By harnessing the power of artificial intelligence and machine learning, we can gather analytics and insights that would be impossible for humans alone to deliver. Immedia COO, Richard Jones, explains how.
Looking for a new way to map out content opportunities for your business? Enter Contrend and the EI metric, a new audience engagement tool to transform content marketing. The beating heart of Contrend is a key metric — the Engagement Index (EI) — that is redefining audience measurement. Using a balanced combination of SEO, Audience Impact and NLP analytics, EI can help brands find hidden audiences, assess competitors’ plans and identify trends and topics for maximum engagement and content ROI. Here’s how.
How Did Contrend Begin?
Let’s first rewind 18 months… It’s early 2019 and at Immedia Content we knew that central to successful content strategy, and therefore content creation, is a great understanding of the target audience and competitive landscape. Our diverse B2B and B2C clients were across industries such as finance, tech and travel and were spread over multiple markets across Asia, Europe and the US.
As a result, getting hold of the data we needed to create audience-centric, data-driven strategies was extremely difficult. Let’s rephrase that— it was impossible.
Add to that: ever-increasing competition and the need for us to manage our global pool of 1,200+ expert contributors. We knew we needed something to help us gather and analyze huge, complex data sets and generate the insights we needed.
We needed a way to do this, as our in-house editorial team alone couldn’t do this data collection, analysis and manage our clients. After a lot of head scratching, we realized that AI and ML technology was the only way we could deliver such unique services to our clients and evolve our business.
We Intentionally Built the Contrend Platform to Fill an Obvious Gap in the Market
Over the next 18 months, Immedia built Contrend, a proprietary AI/ML-driven content marketing platform. Securely hosted in the cloud by Amazon Web Services (AWS), Contrend’s DNA includes a coding language called Python that allows it to harvest and analyze huge, complex data sets, and apply AI algorithms and ML techniques to provide unique audience insights and fresh market perspectives. This gives Immedia’s team of Editors the ability to build effective, data-driven content strategies that are regionally consistent and relevant to local audiences.
Contrend was built to do all the heavy lifting that would be impossible for us mere humans, and create output recommendations and predictions that content marketers can use to create great strategy and content. It was, and always will be, an invaluable member of our team.
Introducing EI: The Engagement Index
One of the stars of Contrend is a metric we developed called the “Engagement Index,” or EI. It was created to measure, compare, track, and predict content effectiveness across any industry, vertical, or market. Essentially, it’s the beating heart of Contrend. Here’s what EI does:
- Shows what content topics, formats and styles your audiences’ prefer
- Benchmarks content against your competitors and the wider content landscape
- Shows if content is relevant to the target audience
- Identifies opportunities to maximize the impact of your content
- By measuring and tracking EI to identify audience preferences and trends, Contrend recommends content topics, formats and messaging styles that will increase audience engagement.
Over time it predicts optimum future content topics, formats and channels that will deliver maximum content ROI.
Identifying the “Hidden Audience” with EI
As content marketers, we’re interested in understanding audience content preference and how these vary over time and across different markets. This is essential when creating content assets to build long-term audience interest and engagement for clients, whether they are in B2C or B2B. We want to base our strategy on strong, reliable foundations rather than being reliant on short-term chatter or noise from channels such as social media.
It became clear to us that we needed a metric that considered deeper content engagement levels, not just reactions. It was at this point that we discovered the 1:9:90 Audience Participation Inequality, which states that 1% of an audience creates content, only 9% visibly engage with it through likes, shares and comments, with the remaining 90% of the audience just reading or viewing your content. In our minds, if we relied on traditional audience analysis methods, such as social listening tools, we could be missing up to 90% of audience engagement.
So our objective was clear: we wanted to go beyond the short-term trends and chatter often reported by social media, to understand what content audiences engage with, across different topics, formats and messaging styles. To do this, EI measures and tracks this ‘hidden audience’ by identifying content preferences of the 90% ‘hidden audience members’ owned content, competitor websites and the wider content landscape in one, or multiple markets.
How is EI Calculated?
Data used by Contrend includes:
- Audience Impact Assessment: how relevant is the content? How often has it been viewed?
- SEO Performance Analytics: does the content contain optimum keywords and phrases? Plus backlink analysis.
- Website Scraping and NLP Interrogation: what format is the content? What topic is the content about? What is the intent behind the content?
Algorithms in the platform then allocate the following scores to the content:
- SEO Performance Score
- Audience Relevance Score
- NLP-derived Topic, Format and Intent Tag
Contrend then collates, clusters and allocates weighting to the content, and finally, gives an Ei Score to the content. This score delivers a balanced combination of SEO, Audience Impact and NLP analytics, which would be impossible for humans alone to deliver.
EI Maps New Content Territory for You to Explore
Let’s look at a recent case study. Research for one of our banking clients looked at engagement across an audience segment in Singapore and SEA. Contrend generated some powerful new insights:
Only 9% of SME engagement (EI) was towards content created by banks. 91% of SME engagement (EI) was with content created by non-banks, about topics that banks were not talking about.
This was the proverbial eye-opener, and presented a number of incredible opportunities:
- Contrend could show our client the topics they should be creating content about in each market, to differentiate them from their competitors, and better engage with their target audience
- Contrend identified similarities in EI across the markets, along with significant cultural, behavioral and attitudinal differences that needed to be considered
- EI allows you to understand the underlying interests of different audiences, offering you the opportunity to talk about topics they are genuinely interested in
Sense Check: Another Way of Looking at the Benefits of EI
Imagine, God forbid, that one of your best friends has a car accident. Now, of course you’ll spend time making sure he’s okay and if there’s anything you can do. But, over time, you’ll want to take his mind off it and talk about things that you know he likes. So rather than bleating on about being there for him, the cost of car repairs, health insurance and physiotherapy, you’ll talk about his hobbies, favorite music, arranging to go out to your favorite coffee shop or restaurant. Stuff your friend is genuinely interested in. Something different to all the other injury-related things coming from everywhere else. Because he’s your friend, you know him, and you want to be their friend in the future.
Exactly the same analogy relates to content marketing, especially during the recent pandemic.
How many meaningless and shallow messages have you received over the last few months from brands that want to “help you through these hard times” and who are “in this with you”? I bet it’s a lot. And it all feels predictable and meaningless.
Because they don’t know what else to talk about.
If you’re reliant on short-term audience analysis tools such as social listening, and a PR, campaign-focused mindset, you run the risk of just talking about COVID-19, and not what’s really of interest to your audience.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
EI lets you to say something different to your audience, by allowing you to create content that will resonate and engage.
Key Takeaways: The Benefits of Contrend and the EI Metric
The Contrend platform — and the EI metric within it — collects and crunches huge data sets to deliver multiple benefits:
- Define and quantify audience content preferences across multiple markets
- Identify competitor EI and competitor content strategy
- Benchmark your EI versus competitors, identifying opportunities for differentiation
- Identify EI of the wider target audience, identifying new ways to engage
- Recommend optimum content pillars, at regional and local levels
- Recommend actionable content calendars with review and success metric
- Hyper-efficient workflow management
- Predict future audience and competitor trends and content opportunities
Contact us for a chat to find out how Contrend can help map out new content opportunities for your business