What is
content intelligence?

An introduction to content intelligence

Perhaps you’ve read about content intelligence in a few articles or heard the phrase tossed around your office, but what does content intelligence actually mean? And more importantly, should you even care?

The short answer is: if you care about providing a great customer experience, you should be thinking about content intelligence. The long answer is the rest of this page, as we dive into the term and what it means for today’s business.

But before you read any further, take a moment to consider what you hope it’s about. How would you define the phrase right now, without any additional information? What content challenges are you facing, and so what do you want content intelligence to provide for our team? In a world of endless possibilities, what type of intel do you wish you had on your content? What would make you feel more confident in something that you or your colleague writes?

Different types of content intelligence tools

Content intelligence technology helps teams manage, measure, and improve their content.

Forrester senior analyst, Ryan Skinner defines content intelligence as “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.”

So, content intelligence — sometimes called content AI — is an analysis of the actual content of your content, i.e. the copy, the language, the specific words. Some people focus only on knowing which content is working best and how to extrapolate that into additional successful content, which is certainly a piece of the puzzle. But for holistic business success, there’s so much more to measure — like your exact word choice.

Powerful content intelligence technology can analyze content in several ways:

  1. Content intelligence helps content understand what it’s about

    This is what most people think about first. It includes understanding the ideas being portrayed, categorizing the context of those ideas, and linking it to related content.

    Content strategists and content marketers use tagging to index their work. Tagging denotes what the content is about, so it can be organized into groups of similar content and easily found again. For example, this page will be tagged with the phrase ‘content intelligence’. When another blog post is also tagged with ‘content intelligence’, this page could be auto-populated into a “Related Reads” section.

  2. Content intelligence analyzes how content speaks

    To help you unravel this point, think about one of your close friends. What words would you use to describe how they speak? Loud or quiet? Articulate or a rambler? Often sarcastic or always genuine? And do you attribute their words and attitude to their personality traits?

    Just like humans, written content can portray its own personality through its voice, tone, and style.

    With the introduction of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and natural language processing (NLP) to content intelligence tools, you can actually analyze the personality of your content. In Writer, this technology is trained to understand the nuances of language, in order to process new sentences and share a personality readout. It helps you answer questions like: How formal is your content? How clear is your content? How lively is your content? How emotional is your content?

    • Quick AI definitions:

    • Artificial intelligence (AI)

      AI is difficult to pin down because the space changes rapidly. Broadly, it includes any device that perceives its environment and takes actions to maximize its chances of achieving a goal.

    • Machine learning (ML)

      A technique used to achieve AI, that teaches computers to mimic cognitive functions normally reserved for humans and animals, e.g. learning and problem solving. The technology is trained to comprehend its world using huge sets of data (“Big Data”).

    • Natural language processing (NLP)

      Another subset of AI accomplishments, focused entirely on enabling computers to utilize human language. It’s particularly difficult because mastery requires simultaneous understandings of context, tone, voice, terminology and slang, plus an ability to correctly make assumptions to identify errors in speech or text. Just think of how long it takes to teach a human to learn language!

    • Natural language generation (NLG)

      The natural next step after NLP. Once technology can understand language, NLG enables it to edit existing text and even craft its own sentences.

    The Power
    of Language

    Your language is one of the biggest factors impacting the psychological and physical responses of your audience. (Do they still like you? Do they stay on your site/app? Do they sign up/purchase?) Yes, you can test gated content vs. ungated content, short-form vs. long-form, infographics vs. videos, topic A vs. topic B, but the bottom line is that nothing matters more than word choice.

    For example, at the time of writing, the following messages were the website homepage headlines for two U.S. companies, likely competing over very similar target audiences:

    • Filing feels better with upfront pricing.

      At [company name], what you see is what you get. No surprises. No hidden fees. Just tax prep the way it should be.

    • FREE, guaranteed.

      $0 Fed. $0 State. $0 To File. Easily and accurately file your simple tax returns for FREE, plus get your biggest refund. See why it’s free.

    Which one are you more drawn to?

    Truth is, it’s going to be different for everyone. Some people viscerally reject repetition of the word “free” (and thus will prefer company 1), while to others “free” is exactly what they’re looking for in this product (and thus will prefer company 2).

    All to say, there is nothing more powerful than language. Nothing can make your brand sing better — or sink faster — than careful, exacting word choice.

  3. Content intelligence measures content efficacy

    All content creation should begin with a goal. Why are you bothering to write this at all? And how will you know if it was worth the effort? It’s all part of becoming a data-driven business and copywriter.

    Many digital marketers use tools like Google Analytics to track views, time spent, click throughs, and other engagement metrics to understand if their content works. Product managers creating content (such as microcopy and onboarding flows) can track whether tools tips are used and used well, whether onboarding flows are completed, bounce rates out of e-commerce storefronts, and other engagement metrics.

    Gathering content intelligence doesn’t stop with your owned assets. When someone is deciding whether or not to use your product, one positive or negative review can completely sway their opinion of your brand. Such is the power of social proof. Many marketers and business owners use social listening tools to track and analyze mentions of their brand across the web.

  4. Content intelligence uncovers how readers feel

    While ‘how it speaks’ is about the tone of voice in your content, this is all about understanding your audience and using sentiment analysis to assess your impact. Your word choice and imagery will directly affect their emotional response; it can make or break someone’s trust of your brand and influence their decision to act.

    Scholar Hamza Yusuf beautifully summarized the purpose of caring about your emotional impact:

    “Don’t ever diminish the power of words. Words move hearts and hearts move limbs.”

    —Hamza Yusuf

    Do you know, or can you anticipate, what emotions your content evokes? The best way to know the emotion your content evokes is to ask real people — review content with colleagues, send out surveys, gather focus groups. Additionally, content AI technology such as Writer can provide insight into the emotional range of your content. Do you want content to make people feel happy? Sentimental? Safe? Informed? Nervous? Ready to act?

    Viral marketing and social media sharing provide great examples of how an effective understanding of your emotional impact can be used to further your cause. In research conducted by the Fractl marketing agency, 800 participants reported their feelings on 23 viral images, with a control group reporting their feelings on non-viral images. They found that there was significant correlation between the number of content views and positive feelings, content complexity, and an element of surprise.

  5. Content intelligence checks for consistency

    Every writer has their own set of skills, preferences, and strengths in writing. But businesses should aim for is consistency in all things in order to build a strong brand image.

    — Is the usage of grammar rules consistent across all your products, websites, and assets (e.g. the usage of Oxford commas, or ampersands, or title case, or periods at the end of webpage headers)?
    — Has your company established standardized language you should be using?
    — Has someone used a banned word, emoji, or image?
    — Are your unique personas seeing the right content?
    — Do you have localized copy for your content?
    — Has one of your content creators accidentally plagiarized from an outside source?
    — Are there any spelling or grammar errors?

How content AI helps drive business success

Now that we’ve covered the various types of content intelligence, it’s important to pull it all together. How can increasing your content intelligence help you improve user experiences, increase marketing and sales funnel volume, win new customers, and retain existing business? How can businesses use new capabilities in intelligence gathering to tap into the full power of language? How does everything you’re doing, creating, and writing lead to a better overall experience with your organization?

Becoming obsessed with improving customer experiences

According to Harvard Business Review, 93% of business leaders say that delivering a relevant and reliable customer experience will be critical to their company’s overall business performance in 2019. At the end of the day, improving your user and customer experiences is the raison d’être for content intelligence systems.

1. Establish consistent messaging across every part of the company.

Consistent brand messaging helps you develop trust and establish loyalty with customers. Your vision, values, and brand promises should be the same throughout all your online and offline presence, so people know they can depend on your word. This applies across all functions of your business. You should be scoring your content against established benchmarks, e.g. your styleguide. Ingest all your content AI tool, then check your language to make sure it is aligned with the company messaging. Then, measure the “how it speaks”, “emotions it calls to mind”, and number of technical writing errors.

2. Set and execute on better content strategies.

Content strategy takes answers to “why are we creating this” and applies processes. It should comprise the planning, development, publication, governance, and measurement of all content across an organization. No matter the size of the organization, that is a huge job. A content intelligence platform can help automate each part of that process. It can:

  • Categorize existing content, allowing the strategist to find content gaps and create a plan.
  • Measure existing content efficacy, to help the strategist decide what to keep, update, delete.
  • Gauge your share of voice on a topic, identify new ways or places to share content, and research what your competitors are doing across owned, earned, and paid media.
  • Analyze new copy, to improve it and ensure it meets standards before going live.

All of these are key to a strong, intelligent content strategy.

3. Empower copywriters across every team to programmatically improve all their work.

Content intelligence technology can analyze language and measure it against standards you set, and then provide a calculate an objective “content score”. The goal is to give content strategists, writers, product managers, and anyone else working with content insight into content consistency and performance. Tools that incorporate natural language generation (NLG) can also provide suggestions on how to update the copy to meet those standards.

Introducing this type of real-time content intelligence and content scoring is win-win-win-win that can strengthen a company internally and externally.

  • Writers feel more confident in their work knowing there are no spelling, grammar, brand alignment, or wording issues.
  • Editors and strategists get help pinpointing opportunities for improvement.
  • Customers get consistent messaging and brand personality no matter who was writing behind the scenes.
  • The company provides better experiences for everyone: readers, users, customers, and employees.

Content intelligence with Writer

Writer deeply believes in the power of words to change your business, especially as companies create more and more content.

Our software platform gives teams quick insights into written copy — including voice, structure, terminology, grammar, style, and more. It helps you segment content according to different persona profiles. It allows you to automate “boring” tasks like checking your copy against legal and technical requirements. And it simplifies workflows between the many teams that touch content (design↔marketing↔product↔development).

Writer uses machine learning and natural language processing to help teams create great content. To see how you can use Writer to gain content intelligence, try for free.

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