A riddle: What's the difference between your content and mashed potatoes?

Answer?

Nothing.

To the technologies that host and deliver your content, the stuff they deliver may just as well be mashed potatoes as text strings or image files.

Even marketers who spend lots of time tagging content know the process is very fallible, often out of date, and only applicable to a handful of pre-selected contexts.

The technology simply doesn't know what the content's actually about, or how it works. It's just content. Mashed potatoes.

The same applies to marketers across the business. That great video explainer that got made two years ago during another CMO's tenure? It may as well be a little portion of mashed potatoes buried under a mountain of other mashed potatoes.

Enough of the metaphor. You get it.

Content intelligence changes all that. It is technology that helps content understand itself - what it's about, how it speaks, how effective it is at accomplishing certain goals, what emotions it calls to mind, etc.

That may sound funny. It is. But it's not necessarily stranger than spellcheck in your word processor. Thanks to a built-in dictionary, the processor knows that 'recieve' may not be right, and puts a little red line under it.

Content intelligence goes a bit further, in that it's continuously updating itself. Iimagine a very smart dictionary that automatically absorbed neologisms and understood word choice given context ("you might want to say 'car' here instead of 'automobile'"). But the principle's the same.

And because content's the coin of the digital realm for all things marketing these days, content intelligence delivers a real kick:

  • One direct marketer found that emotional content intelligence drove a 20+% uptick in email open rates (when he'd been testing so many other things that small single-digit improvements had been his experience).
  • A publisher found that three content managers could switch from a mundane tagging activity to designing rich, new content experiences.
  • A large technology company found they could keep their product content for more than 3,000 far more consistent, improving site performance.

Content intelligence is a development priority for the big marketing technology companies like Adobe and Salesforce.
It's also driving a fast-growing group of bespoke vendors, who are applying it in many different use cases (like all those mentioned above).

(About the author: Ryan Skinner is a senior analyst at Forrester Research serving B2B marketing professionals. This blog originally appeared on his Forrester blog, which can be viewed here).

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