We all know about the boons and benefits that content can afford. Any business can increase online exposure, build an identity, improve its reputation, establish strong relationships and boost bottom-line sales through content. But in order to be truly effective and influential, it needs to use the right tone of voice, get distributed on the right channels and be seen in the right place at the right time.
This poses various potential problems for content creators, as getting the formula correct each and every time is a challenge to say the least. Although you will no doubt spend an abundance of time making sure you have recognised your audience’s preferences and are producing something they will find useful, informative or entertaining, repeating this process for every segment or persona can be a real drain on time, effort and resources.
To combat this, more and more businesses are looking at ways to change their approach towards content in the hope of achieving greater efficiency. Sure you can implement a strategy, come up with an editorial calendar and leverage the help of a marketing agency, but have you considered looking into intelligent content?
This doesn’t see content as a blog post or video that gets viewed and shared by a group of consumers in the hope of achieving greater online prosperity. It is a new way of thinking, which tries to structure and manage content and turn it into a strategic asset.
Ann Rockley, who several believe is the mother of content strategy, says that intelligent content is “structurally rich and semantically categorised, and therefore automatically discoverable, reusable, reconfigurable, and adaptable.”
She expands on this further by saying: “Intelligent content is not about the words or the images, intelligent content is how you create, manage, and deliver your content. You can have the best content in the world, but if you can’t get it out to your customers or prospects at the right time, in the right format, and on the device of their choosing, it doesn’t matter how good your content is.
“Communicators spend too much time handcrafting content for a channel, then handcrafting that content over and over again for each additional channel. This isn’t sustainable. We don’t have the resources or the time and we can’t afford the cost of this error-prone process.”
So, intelligent content is a way of streamlining the creation, development and distribution process but still managing to deliver relevant and valuable pieces of information to the end-user. Sounds good, but how can every aspect of Rockley’s definition be understood and applied in order to reap the rewards of intelligent content?
As Rockley alludes to, there are different aspects of intelligent content, which result in different consequences. But first of all, let’s look at the organisational side of things.
In order to achieve greater efficiency with creation, management and delivery, content will need to be structurally rich. This also brings about more flexibility and can reduce costs, as it easier and quicker to produce the right content.
Rockley says that “whitepapers may have a structure that includes an executive summary, an introduction, a discussion and a conclusion, while the structure of a marketing brochure might include a positioning statement, a value proposition, a list of features, and a list of benefits.”
So, if you were interested in finding value propositions only, this would be simple to achieve. At the same time, aspects of content can be added or taken away according to the distribution channel or target market.
Although structure is a crucial aspect of intelligent content, the individual materials included within this framework must have meaning and be semantically aware. By tagging content with metadata, it becomes easier to find and identify.
This can refer to things like industry, role, audience or any metric that can be grouped together with others in order to create relevant and personalised content.
In addition to helping achieve business objectives and delivering a content experience the audience wants, the use of semantically aware metadata tags also means intelligent content is automatically discoverable on search engines too.
Reusable and reconfigurable
If you structure your content in the right way, there is no reason why you can’t reuse and reconfigure it on numerous occasions. This will save you the trouble of having to constantly write or design new articles and infographics when the occasion arises.
For example, instructions on how to use a particular product can be utilised for how to feature articles, video demonstrations, frequently asked question pages and technical documentation.
You have to bear in mind that intelligent content is separate from format. It is like a blank canvas but with the lines already drawn out. All you need to do is paint with the right colours according to where it will be seen and consumed.
This is particularly pertinent in today’s tech-rich society. Intelligent content can change in both appearance and substance depending on the audience, their device, their location, their chosen channel or other similar circumstances.
In many respects, it works like responsive web design, which changes a site’s layout depending on whether a smartphone or tablet is used. But with intelligent content, the words and messages also change, allowing for dynamic and tailored delivery.
We have our very own intelligent content here at Matizmo. Enter details about your location and sector on an online submission form and we can deliver a dynamically generated PDF featuring relevant and personalised content, which can only come about from a semantically aware structure.
If you abandon your existing attitude towards content and adopt a more intelligent approach, you might be able to save a lot of time, effort and resources but still manage to deliver customised, personalised and relevant content to your customers.
You will need to establish some objectives, identify customer requirements and audit your current content. But from there, you can start to develop an intelligent content strategy, which is well structured and semantically aware.
Consequently, you can reuse and reconfigure your adaptable content and with any luck, achieve those initial intentions.