Smart content for marketing

Jake Campbell / XMLLeave a Comment

Smart content offers huge benefits to marketing groups. Although using tags and metadata to author content adds an extra step to the process, it’s important to look at the overall value that the step can add.

Why just build your content when you could be architecting it?

It’s what the customer wants

Customers are using technical materials to make purchasing decisions. When potential customers are making buying decisions, technical content informs them on how easy or difficult a product may be to install or whether it really fits their needs. Since customers are already looking for technical specs, it’s important that marketing materials integrate them.

It’s not uncommon to see a phone advertised with excerpts from its spec sheet. Marketing puts a friendly face on technical content by pairing it with clear-cut benefits. Phrases like “the next generation of camera” and “unlock with a look” serve as shorthand for features like “12 megapixel camera for the clearest pictures” and “use facial recognition to unlock your phone.” These phrases then lead to more technical information for the device, such as a feature comparison checklist or full-fledged technical documentation. Integrating technical content into marketing materials ensures that customers find all of the content that they are looking for.

It improves time to market

Smart content allows authors to reuse content in various places. If there are boilerplate sections of text or images that appear throughout different materials, that content can be maintained in a single place. This means that content creators don’t need to spend time rewriting the same content. Reviewers also don’t need to review each instance of the reused content.

Reuse also streamlines localization processes. Content maintained in a single place only needs to be localized once, rather than in each place that it appears, reducing localization cost and time.

It means doing more with less

Smart content streamlines production processes, improves authoring efficiency and reduces time to release. Traditional authoring processes involve a content creator working directly with an authoring platform such as InDesign. If that content needs to be moved to a different format, it usually involves either re-creating that content or copying from the source. Smart content allows you to turn a single content source into a variety of formats. Content that was previously locked into a single format can become whatever it needs to be.

But what about formatting? Smart content uses semantically rich tags to identify content. A product name is a product name because its tag says so, not because it’s bold and italicized like the style guide says. When transforming smart content into a target format, the formatting is applied during publication based on those semantic tags. This allows authors to focus on the content rather than worrying about getting the formatting just right, particularly if the format differs between delivery platforms.

It means doing the setup once

Published content also needs to be findable content. This usually means using keywords to ensure that it comes up in a search, whether through a search service or internal search engine. Smart content embeds metadata like keywords and related materials into the content itself. Once an author creates something, there is little need to manually curate link lists and keywords.

In the end, smart content means doing the planning for content first. This allows authors to focus on authoring, designers to focus on formatting and templates. Adding semantic tags and metadata makes your content more versatile, increasing its value by making it independent of a specific format.

About the Author

Jake Campbell

Technical Consultant. Five years of experience in game industry QA, with a background in education and editing. DITA-OT plugin nerd, scholar of arcane InDesign rituals. Interested in games, game design, eating everything, and wiener dogs.

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