GatherContent: Our Newest Content Management Tool That Keeps Us Sane

It’s not that we don’t love our readers, but we have to admit that MarketerGizmo is not our only home on the internet.

Our content marketing team juggles this site with our roles as writers for SurveyGizmo. There, we create content of all kinds, from sales enablement assets to software feature pages.

Managing workflow for one blog is one thing, but keeping track of all of the content projects for a robust SaaS company at the same time? It’s a recipe for confusion and missed deadlines.

Enter our new best friend, GatherContent.

Affectionately known around the office as GatCon (a hat tip to DEFCON alerts), this online content management tool has been a godsend for our agile content team.

Content Management in the Bad Old Days

Andrea here. I’m the Content Marketing Manager for SurveyGizmo and MarketerGizmo, and I’ve been coordinating content around here for about two years.

For a while I was a solo content creator, which meant nobody but me was annoyed by jumbled file names and misplaced edits.

But once our team started growing, it was very obvious very quickly that managing the work of multiple contributors across two domains demanded a more sophisticated solution.

Growing Pains for a Prolific Content Team

When Liz joined us as another full-time writer on the team, it wasn’t just writing that we had to track. Requesting and providing edits were now a crucial part of our workflow.

I also needed a way to keep us both on the same page when the editorial calendar changed (which it does ALL THE TIME). We tried my old standby, Google Docs and a whiteboard calendar, for a while.

But when one of us was out of the office we couldn’t see the calendar, and shockingly Google Docs can’t yet sync to a physical object.

MarketerGizmo has also been growing in popularity and getting more readership, which has lead to us getting more and more offers for guest contributions. Once again, we needed a way to let lots of people contribute content without losing oversight capabilities.

Internal Content Collaboration Issues

Compounding this increase in content coming in from outside sources was a sudden uptick in how many people on other Gizmo teams needed/wanted access to content.

When we write lead generation pieces for sales, their manager wants an opportunity to give her input before it’s finalized. Oftentimes that content has a super technical component (*cough* custom scripting *cough*), and we want our documentation or support specialists to review it for accuracy too.

What was more, we needed a way to notify our web developers when new pieces of copy were ready to be added to our website.

Our designer also needed to get access to finalized content, so he could style it into a pretty ebook or white paper.

Keeping track of who had what content, what steps needed to happen next, and where I needed to direct my attention was eating up a lot of my time.

Adding Multimedia Contributors

As our final complicating factor, we’ve recently added a full time videographer to our team.

He needs a few days of lead time to add his video sparkle to a piece, which means I needed to build out a stricter publication timeline for Liz, myself, and our other contributors.

There’s no way to indicate deadlines in something like Google Docs, so we couldn’t help one another stay on schedule for rough draft, review, final edits, and publication, all of which needs to stay in sync with the video production schedule.

Yikes.

You can see why we are so excited to have a tool like GatCon in our lives.

Andrea, the Type A Content Manager, Likes

Andrea: Pretty much any of my colleagues will tell you that I like to be organized. This is one of many reasons that I like being a content marketing manager — I get to keep things in their places all the way from brainstorm to publication.

So, from that perspective there are many things to love in GatCon.

I’m going to start my list with something small that makes me very happy: we get our own customized URL. So we log in to our account at surveygizmo.gathercontent.com.

I don’t know why, but this pleases me greatly.

A more substantial feature that makes my life a lot easier is the flexibility of the workflow setup, and all the statuses that go along with it.

Each content type can have its own customized workflow, so our blog posts can go through “Draft,” “Review,” “Final Edits,” and “Ready to be Published” stages.

content status visualization
When we’re doing copy for web pages, it’s not really up to us to make the content live. Our web developers are the ones who put our content into their designs and then push them out to the world.

So that category of content has “Being Styled” as its final step, and no publication date.

Now that we’ve got video to consider, we’re planning to add another stage to blog posts that indicates the content is final enough for video production to begin.

Once again, this phase can be restricted to content that it applies to; we don’t have to include it on each piece of content even if it doesn’t need a video.

Taking the Pain Out of Writing and Editing Content

Liz: As the content marketer here at MarketerGizmo and SurveyGizmo, I’m most in need of a strong, efficient line of communication with my editors and stakeholders.

While sometimes it’s really helpful to sit next to someone and talk about adjustments needed for a blog article or ebook, most of the time this is impossible or counterproductive. I work most efficiently when I am able to write, receive feedback in bulk, then return to finish the project.

Before I dive into my favorite features, a side note; in contrast with Andrea, my organizational style is best described as “creative.”

My desk is a complex web of sticky notes and scrap paper. (I swear there’s meaning in the madness.) Working with her and others through GatCon keeps my messy side under control -–and definitely keeps Andrea informed of what I’ve done, what I’m working on, and what’s coming up on my plate.

Comments Increase Editorial Efficiency

My favorite thing about GatCon is the built-in comment system.

I hate Word’s Track Changes feature. I find it deeply user un-friendly. Google Doc’s comments system, however, is much easier to use both as an editor and as a person committing the edits.

Thankfully, GatCon takes its cue from Google Docs.

Comments are easy. Highlight text and an “add comment” tag appears. Click it, and leave your note. It’s easy.

commenting on content in gatcon

There is no “track changes” feature where it will auto-highlight your additions, but I really don’t miss that feature. If my editor finds a stray comma, I’m totally fine with her fixing it without notifying me.

GatCon’s choice of sticking to comments-only editing keeps the interface crisp, clear, and useable.

Declutter Email With Optional Notifications

Another great feature is the fact that each time you leave a comment, you are given the option of notifying a person of the change. A notification sends an email directly to the person of your choice.

I love that this feature is optional.

The last thing anyone wants is to open up their email and see 15 email notifications of tiny edits and notes. Toggling notifications on and off makes sure inboxes don’t get clogged, and yet important notes get immediate attention.

Never Miss a Thing With Custom Templates

As mentioned, we juggle a lot of content between MarketerGizmo and SurveyGizmo. Any given week, I’m working on blog posts, landing pages, ebooks, one sheets, whitepapers, emails, and more.

Each one requires a different word count and internal divisions.

Using custom templates, GatCon makes keeping track of all of these details a snap. Setting a word count or character limit will create a helpful word count tally at the bottom of the field, perfect for one sheets and meta data, where space is at a premium.

I, personally, would completely forget to draft metadata for blog posts if it weren’t for the fields in GatCon reminding me!

Friendly, Convenient Customer Support

I am a sucker for customer communication that is friendly, casual, and respects your time as a user of the product. So far, I love how GatCon has reached out to me.

Instead of annoying emails (that I don’t have time to read), GatCon has a simple sidebar. Periodically, a new note arrives.

gatcon communication

This system, which takes its visual cues from text chats like GChat and Facebook Messenger, is effective without being distracting. A message arrives, and I can look at it when I need a break from writing or editing.

In keeping with the text format, the notes are quick, to the point, and casual. They are disarmingly friendly, and I find myself much more likely to engage with their messages.

Recently, I received an invitation to download a new ebook on Content Strategy. The message started with a simple, heartfelt, “Sorry to interrupt you today.”

When was the last time a marketer acknowledged that their message is an interruption?

The message ends with: “This is the first time we’ve linked our content inside the platform. If you don’t like it, please hit the thumbs down button!”

I downloaded the ebook. And you know what? I hit the thumbs up button, too.

Features We Love (And Didn’t Know We Wanted)

Andrea again. Building off my earlier comments about stages, I really like being able to restrict what can happen to content at certain stages.

For example, when content is in the “Ready to Be Published” stage, we don’t want a well-meaning reviewer to come in and make changes that won’t be reflected in the final product.

GatCon lets us say that this stage is “Read Only,” shutting down the ability to make edits.

And finally, I really like the control that GatCon gives me over each individual user.

It’s great for our developers to have access to a single piece of technical content that we need their help with, but they have no interest in marketing-related blog posts. I can give them access only to the content they’re responsible for.

Similarly, other outside editors can make suggestions and changes, but they don’t have rights to create new projects or fiddle with the workflow.

This makes me much more comfortable offering others access to our account, meaning we can collaborate more effectively and incorporate more points of view into our content.

What GatherContent Could Do to Be a Perfect 10

Liz: GatCon has vastly improved the way we work. It is flexible, easy to use, easy to learn, and fits our small team’s budget. But there is always room for improvement.

Compared to our long list of things we love, our wishlist of features and capabilities we would like to see is pretty short.

Improved Archiving System for Completed Pieces

Currently, once a project is completed, that piece stays in your GatCon feed. After a few weeks, it became clear to Andrea and I that our unusually prolific team needed to clear out the clutter.

GatCon has an “archive” function, but neither of us are 100% happy with it. When projects are archived, they become unreadable.

You can’t open them. You can’t view them.

If you need to access them again, you can unarchive. But the current system feels disconcertingly like purgatory. What if something happens?

While this feature operates little like how objects in your Trash aren’t readable until you put them back on your Desktop, it’s still unsettling. Andrea and I both get nervous every time we have to archive something.

Exports Aren’t Perfect Yet

Our solution to our concerns about Archiving has been to download every archived piece to a Word doc, which we then save on our shared drive.

Unfortunately, the export to Word feature isn’t perfect.

All file names need to be edited manually after download, which makes matching downloads tedious.

Making matters worse, the export doesn’t always work the first time.

Sometimes, the Word doc downloaded will be… blank. Fortunately, this bug rarely happens more than once for a file.

Simply download a second time, and the content will be there.

Still. A bit of a pain, and this is one of the bugs that makes us worried about the Archive feature.

More Sophisticated Organization

Even though I am writing this section, Andrea requested that I include this feature on the wish list. And, even messy me is inclined to agree.

When the sheer volume of projects starts to get out of hand, it would be really, really nice to have the option of nested folders. Mostly, I think we want this as a less scary alternative to Archiving, but it would also help out on those projects that require multiple pieces of content.

The closest thing GatCon has right now is “parent” and “child” projects, but neither Andrea nor I love the system. We don’t use it.

Get the Picture With Inline Images

As a writer, I don’t buy into the old adage that a picture is worth 1,000 words, but it would be nice to be able to embed images directly into our content drafts.

On the plus side, GatCon does allow us to upload images, either as its own content box or in the Notes section.

We use both of these features a lot when creating landing page content; we upload screenshots, which the web developers then use as guides when creating the pages.

This method is working so far, but it’s still inconvenient enough to include on the wish list.

Customizable Command Center

When you log in to your GatCon account, you are shown a static overview of all your project categories. A notice appears if you’re approaching a deadline, but overall, the dashboard is static.

Both Andrea and I would love to have the option of customizing this page, to transform it from a fairly bland entry page into a real, useable command center.

As my primary role is creating and editing content, I would love to have a feed of the next 5 or 10 projects ordered by due date. Right now, I keep this kind of information on a makeshift sticky note kanban board. It would be much, much easier to have a digital version.

For Andrea, who manages herself, me, our video creator, and external contributors, she wants a mini calendar to be front and center so she knows who’s on task and who needs a gentle email reminder.

Is GatherContent Write For You?

Liz: For our team, this has been the single most useful took to increase productivity and improve organization and workflow. Because of this, on a scale of one to ten, we wholeheartedly give GatCon a 9.

While improvements can be made, both of us are deeply happy with our experience with the software, customer support, and even their marketing efforts.

If you’re struggling to keep your multi-person content team in line and on time, GatCon could work for you.

Give it a try and let us know what you think in the comments!

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Liz Millikin
About the Author:

Liz Millikin

Liz sees marketing as a never-ending puzzle to be solved. With a background in digital marketing that focused on content and social media, she believes that a passion for craft is key, but analytics are the lock. Together, they open the door to marketing that moves the needle for your business. When not writing, she can be found skiing, biking, or curled up with a book. Find her on Twitter @eamillikin.




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