What we learned from Content Marketing World 2019

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This year’s Content Marketing World conference (CMWorld 2019) was crammed full of advice and insights from marketers and content experts. In this article, we look at the key takeaways that all marketers should take on board.

Your content isn’t convincing anyone

Keynote speaker Tamsen Webster, Founder and Chief Idea Whisperer at Find the Red Thread, addressed one of the most common and brutal truths that the majority of marketers need to face up to; that their content isn’t convincing anyone.

In her session, Getting the Green Light: How to Build Content People Say Yes To (which you can watch above), Webster explains the reasons why content and marketing messages fail to convince people.

The four main reasons she lists are:

  1. Your message doesn’t capture attention.
  2. There’s no market demand – the top reason startups fail (42%, CB Insights).
  3. People don’t want to buy from you, even though you’re selling something they want.
  4. People don’t trust you either before or after the purchase (HBR research reveals B2B buyers question their purchases in more than 40% of cases).

Webster calls these issues “red lights” getting in the way of your content convincing people to say yes, or getting the “green light”. What marketers often forget is that they’re asking people to complete an action that they otherwise wouldn’t do. Which means you need to do all of the following:

  • Capture their attention
  • Make them believe they want to buy into your offer
  • Help them validate that purchase choice

The trap Webster says marketers typically fall into is telling audiences how much they want or should want their products/services. At its core, this approach is telling people they’re wrong or too dumb to realise they need something, which doesn’t make for a very convincing sales pitch.

Webster’s key message is this; “People need to believe that they are smart, capable and good.”

So, instead of crafting marketing messages around pain points and suggesting people are incapable of fixing their own problems without your generous offer, Webster wants marketers to create messages that emphasise the customer is already smart, capable and good – and then use their reasoning to validate your product or service.

Definitely worth watching Tamsen Webster’s session.

Organic search rises from the ashes (again)

Remember back in 2011 when SEO died because Google tried to put an end to keyword stuffing? Or that time when SEO died again in 2012 after Penguin took a swipe at dodgy links? It seems SEO has been dying every year since those algorithm updates rolled out. People have been calling time on SEO since as far back as 1997, before the Google age even took off.

More recently, social media has raised questions over the longevity of SEO. However, data from Bright Edge shows that 53% of all traffic now comes from organic search, which has overtaken social media as the top source of referral traffic once again.

The same study shows paid search accounts for 15% of web traffic.

This was a key theme in the joint session presented by Julia McCoy and Jason Schemmel at CMWorld 2019 and you can access all of the slides from their presentation here.

60% of all traffic on the web starts with a Google search

They cite research from Backlinko and Sparktoro stating that 70.6% of all traffic originates from a search engine (almost 60% of this comes from Google). This particular stat doesn’t distinguish between paid and organic traffic, but it does suggest the BrightEdge data cited above is accurate.

It also shows that little more than 5% of traffic comes from Facebook (organic and paid), which brings us to something else mentioned at CMWorld 2019 that caught some attention.

The decline of social media marketing?

CMI founder and renowned marketing speaker Joe Pulizzi is always worth listening to when he takes to the stage. During his session at this year’s CMWorld, he made some comments regarding the reduction in Facebook traffic, the platform’s loss of 15 million users since 2017 and a lower frequency of ads/brand content showing in the News Feed.

This was picked up in Lauren Pope’s write-up of CMWorld 2019 for G2.com where she suggests marketers need to “prepare for the end of social media”. This notion is something Joe Pulizzi has mentioned previously on the Content Marketing Institute while talking about Twitter’s decision to block state-run media outlets advertising on its network.

He called this “the end of social media as we know it”.

This sounds a lot like the old “SEO is dead” claim, but it is important to acknowledge the changing performance of content and ads on platforms like Facebook. As Pulizzi says, the biggest problem platforms like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter face is the content uploaded by their users. The age of fake news and politically-motivated advertising is forcing tech giants to regulate content and advertising policies with more scrutiny.

Facebook even started showing fewer posts from brands in the News Feed last year and Twitter has recently moved to ban all political ads, shortly after Facebook refused to do so. This all comes at a time when Instagram is the fastest-growing social network – and by quite some margin.

The social arena is changing and the kind of leads marketers can expect to generate from social networks (not to mention how to nurture those leads) is also going to change. What works now isn’t necessarily going to work this time next year, as social becomes a more volatile channel.

Luckily, this coincides with search becoming the dominant source of traffic once again.

Your audience doesn’t need more content, they need better content

Stephanie Stahl wrote a great write-up of CMWorld 2019 for CMI where she analyses and sums up sessions from key speakers into concise takeaways. Referencing sessions from keynote speakers Henry Rollins and Mindy Kaling, Stahl summarises some of the most common bad practices in content marketing.

Quote from Content Marketing World

“Consumers, customers and prospects don’t necessarily need more content. They need content that is meaningful, actionable, fun, amazing … anything but excessive and mediocre.”

Too many brands and marketers are still caught up in the notion of producing a certain amount of content instead of focusing on achieving a certain level of quality. It’s almost becoming a cliche to say that quality is more important than quantity but how many times does it need to be said before it catches on?

When Ahrefs data suggests 91% of content on Google generates no traffic whatsoever, there’s not much point in producing more of the same, unless you’re part of the other 9%.

Did you attend CMWorld 2019 or have you come across any other insights that should have made it into this article? Reach out to us on social with any suggestions or call us on 023 9283 0281 if you need help with your own content marketing.

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Liz Parsons profile picture
Liz Parsons

Liz has more than ten years’ experience creating marketing content. She began her content creation experience at NHS Direct (now NHS Choices), reviewing and writing user-focused content for the website and digital TV service. After a move to Cornwall, Liz joined Eight Wire, an upcoming web design and marketing agency, and worked to manage and deliver marketing campaigns for a range of multi-sector clients, several within the hospitality industry. This led to a move into marketing management for Best Western Falmouth Beach Hotel - at the time the largest hotel in Cornwall – then to the award-winning five-star resort Gwel an Mor in Portreath, on behalf of whom she wrote a monthly column in Cornwall Today magazine. A short stint at Truro and London-based PR company Wild Card, working for Kelly’s Cornish Ice-Cream and Dickinson & Morris Pork Pies, among others, preceded a move back to the South East. Liz became part of the Vertical Leap team in April 2017

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