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. Alan Segal, the vice president of audience development and analytics at CNN, 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 author of The Content Advantage and founder of Content Science, a content intelligence and strategy firm that has advised or trained hundreds of the world’s leading organizations since 2010. She also is the former head of content at MailChimp, the marketing platform recognized by Inc. as 2017 Company of the Year. A passionate entrepreneur, Colleen has led Content Science to develop the  content intelligence software ContentWRX, publish the online magazine Content Science Review, and offer online certifications through Content Science Academy.

Colleen has earned recognition as an instructor on LinkedIn Learning, one of the Top 50 Most Influential Women in Content Marketing by a TopRank study, a Content Change Agent by Society of Technical Communication’s Intercom Magazine, and one of the Top 50 Most Influential Content Strategists by multiple organizations.

Follow Colleen on Twitter at @leenjones or on LinkedIn.

This article is about
Related Topics:



We invite you to share your perspective in a constructive way. To comment, please sign in or register. Our moderating team will review all comments and may edit them for clarity. Our team also may delete comments that are off-topic or disrespectful. All postings become the property of
Content Science Review.

Partner Whitepapers

Writing with Feeling: A Guide to Emotive Language for More Effective Content

Content that uses emotive language performs nearly twice as well as purely factual content. Learn more in this guide from Acrolinx.

From Intent Fracture to Cohesive Content Clusters

Learn why one page is rarely enough to rank for competitive topics and how to build a content cluster that positions you as an authority in this MarketMuse whitepaper.

The 3 Elements of Content Intelligence

Make better content decisions with a system of data + insight.

Digital Transformation for Marketing

Your content approach makes or breaks your digital transformation. Learn why intelligent content strategy + engineering are critical to your success.