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Content Lifecycle Management: 7 Steps for Success in 2021

by Ryne Knudson

March 4, 2021

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The content lifecycle covers the series of changes in the life of any content asset, from its creation to distribution and preservation.

Content assets should be managed as carefully as any product or service. As Robert Rose said:

“An organization’s ability to have efficient and effective management of its content through the entire lifecycle can mean the difference between success and failure.”

Unfortunately, not all organizations (even large enterprises) have a full grip on their content.

According to Marketing Week, 60% of the content created by the world’s leading brands becomes “just clutter,” having little impact on consumers’ lives or business results. At the same time, with brands that get content right, that same study found a 71% correlation between content effectiveness and brand impact.

Reinforcing the point even further, another study shows up to 70% of content assets remain unused due to the lack of a management strategy.

It all raises the question, how can more organizations use a Content Lifecycle Management (CLM) solution to get the most effectiveness from their content?

In this guide, we’ll explore CLM in detail, considering the seven stages and key functionality of Content Lifecycle Management software.

Read on, or skip ahead as we cover:

What is Content Lifecycle Management (CLM)?
Who Should Invest in Content Lifecycle Management (CLM)?
The 7 Stages Content Lifecycle Management
What to Look for in a Content Lifecycle Management Solution

Content lifecycle management (CLM) is the process of planning, creating, optimizing, organizing, distributing, measuring and preserving content throughout its lifetime in your organization. It’s a process that aims to improve efficiency and remove barriers to success.

Content lifecycle management systems enable content strategists to oversee and manage content programs of any size.

Content lifecycle management (CLM) is best suited for large businesses and enterprise brands.

Smaller companies who create a minimal amount of content often have a more limited benefit from content lifecycle management.

But larger companies who generate vast volumes of enterprise content – including social media, blogs, videos, infographics, white papers, ebooks – that touch various platforms have a pressing need for content lifecycle management.

Ultimately, the focus means marketing and creative teams can better keep track of each piece of content throughout its entire lifecycle.

The content lifecycle covers seven stages:

  1. Plan
  2. Create
  3. Store and organize
  4. Edit and approve
  5. Publish and distribute
  6. Report
  7. Preserve assets

Let’s examine each stage:


Before you start creating content, you need to have a clear plan and strategy in place. In the planning stage, you need to take an overarching view to ensure your content ideas align with your overarching business and marketing goals.

For example, your goal structure might look like the following:

Planning and aligning goals also helps later in the content lifecycle when you come to evaluating and reporting on how an asset performed. You can then use the data and insights from your analytics tools to apply actionable takeaways in future content planning.

In addition to selecting the right technologies and people, the planning stage involves installing the proper workflows to help bring greater control, accuracy, and efficiency to your content management system. Planning positions you to understand what’s not working with existing processes so that you can more easily identify effective fixes.


The next stage in the content lifecycle is where you start creating the various content assets. Whatever creative operations might look like at your organization, even the smallest efficiencies at this stage can multiply into massive time savings (and fewer brand compliance headaches) for your teams.

With the plan in place, content creation will often take the form of blogs, images, videos, and more, all designed to support your specific business goals. With marketing and creative teams aligned on goals, there will be less room for misalignment on content intent and extra iterations.

The creation stage involves brainstorming, implementing, collaborating, reviewing, and approving your content for upcoming campaigns and projects. These steps will help streamline each of these activities, both maximizing content production and maintaining brand compliance.

Store and Organize

Once you’ve created content assets, you need to store them in a well-organized and searchable way so they can be easily accessed by the right people from the right departments. And once approved, that organization becomes essential to streaming asset use across marketing and sales campaigns.

One way to accomplish this is by establishing a naming convention that can be used across all of your assets. This can even be done, in part automatically, with AI image tagging.

Brandfolder allows you to upload, store, organize, and share unlimited assets from one secure location. It supports all media formats, including images, video, audio, and documents in a wide array of file types.

Brandfolder also includes the metadata (data about data) so that your content assets are tagged, categorized, and organized correctly, making it simple for anyone to search and share exactly what they need.

Based on user access permissions, both internal and external teams can quickly store and access content assets using keywords, metadata, or SKUs.

Most digital asset management (DAM) platforms offer the ability to filter, sort, and label metadata, plus create custom fields. But Brandfolder offers several more tools that enhance metadata organization, including data governance, brand guidelines, digital rights management, as well as providing valuable insights.

Edit and Approve

At the edit and approval stage, you make sure that the content meets brand guidelines and required standards. To accomplish this, you need an online collaboration process where creators and editors can quickly exchange comments, make edits and quickly move through the iteration process.

Brandfolder’s edit and convert tools let you manipulate files to your exact specifications. For instance, you can crop images to custom or preset sizes, like social media specifications, and you can also convert file types when exporting. For added efficiency, you can make all these adjustments in bulk.

Furthermore, the workflow and collaboration tools allow you to collaborate across teams, integrate with existing workflows, customize your content assets but keep them on-brand with designated approvers.

Publish and Distribute

Once your content is approved, it’s ready to publish and distribute. Remember, over 70% of assets go to waste, so you need an easy, secure, and trackable method of distributing your assets to maximize their use and value.

Sending files back and forth by email is cumbersome and time-consuming. Plus, you can’t send large creative files via email, so you need something more robust.

Brandfolder lets you store your content securely and then create a Share Link to share individual or multiple assets with authorized stakeholders in a controlled manner. You can even set expiration dates or user permissions to control access and availability further.

There are also a number of ways to share in order to meet your content’s purpose. For instance, you can embed your Brandfolder assets directly into your website with CDN links, or add a portal and let users access authorized content straight from your site.


Reporting allows you to analyze data and learn what resonates with your audience. You can optimize what works and create more potent content assets in the future so that each new campaign improves alongside your content plan.

Brandfolder’s insights and analytics let you quickly view your most active assets, plus the activity and top users for individual assets. You can check if the resources spent creating your content assets are paying off across your distribution channels.

Preserve Assets

Preserving or archiving content assets is an important but often overlooked stage in the content lifecycle. Once a content asset is no longer circulating, for example, after a campaign has ended, you can choose to preserve it for reference or as a refresh for possible future use.

Preserving assets in a separate archive also keeps your content repository tidy, ensuring only current content is used, and keeps inactive content safe until it’s required again.

However, not everything you preserve needs to be old and unwanted. You can also use the archive repository to store raw files used to create your content asset. For example, you could store pre-production video footage before it was cut and edited for the main content asset. You might be able to use some of that original footage in another content asset in the future.

When considering which Content Lifecycle Management (CLM) software to implement, you need to ensure it has several key features to integrate smoothly with your standard operations.

Let’s take a look at seven of the most important features you need in a CLM system.

1. Stores All Digital Asset Types

The CLM needs to be able to store all types of digital assets. Content comes in all shapes and sizes, file types, and formats, such as text, images, audio, and video.

Brandfolder can handle, store, and backup all these digital asset types securely using the latest technologies. You can import files individually or in bulk, plus there’s an option to transfer large file sizes and quantities of assets from an FTP server.

Brandfolder not only stores your assets but organizes them logically by collections, sections, and labels so that anyone can find them quickly by sorting and filtering searches.

2. Enables Quick Retrieval

Make sure the CLM software allows users to retrieve content assets quickly. For instance, check if it can add metadata to organize, group, or classify content based on its specific characteristics, enabling quick search and retrieval.

Brandfolder has several features to help you find exactly which content assets you’re looking for exactly when you need it. For example, when you import files:

3. Secures Content Assets

Storing and retrieving assets is one thing, but you want to make sure you select a CLM system that protects and secures your content assets.

Brandfolder’s engineering team uses the latest tools and practices available to implement multiple levels of security to protect and backup your files.

They use modern encryption methods to transfer and store your data and regularly test the application and infrastructure for security vulnerabilities.

You set the privacy and access controls so that only authorized users have access to specific assets.

4. Enables Collaboration

An essential part of a CLM system is cross-functional collaboration. Creating, editing, and approving content involves several stakeholders throughout the process.

Brandfolder lets you add comments on an asset to facilitate collaboration throughout the review process. Alternatively, you can pin annotations directly on an asset and notify the appropriate parties to review and address it.

Brandfolder also has a central notification center where you can set alerts for access requests, recently added files, asset updates, and more.

If you want to speed up the content creation process, you can create and upload editable branded templates. Users can use them as starting blocks before editing text fields and images directly in Brandfolder.

5. Provides Rights Management

Your chosen CLM software needs to provide rights management so that you can authorize access to specific content assets.

Brandfolder’s rights management functionality lets you control who sees what and when. For instance, you can:

6. Integrates with Existing Workflows

You probably already have a host of existing workflows that you’ve created in other tools. So look for a CLM system that integrates with existing workflows rather than having to recreate them or interrupt your team’s work..

Brandfolder integrates with your existing creative tools and workflows via many built-in plugins. For instance, you can improve organizational efficiency by integrating with expert workflow platforms, including:

Adobe Creative Cloud – to allow creative work to merge seamlessly with asset distribution and usage.

inMotionNow – to streamline the review and approval process of creating content.

Jira – to embed your existing organizational workflows.

Templafy – to find, view, and embed assets directly into templates, without ever leaving the Templafy interface.

Smartsheet – to automatically push Smartsheet project attachments directly to your Brandfolder without ever leaving the Smartsheet interface.

7. Delivers Insights and Analytics

Finally, you need your CLM system to track the usage and engagement of different content assets to see what resonates most with your stakeholders (internal and external) and target audience. You can use these insights to see which content gets used most and which gets the most engagement when planning future campaigns.

Brandfolder lets drill-down to get analytics on an asset level. You get insights on the top users for individual assets and which assets they interact with most.

You can also track analytics on asset collections, so you can see which group of campaign assets perform best.

Are You Prepared to Manage Your Content Lifecycle?

Managing huge volumes of content across different campaigns and various platforms in an enterprise organization is a thankless task. From the moment it’s created to the time it’s archived, you need a robust system to track and manage each content asset.

Content lifecycle management systems enable you to oversee and manage content programs of any size. Make sure you use a CLM system like Brandfolder to secure and preserve your content assets.