For consumer and lifestyle brands, little affects their ability to connect with customers more than staying ahead of the changes in the tastes of their audience.
Being able to identify, understand and execute against rapidly shifting consumer preferences is key to brands' ability to stay connected to their existing customers while winning mindshare in new customers. Traditionally, marketing trend analysis has been closer to reading tea leaves than science, with brands hiring expensive research firms, conducting surveys or assembling focus groups.
This is why some marketers are beginning to use content intelligence tools, such as artificial intelligence, machine vision and large-scale analysis of trends on social media, to help them predict trends in real-time. I've spent the past decade planning and executing digital marketing campaigns for companies as the owner of an agency that uses content intelligence tools, and I now help companies implement new technology to better create and scale content. Through this experience, I've learned how this technology can be leveraged so that agile brands can make data-driven decisions around what content will resonate most deeply with their audience.
What are the potential use cases of content intelligence?
Content intelligence is agile and accurate. For example, a marketer might use it to process millions of images (or frames of video) per hour in order to analyze an industry's, competitor's or brand's own creative assets. Few, if any, human teams could keep up with that volume. Computers are also able to find patterns humans wouldn't think to look for.
These tools can also track trends, which leads to much higher confidence for brands. With AI- and machine vision-based tools, marketers can now know the exact details of how their audience will react to millions of photos after an hour of processing. Additionally, AI can test a full range of possibilities. In marketing, you might track people, animals, objects, places, foods, etc. You could see how these trends impact engagement on your video versus text formats, as well as assess what you should post at certain times. Now, marketers and market research teams don't have to guess what to test, and they aren't limited in what they find by what they test.
I saw these benefits firsthand when my own company recently conducted research for a customer looking to understand the performance impact of their color choices. We found two similar shades of pink, but one was performing 37% below the other. When trying to analyze these colors manually, it was difficult to pinpoint the difference in shades. By using content intelligence tools, the computer was able to analyze every pixel of every image, know the exact color and determine the exact impact of each. Humans can't see pixels or colors with that accuracy, so using technology was a helpful option in this case.
How to leverage content intelligence tools effectively
When using innovative technology in your marketing approach, it's important to remember a few best practices:
1. Work from the ground up. Content intelligence technology is not going to be beneficial to every company. Remember to think about why you might need a new tool and how it would truly benefit your team. When it comes to implementing a CI tool into your workflow, managing the risk for your company means asking yourself if your team is strong enough to make the change. A CI tool will absolutely fix mediocre marketing, but like any tool, it must be implemented correctly to turn the risk into a success.
2. Find the right content intelligence tool for your team. For example, some tools focus on delivering a specific type of content. If that content doesn't align with your strategy, that tool isn't for you.
3. Present new technology to multiple teams at the same time. Effectively leveraging this technology is tricky. Presenting the change to multiple teams in your organization simultaneously is key to ensure everyone is educated on how to use any new tech you might adopt.
4. Prepare for challenges along the way. One of the biggest challenges I see marketers face when deploying content intelligence is planning valuable content. A tip to overcome the potential challenge of planning content is remembering that during the early stages of creating content, it is crucial to know your intended target audience. Having this nailed down at the beginning means you can ensure all of your tools and approaches are focused on serving this specific group.
5. Ensure you and your team are on the same page. Last but not least, to ensure that the technology is a success, you and your team must be on the same page when it comes to outlining your successful, and not so successful, tests. It's important to have your team on the same page when implementing successful tests because a team that isn't in sync with how they can use a tool might as well omit CI to their workflow. A tip for implementing successful tests with your team is valuing them from the ground up. It's best to value their opinion on how the tool you choose can bring value to your company.
More love from more types of customers
Using visual content intelligence tools can help give brands the ability to surface the details that specific segments of customers deeply identify with. In the current content-saturated environment, it's these details that can help a brand shine through.
Leveraging these kinds of insights makes creating a customer-driven image and creative strategy simple to segment and execute, as well as effortlessly scalable to new markets, products and customer types. For brands trying to be customer-driven at scale, I believe these are the new table stakes.