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Content authors face an ever-growing list of new tools and responsibilities that come with a modern digital experience platform. There is mounting pressure for digital marketers to spend less time fumbling with menu options, assigning taxonomies, or struggling to find the right creative assets, and more time identifying segments, setting goals, personalizing, and engaging their audiences. In this post, we will look at how optimizing content workflows and utilizing machine learning can help digital marketers overcome tedious tasks, use their time more effectively, and focus on higher value work.

The Evolution of Content Authoring

Sitecore content authors are no longer simple content producers porting data into fields, but instead are digital marketers that don't have as much time to achieve the same output. However, most content producers don’t think of themselves as “digital marketers.” They are more likely to identify as being communications professionals or content producers. These professionals spend the better part of their days wrangling Word docs, working in email, clicking through CMS menus, and filling out cryptic forms. 

Many content producers often work on small, nimble teams, managing experiences in a growing number of channels with an ever-growing list of new tools & responsibilities. Sitecore workflow can be complex, depending on a client’s requirements. However, when configured well, a basic workflow with sensible guardrails/guides can actually enhance the authoring experience. A standard workflow model can also be customized to handle advanced authoring needs.

Tailoring Your Sitecore Content Authoring Workflow

Fortunately, for most organizations, content authoring needs aren’t prohibitively complex. Many authoring teams tend to be relatively small. As such, most organizations just need a basic, Author/Publisher role-based workflow that provides change history/notes, protects critical items and nodes, enables role-based views of ribbons, and integrates scheduled publishing.

A good Sitecore workflow requires a collection of user roles, content access roles, client access roles, workflow roles, and optionally notification roles. Together with the proper role hierarchy we can construct a simple and clean workflow. There are several types of roles, but the only type that the average Sitecore business user will need to be concerned with is the user role.

Only a single user role will be assigned to each Sitecore user and the appropriate access and workflow roles will be inherited automatically. In more advanced or complex cases, where a client is further stratifying roles and responsibilities to ensure that strategically-important, centrally-managed content sections are off limits to some members, or that they are limited to just a specific zone (for example, a blog), it’s possible to customize the workflow to meet these needs. Additionally, many of our clients have appreciated the integration of scheduled publishing and even unpublishing of content to make these actions more explicit and part of the overall workflow.

However, even with a solid authoring workflow, there is often time wasted on repetitive tasks, taking time away from higher value work. This also results in overworked staff. Micro-interactions with the platform add up over time. This is why automating some particularly time-consuming tasks with machine learning will have a noticeable impact. Fortunately, Sitecore’s platform enhanced with machine learning content authoring tools can lead to efficient, streamlined marketing. 

Enhancing Content Authoring Using Machine Learning

Working with machine learning in conjunction with Sitecore opens up a world of possibilities including enhanced image tagging and media search, audio/video transcription to enhance search, auto-tagging of content, text recognition, and intelligent search.

Using facial recognition and computer vision APIs, it’s possible to filter images by gender, age, emotion, image size, color, or tags/content. If your digital media library has thousands or tens of thousands of images, this can drastically reduce the time needed to retrieve the specific types of images you need to enhance your marketing campaigns.

Another major time-saving functionality is auto-tagging. Content authors are often saddled with spending valuable time applying taxonomy through tagging, which often spans numerous categories such as region, category, and status. After initially tagging some of your content manually, the auto-tagging technology learns the relationships between your tags and content and can extrapolate tags for any future content, so that you will no longer have to do this task manually.  

To further optimize the Sitecore authoring experience, we’ve been developing a chatbot to help content authors chat directly with Sitecore. Utilizing powerful new language processing tools and AI, the chatbot works on a smartphone, so authors can get work done quickly and on the go. Everything from publishing an item or folder with version, targets, or related content to setting publish/unpublish dates is more efficient through a chat interface that alleviates authors of having to rummage through multiple screens to deal with routine content publishing tasks. 

Next Steps: How to Take Full Advantage of Sitecore’s Authoring Tools

By taking an honest assessment of your organization’s content authoring requirements, you can configure the Sitecore platform to optimize the content authoring workflow and subsequently the roles and functions that are necessary. You can also take advantage of the machine learning capabilities that can be configured in Sitecore so you can automate repetitive tasks and boost efficiency. 

Through author experience assessments, we’re able to help clients improve the Sitecore authoring experience by streamlining publishing workflows, enabling editorial control to reduce IT dependency, and creating operational efficiencies using machine learning. By creating a solid foundation, we can help set up content authoring team for success, ensuring focus on high-priority, high-value marketing. 

If you’re interested in learning more about how we can help define and implement a solid Sitecore content author workflow or would like to view a demo of the machine learning capabilities we can implement, please reach out to us at [email protected]. We’re happy to answer any questions!


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