Make enjoyable content, flip your SEO tactics, and don’t forget to bring everyone along.
Content creators and marketers from across the country gathered for three days in September to share insights and swap tips and tactics at Content Marketing World (CMWorld), run by the Content Marketing Institute, dubbed the largest content marketing conference on the planet.
Our team at Imprint attended dozens of sessions and met afterward to discuss our learnings and identify some common threads. Here are the trends that rose above the noise:
Make It Enjoyable
Content marketers spend countless hours poring over data on everything from user behavior and channel demographics to device adoption rates and search algorithm updates — and for good reason. Data is an incredibly powerful and useful informant, but the sheer volume of data we can access makes it easy to forget some of the most basic, intangible and unquantifiable goals of content: That it’s “enjoyable!”
We were struck by the term “enjoyable content,” and we take it to mean evoking positive emotions, getting our audiences involved and flat out making our content fun. One speaker pointed out that our brains feel before they think, which means that appealing to people’s positive emotions at the start can make the rest of the journey that much easier. There’s also the recall, or memory, factor. Studies show that a person is much more likely to remember positive emotional content than negative emotional content.
On a fundamental level, it’s about giving the audience what they want. One speaker presented findings from a study that asked consumers to rank the biggest factors that affect “the perception of high-quality content.” The choices were convenience, information, education, community, enjoyment and inspiration. Believe it or not, convenience ranked last, while enjoyment took the top spot. So give your audience what they want — make your content enjoyable.
Bring Everyone Along
Not everyone lives and breathes content the way we marketers do. At CMWorld this year, we were initially a bit dumbfounded that “being authentic” was such a common talking point. “Being true to your brand and purpose” has been a steady refrain for a while, but after discussing as a team, we realized knowing something and doing it are entirely different things. Creating authentic content that is both audience-first and true to your brand’s purpose is just really difficult. But it’s a goal worth the continued pursuit.
Creating authentic content is just really difficult. But it’s a goal worth the continued pursuit.
Another facet of this theme was thinking “digital first.” It’s a buzzword phrase that marketers have been hearing for years, but again — knowing you should be digital first is not the same as actually being digital first. Fighting the inertia of “this is how we’ve always done it” requires consistency and conviction, but does your audience really want a PDF? Or do they want an e-book? Do they want an interactive graphic? Bring everyone along.
Marry the Art and Science of SEO
Several speakers at this year’s CMWorld discussed the evolution of SEO, and its place at the beginning of the content creation process rather than where it once was at the end. We mentioned before how masses of data can sometimes distract from content fundamentals, and that applies to SEO and creativity as well. SEO is no longer just a metadata and keyword-inserting exercise — it’s a major player in identifying topics you should create suites of content around.
A good SEO report can lull you into thinking the strategic editorial work is done, but content informed only by SEO research will disappoint every single time. Search habits and trends don’t know what you know about your brand, or what you know about your audience’s wants and needs. When developing your content strategy and editorial calendar, make sure to leverage all that the science of SEO has to offer — but make space for the art of editorial thinking. The two are a match made in heaven.
Connecting the Dots
These three themes go hand in hand and are things we continue to emphasize at Imprint. If you have any questions about the specifics of leveraging SEO for ideation, or need help bringing everyone along in your efforts, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to help!