Do we need better intelligent content tools for marketing or better content engineering? Yes.

Val Swisher in a short video opens a discussion about the nature of intelligent content in marketing, and proposes that new tools might be the answer. I agree, but think we are not quite there yet.

The abstract tools exist in the marketing content stack, within CEM platforms. We can, for example, with Kentico, Sitecore, Drupal, and Hippo and others create structured content types, taxonomy relationships, enrich with custom metadata. We can align those with DITA information types and public schemas. We can hack together ways to publish structured content with markup that’s as rich and intelligent as back office systems. The platforms enable us to publish variable content based on user groups and anonymous lead scoring rules.

But most of the time — it just doesn’t happen. And the tools are abstract. Meaning, they require tremendous effort in the form of content engineering.

If I were to prescribe a solution, it would be to build content engineering practices within organizations and agencies, to build true practitioner level understanding and skills that understand the whys and hows, then build a movement to transform and mature the tools. It seems like we need more adoption of content engineering practices before new tools will be adopted.

It’s a chicken and the egg. Awareness and skills, then tools. But I can see why a tools-first approach would be appealing. Maybe more would adopt the practices if the tools were easier to use and less arcane. So maybe we just need to do both at the same time.

Other thoughts welcomed. What comes first: developing content engineering practices inside organizations or building easier-to-use tools for content marketers to author and publish intelligent content?

Founder of [A] (, content engineering author & speaker. Topics: content systems, customer experience, strategy, digital transformation, AI

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