Last week, I joined over 3,500 other content marketing professionals in Cleveland, Ohio, for Content Marketing World. This annual event features so many experts on different aspects of content marketing strategy that it was hard to choose just one session for each time slot. Each speaker brought a special way of looking at content challenges in today’s fast-paced world.
At some types of conferences, learning is about absorbing factual information—but at CMWorld, it was more about absorbing new ideas. For me, one anecdote could start a whole train of thought on how to creatively engage with customers. Although stats, ROI techniques and other concrete tips were plentiful, the real takeaways from Cleveland were the fresh ways to look at the content we generate at USGBC®.
Here are just a few of the quotes that started me thinking:
“Be part of the info your audience actually wants to consume.”
According to author and speaker Andrew Davis, there are 347 blog posts published every single second. As marketers, we often think that more is better and keep throwing the same message at our audience. But being bombarded with information only makes people numb to it. Davis encourages companies to raise themselves above this content flood by offering customers original, engaging content they don’t even realize they need—but once they see it, they’re hooked. They will be eager to subscribe and will anticipate seeing this content on a regular basis.
Davis’s example was “FishTales,” a 16-second video series on Instagram billed as “The Shortest Cooking Show in the World.” A fish business that had been floundering (sorry, couldn’t resist) took off in a big way through this creative format. It led to a longer-format show on YouTube and, in turn, high demand for Bart van Olphen’s sustainably caught seafood.
“Narrow the focus and go big.”
Workfront’s Heather Hurst, like many of the experts at CMWorld, encouraged us to stop trying to be everything to everyone. Any organization will benefit from zeroing in on what it does best and what its core customer base wants.
Her analogy was the emergence of food trucks, a specialization success story. Food trucks have changed the game for downtown lunch spots the way that Uber has changed the game for taxis. Flexible and mobile, food trucks are popular for their convenience, fun factor and highly specialized focus. In Hurst’s scenario, “going big” was a corn dog truck toting a gigantic corn dog on top. In D.C., I’ve seen trucks dealing in tater tots, Asian-fusion tacos and waffles. Whatever your specialty, hone it, refine it and show it off! You do it better than anyone else, and people will follow you for it.
“There are infinite creative possibilities, so use data to reduce options to ones that have a high probability of success.”
TrackMaven CEO Allen Gannett shared a lot of colorful anecdotes about creativity and the perception that successful media arises from sheer inspiration. But usually, it doesn’t—it’s the product of a system. Without a system, the number of possible ways to approach making content can result in our creating hit-or-miss, ineffective pieces.
According to Gannett, gathering user data narrows the options to a manageable set of proven formulas. If you believe, as about 60 percent of marketers do, that your content is not generally effective, then it’s especially important to track what kinds of content are successful and focus on repeating those formulas. He refers to this as “intentional creativity.” If you know what works, make more of that.
“The best place to hide a dead body is page 2 of Google search results.”
If your goal is to increase your organic search traffic, advises Arnie Kuenn, CEO of Vertical Measures, there are several concrete steps you can take. You can eliminate duplicate content by deleting or combining articles so that similar content items do not compete with one another. You can freshen up existing articles by updating the content and tweaking titles to reflect more current industry terms.
Another way to increase SEO rankings is to add semantic keywords and synonyms. Kuenn suggests that your rankings will improve if you are seen as an authoritative industry voice—search engines read content with a variety of related phrases and industry terms as being more high-quality content. His example was a passage containing the word “TV show” in several places, which he then reworked to include the phrases “episode,” “pilot,” “series,” and other related phrases. Focus on adding synonyms that make sense for your industry and its customer searches.
As I mull over these and more tips from the conference, I’ll be thinking about new ways that USGBC can serve its audience with content they need and content they want. Is there something you’d like to see more of in our green building content? Leave your ideas in the comments below.