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Content automation is boosting audience engagement in the news and information industries

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Emma Warren-Jones
7 min read

Engagement marketing managers have become pivotal to the growth and retention strategy of any online content business over the last few years. These roles demand a range of finely honed skills – from specialist industry knowledge and audience profiling – to a flair for developing multi-channel engagement programs, content creation, and an analytical eye to gauge the impact of those programmes.

Audience engagement managers are often faced with the challenge of maintaining a high-quality, sustainable content pipeline to engage their existing audiences, while also enticing a steady stream of new readers. And the challenge doesn’t stop at content creation. Each of the elements making up an audience engagement programme – image, headline, call-to-action, timing (the list goes on…), have to be continually tested to ensure readers are getting the optimal experience and therefore more likely to keep coming back to your website. This article takes a look at some of the challenges of creating marketing and promotional copy to drive greater article views and a more engaged audience. And how automating or semi-automating the production of that content across multiple formats has the potential to transform engagement programs.

Generating a pipeline of promotional content

Whether it’s translating editorial content into inspiring snippets for subscriber newsletters, social media posts or news in brief sections, how much of this process is still manual at news and information organisations? As the person responsible for growing your website’s audience, you may have a team of copywriters to write promo material, but in many cases there isn’t a systematic process in place for this, so marketing teams are faced with the ongoing challenge not only of building a sustainable pipeline, but crucially, generating multiple formats to test.  Do you take the original article written by one of your editors and draft a set of brief, promotable synopses, or pull out a few of the most attention-grabbing points to include in your audience comms? Do you have a system for generating this content or are your copywriters starting from scratch every time?

From A/B to multivariate: how much are you testing your content?

And how often are you testing different promotional formats for the same article to find the optimal length, style, and structure? The challenge for audience engagement managers doesn’t end with content creation:

…when 58% of marketers say that original written content is the most important aspect to their content strategy, why aren’t more of us using the principles of A/B testing to tighten up our original content?1

We know that the same content presented differently can have a significant impact not only on the volume of traffic, but also on the profile of the audience you’re attracting. Whether you’re testing images, headlines, the body content of an email or social media posts - creating two or more versions of the same content and testing these with your audience is fundamental if you want to attract more eyeballs and remain competitive. Combined with one of the many, ever-more sophisticated A/B and Multivariate testing technologies available to marketers today, the automation of promotional content can pay dividends when it comes scaling audience engagement programmes and increasing exposure of your high-quality content. And the more you’re testing and measuring results – from headlines to sentence structure - the greater your chances of resonating with, and retaining, your audience.

Getting more from your existing content

Any news and information organisation producing long-form content, including technical or scientific articles, opinion pieces or whitepapers will have a variety of channels it needs to adapt that content for. Using that same source material to produce several iterations of promotional copy for an email newsletter or social campaign is now becoming easier with the advent of article summarisation and content creation technologies.

Scholarcy is one such summarisation technology, capable not only of distilling long form content into brief, salient points, but also re-writing this content and presenting its key takeaways as an easy-to-digest synopsis without any human intervention.

Example of automated promotional content for a news article

The following article featured on the Washington Post website on August 5th 2021: A critical ocean system may be heading for collapse due to climate change, study finds, is a 1200 word assessment of new analysis published in the journal Nature Climate Change about the weakening of an Atlantic ocean system and its wider implications for the planet. Using the same source article Scholarcy can generate a range of promotion-ready content for use in different marketing channels, including social media, newsletters and promotional web pages:

Promotional synopsis: version 1

Synopsis: Scientists have warned about a weakening of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation.

Promotional synopsis: version 2

Synopsis: A critical ocean system may be heading for collapse due to climate change, study finds. 'The consequences of a collapse would likely be far-reaching'.

Promotional synopsis: version 3

Synopsis: Scientists have warned about a weakening of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation. The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) transports warm, salty water from the tropics to Northern Europe.

The following key takeaways from the article have been identified by Scholarcy’s extractive summarisation algorithm and presented as a set of easy-to-read bullet points that could be used in full for an email newsletter or broken down for social media posts:

Key takeaways from the article identified by Scholarcy

The most significant key terms from the article have been extracted by Scholarcy’s machine-learning algorithms that have been trained on millions  of articles. These suggested key terms are a quick and easy way of generating the most relevant tags for article SEO:

Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation
Article key concepts identified by Scholarcy

Creating original content is getting tougher, but technology can help

Every audience engagement manager knows that creating original, inspiring content that resonates with their readers over the competition is becoming more difficult. The days of loyal audiences are waning, with so many interest-piquing headlines enticing readers on an hourly basis. The key is hitting a content sweet spot of volume, quality and resonance with your reader. It’s no longer realistic in an era of mass content creation for marketing teams or copywriters to manually draft promotional material, even for a subset of the articles written by their editorial department. Seconds after an article has been published, it needs to be generating views and the only realistic way of doing that is by fully or partially automating the production of marketing copy. Content creation and summarisation technologies are emerging to address this need, but marketers need to beware that the underlying technology used is generating content that not only reads fluently, but accurately reflects the original piece. Multi-format content creation – from headlines and human-like summaries, to keywords and lists of key takeaways - is also crucial if the organisation is going to really commit to effective testing, and ultimately, stay ahead of their competitors.