It’s not sexy, and usually considered not the most creative aspect, but content operations management is an essential part of any serious content strategy.

Content marketing operations (ContentOps) is a comprehensive way to plan, manage and assess content for businesses. It involves combining new technologies, processes and people in order to effectively reach customers with the right message at the right time.

Content remains at the centre of content marketing operations, and content should be engaging and effective in order to ensure success. Creating compelling content is key: it can drive brand awareness, enrich customer experience and boost SEO presence.

Additionally, a robust content ops can help business objectives, such as increased sales or enhanced loyalty by connecting with customers on an emotional level.

Content operations need a content strategy in order to properly operate. To learn more about building your content strategy, you can follow our framework using the Content Strategy Canvas.

Content marketing operations is an additional framework that complements content strategy. It enables businesses to create, deploy, and measure their content better and more effectively.

Many brands are finding it difficult to effectively implement this approach as it requires collaboration between different business departments such as marketing, sales, product, branding, and analytics in order to increase productivity and the quality of their output.

The four axes of content marketing operations are people, rituals, processes, and tools:

  1. People refer to the teams and individuals that manage content creation and workflow on an ongoing basis.
  2. Rituals refer to the recurring meetings, sessions and workshops that ensure planning and collaboration with all stakeholders.
  3. Processes involve workflows and sequence of events that allow the implementation of the content strategy for creating high-quality, impactful content as well as planning for when the content should be rolled out and/or promoted in the marketplace.
  4. Finally, tools cover the technology needed to help streamline content management from end-to-end – from ideation through analysis of results.

With these practices in place businesses can successfully implement content marketing operations, also known as ContentOps.

What happens when ContentOps go rogue?

Throughout our experience at Toast with multiple clients (in both small and large organizations), we’ve seem many cases where chaos rules whenever ContentOps aren’t properly managed and optimized.

Here are a few scenarios that give an idea of how things can go bad:

  1. The Blame Game”: In this scenario, there is a lack of clear roles and responsibilities within the content marketing team. This can result in confusion, duplication of efforts, and missed deadlines. When something goes wrong, team members are quick to blame each other, resulting in a lack of accountability and a negative work environment. The Blame Game scenario highlights the importance of clearly defining roles and responsibilities within the content marketing team, ensuring that everyone understands their specific tasks and deadlines. This will help prevent confusion and duplication of efforts, while also promoting accountability and a positive work environment. When everyone knows what they are responsible for, it’s easier to work together efficiently and effectively to produce high-quality content that achieves business objectives.
  2. “The Compliance Nightmare”: In this scenario, there is a lack of process in legal validation, resulting in non-compliant content. This can result in legal issues, reputational damage, and lost opportunities. The Compliance Nightmare scenario underscores the importance of including a legal validation process in the content marketing program to ensure that all content complies with relevant laws and regulations. Then again, larger brands need to be careful as to not have layers on top of layers of conformity, putting in place processes that slow and almost halt content delivery.
  3. “The Wild West”: In this scenario, there is no defined content marketing strategy, and every department or team is creating their own content without coordination or guidance. This can result in an inconsistent brand message and messaging that doesn’t align with the organization’s goals. In some cases, this can lead to a lack of audience engagement and ultimately, missed business goals because of incoherent or even conflicting messaging. The Wild West scenario emphasizes the importance of developing a coherent content marketing program that is aligned with overall business objectives and supported by a strategy that guides content creation and distribution.
  4. “The Spreadsheet Nightmare”: In this scenario, the content marketing team relies on spreadsheets and other manual tools to manage their content creation and distribution. This can lead to a lack of automation and efficiency, resulting in missed deadlines and lost opportunities. In addition, manual tools can be error-prone, leading to mistakes and inconsistencies in content. The Spreadsheet Nightmare scenario emphasizes the importance of investing in the right content management tools, such as project management software, content calendars, and analytics tools. These tools can help streamline content creation and distribution, automate processes, and provide real-time data and insights to help optimize the content marketing program. By relying on manual tools, content marketing teams risk being left behind in an increasingly competitive landscape, where speed and efficiency are key factors for success.

To help you avoid situations like the ones above, this guide will cover the following aspects of efficient content marketing operations:

  1. Members of your content marketing team (their roles and responsibilities)
  2. The rituals of your content team
  3. The processes required to operationalize your content marketing strategy
  4. Tools needed for smooth sailing when running your content program

Axis 1 – People – A content marketing team’s structure

The staffing requirements of an internal content marketing team will vary depending on the size and needs of the organization. Here are some roles that may be necessary for an effective internal content marketing team:

  1. Content Manager: responsible for overseeing the content marketing strategy and its implementation, managing the team, and ensuring that all content is aligned with the company’s goals.
  2. Content Strategist: responsible for developing the content marketing strategy, including identifying target audiences, developing messaging, and creating a content calendar.
  3. Content Creator: responsible for creating content such as articles, blog posts, videos, and social media posts. They should have strong writing and editing skills, as well as experience with multimedia content creation.
  4. SEO Specialist: responsible for optimizing all content for search engines, including keyword research, on-page optimization, and link building. This role is also key in surfacing search trends and customer intents through their search behaviour, informing the strategist of such opportunities.
  5. Graphic Designer: responsible for designing visual content, such as infographics, social media graphics, and web page layouts.
  6. Analytics Expert: responsible for measuring the success of the content marketing strategy and providing insights to improve its effectiveness.
  7. Project Manager: responsible for ensuring that all content marketing projects are delivered on time and within budget.

In addition to these roles, it may be necessary to hire freelancers, content creators, content writers or outside agencies to provide specialized services such as video production or web development.

Ultimately, the staffing requirements of an internal content marketing team will depend on the specific needs and goals of the organization.

Axis 2 – Rituals – The cadence of any great content marketing team

To ensure that a content strategy team is effective and stays on track, it’s important to establish rituals and recurring meetings that help facilitate collaboration, maintain focus, and monitor progress. Here are some examples of rituals and meetings that a content strategy team might plan for:

  1. Weekly or bi-weekly content team meetings: These meetings should be used to discuss the progress of ongoing projects, identify any roadblocks, and plan for future initiatives. The content team can discuss their workloads, brainstorm new ideas, and identify opportunities for collaboration.
  2. Monthly content review meetings: These meetings should be used to review the performance of the content marketing efforts in the previous month, including website traffic, lead generation, social media metrics, and other key performance indicators (KPIs). The team should also assess which pieces of content have performed best and why, and use this information to inform their strategy going forward.
  3. Quarterly content planning meetings: These meetings should be used to plan the content marketing strategy for the upcoming quarter, including the creation of a content calendar and the allocation of resources to specific initiatives.
  4. Cross-department editorial committees: These meetings allow all relevant stakeholders in the organization to share content initiatives and needs, while also making sure all departments are aligned on objectives and the action plan. These meetings are key to avoid the “Wild West” scenario mentioned earlier.
  5. Team building and brainstorming sessions: These sessions should be used to build team morale and foster creativity. They can be used to brainstorm new content ideas, conduct training sessions, or provide team members with opportunities to share their experiences and expertise.

Establishing these rituals and recurring meetings can help to ensure that the content strategy team is productive, collaborative, and aligned with the organization’s goals.

The needs of your specific organization in terms of rituals will depend on the reality of your content program. One of the roles of the content marketing manager is to establish these requirements and organize the team around them.

While most of the items in the list above are easy to understand, one of them does stand out in its importance in larger organizations: the cross-department editorial committee.

How important is an cross-department editorial committee?

A cross-department editorial committee is a recurring meeting that involves members from different departments within an organization to discuss the content marketing strategy and how it relates to their respective areas of expertise. This type of meeting can be used to:

  1. Ensure alignment: The content marketing strategy should be aligned with the overall business strategy of the organization. A cross-department content meeting can help ensure that all departments are on the same page and working towards common goals.
  2. Identify opportunities: Different departments may have unique insights and perspectives on the target audience, messaging, and content distribution. Involving multiple departments can help identify new opportunities for content creation and distribution.
  3. Collaborate: Departments can collaborate to create content that is more effective, efficient and impactful. This can help ensure that the content is optimized for the target audience and that it resonates with their needs and interests.
  4. Ensure consistent branding: Each department should be able to maintain a consistent branding message that is aligned with the overall content marketing strategy. An cross-departmental content meeting can help ensure that all content is on-brand and aligned with the messaging of the organization.
  5. Monitor progress: A cross-department content meeting can be used to track progress on content marketing initiatives and ensure that they are meeting established KPIs, allowing them to be socialized throughout the organization. This can help identify areas that need improvement and opportunities for optimization.

Overall, a cross-department content meeting can be a useful tool for ensuring that the content marketing strategy is effective, well-aligned with the organization’s goals, and implemented in a way that maximizes results.

Axis 3 – Processes – How a content marketing team behaves

Operating a coherent content marketing program requires a set of content processes that can be used to develop, implement, and manage a content strategy. Here are some of the key processes necessary to operate a coherent content marketing program:

  1. Strategy Development: The first step is to develop a content marketing strategy that is aligned with the overall business goals. This process involves identifying target audiences, creating buyer personas with their needs/expectations, and developing messaging and a coherent brand voice. You can look at our Content Strategy Canvas for a more detailed process on this.
  2. Content Planning: After developing a content marketing strategy, the next step is to plan the creation and distribution of content. This process involves developing a content calendar, identifying content formats, and determining content distribution channels.
  3. Content Creation: Content creation involves developing high-quality content that aligns with the content marketing strategy. This process includes researching topics, developing content briefs, writing, editing, and designing multimedia assets.
  4. Content Distribution: After creating content, the next step is to distribute it through various channels, including social media, email marketing, and other channels that align with the target audience’s preferred method of consumption.
  5. Measurement and Analysis: It’s crucial to measure the effectiveness of the content marketing program and analyze the results to optimize future efforts. This process includes identifying key performance indicators (KPIs) to track, analyzing metrics, and making data-driven decisions.
  6. Iteration and Improvement: Based on the results of the measurement and analysis process, it’s essential to iterate and improve the content marketing program, the content strategy. This involves making changes to the strategy, content planning, creation, and distribution processes, and continually improving the content marketing program to maximize results. You can read a detailed article on this process: How to keep your content strategy alive.
  7. Approval Process: An approval process is important to ensure that all content aligns with the organization’s branding and messaging, and that it is appropriate for the target audience. This process involves submitting content for review and approval by key stakeholders, such as subject matter experts and the executive team.
  8. Legal Validation Process: A legal validation process is important to ensure that all content complies with relevant laws and regulations, such as copyright laws and data protection regulations. This process involves reviewing content for legal compliance and obtaining legal approval before it is published.

In the end, implementing these processes is necessary to operate a coherent content marketing program that is effective and aligned with the organization’s overall business goals.

Axis 4 – Tools – The tech stack of an impactful content strategy

As outlined in the “Spreadsheet Nightmare” scenario above, a content marketing team cannot operate solely using Excel documents. At some point, when scaling production, a content team needs to onboard tools that will help them solidify processes and streamline operations as more and more content is produced, distributed and analyzed.

In this guide, we have grouped essential tools under these main categories:

  1. Project management
  2. Content management (Digital Asset Management)
  3. Content planning (the editorial calendar)
  4. Analysis and reporting
  5. Publishing and distribution
  6. Amplification

Project management in content marketing

A project management tool can help a content marketing team execute its content program by providing a centralized platform for managing tasks, timelines, and team collaboration. Here are some specific ways that a project management tool can help a content marketing team:

  1. Task Management: A project management tool can help a content marketing team break down complex projects into smaller, manageable tasks, assign them to team members, and track their progress. This ensures that everyone is on the same page and that tasks are completed on time.
  2. Timeline Management: A project management tool can provide a visual timeline of the project, which helps the team stay on track and meet deadlines. It also allows team members to see how their individual tasks fit into the larger project timeline.
  3. Collaboration: A project management tool enables team members to collaborate on tasks and projects, share files, leave comments, and provide feedback. This improves communication, coordination, and overall project quality.
  4. Resource Management: A project management tool can help a content marketing team manage resources, such as budgets, team members, and external resources, to ensure that they are used effectively and efficiently.
  5. Prioritization: A project management tool can help the team prioritize tasks, identify critical path items, and adjust timelines or resources as needed. This helps the team stay focused on the most important tasks and goals.
  6. Reporting and Analytics: A project management tool can provide reports and analytics on team performance, task completion, and project status. This helps the team identify areas for improvement and optimize their content production process.

In short, a project management tool can help a content marketing team work more efficiently and effectively, improving collaboration, productivity, and content quality. It can provide a bird’s eye view of the project and ensure that everyone is working towards the same goals.

Content Management and Digital Asset Management (DAM) for content marketing teams

A Digital Asset Management (DAM) system is a centralized repository that allows content marketing teams to store, organize, manage, and distribute their digital assets. These assets can include copy, images, videos, audio files, graphics, and other types of media.

A DAM helps a content marketing team in several ways:

  1. Centralized Storage: With a DAM, all digital assets are stored in one centralized location, making it easy for team members to access and use them. This can save time and reduce the risk of losing or misplacing important assets.
  2. Efficient Collaboration: A DAM system makes it easy for team members to collaborate on projects, as they can quickly find and share digital assets with each other. This can help ensure that everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goals.
  3. Streamlined Workflow: A DAM system can help streamline the content creation process by providing a clear and organized system for managing digital assets. This can help reduce the time it takes to find and repurpose assets for different projects.
  4. Consistent Branding and Brand Voice: A DAM system can ensure that all digital assets are on-brand, as it provides a centralized location for storing brand assets such as logos, colors, and fonts, but also reference documents on the brand’s voice. This can help ensure that all content assets are consistent and aligned with the organization’s brand guidelines.
  5. Improved Efficiency: A DAM system can improve the efficiency of a content marketing team by reducing the time it takes to find and use digital assets. This can allow team members to focus on more strategic tasks, such as developing new content and marketing campaigns.
  6. Avoid Duplication: In large organizations, or even smaller ones where there has been significant changes to the content team, duplication is a big problem. Recreating content that already exists instead of optimizing what is already there limits the content team’s expertise is making sure the content strategy is as impactful as possible.

Implementing a DAM system can help a content marketing team be more organized, efficient, and effective in creating and distributing digital assets. It is a valuable tool for organizations looking to scale their content marketing programs and maximize the value of their digital assets.

Content planning: the essential features and capabilities of an editorial calendar

For a content marketing team, content planning happens within the editorial calendar.

A powerful editorial calendar tool can help content marketing teams plan, organize, and manage their content production and distribution. Here are some characteristics that a good editorial calendar tool should have:

  1. Customizable Views: A good editorial calendar tool should allow teams to customize their view of the content calendar to fit their specific needs. For example, the ability to view the calendar by quarter, month, week, or day, or to filter by content pillar, author or content type. The team needs to not only be able to focus on the next atomic piece of content to be published, but also be able to rise at 10,000 feet and see the overarching strategy being deployed.
  2. Collaboration Features: The tool should have features that allow team members to collaborate on content creation and editing, such as assigning tasks, leaving comments, and sharing files.
  3. Integration with Other Tools: An editorial calendar tool should integrate with other tools that content marketing teams use, such as social media management, project management, or content management systems.
  4. Easy-to-Use Interface: The tool should have a user-friendly interface that is easy to navigate and understand, with clear instructions and helpful features. This can often be a show-stopper when a tool isn’t pleasant to use and ends up not being adopted by the team.
  5. Automated Reminders and Notifications: The tool should have a feature that sends automated reminders and notifications to team members to ensure that content is being created and published on schedule.
  6. Custom Fields: The tool should allow teams to add custom fields to the calendar to track additional information that is relevant to their content production process.
  7. Multi-Channel Support: A powerful editorial calendar tool should be able to support content distribution across multiple channels, such as social media, email marketing, or blogs.

Having a powerful editorial calendar tool should be flexible, intuitive, and integrated with other tools that content marketing teams use. It should enable teams to efficiently plan and execute their content marketing strategy, while providing insights and feedback to help improve the effectiveness of their campaigns.

Analytics and reporting for content marketing teams

An analytics tool tailored to a content marketing team’s needs should have the following essential features and capabilities:

  1. Content Performance Metrics: The tool should be able to track key content performance metrics, such as pageviews, unique visitors, time on page, bounce rate, and engagement. These metrics help the team understand how their content is performing and identify areas for improvement.
  2. Multi-Channel Support: The tool should be able to track content performance across multiple channels, such as social media, email marketing, and websites. This helps the team get a complete picture of their content performance and optimize their distribution strategy.
  3. Customizable Dashboards: The tool should have customizable dashboards that allow the team to track the metrics that are most relevant to their content marketing strategy. Dashboards should be easy to read and provide clear visualizations of data.
  4. Reporting: The tool should be able to generate reports that can be used to share performance data with stakeholders and provide insights for decision-making.
  5. Integration: The tool should be able to integrate with other content marketing tools, such as social media management or email marketing platforms. This enables the team to connect data from different sources and gain a holistic view of their content marketing efforts.
  6. Content Analysis: The tool should be able to provide analysis of the content itself, such as sentiment analysis, topic modeling, and keyword analysis. This helps the team understand what types of content are resonating with their audience and adjust their strategy accordingly.
  7. Goal Tracking: The tool should allow the team to set and track specific content marketing goals, such as lead generation or brand awareness. This helps the team measure the effectiveness of their efforts and adjust their strategy as needed.
  8. Real-time Data: The tool should provide real-time data, enabling the team to make quick adjustments to their strategy based on current performance metrics.

An analytics tool tailored to a content marketing team’s needs should provide actionable insights into the performance of their content and enable them to make data-driven decisions that improve their strategy and drive business results.

You can read more about measuring performance in the following articles:

Publishing and distribution tools for content marketing assets

Here are several publishing and distribution tools that a content marketing team might need:

  1. Content Management Systems (CMS): A CMS allows teams to create, edit, and publish content on their website. It can also help with organizing content, applying consistent branding, and optimizing for search engines.
  2. Social Media Management Tools: These tools allow teams to manage and schedule posts across different social media platforms, track engagement and analytics, and monitor social media mentions and comments.
  3. Email Marketing Platforms: These tools help teams manage and send out email newsletters, track metrics such as open rates and click-through rates, and segment audiences for more targeted messaging.
  4. Video Hosting and Distribution Platforms: Teams may need tools to host and distribute video content, such as YouTube, Vimeo, Wistia, or Brightcove.
  5. Podcast Hosting Platforms: Teams may use platforms such as Buzzsprout, Libsyn, or Anchor to host and distribute podcasts.
  6. Content Syndication Platforms: These platforms help teams distribute content to third-party sites to expand their reach, such as Outbrain or Taboola.
  7. Press Release Distribution Services: Teams may use services like PR Newswire or Business Wire to distribute press releases to various media outlets.
  8. Influencer Marketing Platforms: These platforms help teams find and collaborate with influencers to promote their content on social media, such as AspireIQ or Grin.

The specific publishing and distribution tools a content marketing team needs will depend on their content strategy and the channels they use to reach their audience. The right tools can help teams streamline their publishing and distribution processes, save time, and optimize their content for better performance.

Amplification tools for content marketing

Amplification tools can help a content marketing team increase the reach and visibility of their content. Here are some amplification tools that a content marketing team may need:

  1. Paid Social Media Advertising: Paid social media advertising allows teams to reach a larger audience through platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok, Pinterest and Instagram. Teams can target specific demographics and interests to optimize their advertising spend.
  2. Paid Display Advertising: Paid display advertising can help content marketing teams increase the reach and visibility of their content by placing it in front of targeted audiences on relevant websites. This tactic is often seen as being relevant solely for promoting products and services, but it is also a very powerful channel to promote content.
  3. Search Engine Marketing: Search engine marketing (SEM) is relevant for content marketing because it can help drive traffic to a website and increase the visibility of content through paid search ads targeted against high-intent and relevant searches.
  4. Content Promotion Networks: Content promotion networks like Outbrain and Taboola allow teams to promote their content on third-party websites that are part of their network. This can help increase reach and engagement.
  5. Referral Marketing Platforms: Referral marketing platforms like ReferralCandy or Ambassador allow teams to create referral programs that incentivize customers to share their content with their network.

The amplification tools a content marketing team needs will depend on their content strategy and the channels they use to reach their audience. The right tools can help teams increase their content’s reach and engagement, drive traffic to their website, and ultimately, meet their marketing goals.

Integrated content marketing platforms

In some cases, a content team might be interested in leveraging an integrated content marketing platform instead of building a custom stack based on the needs outlined above.

There are many content marketing platforms available, and the best one for a particular team will depend on their specific needs and goals.

However, here are a few examples of such platforms (in no particular order):

  1. HubSpot: A popular platform that offers tools for content creation, publishing, and analytics, as well as customer relationship management (CRM) and marketing automation.
  2. Marketo: A comprehensive platform for B2B marketing that includes tools for content creation, email marketing, social media, lead management, and analytics.
  3. CoSchedule: A platform that offers a comprehensive editorial calendar, social media scheduling, and content analytics tools.
  4. Contently: A platform designed for content creation, publishing, and distribution, with a focus on high-quality content and storytelling.
  5. Kapost: A content marketing platform that offers tools for planning, creating, distributing, and analyzing content, as well as workflow management and collaboration.
  6. Adobe Experience Manager: A comprehensive platform for managing digital experiences, including content creation, management, and delivery.
  7. Widen Collective: A digital asset management (DAM) platform that offers tools for organizing, storing, and sharing content, as well as analytics and workflow management.
  8. Turtl: A platform designed for interactive content creation and distribution, with a focus on engagement and analytics.
  9. Uberflip: A platform that offers tools for content creation, curation, and distribution, as well as lead generation and analytics.
  10. Brandfolder: A digital asset management (DAM) platform that offers tools for organizing, storing, and sharing content, as well as analytics and workflow management.

Once again, it’s important to choose the right platform that fits the specific needs and goals of a content marketing team.


Content operations can seem like a daunting task. It requires careful planning and implementing the right tools and processes to ensure success. But, the effort is worth it.

Content operations will help you create and manage content more efficiently, improve the quality of your content, and maximize its impact on your target audience.

By investing in content operations, you will be able to create a consistent flow of high-quality content that resonates with your audience and drives results for your business.

At Toast we’ve helped content teams audit, choose and implement such tools and practices. Do not hesitate to reach out with questions and challenges you might have in your specific organization.