Intelligent Content

As we reported earlier this month, intelligent content is an approach to content that is modular, structured, reusable, format-free and semantically rich. The goal? Make content more discoverable, reconfigurable and adaptable for its creators, such as marketers, according to Ann Rockley, founder and CEO of The Rockley Group, who shared that definition from her book, “Intelligent Content: A Primer."

However, it's not an easy path according to experts. To get started on the right foot, intelligent content programs should map different content formats and story ideas under a common theme and create a cross-functional team with intimate organizational knowledge. Once those are in place you can formulate a comprehensive content strategy.

Create a Campaign Strategy 

If you’re pushing the button on an intelligent content program, don’t start with an ad-hoc approach, producing individual pieces of content that don’t always connect to a strategy, according to Henry Bruce, senior vice president of marketing at Contently. “Thinking one blog post at a time will only go so far,” he said. 

Cohesive campaigns, however, give the audience a reason to come back for more. “Mapping different content formats and story ideas under a common theme will help build a loyal audience over time,” Bruce said. “Every company should care about strategic differentiation — leading with a strong campaign is an effective first step to get there.”

Related Article: What is Intelligent Content and How Can It Help Marketers? 

Know Your Content Inside and Out

Getting started also means having a clear view of your overall content picture, said Stephanie Stahl, general manager of the Content Marketing Institute. Perform a formal audit by first documenting how your content is developed: Who writes? Who edits? Who reviews? What parts of the business contribute the most or the least? 

Then, Stahl said, go deeper into auditing your existing content. How much content do you currently have? What is the format (written, audio, video, infographic)? Is some of it outdated or stale? Is your brand properly represented? Are you addressing all necessary personas and buying stages? What content has performed the best and worst? 

Then go even deeper into your content processes. What are the necessary stages from idea generation to publishing (assignments, writing, editing, review, approval)? Once you’ve gone through this exercise, you should have a good idea of your weak spots. You’ll know where you need to improve or change or add or delete or rethink altogether. You’ll see where you may have redundancies in resources or processes. “Then you can start thinking about intelligent content technologies that can make you the rock star you’ve always wanted to be,” Stahl said. “There are so many excellent technologies that content teams need to / should learn about, but you should get your content house in order first.”

Related Article: AI's Missing Ingredient: Intelligent Content

Create a Cross-Functional Team

Rockley said a cross-functional team can analyze the corporation and customer needs more holistically. The cross-functional team should include at minimum a content strategist, content engineer, responsible party for your customer outreach (website, social media, other) and someone who represents the needs of the business; those that will use this technology to meet customer requirements. “This team should reach out to everyone involved in the content lifecycle — content contributors, reviewers, approvers, technology teams,” Rockley said. “Identify the goals of the project. Be sure to identify the current pain points in customer requirements, organizational processes and technology.”

What Your Content Strategy Needs

Before you look at technological solutions you must create a content strategy, Rockley advised. This will inform your technological requirements and tools selection. Below are the requirements necessary.

  • Content types required - tells you the breadth and depth of the types of content you plan to deliver
  • Structured content models - tells you the complexity of your content, level of granularity, reuse strategy, which will have an impact on the functionality of the tools to support it
  • Taxonomy - tells you the complexity of supporting your content set in intelligent content delivery
  • Workflow - tells you how you will support your content lifecycle.

Related Article: Understanding the Intelligent Content Journey

Break Down Departmental Silos

Speaking of team-building, silos between creative, email, social, web and other departments must be eliminated, according to Vivek Sharma, CEO of Movable Ink. “The point of intelligent content is to automatically source, reuse, reconfigure and assemble content that speaks to customers one to one and adapts in real time,” Sharma said. “You can't optimize and automate content while keeping it on-brand and consistent across channels if everyone doesn't have access to the same creative assets or customer data.” 

Get a Handle on Your Data

Customer data is the lifeblood of intelligent content, Sharma said. It could be customer (CRM), contextual (what device the customer is using, the time of day, the weather), or behavioral (browsing, purchases). Intelligent content can be enhanced with real-time data. Make sure that all promotions, featured products, events, etc. are live and up-to-date. “All of your data doesn’t have to be in one place for you to start doing meaningful things with it,” Sharma added. “Get started with what you have, where you have it.”