Building a Culture of Content as Data

CIOs must ride the wave of content marketing by emphasizing the content over the containers.

content is king

As CIOs scramble to develop a digital strategy that reinforces their relevance in the eyes of the business, unfortunately most will miss the single most critical element required for that credibility.

Unless CIOs and their IT organizations develop a deeper understanding of content and its relationship to driving insight from data, they will surrender what's left of digital strategy leadership to CMOs and the business.

This goes well beyond heading up the technology aspects of deploying content management systems. It goes back to my mantra related to IT developing skills that place an increased emphasis on the contents over the containers.

This means studying the content implications of each of the trendy SMAC (social, mobile, analytics and cloud) skill areas. For example, social and mobile derive little meaningful data insight unless the customer engages with content that makes the digital interaction meaningful.

IT professionals must consider this customer engagement content in much the same way they would source code in their own world. Every line of code results in some aspect of functionality in the program.

In much the same way, a culture of content as data looks at how the granular aspects of content carry certain indices that throw "data exhaust" when consumed by the target. For example, if one knows the specific indices purposefully baked into the messaging of a white paper on "Implementation of Hybrid Cloud Strategy in Banking," the vendor selling that banking technology will derive some very meaningful data on that prospect's content engagement to use for lead generation purposes.

On the other hand, the "random acts of content" strategy that many companies use produces only a generic snapshot of the engagement and an equally vague data footprint.

So how can IT leadership instill a culture of content as data? Here are a few ideas, starting from the inside and moving out toward the actual customer.

First, closely study the themes of key content assets and libraries used by the business for customer engagement and field marketing purposes. Look for deeper themes that go beyond the broad relational taxonomies the business uses for searching and sorting. Assign various pieces of internal and external content to your IT team and have them audit them for interesting data indices.

Second, obtain readership studies and media kits from key trade publications and sites in your sector. Study the purchase behavior they've researched to convince advertisers that their properties have active buyers.

Third, move further out and meet with key customer facing sales and marketing teams about content-driven propensity to buy triggers they're looking for to move a lead from cool to hot.

Finally and most important, as with any digital, go feral to discuss content and messaging preferences with the real live customers out in the wild. History tells me that the further you get from the customer, the greater the filter placed on outside-in thinking.

Content marketing is experiencing an incredible hype curve among CMOs and huge increases in budget dollars are following the trend. Those CIOs who embrace a culture of content as data will not only deepen their relationships with the content-rich businesses, but will carve out a unique relevance that eliminates being marginalized by shadow IT.

Any cases you might be able to share on building a content as data culture and strategy?

This article is published as part of the IDG Contributor Network. Want to Join?

To comment on this article and other CIO content, visit us on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.
Download the CIO October 2016 Digital Magazine
Notice to our Readers
We're now using social media to take your comments and feedback. Learn more about this here.