I just left sunny Arizona after three knowledge-packed days at the Content2Conversion marketing conference. It’s pretty ridiculous how gorgeous Scottsdale is right now. One speaker joked that he got more vitamin D in two hours in Arizona than he has in two months in the Midwest. Being from the Midwest, I can back that statement as true.The themes from content marketing events tend to be similar, but I really enjoyed the special sauce that folks shared at this event. Those extras that, when added, make their content a lot more powerful.
- Progressive profiling
- Persona recalibration
- Mini campaigns instead of drip campaigns
- Gap maps for content development
- Staggered forms inside of content
1. Set your gated content free
To gate or not to gate? It’s a question marketers are definitely grappling with. We’re charged with putting leads in the pipeline for our sales teams, so it feels risky, even counter-intuitive, to give our content away for “free” rather than capturing visitor information.
But according to keynote speaker David Meerman Scott, you should forget about forms. People are more likely to share free content and you’ll get links back to your company from the social traction of exponential sharing.
If you’re not ready to set your content free, he recommends a hybrid approach where you give away one piece of content for free (a video or whitepaper, let’s say), but point the visitor to additional high-value content throughout the piece. Then THOSE high-value pieces can be behind a short form (limit how much information you ask for). Scott believes you are what you publish. And if you publish great content, then they’ll come back for more greatness.
There’s also the importance of real-time content. Be agile. Be instant. Create content for right now (make social media work for you).
2. Audit and measure your content. Regularly.
Marketers no longer have the luxury of guessing which content is working. You need tools in place that can track which pieces are viewed, downloaded and shared the most – the ones people engage with most. Marketing automation systems, content management platforms, and Digital Asset Management solutions are just a few tools that offer this kind of tracking. In terms of continually creating successful content, marketing analytics is definitely the holy grail.
A marketing content audit is also essential. Examine all the pieces you have created and evaluate them.
- Do they present a consistent look and feel?
- Do the messages speak the language of your different personas?
- Where does each piece fall into the funnel (top, middle or bottom)? And what content gaps do you have at each level, by persona?
- How often are they shared, viewed or downloaded?
For your less successful pieces of content, identify what’s missing, lacking, or off message and see if you can easily fix them for better results. If not, dump them. Once you track which content has been the most successful, it will be easier to create more successful content.
Set a timeframe to audit and measure regularly, so you’re constantly honing your content pool and delivering a mix of pieces that your audiences WANT from you.
3. Craft the right message
Messaging can’t be an afterthought. You need to take time, up front, to get your message right. Use messaging that educates, evangelizes and speaks the language of your audiences.
For example, if you’re exhibiting at a series of events throughout the year, look at your events messaging for the whole year, comprehensively, and plan what you will say to each audience in a relatable way.
How do you do that? Identify your personas and talk to them. Interview them and ask how they prefer to buy, what kind of information they want from you, and how you can activate those preferences with different content types.
4. Modularize your content
Particularly for sales teams, it’s helpful to have different content options. Modularizing your messages and images as snackable chunks (put them in collections) is a great way to do this.
It gives people the flexibility to mix and match approved words and visuals in the moment. They can also repurpose approved content, but tailor it to different conversations.
5. Get your content in a central hub
Then keep all your content together in one centralized location, so the right people can access what they need anytime. They can also share with others via mechanisms like links or embed codes.
Links and embed codes allow you to track your content and understand how different pieces are performing out in the world (a nod back to analytics).
6. Practice account-based marketing
ABM is nothing new, but the need for marketing to be more accountable for revenue is certainly growing. Not only from a numbers standpoint but also to better align marketing and sales.
When both teams have revenue goals to meet, the responsibility is shared and the drive to work together for better financial outcomes increases. Make no mistake, the best content happens when sales and marketing WORK TOGETHER to identify, prioritize and create content.
7.Personas, personas, personas
Again, nothing new here, but the emphasis on identifying ALL of your personas, understanding the way they want to buy, and tailoring a content experience for their wants, was a big conversation.
You need to identify not only the roles of your personas (Creative services, IT Manager, Photographer, Banker, etc), but also if they are influencers, radicalizers, decision makers, or champions. Then revisit them every six months – especially in technology or other fast-changing industries.
Your messages and visuals need to speak specifically to their daily moments and how they work. Then you should define what you want each persona to do at each step of the buying cycle, and create content to help them do that.
The conference provided some great information and opened the door to helpful conversations with other marketers. It also recognized successful marketing content with the Killer Content Awards.
Widen’s marketing team won an award for our recent Visual Storytelling Infographic and attended a luncheon at C2C to be recognized. All of the winning pieces were true marketing inspirations – from a ten-part audio podcast for Agriculture farmers, to the web-based advent content calendar that unlocked a new piece of content each day.
I have to give a big shout out to the Fairmont Hotel where the event was hosted. They certainly know how to put service first. This was easily the most beautiful and well-run conference I’ve ever attended. Everyone was genuine and helpful, the food was great, and no details were overlooked.
If you’re a content marketer – getting started or more experienced – I highly recommend the C2C conference for 2017!
To see more of Widen’s great marketing content, visit our resource library at www.widen.com.
Or to get your visual content in a central hub, contact our DAM experts at firstname.lastname@example.org.