Commentary

Bringing Intelligence To Content

I’m writing this article as I sit at home, just back from the sold-out 6th Annual Intelligent Content Conference, where I was among technical writers, content managers, content operations personnel, and information developers. Shockingly, I didn’t run into a single CMO, marketing VP or director. I was astonished, given the amount of airtime dedicated to the topic; on an average day, 100 or more tweets appear on #contentmarketing. 

It’s not just noise; marketers are following up with cold hard cash. The Content Marketing Institute “reckons” that marketers are allocating about a third of their overall budgets to content marketing. The 2013 State of Content Marketing survey found that, on average, companies are allocating 20% of their budgets to content. This year’s study suggests most organizations are holding their content budget steady or investing more.

Granted, there are a lot of events on the subject, but this particular event addressed a broad range of topics, including applying intelligence to inform your content strategy, which several sessions, including my own, covered. Marketers have been creating content since the beginning of time, so what makes things different now? The extensive number of channels and the fact they’re always on.

It reminds me a little of when television went from programming on a few channels and a network that “turned” off (remember when there was just “snow” if you fell asleep while watching TV?) to hundreds of channels and a system that’s 24/7. You need a lot of content to keep viewers with this level of access to that many channels fed. This is the world of content marketing today—there are a lot of channels to feed, and it’s no easy feat to make sure you have the right content on the right channels at the right time. And this is where the “intelligence” part of the equation comes into play. 

Creating content isn’t the hard part—creating good content is. It requires having the right data and insights to make decisions about what content, when, in what format, in what channel, for which segments. In my opinion, these are fundamental questions for every marketer and something every marketing leader should have top of mind. The only way to answer these questions is by truly understanding your customers’ buying journey. If your organization is producing and “airing” content and hasn’t mapped your customers’ buying journey, it’s time to regroup. This was just one of the many vital topics addressed at the conference, and is information relevant to anyone working in the marketing field. 

I believe events such as this one provide the opportunity for marketing executives, who typically have numerous balls in the air, to take a deep dive on an important topic, learn what their folks in the trenches are facing and understand the why behind their recommendations, and, of course, connect with their colleagues. As a longtime marketer, I took away several ideas we are already bringing to life. I strongly suggest that if content is going to be key part of your marketing, there needs to be a content marketing conference on your calendar.

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3 comments about "Bringing Intelligence To Content".
  1. Karen Ticktin from brandthis , March 13, 2014 at 9:29 a.m.
    I agree it's shocking that marketers weren't there. I suspect it is sort of like the early of social media - just throw it up there. Over time they will come to realize you need a strategy and that quality and intelligence will be key drivers.
  2. Jim Burns from Avitage , March 14, 2014 at 2:22 p.m.
    Laura, nice job with your presentation. Marketing executives, aka "revenue marketers," must be accountable for content strategy that goes beyond marketing and websites. Sales, training and the sales channel have under-served content needs that impacts new customer acquisition and revenue growth. To do this, CMOs must elevate content strategy out of functional tactics like product marketing, demand gen, social media. They missed an opportunity to see the imminent future and the need to design and create content components in different formats that can be easily shared, modified and re-packaged for multiple purposes and formats.
  3. Kylon Gustin from SMR Services , March 20, 2014 at 10:58 a.m.
    Laura, Congrats on being a featured contributor to this great site. I appreciate what you have said and think that many marketing heads will be caught by surprise when their competition leaps ahead of them. Catching up is very difficult if not impossible in some cases.