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Most content marketers are well aware that producing quality content is not as simple as writing well, or even knowing what to write about. When it comes to creating content that people engage with, businesses in every field are trying to hit a moving target that is constantly changing size and shape.
Every aspect of a target audience, from its mood to its tastes, is changing with the times. Readers are fickle. They can respond negatively to a tactic that may have worked phenomenally well just a few months before.
The challenge doesn’t stop with the audience, but extends to the author as well. In an effort to provide authentic thought leadership, companies that engage in content marketing rarely promote their brands explicitly. This essentially means that content marketing is reliant on the strength of the author’s choice of topic, style of writing, quality of argument, and the context of their delivery.
Is your content marketing working?
For companies and individuals that boast an established and respected name, this is a non-issue. Content from Steve Cook or Jeff Bezos is going to carry a powerful association with innovation and foresight due to the reputation of Apple and Amazon. In this case, reputation is maintained rather than developed.
For brands that are attempting to establish themselves in a marketplace, however, the aim is to develop that positive association in the first place. The absence of brand advertising in pursuit of this, means that the copy has to be truly engaging.
At the same time, by not directly referencing their own brands, content marketers are also at risk of generating interest in their competitors, or raising issues that are counterproductive to their goals. This balancing act, promoting a brand and attempting to differentiate from competitors without directly saying so, is precarious; consequently, only 30% of content marketing is found to be effective as reported by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) .
In other research, the CMI reveals that as many as 45% of content marketers struggle to track the return on their investments. However, it’s not as though analysis of the context, timing, and delivery of content doesn’t take place; content marketers are fully aware of the importance of thorough retrospective analysis, but this necessary process is both costly and time-consuming, and runs the risk of failing to recognise certain qualities of content or to effectively standardise such that valid conclusions can be drawn.
What content strategists need is a toolset that goes under the hood of readership statistics to make comparisons on a level playing field, and which can visualise entire companies as a body of work and show marketers how their brand compares.
Step forward artificial intelligence.
Applying a first AI-d kit
AI is no different to other machinery or automation introduced over the centuries to make our lives easier. For all of the futurism we associate with it, it’s a powerful tool that we can leverage to do the legwork for us, capable of executing calculations and collating data at a faster rate than we have any hope of achieving.
In the field of content marketing, this superpower has the potential to be a game-changer.
With access to the right data, AI is capable of providing the contextualisation that content marketers need to correctly interpret immense volumes of data. Keywords and themes can be drawn from swathes of content.
This enables relevant common qualities to be identified, which can then be organised and measured; for example, similarity to other content, reader engagement, and any available metrics of effectiveness can be singled-out for comparison with competitors’ content.
In this way, AI is capable of reducing the impact of human opinion and bias on content strategy by quantifying what has worked before. Statistics like readership, engagement, keywords and so on provide an indisputable basis for strategic decision-making.
Content marketers benefit greatly from the AI-powered automation of this exhausting process, saving them from trawling through data manually and then making decisions based on gut-feeling.
Video analysis: Google vs Microsoft
As a recent example, CONCURED used artificial intelligence to analyse the video content of leading technology brands. This analysis found that, during a 12-month period, Microsoft has produced over 600 videos, while Google has produced only 190.
For those analysing this data manually, it would be easy to assume that Microsoft has the stronger content marketing offering.
In reality however, CONCURED’s AI uncovered that Google’s average viewcount was over 1m more than Microsoft’s. Digging deeper into this data, it became clear that Google was producing more polished commercial videos with a far shorter runtime – 1m 42s compared to Microsoft’s colossal 7 minutes.
By using artificial intelligence, this insight was uncovered in a matter of seconds, providing an instant understanding as to how both brands can hone and improve their content marketing approach.
As well as helping to automate the data-insights process, there is also AI’s ‘longevity benefit’ to consider. Applying AI to content marketing allows tracking of keyword, theme and engagement data over extensive durations, allowing content marketers to visualize patterns over time as well as to identify emerging trends.
Thus the longer a brand is using AI, the more data it can leverage to make informed content decisions and outsmart its competitors.
This leveraging will continue to grow as AI establishes itself as a tool that content marketers can use to enhance their analysis. The technology is in its relative infancy, despite the impact it has made on globally established brands such as Sky, Barclays and M&C Saatchi.
The future creative partnership?
The partnership between AI and creatives is going to drive the development of purpose-built hardware and increasingly powerful intelligence models that facilitate more efficient and pervasive analysis, and marketers who invested time in the technology at the outset will have the advantage of experience and familiarity.
With a wealth of upfront benefits, as well as compounding effects over time, it seems fair to conclude that there are numerous advantages to introducing AI as a supporting technology behind the activities of creating and distributing high-quality content.
From reducing the workload on content marketers themselves, to increasing the value of retrospective content performance analyses, the implementation of AI should be viewed as an exciting opportunity for businesses to improve their content marketing strategies.
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