Written by Rob Smith
Content marketing is not only an established term in the marketing industry, but an established – and proven – practice.
Brands know that in order to get more eyes on their products and services and for people to buy them, they need to be generating sustained interest.
This can be achieved through the production of quality, relevant content that not only taps into customer needs, but also boosts general brand awareness.
However, being able to generate, create and distribute content means little if there is not a method in place to measure its impact and inform future strategies. This is content intelligence.
At its heart, content intelligence is the act of using published material and its performance to monitor consumer interest and behaviour and tailor your approach accordingly.
As with any aspect of any business, a certain degree of trial and error is involved, but it is possible to minimise the margin for error by first determining who your target audience is.
I previously looked at why audience needs to come first in content marketing, and while it should always act as the starting point, content intelligence needs to bookend this and form the catalyst for restarting the cycle.
The content marketing cycle is endless, and should always be tweaked and updated according to changing interests and behaviour, but that is not to say that the process you employ has to change.
By implementing firm approaches to the way you brainstorm, produce, amplify and measure, it is possible to create four foundations of content marketing. At Brand8 PR, we call this Generation, Creation, Amplification and Evaluation.
Evaluation is the key to the entire process – while it is possible to create interesting and stimulating campaigns that will tap into consumer interests, the only way to truly gauge its impact is by measuring its performance against multiple criteria.
This means looking at the reach of the content, but also who is reading and sharing it. For inbound links, where are they coming from and why? Which social channels are proving most effective in driving traffic? Which topics are the most popular? If some are proving more or less effective than anticipated, why is this the case? If you are using an integrated approach, then how do traditional, online, print and social media compare with each other? Are there spikes in traffic around certain events? Are some days or times more popular for posting and generating buzz? Which types of content are resonating with your audience in terms of written/visual and video?
If that sounds like a lot of questions to be asking, then you’re right, but that’s only the half of it. Gone are the days when you could optimise and publish an article and let Google do the rest. Modern content must be high quality, targeted, amplified and analysed to perfection if it is to perform as well as it can.
Content intelligence feeds into all of this, but at the same time it does not represent the end of the journey. Once this data is collected, analysed and extrapolated, the process begins again, except this time the strategy is informed by tangible data.
Over time, it becomes possible to predict user trends and behaviour and even produce pre-emptive content, which is essentially content marketing nirvana. No longer are you predicting what will interest users and producing content in line with this, but you are actually driving the interest and discussion with the content you produce.
The result? Greater awareness of your brand and increased trust, which fosters action, conversion and – subsequently – purchase.
Effective content marketing represents a long and winding road with twists and turns that require careful navigation. Content intelligence is the navigator that tells us where to go next and ultimately leads us to our destination.