Intelligent Content – Book Interview

Heidi Cohen Interviews Scott Abel

New book: Intelligent Content: A Primer

intelligent-content-coverQ: What’s your best piece of advice for readers looking to improve their marketing?

Marketing is about delivering the right message to the right person, not the right persona group. The best strategies for the future involve building a content factory that allows you to create, manage, and most importantly, deliver personalized content. Any other improvements are just bandaids covering larger problems is just busy work.

Q: What was the inspiration for Intelligent Content ?

Intelligent Content: A Primer was created to help marketing professionals understand the need for—and possibilities provided by—intelligent content. 

We live in a world in which nearly all content is processed by machines. While people create most content, computers help us do just about everything else with it. And yet, despite our dependence on these increasingly useful machines, we continue to craft content in much the same way as we always have.

We use computers to author content, format it, correct it, save it, store it, find it, access it, sort it, categorize it, filter it, adapt it, enrich it, secure it, publish it, sell it, share it, curate it, deliver it, govern it, and archive it. We even rely on computers, at least in the digital world, to destroy it.


Most content production methods are based on a paper-based publishing paradigm that doesn’t serve us as well today as it did in the past. Although we’ve made incremental changes over the last several decades (such as moving from typewriters to personal computers, adopting desktop publishing, and subsequently, publishing to the web), those improvements weren’t optimized to address the rapid growth in the number of customer touchpoints, distribution channels, devices, platforms, and constantly changing customer expectations. Neither were they optimized to ensure that our content provides maximum business value.

In fact, most content improvement projects squarely aim at solving one isolated problem (fixing the website, making the app responsive, publishing to multiple channels), without much concern for whether the solution adopted will create additional challenges–and expense–in the future.

Computers help us produce and distribute content, which is a good thing, but we have yet to reap their biggest benefits. That’s because we think of computers as assistive devices–tools that help us accomplish our jobs as we know them today. Instead, we need to harness computers as extraordinary workhorses capable of leveraging intelligent content and helping us radically reconfigure our organizations–and the way we do business–so we can achieve greatness tomorrow. 

Q: What is the key concept behind your book?

Simply put, intelligent content is content with superpowers. It’s content that is not limited to one purpose, technology, or output. It’s content that is designed and constructed to be modular, structurally rich, and semantically aware and, therefore, to be discoverable, reusable, reconfigurable, and adaptable. It’s content that is both human-readable and machine-processable. When implemented correctly, intelligent content can drive business processes and help content marketers deliver the right content to the right prospects, leading to profitable customer actions.

Q: What do you want readers to take away from your book

Imagine a future world in which content is equipped with superpowers. A world in which content isn’t just something we passively consume but, instead, is something that we rely upon to work on our behalf. A world in which computers use content to drive automated tasks, trigger business processes, optimize production schedules, reduce costs, eliminate errors, spot risks, and totally streamline the world of modern business. A world in which content enables us to do better work–and more of it–with fewer resources. A world in which content is center stage, the main character in the play, empowered, with the help of computers, to transform traditional companies into innovative, hyper-efficient, content- centric organizations.

Today, all of these things–and more–are possible. There’s no need to imagine a future world in which content can provide you with staggering business value. Intelligent content currently can – and does – help savvy organizations optimize and streamline operations. 

Q: How do you describe yourself professionally?

I’m an internationally recognized intelligent content strategist and cognitive computing evangelist who specializes in helping organizations deliver the right content to the right audience, anywhere, anytime, on any device.

Q: What are 1-3 books that inspired your work/career?

Q: What is the biggest challenge that you’ve had to overcome?

The biggest challenge I have faced is overcoming the fear of everyone liking or agreeing with you. It’s ridiculous when you think about it intellectually. Not everyone will like you. Not everyone is supposed to. So, overcoming that belief allowed me to strike out on my own, to build my own brand, to stand up and tell others I disagree, that there are other things to consider, other ideas, methods, and approaches. It was quite liberating when I realized that by doing so, I attracted an audience of people who think the way I do. My audience.

Q: What’s something unusual or fun that most people don’t know about you?

I learned everything I know about content personalization by being a nightclub dj in a gay leather bar.


Q: Is there a piece of content or a marketing campaign that you’re particularly proud of?

I created a series of content strategy books featuring all sorts of experts from the content industry. So far we’re created 7 books on topics ranging from content strategy to author experience. Each volume provides practical advice, best practices, and lessons learned from the most knowledgeable content strategists in the world. The series, published by XML Press, will produce another 6-8 books over the coming year.

Q: Is there anything else that we haven’t covered that you’d like to share?

Yes, I’m still making music today as a mashup artist and remixer. You can check out my work here:

scott-abelContact information

Thanks, Scott.

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies.
You can find Heidi on , Facebook and .

Content is highly important, but widely ineffective. What does that mean for the modern marketer?

The New Marketing StandardIt’s no secret that today’s buyers are overwhelmed. But are we, as marketers, enabling their decisions or simply adding to the noise?

Experience matters more than ever before, and what enables experience is content–the content your buyer engages with can make or break a sale. Are you prepared to give them what they want?

New research from Heinz Marketing and Uberflip uncovers how today’s B2B marketing leaders think about content and how the most successful utilize content to accelerate the buyer’s journey.

Get your free copy of the full research report today.