Today was the official kickoff of the Intelligent Content Conference for 2015, and the opening keynote speakers did not disappoint.
The lead was Scott Abel, editor of The Language of Content Strategy and Chief Strategist for The Content Wrangler. He was one of the original founders of the Intelligent Content Conference, and he brought a palpable energy and effervescence to the stage.
Hist topic was Intelligent Content in the Experience Age, and he argued convincingly that content that’s “good enough” is no longer really good enough.
Scott Able and Why “Good Enough” is the New Failure
Customers are becoming accustomed to exceptional experiences, and once they’ve had a few that standard becomes the new normal for them. Afterwards anything less than extraordinary is a failure for them.
This is becoming a problem because 76% of North American business think they are caring for their customers, but only 36% of customers feel cared for by those same businesses.
Our content is not meeting the rising level of acceptability for consumers.
In the experience age we need to look beyond the practicality of services and realize that the experience is the most valued part of the transaction, and that our customers will reward brands that provide them with exceptional experiences with their loyalty.
Additional, more and more consumers are suffering from the curse of discernment, meaning that they’ve had a great experience and now recognize the distinction between awesome and meh. That means our content has to be exceptional all the time, on every device.
We need to create superpowered content that isn’t limited to a single purpose or format.
Scott connected these experience-biased consumers with the concept of intelligent content by focusing on how we need to leverage computer power to make our content work smarter not harder. One of the most compelling aspects of intelligent content is that it’s future proof, meaning that it can adapt to any emerging technology without needing to be recreated from scratch.
That means that we can continue to offer outstanding experiences on whatever the next new platform is without reinventing the wheel of content.
Intelligent content is a dense, complex topic, but hearing Scott made it seem worth the effort to start down the path toward adoption.
Dr. Carmen Simon and Forgetability
After Scott came Dr. Carmen Simon, an equally charismatic but entirely different type of speaker covering a completely different topic.
She’s a neuroscientist who focused on the science behind creating content that will stick in an audience’s mind.
She cited research that indicates that viewers retain only 10% of what they see, and challenged us to take charge of that 10% and make sure it’s the 10% that we’d like people to remember about our content.
Using a little bit of neuroscience and a little bit of good ole’ fashioned marketing, we can actually influence what people remember in our messaging, but it will take some deliberate effort.
A great phrase from this presentation was:
Habituation kills marketing.
Basically our brains have been designed by evolution to get used to external stimuli very rapidly. So we tune out the fan in the corner, or the traffic noise outside our office, so that we can focus instead on more relevant information. Otherwise we would all go crazy.
Habituation is good for our sanity, but bad for marketing because it makes people prone to tuning out and forgetting all our carefully crafted content.
We can, however, disrupt this tendency by providing variation in the stimuli we create. For example:
text <—> graphics
formal <—> informal
static <—> dynamic
monologue <—> dialogue
facts <—> stories
complexity <—> simplicity
Using frequent stimulus change can help avoid customer habituation to our content.
Variation can stimulate memory, but we must keep the 10% that we want remembered stable, so that it’s the part that sticks with our customers.
Dr. Simon spent a lot of time talking about rewarding engagement with content and stimulating a visitor’s brain to produce dopamine through the use of anticipation and reward. It was fascinating, but a little hard to connect to a real-world content production strategy. This is one presentation I need to digest for a while before I can apply it to what we do daily.
Intelligent Content Breakout Sessions: Good, Bad, and Ugly
We try hard to be real here at MarketerGizmo, so I’m not going to pull any punches in this recap. Some of the breakout sessions we attended today were not valuable. The conference organizers acknowledged that not every track or session is right for everyone, so they encouraged people to take charge of their own experience and leave a session they weren’t engaged with.
We took that advice to heart, and left rooms throughout the day. Our reward was finding some strong presentations that gave us actionable information for our team.
Some highlights that we’re super excited to bring home:
- Brands rocking personalization:
Spotify – self direction
Bark box – stimulation
Amazon smile – gratification
LinkedIn – achievement
Uber – control
Google – safety control
- Semantic content is not scary. You can use it to break down your content into reusable components that can be tracked and reassembled in new, hyper-efficient ways. I want to do this on our websites right now!
- The most accessible definition of intelligent content so far: “Put labels on stuff so we can get a hold of it and give it to the right people at the right time.” – Noz Urbina
- The amazing, high effort content we create doesn’t actually drive conversions. Ouch.
- On average 10 pieces of content are consumed before a B2B purchasing decision. We need more content.
More Intelligent Content Coverage
We have one more full day of learning and meeting other great professionals, so stay tuned for another recap tomorrow.
We’ll be hearing from Robert Rose on Bridging the Gap Between Experiences and Intelligent Content as our keynote address, and then heading into a couple of entirely new tracks on content strategy and content marketing.
Truthfully we’re hoping for a few more actionable sessions tomorrow. We’ll keep you posted on our findings.
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