Brightspot recently had the opportunity to attend Content Marketing World, held this year in Washington, D.C. The three-day annual conference, hosted by the Content Marketing Institute, brings together attendees from across the digital-marketing spectrum to share ideas, get inspiration and look forward to what lies ahead for the marketing profession.
Generative AI is having its "hype wave" moment, equaling opportunities but also headaches
If you weren't hearing and thinking about AI, then you weren't at this conference.
Across the board, marketers are thinking about the impact of AI on their jobs, their work, their teams, their businesses and beyond.
The consensus, including from actress and director Elizabeth Banks as she answered questions on the keynote stage, is that generative AI is an incredible collaborator for generating ideas, structuring thinking and interpreting swathes of data, among its many uses.
However, as The Atlantic's Derek Thompson noted while interviewing Banks, AI really is more of a historian than one of life's creative geniuses. It might be great at averaging everything we've ever written, but AI will not bring you the element of surprise or be able to follow the story toward unexpected new plot twists, avenues or discoveries.
We have the data. What are we going to do with it?
From amassing data to optimize content for search or tailoring experiences for specific audiences, a thread through Content Marketing World was around putting that intelligence to better—and best—use.
Beverly Jackson, Vice President of Brand and Product Marketing at Zillow, spoke of the power of personalization and making connections with your customer with great content. In turn, this must be closely aligned to an omnichannel distribution strategy that gets the right content to the right audiences on the platforms they prefer.
In one breakout session, Zontee Hou of content consultancy Convince & Convert, further spoke of how most marketers—98%, in fact—already recognize the power of data-driven personalization, but only two in five are succeeding in doing so on their websites.
The technology exists to deliver on the promise but it requires a dedicated focus on gathering the data, interpreting the data and taking a test-and-optimize approach to using the data to deliver the right content and experiences for each customer.
Content, content everywhere, but not the time to think
Along with the need for personalization to create memorable CX, our research with Forrester earlier this year also identified the challenges of too much content, across too many channels, stuck in too many silos. This pain point was evident in several conference tracks at Content Marketing World.
Content orchestration and optimization was a theme across a number of sessions, highlighting the ongoing challenge felt by content teams for better ways to plan, create and deliver the experiences their audiences seek.
With their workflow tools, collaborative features and version-control capabilities, technology solutions like a CMS or digital-asset manager are the end game of the content-delivery continuum. But your technology systems and workflows must align with that other important facet of your organization's ecosystem: your human systems.
What's the value of the content I create?
Measuring the impact of your content efforts was another theme that threaded throughout Content Marketing World.
Going back to AI, it's obvious we have the power to generate infinite amounts of fresh content, but what's the point if nine out of ten pages on the Web get zero clicks? (Quite apart from the notion of AI-churned posts equating to nothing more than "garbage in, garbage out.")
Several speakers offered guidance to the perennial game of winning at search. AI-assisted tools and prompts can be valuable to augment existing SEO approaches. DemandJump's Ryan Brock encouraged attendees to think about a pillar-based marketing approach to capture the network effect of the semantic web and the various ways search engines consider topicality and authority.
Although, as Andy Crestodina noted in his talk on SEO, "Google famously has over 2,000 PhDs—you are not going to outsmart them." In this case, focused, quality content is key, backed by a smart methodology to help you rank for the keyphrases you care about and can actually win at.
ServiceNow's editor-in-chief, Richard Murphy, spoke passionately about his company's initiative to build a thought-leadership platform based on a more purely journalistic approach. The outcome? An insightful digital publication, Workflow, that engages an audience of technology leaders without always needing to "sell what's on the back of the truck." Murphy noted that the investment in high-quality, original content has provided clear returns in terms of audience growth, brand awareness and customer activations.
In summary, quality content—and experiences—matter. Take AI along for the ride, by all means, but storytelling for humans, by humans is here to stay.