Yesterday concluded ad:tech San Francisco 2011, and with it, discussions and debates about where the internet marketing industry is moving. Underlying every conference session – whether the subject was SEO or emerging mobile platforms – was the tenet of relevant content.
After the first full day of sessions, Brafton covered some of the key takeaways for content marketers in Part 1 of this blog series. (If you haven't already, be sure to read it!)
We left off saying ad:tech buzz makes it clear that email marketing is not dead, but we hinted that industry insiders seem to think it may be shifting forms. The third of the six content marketing takeaways from ad:tech SF (see Part 1!) is that businesses should drive social engagement with email marketing.
Ad:tech attendees also talked about mobile industry developments impacting emails. Stats shared by The Relevancy Group indicate that mobile email opt-ins are on the rise. The theory commonly surrounding this is that mobile users subscribe to emails when they are at or near store locations and looking for deals – and this brings us to the next point:
4. Make sure your mobile content caters to local audiences.
One of the conclusions that ad:tech experts seemed to reach is that the mobile channel is ideal for connecting internet marketing to users' offline world – and efforts in this arena have to consider where in the world these consumers are at a given moment.
Coca Cola went as far as to create a mobile campaign that was targeted at a group of attendees at a single event. The audience was asked to send a message to Coke for the chance to win access to another part of the event.
Nearly 16 percent of the 20,000 event attendees engaged in the Coke mobile campaign. Of these participants, nearly one-quarter opted for continued mobile connection with the brand. Coke received a lot of user-generated mobile content because of hyperlocal mobile marketing.
But you don't need to create major contests to engage local audiences – just think about local keywords that will draw nearby shoppers to your store, and then keep the information useful. Anne Claudio, vice president of research for CBS Interactive, said that mobile users with access to editorial content related to the products and services they were shopping for reported feeling 80 percent more confident about shopping. For brands that offer locally oriented, brand- and product-specific content, this boost in consumers' confidence can translate into increased purchase likelihood.
Another advocate of local mobile content at ad:tech was Arianna Huffington. In her keynote address, she emphasized that on-the-go consumers are looking for local engagement. Your content marketing strategy should offer them mobile, local info. And Huffington also shed some light on the type of content that she thinks best drives engagement – news.
5. Consider news content.
As Brafton reported, one of the leading points made by Huffington was that the line between digital media and traditional media is blurring – and, as such, it's becoming a competitive necessity for online news publishers to push their content toward compelling contemporary issues. Huffington predicts that journalistic content which succeeds in storytelling will be the type of content that effectively engages online audiences.
Her sentiment was shared by several conference attendees. Jeffrey Cole of USC Annenberg expressed his belief that news readership is moving almost entirely online, suggesting the readers for online news content are an ever-growing demographic. Indeed, Brafton has reported that recent figures from Pew suggest nearly three-quarters of American adults regularly get news online.
So what is news content in relation to marketing? It is industry-specific information that your brand covers as it develops. Simon Heseltine, AOL's SEO director, told attendees that he monitors real-time search activity and Twitter conversations revolving around specific industries covered by AOL to keep up with the latest news developments. Brafton has reported on this “AOL way,” and we've written about AOL's recent decision to create a full-time newsroom to support this approach. When fresh news content is powered by the high-quality writing Huffington, Google and others in the social, search and content industries advocate, the resulting updated articles attract search engines and meet consumer demand.
Heseltine says a real-time news content strategy has helped AOL's sites see as much as 125 percent annual increases in Google traffic volumes (and he took a moment to emphasize at the conference that this is a good, sustainable practice for AOL, with waxing and waning traffic to his site related to news demand – not any algorithmic updates). His careful monitoring of the content's impact on his sites bring us to the final content marketing takeaway from ad:tech.
6. Once you do the work, measure the results and adapt.
It's common sense that marketers need to measure the results of their online marketing campaigns, but in an evolving digital landscape, it seems that many struggle to get a grasp on how to achieve this. The experts at ad:tech emphasized that marketers who want to continuously engage online audiences will need to come up with game plans to evaluate which content on which channels (key in this increasingly integrated content space) converts site visitors. Content plans should then be updated accordingly.
Several search experts spoke about the problem of brands not understanding their target audiences, which meant they struggled to produce content relevant to their prospects. This also points to the pervasive problem of brands not understanding which content converts the site visitors they do attract. Lee Odden said that any “holistic SEO” approach should end and then restart with research on the best performance results. Online retailer and SEO expert Rob Snell agreed, indicating that a site's top content pages drive up to 75 percent of sales, but often marketers can't tell you which pages these are on their own websites.
When outlining a content marketing strategy, businesses need to include regularly consulting analytics in the plan. Consulting ongoing analytics is necessary to ensure that your content is being shared, garnering inbound links, drawing traffic, engaging visitors and driving leads and sales. To help marketers with this, new online analytics tools are being developed. As Brafton reported, Google representatives at ad:tech offered previews of new tools theirthe company is releasing to marketers to help them measure SEO and mutli-channel ROI. (Some features even able to shed light on which online interaction points drive the most conversions.) And, of course, brands can always turn to search and social professionals to help them understand what works best in meeting their content marketing goals.
Bottom line: As online marketing channels continuously evolve, marketers will always need quality content to fuel engagement wherever consumers are on the web. The conversations at ad:tech offer some insight on how to approach content marketing in the currently developing state of the market – but no matter the region you're targeting ot the platform or the device you're using to deliver content, commit to quality. Perhaps USC Annenberg's Jeffrey Cole put it best during his keynote: “Content IS and ALWAYS WILL BE king.”