Content portfolio management – Complete guide

Content portfolio management – A new mindset for content strategy?

It is not enough to produce new content on a regular basis.

The content supply already dominates the demand, so every new blog article, every new infographic, and every new video actually only leads to our own existing content losing visibility. Because the larger the market volume, the more difficult it becomes to attract the attention of our target groups.

Rather, we should think carefully about how we produce content.

We play here on the one hand for efficient use of available resources, on the other hand on the effects that content marketing on a company has or can have. Wherever resources are fought within a company, there are winners and losers. This usually begins within the (content) marketing department, but can also affect various departments among themselves.

What budgets are available for production and promotion? Which content ideas do we implement? What impact do these ideas have on our marketing and corporate goals in the short and long term? Do we have enough staff available, or do we have to cut the budget in favor of external support? Is there enough left over to implement these ideas?

We could go on and on with this chain, but the problem is pretty obvious, isn’t it?

The problem of scarce resources

Content requires management, whether or not at the marketing level or at the level of corporate strategy. Because every company has limited resources, be it personnel, time, or financial resources. The same goes for the self-employed! With these resources, we have to cover the day-to-day business, but at the same time also in innovation and change projects (i.e. what we call “project portfolio” now) investing.

What exactly is called day-to-day business and how projects are defined requires a case-by-case analysis. Take a look at my content polygon to understand how different content can appear.

An example scenario could look like this:

Daily business includes routine tasks such as publishing X new blog articles per month, Y newsletters, and Z social media posts.

Projects, i.e. innovation & change projects, are the publication of extensive content (presentations, e-books, etc.), the optimization of existing content, or the introduction of new tools.

Typically, the resource distribution looks like the following image, although this 20/80 distribution is between n projects and routines is hardly comprehensible. As a result, we get stuck at a certain level and leave growth potential untapped.

I’m facing this problem myself right now … (my solution see below).

Due to the growing competition, project work is becoming more and more important. Unfortunately, it is also immensely more difficult.

“Project inflation” is often the result, with priorities and resources spontaneously, and to the detriment of continuity, being redefined. The strategic focus gives way to unstoppable activism and what follows is a severe loss of quality or at least a dampener on growth.

But why does it have to come to this?

Perhaps one reason is that we each Evaluate projects individually without considering the sum of all projects in terms of their contribution to the overall strategy. A contextual view of individual projects would make much more sense.

An example:

You have a great idea for a new blog article that will definitely get you in the top 3 for the keyword.

This will bring you new visitors, but to what extent does this new keyword fit into your overall strategy? You will notice this at the latest when you find it difficult to link existing articles within this new one. And to what extent are these new visitors potential customers (or multipliers)?

I myself – from the early days of my blog – have such an article in the Archive, which provides a lot of traffic, but currently does not fit 100% into my strategy (which has been adjusted again and again over the years).

The crucial question is: how do we deal with it? How do we rate individual content projects?

Let’s still produce such content to use the SEO potential and leave such articles in the Archive. Or do we clean up our content archive to make the big picture more concrete?

Criteria for evaluating content projects (there are probably more):

The expected position in the search results and the resulting traffic; is derived from key figures such as cost-per-impression or cost-per-click (compared to corresponding AdWords ads).

Traffic & lifetime value assessments by (SEO) tools such as a content bird.

The estimated number of newly generated leads; is translated into a sales forecast using the average lead conversion rate and customer lifetime value.

With existing content, other key figures such as the interaction rate are added (duration of stay, click-through rate, comments, shares, etc.), which we find difficult one-to-one in monetary terms.

Content marketing is not just about SEO & traffic, the brand image has to be right!

Content portfolio management as a sensible solution

The portfolio approach comes from the financial sector and describes a “planning method for assembling a bundle of securities (portfolio) that, evaluated according to certain criteria (e.g. expected value and the standard deviation of the return on capital), should yield an optimal return on the capital invested on the stock exchange ” (Source: Gabler Wirtschaftslexikon).

In the context of the content strategy, this can be understood as follows: We are striving for a content Portfolio (i.e. the compilation of individual content), which, evaluated according to certain criteria, leads to the optimal result.

Which criteria are used here and how the result can be measured differs from case to case. Because as Corey Vilhauer stated in an interview, it’s impossible to define a general content strategy for everyone. Because every person or every company works with different requirements (structures, resources, target groups, platforms, etc.).

Everyone has to take care of their own content strategy, there is no panacea.

The concept of a “content portfolio” as a new mindset

“So that content actually permeates the entire company, becomes the medium of the overall external impact and communication and ultimately from marketing to corporate strategy, it needs “intelligent” content, because only “intelligent” content can scale to such an extent that the impact of all pages and aspects of the company actually succeed. “Intelligent” therefore does not mean “well done” or even “well written” (both are self-evident prerequisites), but the technical enrichment with (meta) data and completely format-independent production. … The underlying principle of multiple uses of content is therefore not new or even revolutionary. Only the implementation is considerably more consistent and additionally data-supported.”

– Dr. Simon Geißler (from his summary of the ICC in Las Vegas)

Here the circle closes with regard to my initially described thoughts: Because of all the “competitive pressure” and the sense of duty to produce new content regularly, we may our existing content archive, So don’t forget our content portfolio, because that’s valuable “marketing capital” that can work for us – as long as we invest it correctly (ergo: optimally design our portfolio).

The production of new content is one aspect, and the production of new content assets – as modular structures of existing ones (Micro-)Contents – another.

Then if we invest time or, above all, money in content, then these are not “expenses” per se, but “investments”. Content has a value that we can increase over time, including through multiple uses. Since the effort required is significantly lower than the original, it usually has a positive relationship with the output, which increases the ROI of our content

Content as fixed capital, with an increasing value per use

I also like to remind you of my articles about content at this point -Recycling and historical content optimization (which, by the way, is actually also a method for portfolio analysis). Because within a reasonable system, these tasks are a lot more pleasant – and thus also done more regularly.

Similar considerations, by the way, there was already years ago, among others by Lee Odden with his concept of modular content:

Possibilities of exploiting content assets and micro-content.

The principle is based on the smallest “content pieces” that are constantly being combined in new ways. Similar to LEGO, there is a fixed grid within which the possibilities are (almost) limitless.

Take a look at different blog articles by Neil Patel and you’ll quickly find individual sections or images that he has used multiple times. From this mindset, an operational necessity of content management is derived.

Structure as a basis for successful content portfolio management

Structured Content is a form of consistent and predictable content organization and description (for example, in the form of tags) according to the Chief Content Officer, of the Content Marketing Institute’s digital magazine (February 2016 issue). The aim is to be able to identify and generally cluster (micro) content within more extensive content assets in order to be able to assemble them into new content assets as easily as possible.

How such a structure can look like using blog articles as an example, I explain here: The perfect blog article structure and why writing with a system is important.

In this context, the structure also includes supplementary and recurring information – some of which is not visible to the user – such as …

  • Article categories and tags,
  • The platform on which the content is/was published (this allows you to quickly derive ideas by preparing content for new platforms),
  • Information about the estimated reading time (such as in the posts from,
  • Lists of required ingredients (e.g. for recipes),
  • Information about the difficulty level (e.g. for building instructions),
  • Recommendations of helpful tools.
  • You decide what information to include in your catalog.

I definitely recommend reading Rachel Loving’s article on content models.

The “content management” misunderstanding change

The term Content-Management affected. As easy as it is to produce and publish new articles, the actual content management at the micro level is more difficult, if not impossible. Articles are created as a whole in an editor, where interactive elements such as YouTube videos or click-to-tweets are also embedded. Unfortunately, we cannot easily integrate this micro-content into other articles without first opening the original article and copying and pasting the desired information. This becomes quite tedious when we want to compile micro-contents from several articles …

“Real ” Content management systems such as contao (which I also use here for .de). I create new articles in a modular way (as so-called “content elements”) so that I can enter images, quotes, interactive elements, or info boxes directly into new content assets – without copy & paste. 

Conclusion: portfolio management as part of the content strategy

Understanding content as a portfolio and treating it accordingly requires a rethink. Anyone who does not understand content in its smallest parts and learns to recognize synergy potential will find it difficult to scale efficiently in the long term.

The choice of The right tools is not unimportant, but only of secondary importance. Because as the saying goes:

A fool with a tool is still a fool.

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