases costs by eliminating repetitive translation or submission steps. Or, if you want to improve your Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) with more business among your current customers, your content processes will need to address conversion to standard formats that allow for reuse in multiple formats. Making that content available when and where you customers want it creates a better experience, and that drives additional business.
Two real-life examples illustrate the importance of strategic alignment. A global technology solutions provider reuses technical material produced for internal use to introduce new products to customers. A six-month process to convert text and slide-based content into user-friendly content and video on-demand now takes four to six weeks because of how the conversion process was automated.
A university press publishes more than 200 textbooks and 30 scholarly journals each year. These textbooks contain large numbers of mathematical equations and complex illustrations and tables that rendered poorly in one ebook format, reducing the average reader ratings and risking lost sales. The new conversion process leveraged advances in technology used to render these non-text elements producing reflowable ebooks that display correctly on any device.
Availability of Resources. The group or groups inside your company with content management responsibilities may or may not have the requisite skills to convert existing content into standard formats that can be published to multiple formats. You need to objectively assess which tasks can be done internally and which are best done with outside help.
Scalability and automation are two factors that enter into your resource planning equation. How much of the process can be automated, freeing up staff resources for more creation and quality assurance tasks? And that’s driven by factors such as how much structure already exists in that content, and what forms it takes—you’d need a different process to convert microfilm files of past journal issues, than you would to convert hundreds of product data sheets saved as PDFs.
Your company’s content represents not only an investment of time and resources, but also a tremendous, sustainable, competitive advantage, in both brand and customer relationship building. It’s time to look at leveraging content to generate revenue, and not collect dust.