What is content intelligence?
How data-driven marketers will dominate
What is content intelligence?
To put it simply, we define content intelligence this way:
Note that we’re not talking about science fiction here. This is not about Terminator stealing your job as a creative marketer. This is about leveraging software and data science to bring you valuable insights to do your job better.
The best marketers have collected some of this data already and derived learnings from it. They’ve interviewed customers, sales reps and prospects to develop an understanding of the type of content they needed to create. They’ve leveraged news articles or analysts reports to make informed marketing decisions. And this approach is not going away. But we now have technology that can bring a lot more objective data to complete the picture, inspire our strategy and guide our creation process.
Specifically, we have:
- Internal data more or less accessible in our internal systems: from analytics to CRM to marketing automation to business intelligence systems, etc…
- External data from the Web that constantly produces and consumes new content that our target audience is exposed to.
Both types are critical to leverage. If you don’t learn from your own data, you won’t understand what works or doesn’t for your own company and your own specific cases. But similarly, if you don’t have a way to understand what others create on the topics that matter to your audience and how this audience reacts to it, you will fail.
Nobody should create content in a vacuum: we have to listen.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Why is content intelligence important?
Content is the fuel of marketing. From a niche strategy, it has become pervasive in all marketing activities: from generating brand awareness, to SEO, to generating leads and nurturing them, etc… We have to deal with the fact that the modern buyer wants to understand how things work and make decisions on his/her own terms. As Seth Godin puts it: “Content Marketing is the Only Marketing Left.”
Now, if content marketing was easy, we’d probably be talking about something else. But the sad truth behind the success stories of some happy fews is that most marketers fail. And even for successful marketers, content marketing is largely seen as unpredictable. As Michael Brenner, one of the most experienced content marketer in the world puts it: “You can’t just hit home runs every time you swing at a pitch.”
So the stakes keep rising as we have more and more expectations from content. But who can invest more on an unpredictable strategy? Sure, getting started with a blog and a few posts is something anyone can do. But things become much harder as you need more results and as your competition catches up – something Mark Schaefer described as “content shock” back in early 2014 and the graph above illustrates. So how do you justify spending more on a strategy that is not guaranteed to succeed?
That’s why content intelligence is so important today: because it makes content marketing more predictable and more broadly, it makes marketing overall more measurable.
How does content intelligence concretely help marketers?
For Content Marketing
Quite naturally, content intelligence is assisting all across the content marketing lifecycle.
> Analyzing your audience’s interests to define a better content strategy
You can’t define a content strategy without knowing what your audience truly wants. If you’re a startup serving only one buyer persona, you can and probably should start with interviews. But as you grow or when you have a larger scale business, this approach is no longer enough.
Content intelligence brings you data on what topics resonate with your target audience.
As an example, Hawkeye can analyze content from your competitors, industry influencers or all content matching certain keywords to surface what are the most popular topics:
> Understanding how to make your content more unique and better
Your content competes for attention from this target audience: not just from your business competitors but also from industry news sites, publications or blogs. Your buyers don’t have an infinite amount of time so if you want your content to stand out, you have to make it more unique.
Content intelligence helps you analyze the existing content offer so you can take a different angle and stand out from the crowd.
As an example, Hawkeye can analyze content popularity and quality on any topic to help you understand what it takes to create outstanding content:
> Optimizing content as you create it
All other things being equal, your content will perform better if it’s optimized for a number of best practices for social media, readability and SEO.
Content intelligence ensures you don’t hit publish without having done the necessary rework and optimization.
As an example, Atomic Reach can score your content automatically and suggest improvements to make while your content is still a draft:
> Understanding what content to share, knowing when and how to share it
Distributing your own content is much more than sharing it a few times and moving on to the next post. Some content deserves to be re-shared over time, some is much more ephemeral. Add the fact that you need to share a mix of original and curated content to build trust with your networks and avoid being too self-promotional and you have a pretty complex scheduling problem.
Content intelligence identifies the most interesting content to share among your own or third-party content and provides insights and when and where to share it.
As an example, Scoop.it Content Director has predictive analytics that can identify trending content to curate or even which of your own content is most likely to generate leads (based on past performance and campaign history):
> Understanding results and what to improve
Analytics don’t read themselves. To improve your results, you need to take action based on the performance metrics you collect. Something that can be quite complicated when it’s distributed over multiple systems and you’re dealing with dozens, hundreds or sometimes thousands of content assets. And even one system can become super complicated, something Google acknowledged by bringing intelligence to Google Analytics.
Content intelligence is like having a real-time audit of your content library. At scale.
As an example, Hawkeye can audit your content library and compare it with competitors to find out how you perform against them across topics:
For market intelligence
Monitoring media sources, selecting relevant content and analyzing it has always been an important way to shape a corporate strategy. But so far, the most technology has helped market intelligence analysts is by filtering the ever-increasing amount of information available online. While a great content monitoring system is critical, good market intelligence requires a lot more than filtering to build better strategies.
Content intelligence provides insights that guide market intelligence analysts to the most useful information by enriching monitored content with analytical data. It also brings AI technologies such as natural language processing to help them understand information faster, detect trending topics and makes sense of this huge amount of knowledge the Web produces on a daily basis.
For competitive intelligence (as a KPI for overall marketing success)
Comparing your performance with competition is an essential way to measure marketing success. But many companies struggle with measuring progress in brand awareness: overall or in comparison with competitors. Tools developed so far have mostly focused on social media and search results, leaving out the vast majority of web content. But today, particularly in B2B, we’re probably as much influenced – if not more – by blogs, news articles, reviews, videos or infographics than simple tweets.
Content intelligence provides a way to quantify content impact – overall or on a specific topic. That means you can benchmark your competitors’ content against yours (owned content KPI’s). But it also means you can measure the impact of content that mentioned your brand or your competitors on a certain topic. Measuring share of voice for earned content across the entire web – and not just social media – is a powerful KPI for brand awareness.
Why is content intelligence becoming hot now?
It’s not like we never had any data for any of these digital marketing activities. But so far, it’s been pretty basic. Recently however, several things have completely changed the picture.
First, marketing technology is becoming pervasive. As shown above, pretty much everyone has analytics, email systems and CMS. But even marketing automation which is much more recent is now at 40% penetration. All these systems generate, handle and store data directly related to marketing results.
Second, social media gave us a pulse on how the Web reacts to content. In the old days, we already shared content. But we mostly did so privately, via email. Now we share and react to content publicly on social networks. This means we have data to help us qualify content.
Third, we have technology that automatically indexes the Web. Google of course but also what the content suggestion engine we’ve built at Scoop.it using the collective data from our millions of users who help us crowd source an index for the relevant web.
Finally, we now have AI to make sense of this data. The AI revolution is real and it’s already helping us use our phones hands free, identify friends on pictures or categorize expenses in our bank statements. It’s here because AI algorithms have matured and with the right data, they can identify patterns and uncover non-trivial correlations.
Useful resources to learn about content intelligence
Chad Pollitt, Co-Founder, Relevance.com and Author of The Global Guide to Native Advertising Technology
We started to curate a list of interesting articles and blogs on content intelligence that you might want to check out to further your knowledge on that topic:
- The Power Of Content Intelligence In Marketing – by Jon Simpson on Forbes
- What Is Content Intelligence? – by Clare McDermott and Jordan Koene on Content Marketing Institute
- Produce and Promote Better Content in Less Time with Artificial Intelligence – by Paul Roetzer on Marketing AI Institute
- 3 Innovative New Tools To Discover Promising Blog Topics – by Mike Allton on the SocialMediaHat
- 5 Artificial Intelligence Tools to Plan Your Next Content Strategy – by Mike Kaput on Marketing AI Institute
- Fix Your Mediocre Marketing with Content Intelligence – by Mitchell Hall on Convince & Convert
- Content Intelligence: Will AI-powered Content Marketing be a Game-changer? – by Paroma Sen on MarTech Advisor
- The Top 3 Use Cases Right Now for Artificial Intelligence in Marketing – by Mike Kaput on Marketing AI Institute
Know some other good resources? Let us know as we’ll update this list on a regular basis.
Content intelligence tools and solutions you can use now
Paul Roetzer, Founder, Marketing AI Institute
Again, content intelligence is not science fiction. The tools already exist. Here’s a first list we compiled together with a short description (in alphabetical order):
- Atomic Reach scores your content as you create it so you can optimize it before hitting publish.
- Buzzsumo provides the most shared content and influencers for any topic or website.
- Ceralytics empowers organizations with the data they need to create effective content marketing strategies.
- Concured analyzes audience behavior at scale to help you plan your content marketing and maximise engagement & ROI.
- Hawkeye analyzes content from millions of sources to identify relevant topics and measure the impact of owned and earned content across topics and against competitors.
- Scoop.it Content Director provides research and ideation tools as well as real-time AI-powered audit of your content library.
Julia McCoy, Founder & CEO, Express Writers and author of Practical Content Strategy & Marketing
As content marketing matures and requires significant budgets, marketers will be asked to be more predictable:
- they’ll need to know – not guess – what content to create to drive results,
- they’ll have to their master the competitive environment of their content,
- and they’ll be asked to demonstrate the value of content very clearly.
The days when you could get away with being lucky or simply being the first in your industry are (almost) over. Marketers who are in it for the win will be data-driven and leverage content intelligence technology to succeed.