5 Key Takeaways from Content Marketing World 2019

September 10, 2019

Wrapping up their ninth year hosting the annual conference in Cleveland, the team at Content Marketing Institute proved once again there’s still a lot we can learn about our industry.

Experts will be the first to tell you that they don’t know half of what there is to know. If the discussions had at CMWorld this year were any indicator, there’s still a lot that even the most seasoned professionals can learn about the changing content marketing landscape.

We’ve put together five key takeaways from Content Marketing World 2019 that every content marketer needs to know. If you couldn’t make it to the CMWorld this year or just want a recap on some of the key points, you’re in the right place.

Key takeaways from Content Marketing World 2019

The following five elements are the core of content marketing as we know it per the Content Marketing World 2019 conference. Once you learn about this conference, check out all you need to know about the Content Tech Summit 2019. If you’re interested in learning more about a specific topic, you can use the links below to jump ahead. 

1. You’re doing storytelling wrong

2. Prepare for the end of social media

3. Not all content is content marketing

4. The establishment is at risk

5. Shortcuts lead to poor quality content

1. You’re doing storytelling wrong

No surprise here, most of the speakers at Content Marketing World 2019 this year centered their talks around the art of storytelling to create content.

You’ve probably heard this harped on before. Telling content marketers that they need to tell a story isn’t groundbreaking advice. What is groundbreaking through is how many brands are doing storytelling the wrong way.

It’s not enough to tell a story, you need to tell the right story.

Keynote speaker Tamsen Webster covered this in her session "Getting the Green Light: How to Build Content People Say Yes To." Tamsen highlighted how your customers are inundated with more information than ever before, which makes standing out more important than ever. 

And while it might seem appealing to tell your company’s story from a branding perspective, the truth is that customers don’t care. They want proof that you can help them solve their problems in a timely, cost-effective way.

What does this mean for content marketers?

It means rethinking storytelling entirely. Bragging about how long you’ve been in business or the awards you’ve won are the wrong stories to tell. Focus on your client, their pain points, and the solutions they’re looking for. Reverse-engineer your content starting with the customer you’re hoping to reach.

How can we accomplish this as marketers? Really get to know the customer. Create and regularly update customer profiles that put the focus on the consumer journey. Another tough lesson you’ll need to learn is that not everyone is a good customer for you. Instead of trying to catch big-fish accounts that aren’t a good fit, focus on the customers that need your product. Don’t abandon your core audience to be trendy.

Ready to create your own customer profile? Use our free resource to get started.

Learn more: How to Create a Customer Profile →

2. Prepare for the end of social media

It was almost ten years ago when Facebook rebranded and laid the groundwork to become the social media juggernaut we know today. We’ve seen the rise and fall of dozens of social media platforms attempting to replicate the success of Facebook.

But a close look at the data shows that Facebook usership is declining year over year. CMI Founder Joe Pulizzi touched on this during his opening keynote covering his content marketing commandments. And the data backs up what he had to say.

The social media titan has lost 15 million users in the US since 2017 and that number keeps rising. Declined usership is just one problem: we haven’t even talked about other issues such as data-privacy issues and ad demonetization.

What does this mean for content marketers?

Relying on channels that other companies own to drive traffic is a losing game. If you’re getting most of your blog traffic from social referrals, you’re at the mercy of the algorithm. It also means you’re one FCC ruling away from watching Facebook and Instagram tank and take your audience along with it.

Content marketers need to focus on owned media channels in addition to social referrals. Building an email newsletter list and driving organic traffic to your corporate blog will protect you from the inevitable fall of social media.

Nothing works forever. Adapting and planning ahead will prevent you from being caught in the crosshairs of a social media apocalypse. Lay the groundwork now and prepare an exit-strategy before it’s too late.

Learn how we did it: G2 took our corporate blog from a handful of views to more than a million monthly visitors.

3. Not all content is content marketing

The age of the Internet has changed the way we consume media. We want everything faster, sleeker, and digital.

This presents both a unique gift and challenge for content marketers. We are now equipped with more tools to reach our audience in new ways. And we are also being pulled into more projects that are decidedly not content marketing...simply because we are creators.

Content marketing is… Content Marketing is not…
Blog content Event signage
Video content Pamphlets and brochures
E-books Powerpoint decks
Case studies Direct mailers

What does this mean for content marketers?

It’s about learning to tell people no. It means establishing boundaries between your team’s functions and other team functions. And it means as leaders and marketers, we need to become more judicious with how we spend our time.

Ask yourself these questions next time leadership wants your team to jump on a project:

  • Is this a valuable use of your time?
  • Is this what the company pays you for?
  • Is this something the customer wants?

Is this a fight really worth having with senior leadership? The answer is, yes. Amanda Todorovich of the Cleveland Clinic put into perspective the damage these unnecessary projects can have on your team during her session at Content Marketing World 2019.

Pushing back against the questions leadership has might seem risky but it’s necessary for the health and happiness of your content team. Remember, decreased employee engagement can lead to distrust, apathy, and even resignations.

4. The establishment is at risk

For those of us who have been in content marketing for more than ten years, the shift toward a digital focus is obvious. There are new jobs being added to the digital marketing field every day, many of which didn’t exist a mere 10 years ago.

But even as the landscape around us changes, there are brands and corporations that are relying on their legacy to carry them through. This mentality is shortsighted in an age when new startups launch every year with the intent to take down the establishment.

Keynote speaker Ron Tite spoke at length about how start-ups around the world are taking on the establishment and upending long-standing industries that are failing to innvote. 

What does this mean for content marketers?

You cannot afford to avoid innovation. Your customers don’t care if you’ve been around for 75 years; your authority doesn’t matter as much as what you can do for the customer.

If you rest on your laurels as a business, someone will come to unseat you. MySpace was overthrown by Facebook. AirBnB is killing the hotel industry. Even G2 was created to take on industry giants that had been sitting at the top for a long time.

Your legacy won’t be around to brag about if you lose it to a competitor. Stay agile, keep thinking like a startup, and never settle for what you have. Innovation and adaptation is the key to longevity.

5. Shortcuts lead to poor quality content

The internet is such a noisy place, that it's almost impossible to break through the clutter. Don’t believe me? Here are just a few stats to show you just how much content is being produced.

Overwhelmed? Imagine how your customers must feel. We’re living in a time where consumers have too much information. That sense of urgency you feel to get to your customers first is compelling but it can be destructive.

Just check out some of the conversation that was sparked after Basecamp’s CEO called out shady ad-buying techniques from their competitors.

What does this mean for content marketers?

Think like a customer, not like a marketer. Why? Because your customers know they’re being marketed to. If they spot these dirty tricks coming from your company, you’re signaling to them that you’re not someone who can be trusted.

Scott Stratten covered this extensively in his keynote "Everything Has Changed and Nothing Is Different," when he spoke about his experience taking down a large corporation that he busted leaving fake reviews on their new app.

Avoid things like black hat SEO tactics, link-buying, and purchasing competitor keywords that might get you where you need to go in the short-term. The thought of ranking on the first page of Google or snagging a featured snippet can be motivating, but it can also lead to poor content decisions.

What are some successful content marketing strategies your team can implement:

Google is smarter than we give it credit for. Think about your long-term content strategy as a game of chess you’re playing with Google. Create a plan for long-term success with 3-month, 6-month, and 12-month plans for your content. This approach is designed to keep you ahead of the competition and keeps your content honest.

Content is evolving

If there’s one thing we can be certain of it’s that next year this list will look a lot different. Content marketing is changing rapidly, which makes it one of the most exciting fields to work in. It also means learning from your peers and your competitors.

Learn from G2! Read our case-study on how we went from not having a content marketing team to 1 million organic monthly visitors in less than two years.

Increase your traffic and build ROI with the full Road to 1 Million case  study.   Get the full story →

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