Move over content marketing, here comes content intelligence. Some marketers are calling it the hottest buzzword in content marketing technology, but it still seems to have slipped under the radar for many of us. If you are actively looking at ways to measure and improve the impact of your content, and particularly how you can use technology to do so, you are already starting to think intelligently about content intelligence. The term may not be familiar, but the activity certainly is.

Defining  and using content intelligence

Content intelligence is, broadly, the systems and software that examine data about content, and turn it into insights to improve the way that content can be used. It is, therefore, not a one-off, but an ongoing process used systemically, and very much software-based. It would be extremely hard, not to say impossible, to manage the analytics required without integrated software.

You could consider content intelligence as the next step in content marketing. Since content marketing began, marketers (and perhaps more importantly, CEOs) have been looking for ways to quantify the impact, and justify investment in content creation and management. In a world where business decisions are increasingly data-driven, it just does not make sense to be saying ‘trust me, I know it works’ without hard evidence. Content intelligence provides both the hard evidence, and the suggestions for what to do next as a result.

Content intelligence is also, however, more important than simply measuring impact. Content tends to decay over time, but remains ‘out there’ in most cases. Few organisations can stay on top of all their content and ensure that it truly reflects current thinking and activity, or even withdraw it after a period. It is also getting harder and harder to ensure that content stands out from the crowd, and reaches its target audience. This is hardly surprising, with estimates suggesting that 1.3 million pieces of content are shared on Facebook every minute, and nearly 70 million blogs published every month through WordPress alone. What’s more, few organisations can keep track of which pieces of content remain useful and well-used even though they have been around a while.

The answer to these issues is content intelligence. Of course, measuring the impact of your social media activity or other content marketing is not new. We have been talking about it for some years now, from the time when most people only measured was ‘likes’ and ‘shares’, but a few B2B organisations were developing effective systems. At that stage, we were talking about measuring image reinforcement, maturing the target audience, and potentially attracting new leads, but methods were fairly ad hoc, and mostly qualitative.

Content intelligence is a quantum leap ahead of this. It draws on a number of relatively new developments in analytics and computing, including use of big data, artificial intelligence, and better automation. New content intelligence tools, for example, can automate all data collection and analysis systems, and provide rapid answers to difficult questions.

From a very practical perspective, content intelligence can help marketers manage content in a range of ways. It can, for example, tell them what to share, what to read next, what to promote, and how to promote it, and even which content to update. Forrester analysts have suggested that content intelligence actually allows content to self-manage, including showing how it affects customers emotionally, and how effective it is at achieving particular goals. This statement may currently be a stretch, but it is certainly a clear possibility as artificial intelligence spreads into more areas. The issue is not so much what is possible, but how the technology will be used to increase understanding of content, and improve its impact in a more dynamic way.

Buzz-phrase or real bite?

We started by asking whether content intelligence is just a buzzword or has real bite. Whether or not you want to use the term, there is no doubt that the principles behind content intelligence have been around a while. The practices and systems involved are only likely to become more important to content marketers over time. The search for a way to measure return on content marketing investment has very definitely found an answer. The improvements in artificial intelligence and analytics can only improve the capacity and capability of content intelligence, and it seems likely to have a major impact on marketing activity for the next few years and beyond.

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