Strategic content reuse through cross-team collaboration

The biggest barrier to managing content at scale is the inability of different teams to reuse each other’s content. Find out what’s needed for large enterprises to implement wide-scale content reuse.

Michael AndrewsPublished on Apr 7, 2022

Enterprises need to provide content at scale. They need to reuse the content they’ve developed in many different contexts. But that has been difficult to achieve on a broad basis. Enterprises can't utilize their vast range of existing content because various teams can’t collaborate when deciding how to use the content. This problem hinders the impact that content delivers for the whole enterprise.

Why valuable content gets bottled up

The failure of wide-scale content reuse: Many enterprises have explored reusing content within a single team, generally involving a limited range of content types. But very few enterprises have managed to reuse content across different teams that will need to work with a range of content types and need to support diverse goals. Content reuse, if done at all, happens in a silo.

Much of the most valuable content that enterprises create is not easily available to teams that need it across their organization. 

Enterprises develop various important content that needs to be used on a wide scale. Because of the importance of this content, it is often developed or overseen by a central team with specialized expertise. But given the proliferation of products, services, and channels and the growing complexity of customer interactions, the team creating the content won’t know when and where the content should be used. They need other teams to decide how to incorporate and deliver the content so that it realizes its full potential. 

Multiple teams need to coordinate the use of this content. But their content management infrastructure doesn’t support the needs of teams with different goals and responsibilities. 

How your content is organized is holding you back. The organization of an enterprise’s content is frequently a missing piece of their content operations. You can’t make your operations more efficient and agile unless your content’s organization reflects what your firm is aiming to accomplish.

When content is stored and managed in separate systems, it becomes very difficult to share and reuse across the organization. But tossing all the content into a single system often creates its own issues. It may result in a vast murky “lake” of content that is difficult for non-technical users to manage and govern. Authors can’t find what they need, or else they help themselves to assets they shouldn’t use. Simply creating a bigger repository for content tends to impose inflexible processes on teams that have different responsibilities and needs. This approach to scaling fails because enterprises assume that all their content must be managed in the same way. 

Large enterprises should be able to create Collections of content so they can manage different kinds of content according to their purpose and share these resources with teams that need them. 

Getting past the silo problem: Silos are hard to overcome when enterprises lack support to govern the content they produce. Different business units or functions work independently, often using separate systems to manage their content.

Large enterprises need to balance two diverging needs:

  1. To share and reuse content efficiently across their large organization
  2. To control how existing content is used and modified 

The need for control can inhibit the sharing of content. The desire of different groups to reuse and modify existing content and assets, if not governed appropriately, can prompt such content to get locked down. 

Though control is essential, it should not outweigh the value of sharing content so that it can be reused. With the right content organization capabilities, enterprises can get the benefits of reusing content while maintaining governance over how that content gets used. They can take a more strategic approach to their content. 

The untapped value of content reuse

Reuse increases the impact of high-value content. Strategic content refers to content that will be important to more than one team and has a high value for the enterprise. Content is likely to be strategic when it has one or more of the following:

  • It contains critical messages.
  • It is high-cost or time-intensive to produce.
  • It needs special review or oversight.

Reuse is the process of planning and developing source content that can be used in different places and at different times. Content reuse can help enterprises to:

  • Maximize the reach of critical messaging
  • Leverage the value of assets that are high-cost or time-intensive to create
  • Control where and by whom the content and assets are used

Reuse can enhance governance of messages, statements, or brand positioning, provided it is planned and managed correctly.

Many kinds of content are strategically important and benefit from reuse. Strategic content supports key enterprise goals relating to brand awareness, customer engagement, and risk management. Examples can be found in many areas:

  • Corporate communications
  • Product marketing campaigns
  • In-product content
  • Legal and compliance copy

The range of content that’s strategic is diverse, but each is subject to some guiding principles that require specialized expertise. It makes sense to centralize the development of this core content instead of allowing different teams to develop such content on their own. At the same time, a central team won’t be able to distribute the content effectively to different audiences, and they need the assistance of other teams to do this. 

Drivers and approversGovernance and guiding principlesReuse motivations

Corporate communications

  • Corporate
  • Brand
  • Brand positioning
  • Increasing reach

Product marketing campaigns

  • Brand
  • Marketing
  • Brand architecture
  • Marketing strategy
  • Increasing reach
  • Coordination
  • Speed to market
  • Consistency

In-product content

  • Product
  • UX Design
  • Product architecture
  • Design system
  • Increasing reach
  • Speed to market
  • Consistency

Legal and compliance copy

  • Legal
  • Legal structure
  • National laws
  • Consistency

Reuse makes content more successful. Strategic content requires the involvement of more than one team to be successful. Reuse allows central teams to share content with other teams to improve:

  • Reach to get assets to touchpoints or in front of audiences where needed
  • Coordination to synchronize key content with various teams and delivery channels so that pieces can be delivered in tandem or in rotation 
  • Speed to market for time-intensive content, since unnecessary work on such content can cause delays
  • Consistency to reinforce messaging, maintain brand clarity, and ensure the use of approved versions

Determine the opportunities for strategic reuse

Because of the persistence of silos, most content reuse within enterprises today is done by a single team and is motivated largely by wanting to increase that team’s productivity. The impact that siloed reuse can achieve is limited. 

Strategic reuse, by contrast, involves enabling different teams to be able to make use of the same content. These teams may be part of the same larger business unit, but they can also transcend business units or functional roles.

Siloed reuseStrategic. cross-organizational reuse
  • Each content type has only one purpose.
  • One team is responsible for how content type is used.
  • Only one team ever reuses the content.
  • More than one team can use the content to support their objectives.
  • Content types may support more than one objective.
  • Responsibilities for the outcomes the content delivers are shared.

Many teams contribute to the success of strategic content reuse. The more widely content gets reused, the more teams that need to be involved. With siloed reuse, only one team needs to worry about how the content is used. Granted, the process is simpler within a single team, but the content achieves less. With strategic reuse, various teams will spot opportunities to extend the value of the content. They will see chances to connect the content to other pieces that they are creating or promote the content to audiences they work with. They will find new ways to distribute the content or incorporate it into their products. 

Connect your content beyond your immediate team. Enterprises have complex administrative structures comprising of various business units, departments, functions, and subsidiaries. By enlarging the focus from a single team to the whole enterprise, it becomes clear that the same content can support more than one goal or can be used in more than one way. Enterprises should evaluate and identify:

  1. The kinds of content that can benefit from reuse
  2. The parts of the organization that can benefit by using that content 

Teams that are creating high-value content should look far beyond their immediate colleagues and reach out to other parts of the organization to understand the responsibilities and needs of interested teams. 

  • Who needs content created by other parts of the enterprise?
  • What kinds of content do other teams need?
  • Do they need identical content, or do they need a subset or modified version?
  • How will the shared content be used? 

Don’t hoard valuable content—amplify it instead. Strategic content reuse is only possible when enterprises empower various teams to make use of content that supports their goals. That involves redefining roles and responsibilities.

Unlike with a siloed approach, where one team decides everything, with a strategic approach, responsibilities are distributed.

The team originating the content has two responsibilities:

  1. Deciding and developing the themes and messages of the content
  2. Outreach to determine what parts of the enterprise the content relates to

The team creating the content will still control what the content says. And it can specify who may use it. But it won’t try to control everything relating to when and where the content is used. It will acknowledge that other parts of the organization will benefit by having access to the content so that these messages can get in front of all the audiences who need to see them. 

Other teams that use the content will have their own responsibilities, such as:

  • Curating reusable content by choosing what content to highlight and promote
  • Supporting the delivery and audience access to reused content
  • Augmenting reusable content with supplemental content to contextualize information and messages

Reuse supports a division of responsibilities. Certain teams will be responsible for developing key information and messages while others will be responsible for amplifying them. 

Get ready to pass the baton. Creating reusable content is just the first step. Other teams must be ready and able to access the content to move it forward. Plan for how the content can be utilized in various channels and digital products. 

Enterprises can enable access by organizing the content into Collections and setting permissions associated with the content. The teams accessing this content need to make decisions about where and how to use it. The overall success of strategic content depends on collaboration across teams.

Reuse opportunities in corporate communications

Many large enterprises face the challenge of disseminating corporate messages throughout the wider organization. By their nature, corporate communications are relevant to many products and business units. It’s content that shouldn’t be bottled up in a silo.

Corporate communications play an important role in shaping the awareness and perception of a brand. Examples include content relating to:

  • Corporate responsibility initiatives and activities
  • Corporate sponsorships of sporting or cultural events
  • Brand journalism on topical issues and concerns
  • Community relations outreach, such as when there’s a big expansion

This content can be of interest to a wide range of stakeholders such as customers, employees, investors, or business partners. Because of its broad relevance, the content can be reused in many places. 

Get messages to where stakeholders are most likely to see them. Social media is the primary means of promoting corporate communications, but they should be syndicated to other publishing channels as well. Instead of only publishing these messages on a specific website and hoping that interested audiences will discover them, the content can be shared with other teams who have direct relationships with interested stakeholders so they can publicize the content as part of other projects they are developing. This content can then be promoted, previewed, or republished in a range of channels, such as employee apps, email newsletters, customer portals, and microsites. 

Consider a scenario where a brand has made a significant commitment to environmental responsibility, and the communications department develops content about the brand’s environmental initiatives. Such content expresses important values about the brand and is of interest to a range of stakeholders, including investors looking at ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) criteria.

It’s also important that employees feel connected to these values and are aware of what the brand is doing to make them a reality. Employees are brand ambassadors, meaning that the human resources department will be interested in the content about environmental initiatives. They want to promote the culture of the organization in their communications to both current employees and prospective ones. The content helps define what’s special about the organization and can support both recruitment and retention of employees. 

Enterprises should include corporate communications as part of a Collection that various teams can access and use.

Reusing product marketing content

Marketing content is critical to building interest in products. Managing a campaign requires the coordination of content across different channels. In large enterprises, many campaigns can be ongoing, necessitating inter-campaign coordination, which greatly increases the complexity.

Marketing campaign collateral plays a critical role in driving revenue. And it needs to be of high quality, which generally means it is expensive to produce. Campaigns need tightly crafted messages and polished production. Brands will often commission special photoshoots and video segments.

Despite its importance, product marketing content is often managed in a fragmented way. When different teams work independently, it can result in an over-emphasis on tactical objectives. Content production, if decentralized and autonomously decided, can spawn collisions among the messages being delivered to customers. 

To be successful, campaigns need to have the right balance of messages that address the full range of customer interests and concerns.

Support multi-team campaign management. Marketing campaigns need support from many teams, who will be responsible for different aspects of the campaign. Enterprises need systems that will allow them to coordinate the work of these various teams. 

Campaign content will address different levels of detail, from high-level awareness content to more targeted one focused on special sales promotions. Campaign components can be associated with either long-term or short-term time scales and involve multiple decision points and dependencies. For example, sales promotion teams may be awaiting the core product marketing content associated with a newly introduced product before they are able to develop more targeted campaigns aimed at specific customer segments that highlight specific features.

Campaigns are made from many moving pieces. They must be able to provide the right combinations of key messages at the appropriate customer journey stage. They must deliver messages that will reflect what the customer knows already and what interest they have expressed.

Content reuse is an important way to build customer interest. But customers will tune out when they encounter obvious repetition. Enterprises need to reuse content strategically to broaden how audiences encounter messages. By sharing a diverse range of campaign content with different teams, enterprises can get better leverage from their product marketing content. 

Product marketing content can be reused in three ways:

  1. To reinforce key messages
  2. To weave together different kinds of messages
  3. To promote related products

These reuse approaches can:

  • Increase awareness and interest in products and services
  • Improve understanding of the value of products
  • Deepen the propensity to choose the brand to fulfill the customer’s needs

Reinforce the message. Marketing campaigns need to stay “on message” – but that doesn’t imply there’s only one message theme. Campaigns are composed of a series of key messages that highlight customer problems, needs, and opportunities, clarify the benefits of the product and the brand and emphasize the unique attributes of the offering.

Individual campaign messages can’t stand alone. They need to support one another. 

Reuse can reinforce key messages for each theme and audience. The campaign may highlight multiple USPs, which could appeal to various buyers. Promoted messages can be rotated and recombined, depending on the customer segment and their stage of engagement. Reusable content provides a library of options for those executing the campaign. They can utilize different assets to highlight the topline value and ensure that it doesn’t get lost amidst the details of specific promotions.

Vary the message focus. Campaign assets will frame key ideas in distinct ways. The campaign needs to support the buyer’s journey from early awareness to evaluating more specific concerns. Some messages should be broad while others will be specific. Some will be short and others more extensive. Marketing teams may want to combine different kinds of messages to shift emphasis and attention. For example, they may choose to remind customers of top-level benefits when promoting more specific ones. Or they might preview specific benefits in a teaser that connects to a more detailed story narrative. 

Promote related messages. Content reuse can promote complementary product offerings. Product marketing campaigns will often tie in with related services. For example, a major consideration for customers looking to purchase expensive products is financing and after-sales service, which are separate products that have their own campaign assets. Likewise, frequently purchased products and services may be associated with loyalty programs, frequent buyer rewards, special offers, or memberships, all of which can be associated with campaigns. Strategic reuse can allow various teams to cross-promote campaign content associated with complementary products and services. 

Set up your content organization so teams support each other. Various teams supporting campaigns need to build off a common foundation. If campaigns aren’t coordinated, the content won’t be effective. Promotion becomes fragmented, the salience of messages is lost, and customers get confused. 

Orchestration depends on the organization of the content into Collections and the use of taxonomies. Plan what kinds of product content are needed and who needs access to them and place them into specific Collections. Be sure to tag your content and assets with taxonomy terms relating to customer segment, thematic focus, journey stage, and other attributes that will help identify when and where the content can be used.

By sharing content in Collections, central teams can increase the reach of content they’ve created while supporting the goals and priorities of other teams working on aspects of the campaign. 

The importance of reusing in-product content

In-product content has emerged as a growing concern in the field of product management. It influences customer behavior in many ways. It is also a source of friction: product development teams have difficulty producing and governing the growing volume of content that appears in the user interfaces of the digital products they support. Poor planning of in-product content can cause delays in product releases and downstream customer service problems that are hard to fix after the product has been released.

Large enterprises find themselves with an increasing number of products, each of which needs content that explains to customers how to use the product. Yet coordinating content pertaining to multiple products is often a challenge, given how various teams divvy up their responsibilities.

Product teams frequently focus on their individual product without considering the fuzzy boundaries between that product and other products and services. They work in silos, developing content separately from other teams. This can create inconsistencies and usability problems.

A product is not an island. Both digital and physical products are defined by a product architecture, which shapes its capabilities and functionality. Because products are often built from modular parts or service capabilities, the content about these parts will also be modular and reusable. Many products will draw on common processes, capabilities, and features.

Product-related content can apply to a family of related products or to different generations of a single product. Digital products connected to online services will also interact with account-related content that will be relevant to many products.

Products exist within an ecosystem, and in-product content should connect to that ecosystem. Reusing in-product content is not only more efficient but also reduces problems.

Examples of in-product content include:

  • Instructions
  • Product on-boarding
  • Introducing new features
  • Help
  • Calls to action

Reusing this content avoids duplication of effort and prevents inconsistency in the instructions, terminology, or procedures presented to customers.

Improve product outcomes by reusing content. The reuse of in-product content promotes better quality by reinforcing design system guidelines and ensuring the adoption of best practices. 

In-product content is highly valuable because it directly influences customer behavior. When the content isn’t clear or is uninspiring, it will result in customers not taking action or making the wrong choices and a dropout in task completion. This content has a direct influence on both costs (for example, support requests) and revenues (through the uptake of services and features). 

In-product content is also time-intensive to develop because of the outsized consequences of specific word and image choices. These choices must be considered carefully to ensure both the clarity and appeal of messages and instructions. Recreating in-product content (instead of reusing it) slows down the agility of product teams and delays the release of products.

In-product content also needs to work as part of a system of messages that appear on different UI screens at different times. What specific messages convey will be influenced by other messages. Message standardization is critical to support clarity, and reuse promotes such consistency.

Reuse content that works effectively. Various product teams should follow a consistent approach to presenting information and messages. Content flows in products should be validated through usability or A/B testing. When the wording and sequence of content have been optimized for its clarity and appeal to customers, it should be reused wherever relevant. By doing so, all product teams benefit from collective knowledge about what content is most effective in influencing customer behavior.

How legal and compliance content needs control

Legal and compliance content may represent a small volume of an enterprise’s overall content. But it is widely used across the enterprise. It requires extensive review by specialized staff and is expensive as a result. Reviews sometimes take more time than expected, resulting in delays for initiatives that must incorporate this content.

Legal and compliance content includes any content involving:

  • The representations the firm is making about products and services
  • The responsibilities of involved parties
  • Conformance to government standards, guidelines, or requirements
  • Approvals or endorsements by third-party bodies
  • Customer rights

Content reuse can manage strategic risks. Legal and compliance content is high-stakes content. Even small punctuation errors can have big consequences. Although especially important in regulated industries, this content applies to all kinds of businesses.

Legal and compliance content has several related objectives:

  • Consistency in wording
  • Control over the statements presented
  • Having up-to-date versions
  • Accuracy

It’s imperative that enterprises don’t have multiple, inconsistent versions of this content. They need “one source of truth.” Cross-team reuse allows a single version to be used by anyone in the organization that needs it. Those developing this content need to be able to share it while maintaining control so that only the approved version is used and no modifications are made. 

Legal and compliance content belongs in special Collections that can be accessed by teams that will need to incorporate this content within what they are producing and delivering. The Collections can define workflows for any requests relating to this content, such as localization. 

Content management should enable sharing and governance

Though the value of reusing content across teams may seem obvious, large organizations struggle to make it happen.

Reusing content across teams remains a persistent problem. Traditional web CMSs and DXPs presume users belong to one single team with identical needs, which limits how content can be reused. Many headless CMSs promise the ability to reuse content but most fail to support how different teams need to do their work. They also presume that all teams will have the same needs, which makes wide-scale content reuse impractical.

Because teams in large enterprises will have distinct needs, they have sought to acquire their own CMSs, adding more silos to the enterprise and preventing them from sharing content or reusing content developed by others. 

Most CMSs are not designed to help different teams share and use each other’s content. Make sure your CMS can support the reuse, sharing, and governance of content. Look for features such as Collections and multiple workflows that are linked to specific content types.

Written by

Michael Andrews

I’m Content Strategy Evangelist at I appreciate the value of great content. My mission is to help others produce the best content they can.

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