I returned from Content Marketing World revved up about content marketing, and with some serious inspiration from all the great examples shared in the sessions I attended. Here are a few of the key insights I gleaned from the two days of sessions, and some trends to keep an eye on.
- Content marketing strategy often neglected in favor of random acts of content.
In his opening welcome keynote, Joe Pulizzi shared a few nuggets from new Content Marketing Institute research, noting that content marketers cite producing more content and engaging content as two of their top challenges. He went on to share that over 50% do not have a documented content strategy. Having documented content strategy and executed against it successfully, I can assure you those challenges are definitely a lot easier to tackle with a clearly defined strategy in place.
- Buyer personas aren’t useful without insight into the buyer’s journey.
Buyer personas are often crammed full of demographic data, noted Buyer Persona Institute’s Adele Revella, but don’t include clear insights into what business conditions triggered looking for a solution, what outcomes will define success, or what this buyer’s role is in the decision-making process and what resources they’ll need to convince the other stakeholders to go with your solution. Make sure you are focusing your personas on modeling a buying decision you are trying to influence, not on a hypothetical person’s likes and dislikes.
- The power of big brands is slipping.
Don E. Schultz of Northwestern University noted that brand preference is decreasing ~1.6% annually past 10 years, while the percent of consumers saying they have no preference for a brand in surveyed categories is increasing ~1.4% annually. So what’s eroding brands? Recession? Product proliferation & commoditization? Growth of online shopping? No, media fragmentation. The rise of social has created fragmented audiences who expect brands to reach them with personalized, targeted content, not a one-size-fits-all message. Brands need to evolve their messaging and marketing strategy to reflect this.
- The content marketing honeymoon period is over.
Your organizational leadership is expecting you to show ROI to justify your content marketing budget. It’s a balancing act to make sure you still have room for brand awareness and Youtility as well — if all your content is focused on demand generation, your customers will tune you out in the sea of personalized, more interesting content competing for their limited attention. In this vein, Jon Weubben’s session gave insight into how to use your content dashboard to compare channel performance to see where you have traction, identify which content producers inspire the most engagement(and have them create more of your content) and evaluate which content has generated the most activity to spot keyword trends.
Trends to Keep an Eye On
- Youtility has definitely struck a chord with content marketers.
For the uninitiated, Youtility is the concept of creating marketing that is truly, inherently useful, not just self-serving, sales-focused content. Examples of this include the Hilton Suggests twitter account offering up answers to travelers’ questions about key Hilton cities; Lowes How To video series, and the Columbia knot app. What problem can you solve for your customers with your marketing content? If you haven’t heard Jay Baer speak on the topic, or if you have and want a deeper dive, check out his new book Youtility: Why Smart Marketing Is about Help Not Hype.
- By 2017 CMOs will outspend CIOs on IT
What are they buying? According to Joe Chernov, content creation tools like Uberflip and Percolate, distribution tools like Little Bird, Influitive, and Papershare. Scott Abel’s session additionally made the case for investing in automated translation and transcription tools and component content management to help scale your content while keeping it consistent across its many implementations.
- Visual content is everywhere, you just need to be open to finding it.
Marketers can get hung up on budget, logisitics, and other concerns and feel like visual content is out of reach. Or that their topic is too boring to lend itself to visual content. Multiple speakers gave great examples of low budget video, crowd-sourced visuals and other low-cost and fast to implement ways to add visual interest to your content mix. The conference itself had a great example of visual content by way of Kelly Kingman’s visual sketchnotes of the keynote sessions, like this one she did for William Shatner’s presentation:
— Kelly Kingman (@kellykingman) September 11, 2013
For more perspectives on the key takeaways from this event, check out the list.ly of articles about Content Marketing World 2013.