Content Engineering, Insights

Intelligent Content Will Change the World (and Differentiate your Brand)

ICC_LogoFor those of you who missed the 7th annual Intelligent Content Conference, you missed an industry inflection point that was, in my opinion, epic and transformational.

What made this conference so epic? Intelligent content (see definition below) started as a discipline reserved for technical documentation publishers (think your TV manual in 25 languages).  These folks have worked with structured content for purposes of reuse and translation for years.  Now, all that know-how is being exposed to marketers.

Marketers are not the only ones benefitting from this new relationship – tech publishers have rarely needed to publish content to a specific audience within a customer journey (the modern day marketing manifesto), so the notion of personalization and adaptive content is quite foreign for most tech documentation professionals. In short, the relationship between these two groups is a match made in heaven.

Intelligent content–meaning structured and meta-data enriched content–had been the domain of tech pubs and a few very smart marketers.  By my unofficial count, close to 80% of this year’s attendees have never been to the event before, and probably 50% considered themselves marketers.  That represents a major shift and “crossover effect.” That’s the inflection point. Content marketers, content strategists and general marketers are now starting to bring intelligent content to the forefront of conversations, planning, and strategy.

After seven years of Ann Rockley and Scott Abel waxing poetic and beating the drum, the role of intelligent content in the world of marketing and technology is without question. Finally, we are seeing an industry ready to realize major benefits. Timing is everything.

To get a feel for how things have changed, let’s do quick recap of the most notable keynote presentations, as they symbolize the latest thinking on how content will transform the relationship between brands and their customers.

The 7 RightsIntelligent Content in the Experience Age – Scott Abel

Scott loves to challenge the status quo and industry norms. He does this with a balance of respect and irreverence.  It works.  More importantly, Scott delivered a very compelling case for the value of experience, challenging the audience to rise above mediocrity.  He cleverly referred to our comfort with a 4.4% conversion rate on email campaigns…suggesting that a 96% failure rate is not acceptable.  Why not go crazy and demand 6%?  The current “it’s good enough” approach is just not good enough.In other words – “Good enough…sucks!”  Scott raised the bar for all brands to aim for “exceptional experiences, each and every time on every device, on every touch point.”  He also took our traditional notion of “Right content, Right person, Right place” to a whole new level, adding “Right time, Right format, Right language, and Right device.”


Print to Digital: 2.0 – Cleve Gibbon

Cleve is a well-respected technologist with a wealth of experience around content.  He discussed a pragmatic approach to creating intelligent content, focused on creating less content, thereby being able to target more channels.  Most organizations today are creating so much content that they can barely maintain any level of quality for the right channels. Another area of opportunity, he suggests, is to treat content like a product. Rather than the traditional “boil the ocean” approach, he recommends that we focus on building a minimal, viable ‘content’ product to iterate from. In other words, “Think Big…Start Small”. Cleve also introduced the audience to a progressive process for ensuring that technology and data are considered early and often when creating intelligent content experiences – something any modern marketer will find compelling.


Content is What We Are – Robert Rose


As Chief Strategist for the Content Marketing Institute, you can expect Robert to build a great connection between content and business, and that’s exactly what he did.  He brilliantly outlined a case for how we, as humans, are now fixated on experiences, and more importantly, dedicated to capturing every detail of those experiences as content.  He cited the massive growth of photo sharing as a strong indication of our own role in creating content as a central element of experience.   Robert also highlighted how all generations are starting to prefer experiences over products. This is particularly true of millennials, 70% of whom have FOMO, or “fear of missing out.”  Customers now see service as the representation of the brand. Intelligent experiences – already adopted by some leading organizations – require businesses to change operations to meet content’s full potential as the great differentiator that will separate winning brands from all others.


The unification of IT best practices with marketing goals is not a new concept. But as intelligent content best practices enable modern content production—at scale and at speed—the discipline looks more and more exciting to the average marketer focused on differentiating brands through rich content experiences. These experiences enhance the buyer journey today and set organizations up to create and deliver the content of tomorrow. Look for marketers to learn and innovate within the intelligent content space for years to come.


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