Held at the Institute of Education’s Logan Hall near Russell Square London, the free event organised by SiteVisibility’s Kelvin Newman saw double the number of visitors of the inaugural show last year.

Positioned at the junction between social media, SEO, and online PR, content marketing at its essence is a commercialisation of content, whereby brands become publishers, and the creation or curation of content drives a commercial outcome – whether its more click-throughs, conversions (i.e. sales), higher consumer engagement or another marketing objective.

Brands must therefore recognise that content creation is a two-way process, that it must support the buying cycle, and that ultimately, it must be designed to convert.

Big business

Quality content has become big business. However, as highlighted by several speakers at the show, creating content is only the first step: it takes effort and planning, it must be highly-targeted, and above all it must tell a good story that elicits an emotional response.

That said, Dan Fielder at Sticky Content argued that it’s not always possible to predict an outcome, thus it pays to practise ‘random acts of kindness’ – especially for business-to-business (b2b) players struggling to fit their marketing to this new content-led reality. His advice is to start small, get some quick wins with the least amount of stakeholder input, and with ROI established, push for greater investment.

Two examples given by Dan were those of a software vendor that spent two years turning questions from its customer service department into ‘how to’ tips that now drive 20 per cent of its website’s traffic, and another specialist vendor who writes a blog based on one of its 73 keywords enabling it to communicate peer-to-peer with its users.

Get analytical

Data collection and analysis was another major theme. Zazzle Media’s Simon Penson explained how content and data have become disparate bedfellows, and how social data in particular adds a layer of richness not seen before in digital marketing. He advised using this intelligence to power a process-driven approach to idea and content generation, and formalised within an editorial calendar to ensure consistency.

‘Get analytical’ was also the message from Red Rocket Media’s Sarah Howard, who examined how key metrics such as people coming in (traffic), engagement (whether content is being shared or commented on), and conversion (impact on the bottom line) can be employed to identify top conversion paths. Given the many social media channels available, Howard’s message was to capitalise on what works and to scrap what doesn’t.

Meanwhile, LinkedIn’s Will Koch discussed how social media sites are becoming a trusted resource for b2b technology decision makers. He said that LinkedIn’s page views around content are growing fast, and discussed how it is employing data analytics to tailor and seed content to the right individuals in a highly-targeted fashion.

Knowing me knowing you

For the brand, social media presents the perfect medium for not just engaging with but getting to know its audience (e.g. look at what they like and share) in order to deliver content that achieves these goals. According to BlueGlass UK’s Pak Hou Cheung, ‘awesome SEO’ can give brands a great head start, but only in getting all of the digital channels to work together holistically and going that extra mile to engage with their audience can they win the ‘game of cat and mouse’ with Google.

A number of speakers provided their top tips for content marketing, and some simple ones were to anchor product links within content, to move social sharing buttons to the top of the page, and to align content with the style of the channel – for example, ensuring that a video clip produced professionally does not jar with the amateur clips posted on video blogging sites and YouTube.

While much of what was covered at the Content Marketing Show might seem straightforward, the point is that it’s not uncommon for brands to lose sight of their core objectives, or indeed basic business principles in their rush to engage – e.g. understanding their audience, using the right data and metrics, and achieving an ROI. In the words of Justin Taylor at Graphitas, do social shares pay the mortgage?

As such, the Content Marketing Show told a powerful story, so well done to all of the speakers, Kelvin and his team, and the show’s sponsors for putting on another fantastic event. A more detailed round-up of each of the presentations is available here.

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