Content is growing in most enterprises at a rate of 200 percent per year, and companies are quickly realizing that it’s virtually impossible to keep up with this growth across all the channels they have to now manage. Determining which content is resonating with consumers across all those channels, and managing it in a scalable way, raises two key questions:
- Is our content intelligent?
- Are we getting advantage out of the data we collect?
These are really cries for help from the marketing team. The challenge lies in the manner of how most of today’s content is deployed.
Most content published by businesses is simply pushed out there. It’s sent to a website, an intranet or a social channel. It sits there waiting to be consumed. Then the business looks back a month (or more) later and asks the question: How did it do?
This is what must change. Content must perform. In order to actually be intelligent it must become accountable. How?
Here’s a hint: Look at how the whole marketing industry has been transformed by data analytics.
What Drives Value
Think about the start of the content process. What are you trying to accomplish with the content piece you’re creating? Which audience are you targeting? Can you create variants to test, for example, which title works best or what the optimal length of the article is? Which writing style resonates best?
Then the look back to performance isn’t “How did this piece of content do?” It is, rather, “In which context, did this piece of content perform the best?”
This approach helps ensure content scalability. The content must be automatically placed in multiple contexts and be optimized within those contexts in order to truly perform at scale. The crucial step is the feedback loop: which content is performing in which context. By creating a feedback loop, you can get the data needed to make decisions: which editor is effective, which content gaps you have, which audiences are not addressed and how content strategy is contributing to the bottom line. These practicable insights let us know which content performed best in which context and gave us the result we desired.
This very subtle, but important, change is what can truly surface the most valuable content that the organization is creating. Today, when the business publishes a piece of content, it either hopes that the intended audience easily finds its way to it, or it pays a third party to promote the content, thus ensuring that at least some of the intended audience will be able to find it.
When we can publish in a dynamic way, and use software to optimize the content’s performance in real-time, we are providing for a much greater chance that:
- The intended audience will find it organically
- The content will be presented in a context that gives it much higher value to the audience
- Unexpected audiences will discover it based on behavior we would have never anticipated
This last part may provide the most value to marketers. Marketers tend to make assumptions about what will resonate with their target segments. Instead, we can start using feedback data to truly understand, based on their behavior (vs. assumptions), which context will provide which audiences with the most value.
Reducing – Not Eliminating – the Guesswork
Our goal here is not simply how to do more. More, by itself, is not an optimal strategy. We are striving to have a bigger impact, while doing less. That’s scalability.
Focusing on the question of how we make our content perform better by making it more intelligent doesn’t remove, entirely, the guesswork needed to create content. And it shouldn’t. What it does do is free-up time, so that the marketing team can make those creative choices that will ensure resonant content experiences.
In its 2015 study of content marketers, the Content Marketing Institute found that marketers are currently working on an average of more than a dozen initiatives. And while 59 percent say they will increase spending this year for content marketing, only 36 percent feel they are effective with it.
The need to close the loop with data is big. While marketers are convinced that creating great content is an imperative, they struggle with knowing how to do it well. Most of that is because they are forced to produce with inadequate insight. They are simply guessing where to send it.
Data alone doesn’t ensure great content. It’s the feedback loop that makes the difference. It’s there that you can use data effectively — to contextualize the placement of great content and get the insight into how that contextualization performed. That frees us up to create great content for our customers. Having insights that enable the site to listen for unexpected audiences provides that capability. Intelligent content is, indeed, a challenge — and using technology to focus on content performance is one key solution.