Does Tagging Help or Hinder Marketing’s Content Management Success?

According to SiriusDecisions, enterprise organizations spend an average of $17.5 million annually on content creation. $2.3 million of that is being wasted on content that can’t be found or used by the organization. Leading B2B marketing teams are constantly looking for ways to make their content investments last longer and have more of an impact, oftentimes turning to content management systems that can efficiently organize content for sales to search, locate and use.

There are a number of ways that B2B organizations can successfully organize and manage content for different audiences—search, tags, and contextual push to name a few. Marketing technology has come a long way in terms of content optimization and efficiency, but tagging and search capabilities are oftentimes making marketers’ jobs even more complicated and error-prone. I spoke with a number of content experts who expressed their opinions about tagging best practices and how marketing teams can effectively get the right content into the right hands at the right times:

“Of course, content can be found without tags; but why not make it as easy as possible for our future selves? It’s important to establish content tagging guidelines that will be enforced in all areas of your company. Creating guidelines and habits of tagging content will make it easy for everyone to find what they need.”Tracy Willis, Content Strategist, N2Q Consulting

Tracy offers a great point that tagging guidelines and habits should be reinforced for any and all marketers who will be responsible for tagging content. But inconsistencies may arise when too many people have tagging abilities:

“Tagging can become a tangled web of confusion for your content. The challenge comes when anyone can create tags. You end up with multiple variations of tags that exponentially increase your tag pool. The key to keeping your tagging under control and confusion free is to create a tag taxonomy. This sets the specific tag to use for your document themes, categories and uses. It’s important to have one owner of the taxonomy. This keeps tight control over the taxonomy and reduces inadvertent redundancies.”David Waterman, The Search Agency

David brings us to the theme of control when it comes to tagging. While it’s great to have a single person responsible for tagging content, the tags may not perfectly align with how others in the organization are searching for content. For example, in large organizations, marketers may not have the best visibility into how sales teams search for and access content. Amar Sheth brings up a fantastic way to better align sales and marketing around content:

“One of the best ways to increase content finding and sharing is to align content into stages of the buying journey. Tags serve a good purpose but they’re not enough. The key is to have sales and marketing leaders align on a unified buying journey vision that takes into account the modern B2B buyer. This makes it much simpler to organize content by buying journey stage. And, within this, tags and other taxonomy principles apply. We’ve seen beautiful and well-laid out content libraries from hundreds of organizations, with virtually no usage by sales. It’s because sales is focused on helping buyers and understands the different stages of buying process.Amar Sheth, VP of Customer Success, Sales for Life

All of these best practices echo the ideology that process and theme are necessary to effectively tag and organize content. So why would organizations throw that caution and control to the wind with “automagic” tagging—allowing an algorithm to automatically tag content?

“For organizations that simply don’t have the time or resources for manual tagging, auto-tagging can be a great solution. That said, auto-tagging should be used with caution. Especially within the first few months of implementing a new system, marketers need to carefully check tags to ensure they are accurate and relevant. Additionally, organizations with time-sensitive content and goals should consider the shelf-life of their content. You don’t want an outdated asset from six years ago to pop up when searching for relevant materials.”
Rachel Peters, Marketing Manager, Big Leap

Auto-tagging technology might be onto something when it comes to reducing marketing’s manual efforts and saving teams time. But in reality, it cuts out too much of the process and control that marketers crave—and need—to effectively serve sales. The good news for B2B marketers is that there is a happy medium: using metadata tagging to organize content in to dynamically generated folders. Metadata tagging allows for marketers to choose from a previously agreed-upon list of tags—ideally segmented by buyer persona, stage in buyer journey, and other customer-centric and sales-friendly tags for each piece of content. These tags then dictate which content is automatically pulled into the right dynamic folders that are served to the right internal audiences (sales teams, for example). This process is ideal for marketing teams that want to free up the time previously spent organizing and searching for content, but still wish to maintain control and visibility of where content is distributed and used. It is also perfect for serving up the right content to sales teams to ensure that they are using the appropriate content to have relevant conversations with buyers.

Vendors that offer automagic algorithms that tag content without any human effort may sound great on paper, especially in the day and age where technology trumps human effort. And automagic tagging might be great for marketers who are ready to let go of all control of content management and distribution. But for those who want to ensure that sales teams and other internal audiences have access to only the most relevant content when they need it, using metadata tagging plus dynamic folders may be your best bet.


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