view from inside a missile silo
PHOTO: Aron Van de Pol

The costs involved with creating content are substantial for many organizations, yet only 29% of marketers have a strategy for reusing their content later on. That’s in part because much of the content is lost or unusable by marketing teams due to content silos.

But content silos are preventable with the right processes in place so we’ve asked content marketing experts what content silos are, why they form, how to fix them, and the importance of avoiding content silos for omnichannel marketing.

What Are Content Silos?

Content silos represent the compartmentalization of content across different content creation, storage and management applications. 

“Content silos are pockets of important company content that have restrictions around who can access due to lack of integrations or incorrect permissions/accessibility,” explained Emily Kolvitz, head of content at Bynder. She says that these silos can be as simple as a folder sitting on one team member’s computer to a complete lack of integration with critical company systems. 

No matter how complex the situation, if content isn’t accessible across the organization, then it poses a limitation for achieving an omnichannel marketing strategy.

Related Article: Content Modeling: What It is and How to Get Started

How Content Silos Form

Content creation is a complex process that takes place across a multitude of mediums, systems and teams — both internal and external to the organization. “Add in the high-volume and fast-paced nature of content creation, and you have the perfect storm for content silos,” said Paige O’Neill, CMO at Sitecore. Content velocity continues to increase as marketing teams churn out endless amounts of new content, but organizations often don’t have the processes in place to organize and reuse the content effectively.

“Content silos get created when there's no universal system in place,” Kolvitz added. With no centralized place to store and retrieve content, it’s often up to individual contributors to organize content as they see fit. With this approach, content may only be accessible for certain teams, instead of the entire organization. And this can negatively impact marketing teams in particular, who are tasked with obtaining positive business results from the content a company generates.

How Content Silos Affect Omnichannel Marketing

Content silos dramatically reduce an organization’s ability to deliver an omnichannel marketing strategy. “It’s not scalable to operate via content silos when you consider the number of channels and the quantity of content to organize, route and publish,” Kolvitz said. And creating content that’s specific to one channel significantly reduces its potential ROI over time. Instead, organizations need to have a channel-agnostic view towards content management.

“Creating a consistent presence across markets and channels both offline and online (and everywhere in between) means you have to have buttoned up content processes,” said Kolvitz. She calls this a “content choreography” or “marketing choreography” that enables efficient content creation, production and publication. Without streamlined content processes in place, consistent branding becomes nearly impossible, especially as new digital touchpoints continue to come online.

Related Article: How Content Modeling Helps Set Your Content Free

Breaking Down Content Silos

“Democratizing access to information and content is the best way to fix content silos,” Kolvitz said. That means building an organization-wide culture of trust and collaboration across teams to break the content silos cycle. Every contributor needs to utilize the agreed-upon system and trust that it contains the most up-to-date assets at all times. This will help streamline the reuse of content and reduce the need for duplicate efforts.

While there are times when breaking down content silos requires a shift in company culture, more often than not, it comes down to implementing the right technologies. That’s why O’Neill recommended “having all of your marketing content in one environment to easily view, share and integrate with other systems.” For many organizations, building a centralized content hub isn’t straightforward, but it’s worth the effort because accessible data can drive content marketing efficiency in the long run.

It's also essential to note that silos can exist with many forms of data, including digital assets or media. Organizations need systems that handle metadata, security and aspects of digital rights management for content and other digital media as well. These solutions are only effective, however, if they’re tightly integrated with the company’s other core systems. 

Finally, O’Neill said, “Content silos create an impossible environment to deliver effective omnichannel marketing.” The cost of content — especially content with audiovisual experiences — is becoming too expensive for organizations to ignore their content silos. Companies need to maximize the reuse of their content across channels if they expect to achieve a substantial ROI from their efforts. If organizations want to remain competitive in the future, they need to break down their content silos and maximize their digital marketing efforts. 

A company’s tech stack is half the battle, but organizations still need the right people and processes in place and company-wide buy-in for any new initiatives to make any lasting change. Most essential, Klovitz said, “You definitely have to create a culture of trust in your team and organization in order to break the content silo cycle.” In the end, business success comes down to the right balance of people, processes and technology.