What is digital content management?

Digital content management is the process of creating, storing, distributing, publishing, and retrieving structured information created for either external or internal consumption via web or intranet pages.

The information itself may have been created in a variety of different formats (document, video, blog, podcast, image etc.).  Content management refers to the lifecycle of the information and the rules that are applied to it.

It’s also sometimes referred to as digital asset management, although this has historically tended to apply more to collections of assets such as images, videos and sound files, rather than documents. Nowadays, however, the lines between content management and asset management are becoming ever more blurred

So, what is a content management system?

A content management system (CMS) allows you to assign different user roles to the development and maintenance of content, for multiple people to collaborate on the content and to control who can access and consume the content.

A CMS also allows you to categorise and classify your information and to index it, giving each piece of information a name and description. Alongside that, it provides tools that will allow you to assess the consumer’s behaviour – did they value the content, was it relevant, would they recommend it to other people etc.

A modern CMS should also support workflow tools. There may be many different people working on delivering content; some of these people may be the creators, while others need to approve it. The CMS allows you to assign and manage different roles and permissions and also to provide checks to remove stale and outdated material.

What about extracting value?

Despite the importance of content creation, management, and promotion – and the existence of CMS tools – organisations still face content challenges when it comes to understanding their assets and extracting value from them.

Creating content based on the customer journey or delivering correctly timed, personalised content to the correct audience requires information about the content to also be created and managed – this is referred to as the metadata.

The metadata provides context and classification for the content. It applies to anything that the consumer of content may interact with including a URL, image, video, or any component of an experience you might create.

The proper application of metadata unlocks the full value of the content; it’s metadata that transforms a piece of content into an asset with value. It plays an important role from the moment a piece of content is requested, through to the creation of a digital experience for the consumer.

The experience may involve many elements, including products, creative, marketing channels, tactics, audiences, segments, offers, etc. Many organisations lose out on the value of these content components by failing to consistently apply metadata.

For example, you can’t compare consumers’ experiences if the way you describe each experience is different for them. The impact on content management can include lack of asset utilisation, confusing navigation, as well as partial data for personalisation and great difficulty in analysing and deriving meaning from context-less data.

Governing your metadata

You may already use metadata in your content management processes, but to maximise the value of it you need to have a defined taxonomy. Without a taxonomy content creators may tag or personalise content but may leave out data because they are unaware of similar content being created elsewhere in the organisation.

While it may seem simple to let each creator provide the metadata for their own content, you should have organisational standards:

  • Define a taxonomy for content across the organisation
  • Manage the data formats and data flows around the organisation – map it out and understand where the data goes
  • Introduce standards for tagging and creating content and ensure that these are adhered to
  • When a new piece of content is created it should be reviewed and validated before it is published through the content management system


The content management process needs to meet the demands of the organisation, taking account of its customers, employees and business functions.

By making everyone adhere to an organisation-wide taxonomy you ensure that all necessary metadata is there, and nothing is missing during the content creation process, misspelled, misunderstood and ultimately unused or unfindable.

Adding governance to your content management process will streamline content creation, promote seamless communication between business teams and allow you to get the more value out of your content.