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Any inconsistencies in your online brand presence can cause consumer distrust and potentially lead to lost sales PHOTO: rawpixel.com

Every time a customer engages with your company online, they expect each individual digital interaction to be a perfect or very similar match to their previous experience with your brand. Regardless of the digital touchpoint or the device they’re using, they should always feel like they’re dealing with the same organization. This consistency is what serves to establish customer trust and to build long-term brand loyalty in the digital age.

In order to provide consistently high-quality digital content, your company needs to comply with two sets of standards. First, there are the content standards you set internally relating to your own brands, products and the specific nomenclature your company uses. Then, there are the external standards, most notably the legal requirements and regulations which may be global or regional in nature or industry specific.

The Challenges of Content Compliance

Ensuring digital content consistency and compliance is an ongoing challenge for many organizations whose primary means of enforcing quality and compliance is reliant on manual checks by already overstretched employees. Your company may have hundreds or thousands of web pages across multiple websites around the world, which may be housed in a mix of product, divisional and regional sites as well as microsites.

Factor into this already complex mix how quickly an organization has to respond to and implement internal change. Such change can include propagating a new global branding initiative, the consolidation of acquired or merged companies, or divesting and retirement of products and brands.

Typically, there’s no central control over all of a company’s digital touchpoints. Instead, a company may have disparate groups — effectively silos — charged with creating and managing ever-increasing volumes of content. In some regions of the world, your company may rely on third parties like agencies or contractors to refresh and maintain your digital content.

With these widespread challenges, how can you make sure that everyone is adhering to and complying with internal and external standards so you can confidently provide a consistent digital experience to all of your customers?

Automate and Centralize Compliance Checking

This is where deploying an automated solution like digital governance software can help your organization achieve compliance and consistency. Digital Quality Management (DQM) is a software suite which a company can use to centrally control a broad range of content issues, including compliance, on existing web pages or during pre-publication when reviewing new pages.

Other issues DQM helps manage, flag and fix include web accessibility, ensuring that all customers have open and equal access to your content and discoverability through effective on-page search engine optimization (SEO), so that customers can find your content.

DQM comes with a set of standard checkpoints covering a range of issues, and also includes customizable checkpoints so a company can create its own based on specific internal and external standards.

Protect Your Brand

Let’s look first at some examples of internal content standards. You can set up checkpoints to make sure all your pages and sites link to the correct legal notices and regional-appropriate contact details. You can also use customized checkpoints to monitor any off-brand terminology such as abbreviations and symbols that don’t represent your organization’s ethos.

Checkpoints can be tailored to mandate the display of up-to-date logos, taglines, fonts and colors so that your products, brands and company are always clearly identifiable and recognizable to customers. Even a minor inconsistency can cause customers to doubt whether they are indeed dealing with the same company or brand, or perhaps worse, question its credibility, potentially resulting in lost sales.

A company can also use checkpoints to keep tabs on its use of language so that customers don’t encounter unfamiliar words, phrases and acronyms. If you’re in an industry like financial services or healthcare which has its own terminology, you might want to set up checkpoints to make sure your content authors are using terms that the average consumer understands.

Meet Legal and Regulatory Requirements

Now, let’s examine external standards. Making sure the content on your websites complies with global, regional and industry legal and regulatory standards is particularly important for closely controlled industries such as financial services, government agencies, healthcare and life sciences. Across all such industries, new regulations are frequently introduced and existing ones are constantly being updated. These shifts in the regulatory landscape requires companies to routinely revise their content to accurately reflect and adhere to changing standards.

The precise, correct and consistent use of language is key to ensuring all your digital content is in full compliance with external standards. For example, a pharmaceutical company may be required to include a certain legally approved phrase any time it’s describing a particular drug or the potential side effects of that medication. Using DQM, the organization can establish a checkpoint to identify any content that does not include a mandated phrase so it can be immediately corrected.

Penalties for non-compliance may be severe. They can range from fines to lawsuits and sometimes result in negative publicity which can damage a company’s brand reputation. There’s also the time and cost a company has to spend fixing any compliance breaches. By using DQM, organizations reduce their risk of legal exposure.

Use DQM as Your Quality Control Platform

With DQM in place, your staff responsible for content compliance around the world gain access to the same centralized content monitoring and management system. The DQM dashboards make clear the number of errors across your websites and prioritize the order in which they should be remediated. Effectively, DQM becomes your company’s content quality control platform and the foundation for content compliance best practices.

By working with your own employees and any external agency partners, you can institute regular content compliance checks against the standard and customized DQM checkpoints you’ve instituted. The fact that you may have differently structured teams and responsibilities across regions becomes less of a concern when everyone’s operating in a single digital governance system.

The goal is to create a content standards-based culture where everyone you work with understands the role content quality and compliance play in attracting and retaining customers, and the importance of avoiding any legal repercussions. Choosing to implement DQM on your flagship website for your initial DQM rollout can send a clear message to your employees about the value your company places on quality, consistency and compliance.

With DQM, you can benchmark content performance across your product, regional and industry sites. So your flagship website can also act as a point of comparison for all your other digital properties. You can then recognize and reward content compliance leaders and those sites which have experienced the most improvement. You can also track continuous content compliance improvement over time and compare your company’s progress with an aggregate of how the entire DQM client base is performing.

Compliance + DQM = Consistency

If you think of your content creators and managers as a choir, you want them all singing in unison from the same sheet of music or, in this case, a single set of compliance standards. Using DQM, you are able to automate the process of monitoring companywide adherence to your internal and external compliance best practices.

Protect and maximize the investment you’ve made and will continue to make in digital content by managing its quality and effectiveness. If your content contains inconsistencies and is non-compliant with your brand and with regulations, you are failing to realize all the benefits of your investment.

Being in compliance means your audience, regardless of their location, device or touchpoint, enjoys a high-quality, consistent digital experience every time, which in turn leads to increased customer conversion and retention rates, longer website visits and more cross-sell opportunities.

This is the fourth and final piece in a series of articles from Crownpeak making the case for adoption of Digital Quality Management (DQM) software. The first article in the series introduces the concept of DQM. The second article looks at how DQM helps companies achieve web accessibility. The third article explains how DQM promotes content discoverability.