7 Things I Learned at Content Marketing World

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I have been doing marketing, specifically content marketing, for many years now. But 2017 was my first time attending the famed Content Marketing World. The event, founded by a man who refers to himself as the “godfather of content marketing,” is a four-day immersion into everything content marketing.

Here’s what I learned:

#1: There’s no Such Thing as Content Marketing

Content marketing is an interesting term. And no one really knows what it means. While many have tried to define it, I have come to the conclusion that there really is no such thing as content marketing. This is because all marketing is content and all content is marketing.

Here’s a look at the “Content marketing” keyword on Google Trends since 2004:

content marketing over time


So, it’s obvious that content is an integral part of marketing. Without content, brands have nothing with which to market their products or services. Therefore, your content creation should not be an afterthought. The person(s) creating content on your team should not be there to just check a box. Take full advantage of these talented individuals as they may just be the life blood of your marketing organization.

If you have content marketing broken off into its own vertical, you may be missing several opportunities for synergy between the content team of the rest of the marketing department.

#2: Mediocre Content is Killing Your Brand

One stat I heard over and over again this week is that 5 percent of all content drives 90 percent of conversion. This led me to ask the most obvious question: why do we even bother with the other 95 percent of content we create?

There are two schools of thought when it comes to content creation. The first says that brands should be creating content on a regular basis and hope that some of it resonates with your audience. The other, says that we should spend our time and energy perfecting and optimizing the content that converts and forget the rest.

I think there has to be a happy medium. In a recent Monday Marketing Minute video, I discussed the importance of publishing frequency. From a purely SEO standpoint, it appears that frequency is king. But from a conversion standpoint, quality beats quantity every time.

Don’t publish a piece of content just because you’re trying to meet a quota. Treat each piece of content, whether it is a blog post, ebook, podcast or something bigger, with the same attention and devotion.

#3: The Content Bottleneck is Real

If your organization creates content on any kind of regular basis, you’ve probably run into the “content bottleneck.” This is when you have a limited number of people within your organization with the authority to approve content for publishing.

Timing is key when producing content, and if a piece gets held up in the approval process is can reduce its effectiveness. In the era of real-time data and I-want-it-now customer mentalities, any delay in your content can be detrimental to your sales.

You can eliminate this bottleneck by giving more people the power to approve content. You did hire these people, after all, so you have to have some level of trust in their professional abilities. Extending publishing rights to more people within your organization will clear up the bottleneck, improve conversions and provide your employees with a greater sense of purpose at the same time.

#4: Your Content Should not Focus on You

Don’t focus on what you make, focus on what you make possible. This is a rule of thumb that all content marketers should live by. Another interesting stat I heard was that 74 percent of consumer trust content less when it mentions the brand. This was an amazing revelation for me.

I have always thought that without a call to action, a piece of content is virtually useless. But this mentality couldn’t have been further from the truth. Building trust is an integral part of marketing. If a consumer realizes that you’re just trying to sell them something, there’s a good chance they will flee. Flee right into your competitor’s arms, nonetheless.

Instead, sell your customers on what your products or services can do for them without mentioning those products or services directly. Every product or service is born out of a problem and every piece of content should attempt to solve that problem. I talked about this in my blog post, “Why Your Content Marketing Strategy is Broken,” in which I said, “if you’re not solving a problem with your content, you’re creating one.”

#5: Sales Teams Need to Co-Own the Content Strategy

As content marketers, it is our job to translate the sales experience and deliver helpful content when, where and how customers want it. Sales and marketing have a love-hate relationship with each other, especially in larger organizations.The sales team loves to blame marketing for poor quality leads and marketing loves to blame sales for low conversions.

But at the end of the day, these two teams share the same goal, and tearing down the silos that exist between these two departments can pay off in folds. There’s one thing that all successful commercial fishermen have in common: Trust. Fishermen have no choice but to trust their crew. Sometimes, it’s even a life or death situation. Sales and marketing can take a page or two from fisherman’s book.

When your sales team is fully on board with your content strategy, and the two teams trust each other to support the organization, magic can happen.

#6: Loyalty is Dead

Winter is here and Loyalty was beheaded in the first season – sorry, Game of Thrones reference. The truth is that 58 percent of shoppers enrolled in loyalty programs never use the program. Not only that, but 87 percent of buyers will shop around before making a purchase.

Millennials have taken over the world will never be the same. Ad blockers are more prominent now than ever. The days of distraction free audience engagement are long over. Brands have less than a second to appeal to consumers in the digital age. This means that more than $83 billion ad dollars are wasted every year. So what’s the answer? Exceptional storytelling.

People no longer buy what you’re selling. They buy WHY you’re selling it. If you’re not creating meaningful content that drives business results, you’re just contributing to the noise. This is where a solid content strategy comes in handy. Here’s what your content strategy should do:

  • Define marketing objectives
  • Describe your audience
  • Provide insights into what your customers want
  • Identify internal and external content resources
  • Highlight distribution channels

#7: Our Success Metrics are all Wrong

Did you measure the success of your last campaign? What am I saying, of course you did. HOW did you measure the success of your last campaign? Number of clicks? Number of downloads? Net new leads? Well, according to some, these metrics are outdated. Sure, we know what our customer’s fingers did, but do we know what their brains did?

Should an MQL – Marketing Qualified Lead – actually mean something? When it comes to leads, quantity does not equal quality. Every click should be the start of the consumer’s journey, not the end. The more engaged we can keep our audience, the more likely they will be to convert. If your content gets customers to your site, but doesn’t keep them there, you’re putting an undue burden on your sales team.

What people do after the click is far more important than the click itself. The more engaged a customer is, the more likely they will buy your product or service. In fact, leads that binge on your content are 2.4 times more likely to be converted into an SQL – sales qualified lead – will move through the sales funnel 2.3 times faster and will spend 2.4 times more than the average customer.

In Summary

So even though this was my first time attending Content Marketing World, what I learned from Content Marketing World will stick with me forever.  The conferenced challenged some beliefs and solidified others. It made me think and it helped me understand the mind of the consumer.

It has also made me realize that content marketing is a great equalizer. Even if you don’t have the budget to create two dozen pieces of content every day, you have the ability to create high-quality content that can help you compete with brands 100 times your size.

Content is king.

Jeramy Gordon is the founder and Chief Content Officer at the Lorem Ipsum Company. He has been creating successful content strategies for almost two decades and believes in the power of high-quality content. He lives in Orange County, California, with his wife and two children.

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