Our Top 11 Content Marketing Takeaways from #CMWorld 2017

Last week, thousands of marketers from all over the world descended on the Rock N’ Roll capital of the world, Cleveland, OH, for the seventh annual Content Marketing World Conference and Expo.

Featuring more than 130 speakers, keynotes and panelists, dozens of different tracks, and a whole lot of orange, the four-day event was exciting and inspiring. And the TopRank Marketing team was out in full-force, providing live coverage, learning from some of the best in the business, dancing to 80s classics and making new connections.

While it’s nearly impossible to distill all the inspiring insights we collected during the event into this one post, we’re going to try. Below we share a handful of insights that really resonated with our team.

How adidas Put Culture at the Core of Their Content Marketing Strategy

Frank Thomas of adidas

Jean Giraudoux once said, “The secret to success is sincerity. Once you can fake that, you’ve got it made.”

It’s a funny indictment of how to take exactly the wrong approach to authenticity. But too often, brands and marketers miss the sarcasm. We target an audience, then carefully cultivate an image to appeal to them. We create the appearance of a culture that matches theirs. And then we’re surprised when our target audience sees right through it.

What if we stopped trying to fake sincerity and turned the whole process inside out? Instead of crafting a culture to match an audience, why not attract the audience that matches your culture?

Alicianne Rand Shares 4 Tips for Driving Sales Through Content Marketing #CMWorld

What does it look like when content, influencers and social media come together to generate a metaphorical gold mine in terms of revenue and reach? To put it mildly, it’s drop dead gorgeous.

At least that was the view from my seat at Content Marketing World as Estée Lauder’s Executive Director of Global Content Marketing Alicianne Rand shared the incredible success her organization has achieved through their integrated content marketing strategy

So, what needs to happen to take your content marketing strategy from drab to fab? Here are four tips straight from Rand herself.

Tip #1 – Use data to drive your content marketing strategy

At Estée Lauder, Rand and team have built a framework to simplify how they look at data.

Final Boarding Call for Content Marketing World: Don’t Miss these 10 Presentations

Does anyone look forward to getting on an airplane anymore? Sure, you may be excited about where you’re going or what you plan to do when you get there. But anyone happily anticipating the screening, boarding, and flying part—well, I’ll have whatever vitamin supplement they’re on.

If you’re headed to Content Marketing World, odds are there’s a flight in your immediate future. Fortunately, this trip is definitely worth the hassle. Just keep in mind how much you’re about to learn, how many amazing marketers you’re about to meet, and you can smile your way through the unpleasantness.

Why HTTPS Matters for Content Marketers: Website Security, SEO, and Customer Trust

Full disclosure: As a content marketer, I’m still trying to round out my technological knowledge. The complex inner workings of the internet might as well be some combination of elves, gnomes, and unicorns. As long as it delivers my content (and a steady stream of memes and status updates), it doesn’t matter how the internet works, right?

But it’s time for all content marketers to get at least a little technical. There are new marching orders from our overlords at tech giants like Google, Facebook, and Apple, and they’re going to directly affect your content marketing strategy.

The issue is a web security protocol called HTTPS (Hyper-Text Transfer Protocol Secure). Other terms you might encounter are SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) or TLS (Transport Layer Security).  Or you may just know it as the little green padlock in the top corner of your web browser:

How to Get Started with Video Content Marketing (Without a Blockbuster Budget)

Back in my day, all online content was text-based. If you had two animated .GIFs on a website, you had to wait 30 seconds for the site to load. Four .jpgs on a site would crash your browser. We were grateful when posts were just words! We didn’t whine about “visual stimulation” or “content variety” back then, let me tell you.

Of course, we also dressed like this:

So maybe we didn’t get everything right. For better or for worse, the early days of the Internet are long gone, and modern consumers want video content. Over half of all people online watch videos daily. And they’re not just watching cat videos and Jimmy Fallon clips: 59% of executives say if text and video are available on the same topic, they prefer the video. And 54% of senior executives share work-related videos with colleagues weekly.

6 Quick & Dirty SEO Research Tips for B2B Content Planning

When it comes to crafting compelling content that informs, engages and inspires action, seasoned B2B digital and content marketers know our content needs to captivate both humans and search engines to be effective. After all, 81% of B2B decision makers conduct research before reaching out to a vendor, so we know our content needs to meet them whenever and wherever they’re searching.

As a result, striking that “perfect balance” between SEO and user experience is a must—and that perfect balance is rooted in the content planning stage.

“SEO needs to be baked into the process early so that the optimization is as natural as possible,” Kevin Cotch, TopRank Marketing SEO analyst, says. “It can’t be treated as an afterthought. It’s not only more efficient to do your research up front, but it also enhances the content by helping you touch on the specific phrases your audience is using to search to solve their pain points or answer their questions.”

Behind the Marketing Curtain: An Interview With Comedian, Marketer Tim Washer

As we marketers long to make meaningful connections with our audience, we often look deep into our figurative crystal balls in hopes of finding a way to lay an irresistible field of content that will trap their attention. Unfortunately, we can end up putting our audience to sleep—leaving the door open for more colorful characters to swoop in and carry them away.

So, how can we take to the sky and get our audience to surrender to our content? By crafting a  narrative that has empathy, humility and wit. And there’s certainly no better person to look to for inspiration than comedic treasure Tim Washer, Creative Director of Marketing for the Service Provider Division for Cisco.

New Report: 5 Statistics You Need to Know on How Content Influences Purchases

These days there’s no question that great content is a foundational element of any marketing strategy—especially in B2B. In fact, according to Content Marketing Institute’s (CMI) 2017 benchmarking report, 89% of B2B marketers use content marketing to “attract and retain a clearly defined audience—and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

And thanks to yet another insightful report from CMI—the latter objective is our focus today.

Last week, CMI and SmartBrief released their How Content Influences the Purchasing Process report, featuring data and insights collected from 1,200 SmartBrief subscribers. The aim of the report was to dig into the minds of those who are actually consuming content, and uncover what types of content are most influential, how decision-makers perceive vendor content, and more.

Why Content Curation Is an Essential Part of Your Marketing Mix

Imagine if an art museum contained every single painting created over a hundred-year period. It wouldn’t be much fun to visit, right? Hundreds of thousands of images, of wildly varying quality, without organization or context? It would be like a Google image search crossed with a garage sale.

Content curation is what turns a warehouse full of art and artifacts into a museum. A good curator sifts through the content to find pieces that are valuable for an intended audience. Their job is to direct attention to worthy content—and in doing so, make the museum a worthwhile place to visit.

Your blog readers and social media followers are drowning in content. You can be the content curator that helps direct their attention to what is most helpful, educational, or entertaining. Content curation, as part of your editorial strategy, can help make your blog a more valuable destination for your readers.

Contagious Content Marketing: How to Give Your Content Viral Potential

For some marketers, going viral is the holy grail of content marketing. It’s easy to see why. You put out content, people organically start sharing it, and it takes off until you’ve racked up millions of views. Millions of brand impressions without a penny in paid promotion. You can’t blame marketers for chasing that particular dragon.

That said, it’s important to get one thing straight: “Going viral” is not a content marketing strategy. It’s a pleasant side effect that can happen with well-crafted content, yes. But the chance of virality is no substitute for well-researched, relevant content amplified to the most relevant audience through organic, paid, and influencer channels.

If you’re planning on going viral to get your content seen, you’re playing the lottery instead of investing in your brand’s future.

Don’t Skip Leg Day: 7 Content Marketing Must-Haves for Healthcare Marketers

Never skip leg day.

That is, when you’re working out, it’s important to change it up. Vary your routine and work different sets of muscles. It’s the difference between looking incredible, and looking like Mr. Incredible.

Your healthcare marketing needs just as much variety as your fitness routine does. Different types of content will appeal to different audiences, or the same audience in different ways. Stick with a single content marketing strategy—whether it’s white papers, webinars, or trade events—and you may see gains in one area. But you’re skipping leg day, and you’re going to end up top-heavy.

Fortunately, there’s plenty of variety to be had in healthcare content. With the content types below, you can build a well-rounded workout that will improve your content marketing’s overall fitness.