Intelligent content — should we be bullied by data?
by Lani Carstens (@lani_carstens) To create a powerful piece of content, having the correct data and analytics is important — but should data lead the conversation or are we missing out on an opportunity for human connection? Data and audience analytics only give us half the picture; without human intelligence, the story is only half told and we fall short of forging a connection.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, intelligent content “combines the wonders of technology with human capability in a way that powerfully supports an organization’s goals”. Lovely, but what is the real relationship between technology as an enabler and motivating human behaviour with beautiful content? Is it even possible?
The magic, I believe, lies in using journalistic skill and overarching human intelligence to really make your audience sit up, take notice and engage. Taken further, the content should ignite a mood, emotion or response, and ultimately drive behaviour. In short, it should light fires. In content marketing, the challenge is always to tell a brand’s story, regardless of channel, in the most-compelling way in order to evoke a response. That “response” is either to change perceptions, forge a brand affinity, sell product or all the above! Easier said than done, or is it?
Forget B2B, or B2C
Think B2Me. We’re talking to humans, people, with feelings and emotions who need to walk away from your message thinking a little (or a lot) differently about your brand than they did before. And it’s not about what your PowerPoint presentation to the board says about your brand; it’s what your customers want to hear and how you have responded to their very real needs. Data can help with that bit.
Think like a storyteller
Hire the very best editors and creatives your budget can afford. A great editor will take your brand message and turn it into a compelling piece of storytelling, whether in a picture or 140 characters, and elicit an emotional response. Your PowerPoint presentation ‘reworke’ won’t cut it. A good editor will put the reader at the heart of the messaging, then the brand will be subtly be woven into the narrative.
Don’t let the data push you around
We’ve all heard marketing tales of products that would never have seen the light of day, had they ‘listened’ to the research (we’d still be using Walkmans). Data will tell you the facts and figures, the how and when but human intelligence will provide the why — it’s what’s needed to really understand your target audiences’ inner workings and passions and enable you to respond with brilliant content. Editors, regardless of channel, should advocate fiercely for the customer and what truly drives them.
Measure, measure, measure
Beautiful words and pictures aren’t enough. Content agencies need to be accountable to deliver ROI and, unsurprisingly, data is key to measuring this. But there is no one-size-fits-all solution. When setting up metrics, be guided by your business objectives and agree on the bespoke metrics that will enable you to measure success. Review how these metrics are structured at regular intervals, adjusting them as your needs change. Finally, when reviewing the metrics, ensure that the raw data is interpreted into something meaningful, insightful and actionable to have a real impact on your content programme and on your business. Its content informed by EQ that will create the relationships that ensure longevity.
We call it intelligent content.
Lani Carstens (@lani_carstens) is group managing and executive director of John Brown Media South Africa, a position she has held for the past nine years. Before that, she spent three years in Shanghai, China, on secondment by Naspers as group business director, where she helped launch a number of lifestyle titles. She oversees John Brown’s operations in SA and is an executive board member of the international John Brown Media Group.
“Motive” is a by-invitation-only column on MarkLives.com. Contributors are picked by the editors but generally don’t form part of our regular columnist lineup, unless the topic is off-column.