Skip to main content

What does it all mean?! Foundations of an enterprise content strategy

In the wide world of content, we’ve got a lot of terms. Some may be new to you, and others have contested definitions, which makes clear communication—typically our bread and butter—a challenge. If you’re exploring efficiency in your organization’s content processes, this post clarifies the foundational concepts of an enterprise content strategy.

Content strategy

Content strategy is the roadmap that defines your content goals and outlines the processes your organization must take to achieve them. It guides your team in making best-fit decisions on everything from tools to tasks, and it should always be the foundation of your content operations. Somewhat ironically, though, this definition varies among members of the content industry. 

Marketers have cornered, well, the market on this term. For example, if you search, “How to build a content strategy,” as of June 2024, most results are actually related to building a content marketing strategy. (And I say this as just one of the many marketers who has written articles about content strategy. Yes, I’ve been part of the problem.)

The world of content strategy is much bigger than just marketing. To clarify, we use the terms enterprise content strategy and content marketing strategy

  • Enterprise content strategy: Your framework for planning, managing, and organizing content across your organization, which typically includes technical/product content, support/knowledge base content, learning content, and marketing content. 
  • Content marketing strategy: Focuses on creating marketing materials and identifying best-fit methods to meet specific marketing and sales-related metrics. Though it’s recommended that your content marketing strategy is part of your enterprise content strategy, it’s common for these strategies to be independent of one another. 

Content operations

Content operations are the way you create, manage, and distribute your information. If your organization creates content, you have content operations.

Content operations (or content ops) are the people, processes and technology within your organization that generate content. Therefore, every business that creates content has content operations. However, just because you have content ops doesn’t mean those operations are meeting your business needs. 

Christine Cuellar, How Scriptorium optimizes content to transform your business

Here at Scriptorium, we believe the most effective way to create streamlined, scalable, and global content operations is to start with an enterprise content strategy. 

Unstructured vs. structured content

In our neck of the content world, when an organization grows to a certain level of maturity in its content operations, they start hitting significant pain points that keep them from scalability, globalization, and other business growth. 

Some really common things we hear people say is, “All our stuff is in Word and it’s not working. We can’t scale it, we have a problem.” […] A typical project for us is somebody who has decided that they need to improve the maturity of their content development processes, move it out of a Word process or something unstructured where they’re sort of flailing at it and just throwing bodies at the problem in order to make more and more and more content. Instead, they want to design and then build out a system that is more efficient, that leverages reuse, that leverages formatting, automation, and all the other cool stuff that we can do.

Sarah O’Keefe, Who is Scriptorium?

In those cases, they may be ready to move to a structured authoring approach.

Structured content requires your authors to create information according to a particular organizational scheme. It makes writing, editing, reviewing, revising, and publishing your content efficient and scalable.

— Christine Cuellar, Standardization = personalization

Unstructured content is the opposite of structured content, and it’s typically what most organizations have when they start producing content. Need a product description? Your authors create it in Microsoft Word. Creating a course for one of your products or services? Your L&D team pumps it out in PowerPoint. Troubleshooting steps needed yesterday? Write it on a webpage and publish it ASAP.

While there’s nothing inherently wrong with this approach, it’s not a scalable solution for organizations that need to expand. Structured content enforces consistency in your content processes and output, which is why it’s often part of an enterprise content strategy. 


You may be familiar with a content management system (CMS), which is a tool that helps you manage how your content is created, organized, stored, and delivered. A component content management system (CCMS) does the same, but instead of authoring whole pieces of content such as a lesson in a course, a chapter in a user guide, and so on, authors create content as individual topic-based components.

When you author new content in a CCMS, you piece components together to build your documents. The small content chunks give you the ability to easily rearrange, update, and reuse information.

Christine Cuellar, What is a CCMS, and is it worth the investment?

Many CCMSs are based on the Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA). 

DITA is an open-source standard that gives you a way to describe your content in a modular fashion. It’s really good for helping you build intelligence into your content, so you can then filter it, sort it, and do all kinds of stuff with it.

Alan Pringle, What is LearningDITA?

Single sourcing

Single sourcing is an approach that helps you create consistency in your content. 

Single sourcing is writing content once for multiple purposes. It’s about as simple as you can get. It could be authoring centrally, it could be authoring collectively in a group or centrally as a single person for a wide variety of publishing needs, whether it be for different audiences, different output types, or what have you.

Bill Swallow, Brewing a better content strategy through single sourcing

Because single sourcing allows you to write once and reuse content, you don’t have to make duplicates or “similar but slightly different” versions of a topic each time you create a new course, user guide, support article, and so on.

Christopher Hill of DCL and Alan Pringle also discussed single sourcing or “a single source of truth” as part of an enterprise content strategy on our podcast, How reuse eliminates redundant learning content.

Chris Hill: You take those components and you could imagine you’re creating Legos of content.

Alan Pringle: I call them puzzle pieces, yeah.

Chris Hill: There you go, puzzle pieces. They fit together in lots of different ways. You can put them together for training, user manuals, marketing materials, and so on. But the key is that you’re using the same piece in all of those places. […] Instead of authoring directly in PowerPoint when you’re writing a course or writing in Word when you’re writing a manual, you create your content in a neutral format and then output it to those formats. That’s how you do it from a single source of truth.

I hope that clears things up! If you have any questions on the foundations of an enterprise content strategy, or other questions that came up while reading this post, we’d love to answer them. You can leave a comment below or reach out to our team! 

Questions? We’d love to help! 

"*" indicates required fields

Data collection (required)*
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.