Digital Transformation

The Intelligent Era of Content Marketing

Events are always good for networking, schmoozing, and making the subtle push to turn prospects into clients. But the top conferences do something even more important: They can tell you a lot about the state of an industry.

This year’s Intelligent Content Conference (ICC), produced by the Content Marketing Institute, is no exception. A cohort from Contently is heading to Las Vegas to hear more about what questions people want answered, what investments they want to make for the future, and what trends are already taking over. The more I researched the event, the more I could see how our vision and strategy fit with the direction of the industry at large.

We believe marketers are ready to take the next step in their content journeys. Not only will they be great storytellers, but they’ll have access to better data and make smarter decisions that improve their entire organizations. It’s no accident that intelligence is the theme of the conference.

So whether you’re going to be at ICC or watching from afar, here are 3 crucial shifts taking over content marketing as we speak.

1. Content will power the entire company, not just the marketing team

The word ‚Äúscale” gets thrown around a lot in keynotes and on company websites. And for good reason–growth is essential. But until now, marketers have talked about it in an abstract sense, without a clear understanding of how scaling should work in a large organization. That’s about to change.

By now, marketing teams seem comfortable creating blog posts, social media copy, and the occasional print magazine. However, other parts of the organization are creating content too, just without alignment. This content chaos affects every industry, leading to silos that prevent brands from hitting their goals. The next wave of content creation will also prioritize areas like sales enablement, corporate comms, demand generation, and public relations. Smarter content strategies will connect all departments, helping companies truly achieve scale.

2. Data will help marketers be more accountable

Even as content quality has improved, data is still the core pain point for too many marketers. Do they have the right goals? Are they measuring the right metrics to support those goals? And do they have the time to analyze all of their data to make improvements over time? I bet if you ran a survey, marketers would answer no for at least one of these questions.

As content software gets more sophisticated, we expect analytics to help marketers craft smarter strategies and execute them with more efficiency and effectiveness. This is a drum we’ve been banging for some time now, both in how we approach content marketing internally and how we advise our clients. It’s also why we’ve been investing in artificial intelligence and machine learning. Gathering a lot of insights is good, but having a system in place that can serve them to decision-makers is how brands can separate themselves from the pack.

3. Better personas will lead to better content

Do you really know your audience? A simple question, sure, but one that is more complex than it might seem. Most brands want to create content that reaches millions, but that may not be the right approach. We like to think of the correct strategy as value over volume.

In the past year, we’ve made huge strides in finding out the right people to target with our content by developing ideal client profiles and analyzing how that matches up with our current audience. From what I’ve seen, others are starting to follow suit. Marketers that succeed will put in the work behind the scenes gathering data on who they should really be selling to before they start investing in flashy programs.

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