Author: Clare McDermott

Clare McDermott is the founder of Ravn Research, a research consultancy that helps brands produce original research and C-level content. Connect with her on LinkedIn. Follow her on Twitter clare_mcd.

By clare-mcdermott published October 14, 2019

A Step-by-Step Guide to Audience Development

Intel launched its digital magazine, iQ, in 2012. But in early 2017 the team switched focus from chasing eyeballs to sustaining loyal readers. Luke Kintigh was head of publishing at Intel iQ at the time and shared how they did it.

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By clare-mcdermott published October 14, 2019

Research: The Window to an Audience’s Soul

When the Sierra Club of Colorado needed to raise awareness about its conservation efforts (and raise money to support them), the grassroots organization used Voice of Customer research to get inside the heads of its members.

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By clare-mcdermott published April 15, 2019

How to Create Content in a World With Bots

Editor’s note: This article debuted in the April issue of the now digital only Chief Content Officer magazine.

In 2014, I got into a heated conversation with a colleague. He argued that, within just a few years, robots would replace writers in content marketing. I rolled my eyes so hard my brain ached. The idea of machines crafting sentences as elegant and nuanced as a human writer could was both heretical and impossible, I thought.

Turns out he was right, but the development isn’t the sci-fi creative dystopia I imagined … in most cases. Today, companies indeed use machine learning to generate natural language, and marketers are using AI-powered tools like Narrative Science and Automated Insights to produce practical, well-constructed, high-performing content.

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By clare-mcdermott published April 1, 2019

Bionic Content: Can Creative Writers and Machine-Built Content Co-Exist?

AI-driven robo-writers, “cobots,” and chatbots don’t necessarily mean the machines are taking over. Often, they can enhance your content and communications. Just don’t alienate your audience.

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By clare-mcdermott published March 15, 2019

Rant Alert: Content Marketers Must Up Their Data Game

Over the last decade, organizations have invested heavily in marketing analytics engines – from predictive analytics to performance management and data visualization tools. These tools help users surface insights from massive quantities of data, but perhaps more compelling, they bill themselves as “self-service” or accessible to marketers who may not have advanced quantitative skills.

Are those who are not data scientists or analysts equipped to make sense of the output from these powerful engines? Plenty of research points to the contrary.

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By clare-mcdermott published November 26, 2018

5 Research Options You May Never Have Considered for Your Content

If you’re like most content marketers I speak to, the strategies and tactics you use to grow an audience and get attention just aren’t working as they once were.

A BuzzSumo study, Content Trends 2018, confirms it; in a review of 100 million articles published in 2017, the company found social sharing was half what it was three years earlier.

It’s time to look around for new ideas. One successful but often overlooked approach is publishing original research. I’m not referring to market research, customer research, or competitive research, I’m talking about how marketers host an original research project and publish the results of that effort. In other words, research as content marketing.

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By clare-mcdermott published August 9, 2018

Are You Really Smart About How AI Works in Marketing?


In its widely talked about State of Marketing Report, Salesforce reports that just over half (51%) of marketers are using AI in one form or another, while another quarter plan to test it over the next two years.

A smaller study of over 500 search, content, and digital marketers by BrightEdge found that just 4% have implemented AI (that’s not a typo).

Who’s right? Salesforce, which reports one in two marketers is using AI, or BrightEdge, which puts the number at one in 25?

The answer may be “neither.” That’s because many marketers (and business leaders as a whole) are confused about which technologies are genuinely AI-powered and which simply rely on advanced algorithms and analytics.

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By clare-mcdermott published May 9, 2018

Why Brands Need to Take the Plunge Into Virtual Reality Today


In late 2016, pundits declared 2017 whould be the year virtual reality won mass adoption. And yet here we are, well into 2018, still waiting for it to fully materialize.

Are we kind of, nearly, almost there? John Bucher, virtual reality producer and consultant, makes the case for trying the medium even if it’s not fully ready for prime time, with examples of brands actively experimenting
with virtual and augmented reality.

But before we begin, let’s get a couple definitions out of the way.

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By clare-mcdermott published May 2, 2018

Reddit for Marketing? Hell No, Except in This One Case


A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog post about Reddit for this very site. Before it published, I was sure it was going to be my Best Post Ever. I cleared my morning to handle the massive influx of comments.


Netting just over 400 shares, it was – by CMI’s standards – a dud.

I’ve since learned that confessing my undying love of Reddit to non-redditors creeps people out. Reddit has a strange and even repellant interface, though its engineers are working on a friendlier site redesign now. And when Reddit makes the news, it’s usually a story about the site’s trolls or less attractive underbelly (such as when redditors harassed innocent bystanders after the Boston Marathon bombing, implying they might be the bomber based on appearance alone).

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By clare-mcdermott published April 4, 2018

Dataviz: A Critical Skill for Modern Marketers

dataviz-critical-skill-modern-marketers (1)A decade ago a friend bought me a copy of Edward Tufte’s iconic book Beautiful Evidence.

The professor emeritus of political science, statistics, and computer science at Yale University has spent his career teaching others how to turn information and data into elegantly crafted drawings and graphics – and even more, doing so in a way that illuminates in interesting and unexpected ways.

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