Darcy Mitchell
Jun 2, 2017

The search for intelligent content

Creating useful and effective content requires a very specific set of skills, writes Darcy Mitchell of iProspect Singapore.

The search for intelligent content

If you’re reading this, congratulations, you’ve made it! Reaching a warm audience is no small feat in a crowded market, and adding to the noise doesn’t make your voice heard either.

However, cutting through the static does. But you don’t have to drop a man from a spaceship or host a marathon to get noticed. Change your approach to the creative process, and the conversions that clients crave will follow in due course.

‘Content’ is still a commodity that evades clear definition, although the term is invariably taking up more and more space on digital briefs across every APAC market. And herein lies the insight that separates successful content strategies from their less effective counterparts.

Successful content marketers prepare for their work much like a team manager prepares his drivers for a race meet—ensuring their vehicles are filled with enough fuel to last the duration whilst briefing drivers for all outcomes, running through multiple iterations of the same race strategy before selecting the most effective version in practice. It also means being prepared to make real-time adjustments to account for changes in condition.

Not a petrolhead? Sufficiently weary of driving metaphors? Let’s make a U-turn and start from the beginning.

Search engines have come a long way. Google’s domain name was only registered a mere 15 years ago. Now conversational search applications like Cortana, Siri and Google Now dictate the evolution of search-engine optimization with ever more complex questions and queries.

The emergence of AI technology, championed by Google Home and Alexa, has search engines responding to real-time needs with conversational search—allowing for users to augment incomplete search terms with follow-up questions and additional keywords.

The response to this evolution must surely be to usher in a new era of content. You know, stuff designed with the consumer’s contextual needs in mind. If this sounds too good to be true, it’s because that’s largely been the case up until now. Good content just doesn’t fall into consumer’s lap that often. According to Brightedge, only one in five pieces of content launched into the digital space is ever engaged with.

To paraphrase a certain US politician, it’s time to make content great again. Though unlike said politician, the aim should be to achieve this without the false promises of a misleading headline. That means delivering brand visibility, enabling brand engagement and above all driving meaningful connections at scale. 

SEO has, in truth, been delivering some (if not all) of this for some time. But as algorithms become more challenging to navigate, it’s important to start thinking beyond the filling in of content gaps, and approach the whole marketing question with an answer that covers more than the sum of its parts.

Intelligent content uses data-driven capabilities to provide an informed platform upon which to base the content-creation process. Search intent, social listening and connected consumer surveys all provide a range of data insights suitable for any budget—with Google’s vast data resources also useful when getting to grip with insights and trends.

In order to reach consumers at all ends of the user journey, marketers must come equipped with a reactive mindset. This requires a very particular set of skills. Advertisers are, after all, not as attention grabbing as they once were; they merely jostle for space in a crowded marketplace containing Facebook notifications, group chats and ad-free Netflix binges, to name but a few distractions. 

This means adopting a strategic plan that goes above and beyond the blockbuster, Guy Ritchie-esque TVC. Be realistic with your expectations. Don’t sell the consumer an ideal or expect them to reach for rose-tinted spectacles when they watch that less-than-perfectly executed campaign video.

Based on the amount of campaign videos with comments disabled, marketers further down the approval chain are seeing the effects (or lack thereof) of the big budget video campaign.

The solution therefore is simple: listen to people’s wants and needs and use these insights to create performance-driven content. Inform content with a purpose above and beyond brand exposure, and dispose of soft assets to introduce consumers to a suite of content that has lifetime value.

These could take the form of a ‘how to video’ series, a standalone microsite, even a set of reaction GIFs if that’s what your audience engages with. Intelligent content empowers consumers to make smarter decisions—and in doing so, shifts the role of brand to thought leader and all-round good guy. 

Darcy Mitchell is senior content strategist, iProspect Singapore

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