people walking down a spiral staircase
Digital quality management helps companies gain control over the explosion of content they need to deliver customers PHOTO: Yoosun Won

Content plays an increasingly important role in helping companies attract and retain customer brand and product loyalty. As more customers conduct their own pre-purchase online research, the quality of content can be the difference between a successful purchase or a customer walking away for good.

To match or exceed customers’ expectations throughout the digital journey, companies must rapidly create, publish and update targeted and high-quality content. Each piece of content has to be accurate, consistent, accessible and brand appropriate across every region, channel and device. Customers do not have the time or the patience to puzzle over flawed content.

Inconsistent Content Alienates Customers

Many companies are struggling to maintain standards in quality and consistency as the volume of required content production spirals out of their control. A culture of content generation silos has grown within organizations. These silos mean a company is unable to police the vast amount of content which is being created or updated on a disparate basis across its brands and regional websites.

Inconsistency in managing digital content is a serious matter and leads to a host of negative outcomes. For a start, if a company has unresolved search engine optimization errors, customers may fail to find the content they need. It’s then all too easy to lose or alienate a customer with a lengthy page loading time, a broken website link or incorrect product availability and pricing information.

Companies also risk temporarily or even permanently damaging their brand if they present customers with inconsistent messaging, outdated promotions or off-brand elements, such as logos no longer in use. These kinds of inconsistencies may cause customers to question the brand’s legitimacy and lose confidence and trust in the brand’s owner as a result.

The High Price of Poor Content Management

For organizations in highly regulated industries such as financial services or pharmaceuticals, losing control over content can be a particularly serious and costly matter. Given that the precise use and definition of words or phrases may be mandated by law, unchecked errors in content may result in fines or legal action.

Even more perilous is a company’s failure to adhere to and comply with the de facto standards for accessible web design, which could ultimately result in a lawsuit. An organization needs to be able to enforce the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) as laid down by the World Wide Web Consortium and the Section 508 amendment to the US Workforce Rehabilitation Act of 1973 across all of its digital content.

Use Digital Assurance to Manage Content

There’s clearly an urgent need for companies to gain control over their burgeoning digital content, but many organizations lack the necessary tools. In a recent survey of marketers, the Content Marketing Institute asked respondents to list the content management structures they already have in place within their organizations. While 70 percent of those polled said they have style and brand guidelines, only 21 percent have a content governance process and 19 percent have content audit reports (pdf).

A variety of digital assurance tools are available today to help companies establish some of the necessary checks and balances to ensure consistent and error-free content. However, these tools tend to be piecemeal solutions aimed at resolving a single issue rather than handling all content needs. They also lack the option for easy and tight integration with Web Content Management (WCM) software.

Digital Quality Management Optimizes Control and Insight

Digital Quality Management (DQM) software, by contrast, is an integrated and robust suite of software which offers a central point of digital content visibility and management. DQM lets companies create custom checkpoints to automatically monitor content to guarantee the correct elements are being served up to customers. DQM provides reporting across a company’s entire digital presence which, for enterprises, may number in the tens or hundreds of websites. An organization can also use the software to gain an exact account of how many images, PDFs and pages it owns.

Using DQM, an organization can set up rules to make sure its content uses the latest logo, the most recent legal disclaimer, the current promotional offer, tag line, color palette and fonts as well as mandate words or phrases to be precisely defined or avoided. Checkpoints for accessibility are all mapped to the latest WCAG guidelines and Section 508. DQM also monitors file image sizes so they can be optimized for faster loading, meaning customers using mobile and other devices aren’t kept waiting for their content.

While DQM can be used as a stand-alone solution, it also can integrate with a company’s existing WCM, enabling the review of content prior to publication. With this, organizations can scan for and fix issues before the content is live to customers. It can also be used to crawl content that was published months or even years before, and flag any issues that are discovered.

Avoid Digital Content Technical Debt With DQM

Elsewhere in the software world there are discussions about technical debt: i.e., the amount of work a company can incur if it doesn’t fix problems as they occur or if it fails to anticipate and avoid such issues. If left unresolved, such issues worsen and, as mentioned earlier, could result in a company ending up in legal hot water or damaging its brand.

DQM is the solution to technical debt in the digital content world. If a company has a strong digital content foundation set by use of DQM, it removes the risk of accessibility and other litigation, and the loss of customers and customers’ trust due to content errors.

The task of content management and policing is a never ending one. DQM empowers organizations to more easily engage in continuous improvement of their content so that they are fully equipped to meet every new challenge.