You’ve heard of content strategy and content marketing, but how about content intelligence?

Content intelligence means having a data-driven understanding of how your content is performing. This isn’t just about knowing how many people clicked on a link. It’s about knowing how many people started to read the content; how many people partially read it; how many people read the whole thing; how many people skimmed it, how many people opened it but then let it languish in a browser tab for three days… you get the idea.

And more than that, content intelligence is about knowing who your readers are and what they care about. Knowing more about your readers allows you to connect the dots and understand which pieces of content are resonating with segments of your audience. The example I’ve shared highlights written content, but content intelligence applies to other forms of content, too – it’s just measured a little differently. Some say that content intelligence is the future of content marketing. 

Content intelligence is a relatively new term, supported by a number of emerging platforms. If you Google “content intelligence,” most of the information you’ll find is created by the platforms that make this new type of intel possible. For example, this infographic highlights some of the technologies that power content intelligence, including the ever-popular buzzwords “artificial intelligence” and “machine learning.”

All  marketing is becoming increasingly data-driven. It makes sense – as more and more activity moves online, marketers have more information to work with. SEO and growth marketers have long been focused on metrics. Now, content marketers can join them in using data to make decisions. At its core, content intelligence makes it possible for teams that were previously driven by very basic insights to access more nuanced information about their content.

For example, not so long ago, a marketer might have only known which URLs had been visited the most times. Perhaps they also used “time spent on site” as a proxy for engagement. Now, with more sophisticated insights derived from user interactions with content, marketers can do things like:

  • Send precisely targeted emails with ever more relevant content, thereby boosting open rates
  • Identify trending topics in order to double down on what’s working or attract desirable audiences
  • Pinpoint holes in a content marketing strategy or gaps in content coverage
  • Put paid ad spend behind high-performing content, with a high degree of confidence
  • Understand which content formats are popular with particular individuals, or for particular use-cases

And it’s not just marketers who benefit from content intelligence – it’s any team or business wanting to ensure that their content is resonating with their audience. It’s any organization that wants to use resources more efficiently. It’s any company that wants to attract new audience members, retain their existing audience, or launch targeted campaigns by providing real value to their communities.

What makes content so powerful as both a marketing and retention strategy is the fact that it’s a win-win. The audience gets value, and the organization builds influence and recognition. Content intelligence helps supercharge those efforts. It makes it possible for you to deliver more than just valuable, but generic content. With content intelligence, you can share the right valuable content at the right time to the right person. I like to think of content as being a way to have conversations with your audience at scale. 

Content intelligence means that you’re not just shouting into the void. You’re actually using the data to listen, and then respond. It’s a better discourse that kicks off a virtuous flywheel effect. Because when you respond with better content, your audience will keep engaging, and that gives you even more information about what’s resonating, which helps you create better content, which… well, you get the idea. It’s a flywheel! And content intelligence is what gets that wheel spinning. 

If all of this sounds a little intimidating, I get it. My own background is in marketing, and I’ve always been more of a word nerd than a data diva. I’ve long thought of data as something I “should probably learn more about,” and not with a high degree of enthusiasm. The good news is this – it’s getting easier. You no longer need to be part data scientist or SQL whiz-kid to leverage data. But yes, it’s time to learn how to use content intelligence to personalize your marketing and content development efforts. Your organization – and your audience – will thank you.