What is content strategy?

A unified content strategy is a business plan for content.

The content strategy helps you identify what content you need, what content you don’t need, and where to put your resources for the most ROI.

More than ever before, content needs to serve the goals of the business. A content strategy ensures that everyone knows what those goals are and what they need to do to support them.

What challenges can we solve with a unified content strategy?

A unified content strategy addresses all of the major issues that content teams face in their day-to-day work.

Many of our content strategy engagements start because an organization needs to solve at least three of the following issues:

  • Customers cannot easily find the content
  • Customers cannot easily use the content
  • Business processes are inefficient, costing too much time and money
  • Content cannot be reused, costing too much time and money
  • Content has inconsistent tone of voice, branding, style, and terminology
  • Intelligent content delivery is not working
  • Content cannot be personalized
  • Content delivery is not automated


A unified content strategy helps companies deliver content when, where, and how their customers want to see it.

Why is a unified content strategy important to business?

The business reasons for developing a unified content strategy vary. At a high level, an enterprise typically wants to achieve at least one of the following goals:

  • Increase revenue
  • Reduce costs

To achieve these goals, content teams may focus their strategy around one or more of the following results:

  • Reduce costs of creating, managing, publishing, and localizing content
  • Speed up time to market for content delivery
  • Improve customer experiences through consistency at every point of the customer journey
  • Increase content reuse (and a corresponding decrease in redundant content)

Do I need a unified content strategy?


A unified content strategy is the blueprint for your content teams to build on. A unified content strategy defines the structures necessary to ensure that content is nimble, usable, reusable, findable, and relevant.

What structures does a unified content strategy define?

A unified content strategy includes your information architecture, your governance model, and your business goals. 

Typically, the content strategy includes the following components:

  • Content models
  • Structured authoring guidelines
  • Reuse strategy
  • Taxonomy
  • Metadata
  • Workflow
  • Governance

What departments need a unified content strategy?

Ideally, all departments will participate in a single, unified content strategy. 

To get to that ideal state, typically we start with one department or team. Then we iterate and bring each team into the strategy, extending the strategy where needed, until everyone is participating and building on a universal strategy.

Your strategy must account for necessary variations for different teams and different types of content. However, these variations are intentional, deliberate, documented decisions that you build into the strategy.


Is unified content strategy the same as structured authoring?

Structured authoring is typically part of a unified content strategy. 

You can have structured authoring without a strategy. You can also have a strategy without structured authoring.

You’ll get the most benefit from combining the two. 

What is structured authoring?


Structured authoring is a process by which authors create modular content so that the content is easier to find, easier to use, and easier to comprehend.

Structured authoring is also a way of thinking about content. With structured authoring, content teams can create consistent content that can be reused transparently wherever that content is needed. Authors focus on creating content — not on how that content looks or where that content will be delivered.

Structured authoring makes content creation easier for everyone. It is a best practice for managing content at the enterprise level.

What is structured content?

Structured content is content that is consistent, reusable, and modular. 

With structured content, even large numbers of authors distributed across different teams and working from different locations can create content that fits together in a unified way.

Many people equate structure with XML, which is often used in the background to define and support your content structures. However, you can have structured content without XML. You can also have structured content with XML secretly holding everything together in the background where your content creators never see it.

What is intelligent content?

Intelligent content is a method of content delivery. With intelligent content, you can deliver the right content to the right person at the right time on the right device in the language of their choice. 

The “intelligent” in “intelligent content” refers to the various algorithms, automations, and even machine-learning aspects of the content delivery system. 

Intelligent content relies on structured content. Your content must be consistent, reusable, and modular in order to flow together seamlessly in an automated, intelligent content delivery paradigm.

Organizations that provide intelligent content experiences at scale can only do so because they have a unified content strategy that guides the creation, management, and delivery of structured content.

Do we need a new content management system?

Most organizations that develop a unified content strategy decide to purchase a new content management system. Often, this system is a component content management system (CCMS).

Ideally, you’ll develop your unified content strategy before you select your new system. The strategy helps you identify your business requirements and the capabilities your new system must have.

That said, it’s never too late to develop your unified content strategy. Even if you already have a system in place, or are in the middle of purchasing one, you will have more success with the system if you develop a unified content strategy. The system can be configured to support your strategy even after the system is installed.

It is also possible to develop a unified content strategy and to create content according to your strategy without getting new systems. There are many steps you can take even using current tools and resources that can help your teams create consistent, reusable, and modular content.

Content strategy services: I need help!

You’ve come to the right place. Our expertise is grounded in more than two decades of real-world experience and powered by proven methodologies. We’ve solved content challenges for the world’s largest and most innovative companies. We have hundreds of satisfied customers who can attest to the depth of our knowledge.

We’ll come up with a plan to reduce complexity and increase reuse for your existing content. We’ll put together a strategy for intelligent content and structured authoring. And we’ll help you align people, processes, and technology to improve efficiency and enhance your content’s effectiveness.

Contact us today to schedule time to chat with one of our expert consultants.

More resources you will love

Watch this on-demand webinar to learn about the concepts behind structured content authoring, its benefits, and overcoming the challenges of adopting it.
Download this ebook on content optimization and learn what it takes to streamline your content like never before!  
Watch this on-demand webinar to learn how to produce consistent content that is on-brand, on-message, and easy to read in every language.
Val Swisher
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