Last month I attended the Content Marketing Show in Brighton. The free conference featured 14 fantastic speakers, all armed with great insights and tips around creating an awesome content strategy for your brand or organisation.
The main theme of the day, recurring in talk after talk, was the importance of using customer insight to inform your content strategy – something we very much champion here at Leapfrogg.
Here’s a round-up of my favourite talks and personal takeaways from the day, you’ll also find links to speakers’ slide decks if you want to dig deeper into any of the topics.
Opening the conference was Mark Johnstone from Distilled, who spoke about what content marketers can learn from successful advertising campaigns, along with sharing plenty of actionable tips for successful idea generation.
- Creative companies come up with their campaigns by focusing on three elements:
- Customer insight – by finding out what your audience is interested in, you can find a credible way to link them to your brand
- Product truth – identifying the problem with your product , i.e. what’s blocking sales or conversions
- Competitor insight – looking at what competitors are already doing, ensuring you do something different
- The winning formula for content creation is something that is relevant to your customers, resonant of your brand and different to your competitors
- When coming up with ideas, be in creative mode rather than analytical mode – when you try to do both at the same time, you get writer’s block
- Practise by analysing TV adverts – look beyond the advert and try to figure out how brands got to that point (e.g. Old Spice came up with their successful ‘Old Spice Guy’ campaign because they realised it was mainly women buying the products for their partners – so they spun their competitors’ campaigns on their heads to appeal to this audience instead)
- Successful ideation is like solving crimes, so make like Sherlock:
- Information – start by collecting all your data
- Saturation – write down all your data points, freeing your mind up to connect them, then push as far as you can in trying to combine the different elements
- Incubation – when you’ve exhausted all possible ideas, go and do something completely different
- Illumination – write the question you’re trying to answer or the problem you’re trying to solve and brain dump 20 answers
- Verification – run ideas past your internal team as well as speaking to someone unrelated to the project or industry
Why people favourite things – Max L. Wilson | @gingdottwit
Max L. Wilson gave a fascinating talk about the reasons people ‘favourite’ Tweets – his research was featured in this Buzzfeed article if you’re interested in reading more.
- Essentially, people favourite tweets because they perceive them as being useful
- People define whether a tweet is useful using the following factors:
- Content – relates to personal experience / direct recommendation from someone / increases social knowledge / contains specific information of interest
- Subjective – they find it entertaining / they share the sentiment
- Relevance – recently published / relates to their location
- Trust – trusted author / trusted avatar (i.e. not an egg) / trustworthy-looking link
- Links – contains actionable link, media-rich link or info link
- Response – tweet has had lots of RTs or replies
- People define tweets as NOT useful according to the following factors:
- Anti-trust – untrusted author / untrustworthy link
- Irrelevance – out of date / irrelevant location
- Response – question without answers / repeated content
- Content – no info / too introspective / off topic / too technical / looks like SPAM / dead link / poor grammatical construction / not in their language
- Subjective – too subjective / disagreeable / not funny
How to implement an audience engagement strategy using content – Laura Crimmons | @lauracrimmons
Laura’s talk was focused on the fact that engagement is becoming much more of a ranking factor, because Google wants to favour sites that serve their target audience well. To generate more engagement with your content, your audience should be at the core of your social strategy.
- Understand your online audience – they’re likely to be different to your offline audience
- Know where your audience spend their time – i.e. social media platforms, reviews sites or forums
- Understand your audience’s engagement behaviour – how do they talk to their networks? How do they engage with brands?
- Create personas – include name, age, what they share, which channels they’re active on, what they’re reading, what they’re listening to – then tailor your content to these personas
- Use paid social media to test your content before you roll it out – target your personas, as this will indicate whether your content is likely to be successful
- Other than your own social profiles, think about where you can reach your target audience – for example, forums are a fantastic source of information about brand conversations
- Use the 80/20 principle – 80% of your content marketing efforts should focus on key influencers
- Join in with existing conversations online, don’t start them – listen, interact and add value
- You need to spend twice as much time listening to your audience as talking to them
- Mine Q&A sites for content ideas – this will provide insight into what people need to know, then you can produce content that answers these questions
- Think beyond links to demonstrate the ROI of your content – e.g. traffic and conversions
Data is the Rocket Fuel to your Content Strategy – James Perrot | @James_Perrot
Continuing on the dominant theme of the day – that your audience should drive your content strategy – James Perrot from Zazzle shared some brilliant insights from his personal experience.
- While links and rankings are great, they can be deceiving – traffic and money are what matters
- Use data to inform content by finding out which questions your audience are asking and answer them
- People searching Google for non-brand terms probably won’t have any brand loyalty – this is your opportunity to market your content
- Useful tools for identifying content opportunities:
- SEMrush allows you to export keyword data, ranking position and search volumes to identify content opportunities
- Export keywords from SEMrush and run them through Google AdWords Keyword Planner to find average monthly searches for these keywords
- Run singular terms through io to generate a list of long-tail opportunities for your content
- These tools allow you to publish your content at the right time to maximise its impact – if necessary WAIT for the right time to publish
- Content created in this way attracts brand evangelists, not just search volume
Digital video: getting your hands dirty and avoiding newbie mistakes – Tom Bailey | @bomtailey
Online video is a big deal, and it’s set to continue that way. Tom Bailey shared his tips for avoiding rookie mistakes when creating videos as part of your content strategy.
- Video content doesn’t have to be BIG – there are great opportunities for “smaller” pieces of video content such as conference filming, product demos, instructional videos, webinars, interviews and video blogs
- It’s OK to replicate existing formats – study what’s out there, deconstruct it and recreate it in your own way
- Sound quality is SO important – get it right and use a professional microphone, you don’t want poor sound to ruin your video
- Planning is vital before you start filming – don’t just jump in
- Screen test the people you want in the video – they might not come across as well as you think they will on camera
- Help your video editor as much as you can – editing is a big job so don’t just hand the project over, work closely with them
- Natural light is your worst nightmare because it’s so variable, you’re better off using a blacked out room where you’re in complete control
Starting projects content-first – Andy Parker | @theavangelist
Much to the delight of the many geeks in the room, Andy’s talk focused largely on the most hyped game to ever be released: Destiny.
- Designing a website isn’t just about visuals – information architecture is so important
- Don’t build a site map before writing your content – start with your content, then work out how you’re going to structure it and work closely with UX designers in the process
- It took ten years to create Destiny and its supporting content, but it’s all locked down and they’ve made some pretty big mistakes with their architecture:
- There’s no content of any value on the website – all content is housed within an app
- You need to have purchased the game to be able to access the content and then log into an external app – not a user-friendly journey
- You can’t access any supplementary content during gameplay
- Websites need to enable seamless access to content AND seamless sharing of content
- Content must be accessible, no matter how you’re getting to it – regardless of connection speed or device
Organisation, planning & scheduling: the secret to content marketing success – James Perrin | @Koozai_James
As we moved towards the end of the conference, James Perrin from Koozai spoke about the importance of organisation and planning when it comes to your content marketing.
- Research is essential in allowing you to strategise in a methodical and systematic way
- Before starting any project you need research:
- Who your competitors are – understand your position in the marketplace
- Who your influencers and brand advocates are
- Who your audience types are
- Which publications you want to be featured in
- Your key content themes and opportunities
- What the best-performing content is in your sector
- Be a tortoise, not a hare – don’t rush into creating content that hasn’t been properly planned
- Use a project management tool such as Basecamp in which you can assign tasks, set deadlines, etc. – even just a simple white board will do
- An editorial calendar is essential because it keeps everybody focused
- Allow yourself time to be creative – ‘cone yourself off’, get everyone to leave you alone, block time out in your diary and take time out to generate ideas
- Don’t imitate, innovate – use your research and insight to create unique content that adds value
Consume customer consciousness for colossal content creation – Jon Norris | @Jn_Norris
The only talk of the day to include such an incredible amount of alliteration in its title, I was looking forward to Jon’s talk. Crunch is a brilliant example of a brand that creates fantastic, user-led content and invests heavily in their content strategy and creation – with great success.
- “Content marketing is what happens when sales and marketing make love” – in essence, your content needs to sell, it is marketing, after all
- Editorial and sales should have an equal presence in your content strategy
- Audience personas and buying cycles need to inform each other – when you get to know your audience and genuinely engage them, you can sell to them more effectively
- How do you get to know your audience and identify what they need from you?
- Ask client-facing staff and interrogate support tickets
- Look at site search queries, especially those returning no results
- Crawl web forums
- Ask people – simply talking to clients is too often overlooked
- Using the above data, divide customers into sections / purchase stages – by knowing what their problems are, you can create personas using genuinely relevant information
- Map your personas to each stage of the buying cycle – by identifying the types of content your clients are consuming, you can determine where they are in the buying cycle and customise the CTAs on your site (e.g. people at the very first stage of their buying journey will be looking for information – so give it to them)
- Audit your content properly – this allows you to tie the issues your customers are facing into the content you already have:
- Put all your content into a spread sheet
- Categorise it to match client issues and personas
- Identify where you need to improve your content offering – and do it!