Building a Content Strategy Maturity Model


When working with our clients to develop content strategies, I am often asked at some point during the initial discovery or assessment phase “how are we doing?”

Human nature dictates that people are naturally curious if their problems or processes are normal – and if not – how far from normal are they?

It is also good standard consulting engagement practice to baseline performance at the start of any project. It’s the time to take the opportunity to asses where you’d like to be tomorrow and then decide what to do first, where to place emphasis and investment to get there.

So, to this end, to give the client a qualitative statement of their current state, I have developed a maturity model across nine different content strategy disciplines with a rating of 1 to 5 for each.

And, I thought I would share those here (and over on Persuasive Content).

#1 – Alignment with Business Strategy and Objectives
How the current content strategy is aligned with and supports the overall business strategy and objectives of the corporate digital marketing strategy.

Ratings: (1) Content messaging developed tactically within silos to (5) content is well aligned with corporate strategy and measured

#2 – Audience Understanding and Customer Insight
How well the organization understands the audience profiles, personas and segments and the content they need along each stage of a buying or customer task journey.

Ratings: (1) limited silo’d or aspirational understanding of the audience to (5) the enterprise has a central view of the audience and personas

#3 – Measurement
The organization’s ability to measure the value and effectiveness of content compared to the business objectives. For example: linking content to revenue, lead generation or the reduction in support calls.

Ratings: (1) Rudimentary web analytics (page views) to (5) business metrics (e.g.: leads/revenue/support calls) are directly attributed to content

#4 – Content Relevance
How well audience insight and business objectives are applied to the commissioning and development of new content and its impact and relevancy compared to the industry and audience once published.

Ratings: (1) Content development is haphazard and is not resonating with audience to (5) content is correctly positioned within the industry or audience conversation, contributing positively to appropriate metrics, such as brand sentiment and customer satisfaction.

#5 – Messaging and Editorial Framework
How the organization orchestrates a common messaging framework and editorial guidelines (tone of voice, writing style etc.) that is consistent with the brand strategy and coordinated across business units, products and events.

Ratings: (1) Content is created on a reactive, haphazard or tactical basis to (5) there is a clear messaging strategy with central coordination

#6 – Content Operations
How content is provisioned, managed, re-used, localized and published by the business users and the effectiveness of the tools.

Ratings: (1) Content publication is poorly managed, publication is a technical task and highly constrained to (5) marketing and communications business users are fully able to publish content, create content variants for personalization and localization, able to manage metadata and manage the experience.

#7 – Common Vocabulary and Metadata
The way an organization manages a common vocabulary across the organization that supports personalization, related content functionality, content re-use, search and SEO. For example the way products and services are described or the way content is tagged for specific audiences.

Ratings: (1) Haphazard or inconsistent content tagging strategy to (5) a centrally defined and maintained common vocabulary, taxonomy or metadata strategy.

#8 – Channel Distribution
The capability to share, re-purpose and publish content across multiple distribution channels, including (for example) mobile, email, internal call center, social sites and syndication to partner websites.

Ratings: (1) Content published as static web pages on single websites to (5) content items are managed, repurposed and distributed across multiple digital publications and formats.

#9 – Governance and Compliance
How an organization manages the content publication workflow, it’s legal and brand compliance and accuracy, including the people, processes and tools. Once published the organizations implementation of policies for audit, compliance checking and retention and the tools used to achieve this.

Ratings: (1) Content publication is haphazard, with little process or policies to (5) all content is appropriately approved through a tight workflow process and there are documented and automated compliance audits, retention and archive policies.


So that’s the nine, all are focused on the effectiveness of a content strategy, but when you start asking the questions you also start to drive into the broader digital strategy, content marketing programs, or simply the story an organization wants to tell and to who.

Ian Truscott is the Senior Vice President of Content Strategy at Tahzoo. This article was originally published to LinkedIn.


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