• In many B2B organizations, an inability to find content is a drain on customer experience, sales efficiency, and marketing ROI — and the problem increases exponentially with growth
  • Making subject matter experts (SMEs) responsible for tagging their own content with metadata is short-sighted because their focus is usually domain-specific rather than system-wide
  • Best-in-class organizations pair SMEs with content operations to optimize all aspects of content performance at scale

Are you tired of hearing your customers and sales reps complain that they can’t find content? Me too.

Have you identified the root cause of the problem? A very common root cause is the practice of having subject matter experts (SMEs) tag their own content with metadata such as product name and market segment. It turns out that good tagging requires a system-wide perspective that individual authors don’t have.

To illustrate this, let’s imagine the process of finding content on a website, in a sales-content solution (SCS), on a partner portal, or in any file-share system. It’s like walking into a county fair. The livestock exhibits are on the right, food hall on the left, rides and games at the back, craft displays down the middle aisle to attract shoppers, and farm equipment in that field over there.

What would happen if every exhibitor could choose their own location and their own way of getting attention? They’d be crowded around the entrance with big flashing displays shouting “Me! Me! Me!” Anyone who didn’t do that would be at a disadvantage.

When you leave tagging up to SMEs, that’s exactly what happens. Many of them apply every tag available in hopes of getting their content in front of people, defeating the purpose of tagging. It’s no surprise that 77% of B2B organizations have significant content waste issues, with findability accounting for 40% of the problem. So, what’s the solution?

County fairs are run by organizers who assign locations and set rules for signage. The exhibitors determine what goes in their booth, but they work within guidelines. The organizers might not be able to tell a radish from a rutabaga, but they are experts at crowd management, attendee needs — ride-goers and farmers go to the county fair for very different reasons! — and everything else that goes into giving fair exhibitors and attendees the best possible experience.

In B2B companies, these organizers are the content operations folks. They are often found in digital, sales enablement, or marketing. They understand how to manage content across multiple business systems — web, sales content solutions, internal file shares — that contain overlapping inventories of hundreds or thousands of files. They understand taxonomy (the organizing framework for metadata tags) and know that findability isn’t the only goal for tagging content.

A good mnemonic for the business value of taxonomy is the three A’s: access, automation, and analytics. Taking full advantage of content tools like web content management systems, digital asset management systems, sales content solutions, chatbots, recommendation engines, and much more requires a taxonomy strategy that balances all three.

  • Access. Enables audiences to find content through filters, keywords, menus, folders, and so on. Content operations selects appropriate tags for each audience — who may not use the same terminology or logic as an SME. They check consistency so that audiences don’t get too much content, or too little content, or the wrong content.
  • Automation. Improves scalability and accuracy by eliminating manual processes. Modern B2B audiences expect personalized experiences. Content operations teams use tagging to deliver personalization at scale and reduce management overhead by auto-generating personalized content, interactions, and pages on the web, sales-content solution, and partner portal from tagged data or files in a back-end repository.
  • Analytics. Enables content operations teams to measure audience satisfaction with content, content contribution to business results, and content health metrics like version control. This requires aligning tags for product, market segment, and customer type across content and business systems and designing systems to deliver timely, meaningful insights.

Developing, deploying, and optimizing taxonomy strategy and content tagging across business systems requires specific, deep knowledge and skills that reside in content operations. Meanwhile, SMEs know more about their content than anyone else. Their understanding of topic, audience, and market is essential to good tagging. In an ideal system, they fill out intake forms to suggest appropriate tags. The content operations folks validate their input against the entire content corpus and apply the right combination of tags to optimize the three A’s. Their central management keeps everything consistent, accurate, and measurable. When content operations and SMEs work together, it’s just like organizers and exhibitors at a county fair — they deliver an experience that people want to return to again and again.