Although it’s said that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, I’ll make an exception to share my key takeaways from the 2018 Intelligent Content Conference (ICC).
It was a fascinating week led by CMI Chief Strategy Advisor Robert Rose, along with content marketing leaders from around the country, sharing their insights and thoughts on best practices and what the future holds for this industry.
It’s difficult to sum up three hectic days in a short blog, but these are my main takeaways from this week:
It’s well known that content marketing allows brands to better engage with consumers by giving them added value and relevance.
In addition to having a good product and being relevant, brands need to gain their trust. In fact, it seems that trust is the new currency for brands. Trust can be a game changer in making a brand successful in today’s competitive market.
The main way to gain trust is by creating trustworthy content that embodies the brand’s values and principles. So basically, marketers and brands now need to consider not only how their content helps their brand engage with their consumers but also how it helps them build their trust.
2. Focus and go deep
There was a lot of discussion about what brands should focus on when creating content. Usually, brands prefer to go broad and create content that generally connects to their vertical industry.
However, lots of great case studies this week showed a different direction. Brands should focus specifically on their business. This applies not only to the content they create but also to their marketing plans, executions, and touchpoints. This will attract your specific audience and help you grow and scale by focusing and narrowing down your targets.
3. Importance of the team
To create relevant and trustworthy content, experts recommend engaging with multiple teams at your company. Sometimes the best ideas and content creators in your company will come from beyond the content team.
It’s crucial to sit down with other departments in the company, as they will be able to generate some great ideas and content. Every month, meet with the product team, talk to the IT team, ask your success managers to share most frequently asked questions by clients, and more. All these answers will lead to great, focused and trustworthy content.
4. Distribution of content
One of the most frequent mistakes brands make is to invest lots of money and effort on creating great and relevant content, and then assume it will somehow be organically promoted.
Creating content is only half the job. Brand plans must have a clearly written content strategy that includes a distribution plan. Today there are different discovery channels, like Outbrain, that help brands amplify their content to the right audiences and get their content out there.
I love this quote from a presentation by Jonathan Perelman (ICM Partners), which really sums up the importance of distribution: “Content is king, but distribution is queen and she wears the pants.”
5. Content throughout the funnel
I wrote about this in my previous blog post, but it was discussed a lot at the conference as well. In the past, content marketing was known only as a tool for top of the funnel, mostly for creating awareness and brand equity. But today, content marketing is used throughout the entire funnel, from increasing consideration in mid-funnel to direct conversions in the bottom of the funnel.
In addition to development of content for more levels, this change has been driven by technology enabling brands to better understand the attribution of content in each step of the funnel.
The next step in the evolution is content used for post-sale, which makes a great deal of sense. Content can be a great tool of keeping in touch with existing clients, helping with retention and making them brand advocates.
Last but not least, content marketing teams must present clear key performance indicators (KPIs) for their content strategy plan. Metrics allow them to stay on track and ensure they are aligned with their targets. They also help the team better explain their value to the company.
There are a wide range of measurements you can set as your targets—from increasing sessions on site, organic uplift, direct conversions and much more.
What was crystal clear at the ICC is that content marketing is now a must-have strategy for brands. It keeps on growing and changing as the marketplace changes, both from a technology perspective as well as its purpose in a brand’s marketing strategy.