By Michele Linn published July 21, 2015

3 Worlds Unite: Content Marketing, Content Strategy, and Intelligent Content

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At the Content Marketing Institute, we talk a lot about content marketing, content strategy, and intelligent content. And we have a lot (a lot) of internal conversations around how these fit together – and specifically why marketers need to understand each and how we at CMI can best help.

The short answer: What makes your brand exceptional is the entire set of experiences people have related to your organization. The experiences created by your content marketing go only so far.

The longer answer? Keep reading.

The fundamentals of content marketing

Since its inception, CMI has been advancing the practice of content marketing. When done right, content marketing provides useful, entertaining, relevant content that customers want, even crave. (As a side benefit, this kind of marketing is a joy because you’re truly helping.)

Because content marketers are tasked with building an audience – and ultimately, increasing sales – content marketing success often is measured in conversions and leads. The danger is that they may have a hyper-focus on conversions and leads, neglecting content quality and failing to align with content generated elsewhere in the enterprise. The result often is a poor customer experience with the brand’s content as a whole.

Enter, content strategy

As I wrote in my recent post, even the best content marketers usually don’t have their customers’ entire content experience in mind. (And who can blame you, as you have so much else to do?) While it’s easy to understand why your content may be disjointed, though, it hurts the brand. Here’s how Ann Rockley puts it in her book Managing Enterprise Content: A Unified Content Strategy:

When information exists in multiple areas, it often differs based on content, style, tone, and message. Customers don’t know which one is correct, most up to date, or comprehensive. When customers encounter these inconsistencies, they become understandably confused. Sometimes confusion leads to aggravation. Inconsistency damages customer experience.

This is where content strategy comes in.

Content strategists aren’t motivated by “likes” and conversions. They want users to have the best possible experience – and they have processes in place to manage content as a product, which is to say, as a business asset. (Note: Content strategists are not the same as content marketing strategists.)

Marketers don’t need to be experts in all things content strategy. But they do need to understand some of the basic concepts. They also need to connect with strategy-minded people who can help them provide the best possible customer experience with their content and, in turn, engender even more trust in the brand.

What about intelligent content?

Of course, here at CMI, we also talk a lot about intelligent content. We are passionate about this concept for two reasons:

  • Content marketers want to provide the right content for the right person at the right time. Few brands know how to do this well. If you want to create an exceptional experience, you need to figure this out.

At the same time, we have observed through countless conversations that most brands aren’t there … yet. Those brands that are “there” often keep their stories to themselves because they know what a competitive edge their intelligent content approach gives them. So, to meet the current needs of the CMI audience, we are starting by bringing together the worlds of content marketing and content strategy.

We believe that this initial focus serves marketers where they are today, introducing them to things content strategists know, laying the groundwork for the day when content marketing is ready to meet intelligent content.

Three worlds unite

As Noz Urbina and I briefly discussed in some comments on a recent post, only by bringing together the worlds of content marketing and content strategy and intelligent content – oh my! – will marketers be able to best help brands delight customers (and, in turn, benefit the bottom line).

With this goal in mind, we at CMI aim to find and share stories of brands that are bringing together these worlds. We aim to provide practical, approachable advice to help us all provide better content experiences for our customers. You’ll also now see all posts about content strategy and intelligent content on the CMI blog, as we believe these are issues that should be core to what content marketers are considering.

Are you in?

To learn more about content strategy – as it applies to content marketing – sign up for our weekly email newsletter. Not only will you get an exclusive article from our Chief Strategy Officer Robert Rose, but you’ll also learn about content strategy, which, I guarantee you, will help you think about your content in a more customer-centric way. 

I would love to hear from you. How do you think marketers need to evolve?

Cover image by Jeff Sheldon, Unsplash, via pixabay.com

Author: Michele Linn

Michele Linn is the co-founder and chief strategy officer of Mantis Research, a consultancy focused on helping brands create and amplify original research they can use in their marketing. Before starting Mantis, Michele was head of editorial at Content Marketing Institute, where she led the company's strategic editorial direction, co-developed its annual research studies, wrote hundreds of articles, spoke at industry events and was instrumental in building the platform to 200,000 subscribers. In 2015, she was named one of Folio's Top Women in Media (Corporate Visionary). You can follow her on Twitter at @michelelinn.

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