Three Things I Learned at Content Marketing World

I had the pleasure of attending the 2016 Content Marketing (CM) World conference in Cleveland, OH in early September. As you might infer from the Conference name, CM World offers a myriad of lectures, panels and workshops on everything from content marketing basics to strategy, writing and measurement – all of which were interesting, thought-provoking and valuable.  Since I returned, there have a been a few key learnings from the Conference that changed the way that I now approach a content campaign.

Here are a few of those key learnings:

Potential customers and clients require several touch points before making a purchase decision.

On average, consumers engage with 11 pieces of content before making a purchase decision. Yes, you read that correctly: 11 pieces of content.

At first, this felt like too much engagement, but then I thought about my own experiences as a consumer, and could envision how this is true—especially for large purchases. At first, you do some light online research to understand what is out there and then perhaps more in-depth research into product details. You are likely to receive an email from the company after adding yourself to a mailing list or read an article in which the company is mentioned or featured. You then visit a store and maybe talk to a sales person. And, finally, you pull the proverbial trigger and buy something.

Granted, 11 is an average, but’s a good guide that’s ripe for tailoring to your specific audience. It also means there’s a lot of opportunity to engage with potential clients and customers to convince them to act, and that there’s a lot of chances where that experience could go wrong. With that many interactions, it requires a consistent customer experience. And they all count – whether it’s a different line of business, a call to a customer service representative or the digital experience. Meaning that one bad interaction could prove deleterious.

Creating a volume of content doesn’t have to be overwhelming

With such a significant number of engagements required before the “moment of truth” when a customer actually buys something, it might seem daunting to a marketer trying to meet that demand. So, how do you create quality content to attract attention from your desired customer, and how do you ensure you have enough?

The good news is that while it takes a number of engagements to get through to customers, it doesn’t always have to be new content to reach them. Mining existing content is a great way to build out the content library. One session I attended even went so far as to recommend the four R’s: Repackage, Repeat, Research and Reformat. Explained in greater depth this means:

  • Repackage: Reuse an existing content piece. Change the title, flow, consider adding new data, or tailoring to a slightly different audience to update an existing piece of content for a new use.
  • Repeat: Develop content pieces on an annual, quarterly or otherwise regular basis. Fit these content pieces into your editorial calendar, and make them a cornerstone of your strategy.
  • Research: If you have a piece of research that you develop today, are considering crafting one or created one in the past that can be resurrected, think about doing research on a regular basis, as it serves as a great content engine.
  • Reformat: Think about the multiple lives each piece of content has the potential to live. Can it also be an infographic? How could you tighten it up for a blog post? Think about your content as multi-use, and plan for how you’ll use the content many times over.

Building coalitions and showing results are keys to success.

During a panel discussion, one audience member asked about how to initiate a successful content marketing campaign. The panelist described her experience launching a program within an organization that wasn’t initially keen on the idea. She described two factors that drove her success: gaining buy-in from stakeholders and showing results.

In order to successfully execute a content marketing program, you need the right resources behind it. That requires money and time—both of which are scarce resources within an organization, so it may take some convincing to get approval. It also requires convincing people, on an individual basis, of the value of your campaign, so that when you go into the big meeting you have the necessary support for the idea.

And, of course, you must continue to prove the value of a content marketing program from the moment its starts, through to its finish. Having a means of measuring success at the outset is critical. You can plan for the proper tracking, ensure you have the right analytics place and monitor benchmarks so that you can course correct, as needed.

These concepts may not be revolutionary, but the conference served as an important reminder that following simple principles can help you in building a successful program. I’m looking forward to implementing them in my daily work and continuing to learn along the way. What are some of your best practices for implementing a content marketing program?

Photo credit: mkhmarketing, Flickr.

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