Content engineering is a critically vital piece to the CEM puzzle that no one knows they need until it’s missing at the end  — when it’s too late.

If content is electrical power, content engineering provides the wiring. When constructing a building, would one add beautiful lighting fixtures, powerful appliances, and power outlets but no electrical wiring to connect them? No transformers to move current from one state to another? Inconceivable, and yet the number one complaint we hear from agencies, integrators, and in-house marketing departments is that executive decision makers do not understand content engineering and are not willing to pay for it.

Let there be light. Here are a few of the reasons that executives must embrace investments in content engineering:

  1. Far more efficient development cycles and developer time investment. Without content engineering, we are asking software engineers to spend time on configuration and strategy rather than developing software. This reduces efficiency, and lengthens development cycles while reducing quality in CEM projects.
  2. Efficiency of CEM license cost investment, more value for the money. CEM software is expensive. Implementing it poorly is even more expensive. Leaving valuable marketing functionality underutilized carries opportunity costs. By investing in content engineering, the return on investment (ROI) for CEM accelerates, while effectiveness improves.
  3. Insurance policy for CEM long-term. Even If utilization of all potential CEM strategies is a far-off dream compared to the current level of maturity in the marketing department, having a well-engineered content platform in place ensures CEM is possible. Without that strong platform CEM will always be a far-off dream.
  4. Improved sales lifecycle, sales performance, sales metrics, and sales channels. Content engineering influences sales directly by connecting buyers with the related content and products most interesting to them. It also enables segmentation of content types and creation of detailed reports showing content engagement and its relationship to sales. Of course, content engineering also facilitates multi-channel publishing which expands selling channels.
  5. Improved customer satisfaction. Content personalization significantly improves the customer’s experience with the enterprise, by making their interactions more relevant and rewarding. It’s only through intelligent content engineering that true content personalization is possible.
  6. Marketing and IT peacemaking: Happier developers, happier marketers. Without content engineering, content strategists and marketers find themselves frustrated with vision left unrealized. IT teams feel frustrated with what they see ill-defined requirements from marketing. Content engineering remediates some of those issues, and helps create a better, more effective working environment for customer value delivery.
  7. Competitive market advantage. Content engineering makes organizations smarter. It improves the value of content assets across the enterprise, and connects those assets with customers intelligently. Smarter organizations with more nimble content assets will be better prepared to compete for market position and customer mindshare.

Challenge and call-to-action:

Begin introducing the concepts and start collecting perspectives from marketing, IT, C-suite executives, and partners, all of which can feed into a feasibility review. Consider the following:

  • How can CEM projects be streamlined with a content engineering function?

  • What can be done to introduce and highlight the value of the content engineer in the organization?

  • Who among the existing team would be appropriate to cross train as a content engineer?

  • What would need to change in current processes to include content engineering?

  • What problems will content engineering avoid in projects? And what benefits will it bring to the environment, and what way is best to communicate those advantages?

CEM desperately needs content engineering. Marketers can learn a lot from techcomms.

Technical communicators are well-positioned to take up the content engineering charge inside their organizations. Seek to highlight the valuable role of the content engineer and lead the discussion on content engineering in the organization. Together, we will make the content engineering role and process a mainstream norm.

Content engineering should have a place in every organization. It just takes some simple actionable steps, a bit of advocacy, training, and some trial and error. The long-term rewards to building a content engineering competence across the organization will far outweigh the costs. The best time to start is now. Start by building a content engineering practice internally. Content engineering isn’t easy, but it can become simple  —  once started.

[A] Editor's Note:  Edited from an original article published in the Society for Technical Communication (STC) “Intercom” magazine: “The Power Issue: Gaining Organizational Influence as a Technical Communicator” with the title “The Emerging Role of the Content Engineer. Is it a Fit for You?”
 

Content Engineering Resources from [A]: