It’s no secret that I love discovering and sharing content insights. That’s one of the main reasons I started Content Science Review. In 2015, we gained a wealth of content intelligence based both on research and experience. A few of my favorites from the year…

Brand Attitude Predicts Sales—And Attitude Changes Slowly

Respected international marketing researcher Koen Pauwels and his colleagues explored the impact of behavioral data, such as website analytics, and attitudinal data, such as surveys about customers’ perceptions of a brand, on predicting sales. The findings cross a range of industries, and the discovery that intrigued me most was that attitudinal data is actually the most reliable predictor of sales, especially long term sales (such as for a quarter or year) regardless of industry. Why? Pauwels puts it like this:

We are quick to click on new stuff but slow to change our hearts and minds.

So, a quick promotion that gets people to click might attract your customers’ attention but won’t necessarily change or improve their attitude toward your brand. This insight is powerful for justifying the value of different types of content for your sales efforts. If you want to change customers’ perception of your brand, investing in a quick promotion will not pay off. Instead, a sustained content marketing effort such as this great example from Avery Dennison will be more likely to have an impact on your customers’ attitudes.

Learn more about his research in this CSR interview with Pauwels.

More Global Markets Are Ready for Content Marketing

In 2015, the Content Science team and I talked with amazing people striving to create excellent customer experiences around the world through content. I was particularly struck by the pioneering efforts of teams at Alibaba in China, Russia, and Indonesia. Clearly, content marketing can work around the globe. If you or your team are globalizing your content marketing efforts, don’t miss the lessons Alibaba shares in these articles.

Content Promotion / Amplification Is As Important As the Content Itself

To paraphrase Field of Dreams, “create it and they will come” does not work for content. It’s no longer enough to offer outstanding content. To get results, you have to ensure your content reaches the right customers or audiences. How? By planning to promote or amplify your content through social media, email, and other means. Content promotion needs to be a core part of your content strategy, not an afterthought.

What goes into successful content promotion? Don’t miss these excellent B2B and B2C examples:

Successful Content Leaders Have Vision

More and more organizations are building their own content teams. Earlier this year, the Content Science team and I investigated what makes content teams thrive. One success factor we discovered was a leader with a clear vision for content. Jenny Cordell of FedEx put it this way:

Content leaders need to give direction and be clear about where to go—and then step back instead of micromanaging. They need to be supportive, jump in when necessary, and remove hurdles for the team.

A successful content team leader cultivates a vision, and then acts as an ambassador to stakeholders and a coach to the team. Check out these articles, reports, and workshops to learn more:

Content for Nonprofit, Health, IT, and Retail Has Opportunity to Differentiate

2015 marked the launch of our ContentWRX Index, an assessment of content effectiveness by industry using our ContentWRX software. To start, we focused on segments of the nonprofit, health, information technology, and retail industries. The bad news is we discovered a mass of mediocrity, with some exceptions in the health industry. The good news? We discovered clear opportunities for companies and organizations to differentiate.

  • Health information providers face the opportunity to make their content more actionable. It literally can save lives.
  • Home improvement retailers and IT firms can differentiate by making their content unequivocally relevant to their customers. Give experts advanced advice and newbies more introductory material.
  • Advocacy nonprofits will benefit from clearly conveying WHY their content is accurate. To start, include clear, credible citations and references.

I’m only scratching the surface of what we discovered from the ContentWRX Index. Get the details yourself from these reports:

(The reports require a subscription. Don’t have one? You’re in luck—get one for 25% off if you register by January 4 with the discount code CSFRIEND.)

And we’ll have reports for the financial, media, travel industries in 2016.

Editorial Planning + Process Pay Off at Scale

Executives at Dun and Bradstreet, Avery Dennison, and HowStuffWorks talked with us about establishing a scalable editorial plan and process. If you have an ambitious content vision for 2016, you need the plan and process to support it. Don’t miss these awesome contributions.

We’re Only Scratching the Surface of Data’s Potential to Inform Content Decisions

I’m delighted that more companies are equipping themselves with actionable intelligence for strategic and tactical content decisions. Cox Media Group’s Senior Director of Analytics, Insights, and Optimization Alan Segal puts it this way:

In today’s hypercompetitive environment where everyone is clamoring for the end users’ attention, it isn’t enough to just create content. Publishers and authors must be very deliberate in how they approach content creation and curation. What content should be created? Of the content available, which should be selected? How should it be distributed? Where should it be distributed? These are all questions that should have an answer rooted in analytics.

2015 is the year of seeing the promise for this approach to content. Check out the lessons learned at Dell, Cleveland Clinic, Cox Media, and Adobe below.

I also share the three pillars of data success for content marketing in this piece, originally published by CMO Council:

My hope is in 2016 we’ll get closer to reaching the full potential of incorporating data into content decisions.

As you can see, 2015 was quite a year for accumulating valuable content insights. I look forward to even richer content intelligence in 2016. And if you’re curious about what’s in store next year, check out my 5 content predictions here.

The Author

Colleen Jones is the founder and CEO of Content Science, a growing content intelligence and strategy company based in Atlanta GA. Content Science owns Content Science Review, Content Science Academy, and the content effectiveness software ContentWRX.  Colleen regularly consults with executives and practitioners to improve their strategy and processes for content. She shares insights and guidance from her experience regularly on Content Science Review, at events around the world, and in highly rated books such as Clout: The Art and Science of Influential Web Content.

Follow Colleen on Twitter at @leenjones or on LinkedIn.

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