Content operations (ContentOps) is a principle integrating people, processes, and technology in content production, which is increasingly torn between ambitious content strategies and fragmentary multi channel delivery.

But involving writers, editors, and stakeholders in a creative process with technological tools is hardly anything new. What really sets ContentOps apart from its more traditional content marketing relatives?

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What is traditional content marketing?

Content marketing is usually described as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience.” Being a relatively broad umbrella term, we identify content marketing as any conscious effort of making content a part of your marketing strategy.

In our opinion, the chief characteristic of traditional content marketing must be the ad hoc nature of it all. Often, a business decides it “needs some content” to enlighten a topic or in order to “do something,” because this is the current trend. Then an in-house marketer or an external agency is tasked with producing content, and maybe with some luck it fits into a “campaign” complete with social media ads and graphic design.

Another characteristic of content marketing is the silo aspect. There tends to be one writer, one web editor, one legal expert, one reviewer, etc. working in their own silos and with little or no overlapping and flexibility of roles. While the silo mentality has been widely criticized, there is still much “silo” in relation to content marketing.

Traditional content marketing can also be characterized by using outdated tools—like an outdated CMS instead of a modern digital platform. Now, every content marketing strategy is obviously not as ad hoc, siloesque, or relying on outdated tech as mentioned here, but some traces are definitely there.

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The ContentOps alternative

While content marketing can be structured, structure is on the other hand the very essence of ContentOps. The goal of ContentOps is to make the production of quality content consistent, repeatable, and scalable. Process is one of the three main ingredients to be integrated, and in ContentOps nothing is left to chance during the content production phase.

Part of keeping a process structured is to define and plan every stage, one-shot and repeatable alike. But another part is to involve people with a range of responsibilities. The flexible, but well-defined roles of people is yet another key ingredient, and gives people more ownership to the entire process, as well as boosting engagement.

Both people and processes are supported by modern technology, often based on the cloud, which serves to quickly and easily give the right people the necessary access to edit and review texts, audio, and videos. Modern storing, sharing, and communications tools are lightweight, user-friendly, and works instantly—nothing less will do for a true ContentOps experience.

Real-world examples of businesses performing ContentOps that we definitely know about are GatherContent and, of course, Enonic.

This generalized table can serve as a summary of the main differences between content marketing and ContentOps:


Content marketing


Ad hoc



Defined, but flexible roles

Outdated tech

Modern, cloud-based tech

See also: Rocketpower your content operations with Enonic »

Etymology: DevOps

To really understand what sets ContentOps apart, we should also look at the etymology. ContentOps clearly derives from the more familiar term “DevOps”—which stands for “developer operations.” “DevOps” is defined as “a set of practices that combines software development and IT operations. It aims to shorten the systems development life cycle and provide continuous delivery with high software quality.”

In DevOps, developers are not only coding and programming solutions, but are also involved in deploying, testing, and production. In the past, developers just coded some stuff, before handing it over to others for testing and production. Not anymore.

The parallel to content should be clear: ContentOps means being involved, treating content with the same degree of seriousness and respect as development. Here multiple people are involved through several stages of the clearly structured process, thus ensuring continuity and efficiency in an entirely different way than before.

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