What are Content Operations and why should you care about them? (literature review)

Chris Hagmann
4 min readMay 27, 2022


The creation and evaluation of the Content Ecosystem Map for my master’s thesis primarily revealed opportunities for improvement in the area of individual work steps, standards and guidelines. Therefore, I have gathered relevant literature on the subject and would like to present it in this blog article.

Since I believe that the topic of content operations and governance is neglected in many companies, or is simply not yet known enough as a discipline, I am providing you with this summary here.
This post is a little different from my other stories, as it is strictly literature-related. But hey, it’s my blog after all! The next one will be more hands-on again :)

Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

What are Content Operations?

Content operations are the processes, people, and technologies that plan, create, publish, and analyze content creation across all channels. A clearly defined content operations model helps companies to cover the needs of customers in terms of content in a targeted and effective manner and also consistently. (see Nwosu n.d.)
Robert Mills describes the most important benefits of Content Operations as saving time and money, preventing unnecessary or duplicate content, simplifying the planning and implementation of a strategy, increasing the quality of produced content, and benefiting teams within the company through clear structures. (see Mills 2018)

Photo by Wilhelm Gunkel on Unsplash

Content operations exist in every form of business that produces content. However, the model behind it is not always written down or even defined in more detail. In the absence of clearly defined standards and guidelines, content is published inconsistently and with lower quality across recorded channels. In this case, it’s up to the content creators, to achieve the best possible results. However, this dependency is on the one hand not scalable and at the same time a risk, since humans are prone to error. (see Gathercontent n.d.).

Content Operations serve to define a set of standards and guidelines that make the results of content creation predictable, measurable, and repeatable. (cf. King n.d.: 8)
These standards ensure in the background that content can be produced and published as effectively and efficiently as possible. This sustainably increases the success rate for set goals, reduces the error rate, and makes processes repeatable and scalable. (cf. Jones 2018)

What is a governance model?

Content strategy, operations, and governance go hand in hand. One could argue that Content Operations implement Content Strategy within the organization. Within Content Operations, there is a governance model that governs tasks, roles, and maintenance of content, among other things.

Lisa Welchman describes digital governance in her book Managing Chaos as follows:

“Digital governance is a discipline that focuses on establishing clear accountability for digital strategy, policy, and standards.” (Welchman 2015: 28)

The governance model regulates responsibilities, and guidelines for content creation, analysis, and updating. This ensures a quality standard of the company’s content. (see Content Strategy Alliance 2015: 22)


Relevant insights came from a study conducted by the Content Marketing Institute in 2021 among people working in content marketing & management.
In the survey, 78% said that their company works strategically with content. The two most serious reasons for not working strategically are that processes are not working properly for 68% of respondents and that content is not seen as a focus for 61%.

34% of respondents said that content is traded as a core strategy in the company. 36% reported that the company can easily reuse content across multiple channels. Only 15% say valuable insights are drawn from analytics data.
When asked about content help and guidelines, 88% said there are guidelines on content style and communication to the brand. SEO guidelines, an editorial plan, and editorial standards were also cited by more than three-quarters of respondents. Content governance guidelines exist in 65% of companies. (see Content Marketing Institute 2021)

A study from 2021 also found that successful companies mostly also have a clearly defined strategy for their content and also regularly evaluate the results of the published content. (see Content Science 2021)

In summary, there is a great need for many companies to catch up in the area of content operations. Standards and guidelines in the area of editorial work, on the other hand, are already being used by many companies.

Relevant literature

Welchman, L. (2015). Managing Chaos: Digital Governance by Design. Rosenfeld Media.

King, L. (2021). Sustainable Content Governance Guide. GatherContent.

Content Management & Strategy Survey. (2021). Content Marketing Institute. https://contentmarketinginstitute.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/2021-content-management-strategy-final.pdf

Content Science. (2021). Content Operations Study.

GatherContent. Content Operations. https://gathercontent.com/content-operations

Jones, C. J. A content operations maturity model. GatherContent.

Nwosu, C. N. (o. D.). Content Chaos? Warum Content Operations deine Marketingrettung sind! Contentbird.



Chris Hagmann

I eat and I write things.