Why Does Intelligent Content Sound So Scary?

Dechay Watts

Written by Dechay Watts on Wed, Mar 18, 2015

Phrases with the word “intelligent” in them tend to make me furrow my brow and immediately put on my thinking cap. Surely, a super brainy, data driven, high level explanation is about to follow that I’ll need to dissect and investigate – or ignore until required to understand.

IntelligentContentArtificial Intelligence, Intelligence Quotient, and now… intelligent content.

But, once the panic subsides and reason reasserts itself, intelligent content really isn’t all that scary. As a matter of fact, it’s both practical and interesting, although I won’t go as far as to say it’s “easy” or “simple.”

It’s not.

What is intelligent content?

There are plenty of excellent definitions already available, and many of them from practitioners with more experience in intelligent content than me. So, rather than rehashing them all, let me just point you in their general direction:

No doubt there are plenty more where that came from as well. But you’ll find most if not all of them hark back to the original definition penned by the founder of the Intelligent Content Conference, Ann Rockley who defined intelligent content as:

“Intelligent content is structurally rich and semantically categorized and therefore automatically discoverable, reusable, reconfigurable, and adaptable.”

While other marketers have chosen to break down that definition and fully explain every aspect of it (over the course of a thousand words or more), I’d much rather boil it down to a very simple and memorable nugget:

Intelligent content is content that is created to be reused in every imaginable way.

When you think about it that way, the entire approach that is encompassed in the term “intelligent content” becomes much easier to grasp and appreciate. And God knows I’m all about making things easier.

Why does intelligent content matter?

Producing content is clearly one of the most important marketing activities any brand can engage in these days. Any company that is not doing so in one form or another is being left behind as we speak.

“Content” can be nearly anything – from printed text on a post card to augmented reality created for Google Glass – but it all accomplishes one purpose from a marketing standpoint: to allow a brand to connect on an emotional level with prospects or customers and engage them in some way.

In a world where everyone carries the universe in their pockets, the potential content formats and variations a successful brand must master is mind-boggling. Whereas a well-made website was once a solid foundation for all your digital content needs, it’s now barely a foot in the door and could quickly disappear if you’re not augmenting it with social media and a host of other content options.

But isn’t this the same as repurposing content?

Of course, we all know how important re-purposing content is, and professional content marketers have been effectively doing this for years. An ebook is broken down into three white papers and ten blog posts, a blog post is broken down into five tweets, a white paper is made into a Slideshare and a YouTube video, and the eBook is expanded into a webinar series.

This still makes good sense, but it’s also time- and labor-intensive.

In circumstances where an overworked marketing team finds themselves drowned in the volume of content variations they need to produce, having content in a readily reusable state can instantly reduce backlog and dramatically increase their output of functional content.

Repurposing isn’t enough

For example, consider a software company that produces apps for a worldwide market. Each app requires a comprehensive online help resource in fifteen different languages. The company has nineteen apps already released and three more in beta, and their agile release schedule churns out new updates on every app on a 12-week cycle.

The three stressed technical writers tasked with creating and maintaining 330 websites every 90 days would no doubt benefit from the ability to make one universal change that is instantly reflected across multiple formats and languages.

While that example is extreme, the same kind of content glut can affect brands trying to keep up with standard lead generation, lead nurturing, customer engagement and customer success cycles when multiple products, multiple languages, multiple formats, and other variables come into the mix.

So how do we do it?

Honestly, there’s a lot more to learn. For me as well as you.

The technology available to marketers, the best practices that make intelligent content work, the anecdotal and data-based results of long-term use…

All of these are still question marks we’re waiting to get clarified.

That’s why I’m thrilled to be part of the upcoming Intelligent Content Conference to be held in San Francisco, March 23-25. My talk is entitled, “Finding the Hero in Your Data”, and there are going to be dozens of other fantastic topics discussed over the three day event as well.

Join us if you can, and we’ll learn together!

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