Last September 19, the InboundCon 2014 Conference was held at the wonderful St.James Conference Centre in Toronto. Attended by nearly 200 experts of the digital community, it is with a thirst for knowledge and a bit of curiosity that I had the chance to be part of this event.
A wide variety of presentations on inbound marketing included themes from SEO, PPC, content marketing, social media, UI and UX, to CRM and CRO. The day started early at 7 :30 a.m. with a very tight schedule and only scarce short breaks here and there.
So, how to summarize an event so rich in content? Reading through the many note pages I took, one main message seems to come out. While the speakers talked about quite different subjects, they seemed to agree on a unique winning digital strategy: tell a story, remember your target audience, optimize and test continuously.
Here are the 5 key components of a winning digital strategy according to what we’ve heard at InboundCon 2014.
Content is King. This well-known expression that every marketing professionals have on their lips was of course at the centre of InboundCon 2014, and for a very specific reason.
Content allows you to create a link between you and your existing and potential customers, no matter the type of company. When interesting, educative and entertaining content is created, people want to share about it and will remember it at the right time. The more people share your content, the more it will be validated by search engines as being of high quality and relevant, thus giving you a better positioning in search results.
Dev Basu, CEO of Powered by Search, the organizing agency for this event, delivered exceptional presentations on the importance of storytelling. “ Every brand, every company, every individual has a story to tell. There is no boring story, only boring ways to tell them.”
Therefore, you must find what’s interesting about your brand or company, and present it as excitingly as possible. “The best stories are those that are simple, unexpected, credible, concrete, emotional and easily shared.”
“If content is King, then audience is Queen… and we all know who is running the castle.” Ira Haberman, Marketing Manager of Atomic Reach, delivered these meaningful words in his presentation on the creation of engaging content.
Offering quality content is indeed crucial to any digital strategy, but you must first know your audience, study them, know what they like to see, read and hear. Only after you have identified your audience will you be able to offer them what they want and what really interests them, and not the other way around!
One of the best advice of the day was the importance of focusing on your target audience needs instead of you own internal goals. Do not create content only for the sake of SEO purposes or to get a higher click-through rate. Create quality content according to your audience and their interest. The results will be so much more impressive.
“If content is key, it’s the distribution channels that will allow it to reach its full potential.” Krista LaRiviere, CEO of the gShift platform, opened the conference with the first presentation of the day talking about the multiplication of communication channels.
In an era when customers use the most recent technologies and surf from one device to another, means to reach your audience are numerous and there is already a tremendous competition to gain your audience’s attention. What should you do to stand out and be successful in communicating your story?
The answer lies in media convergence! If you combine all communication channels, you will increase the scope of your message and reach the audience right where it is, while becoming impervious to the disturbances created by emerging technologies. The Owned Media, Earned Media and Paid Media trio is for sure a winner that you haven’t heard the last about.
While each of this trio’s components has its own features and specific role, combining each source will help you support your strategy as a whole and ensure your content and your story are far-reaching.
But always remember this: there is no ready-made formula telling you how to allocate your resources to each of these communication channel. You must create your own formula, make a lot of testing and improvements to achieve an optimal combination, but the effort is worth it!
Once you have determined your content, identified your audience and reached it, it’s time to optimize. Many speakers avec mentioned the final user experience as a priority of the marketing strategy.
Retailers must design user-friendly and intuitive web sites, and that’s where the user interface (UI), user experience (UX) and CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization) come into the equation, instead of putting these aspects aside, which is often the case. A better surfing experience for the user will result in increased references, traffic and conversions.
What is the key to build such an experience? Customizing your content! You will succeed finding the optimal combination only if you continuously test and modify it until no more improvements are possible.
In one of the last presentations of the day, Chris Stolz, Head of analytics and optimization at HBC, delivered a great speech on the importance of tirelessly testing every detail of your campaign, and paying special attention to the right metrics. “The greatest results often come from the smallest details.”
Take the time to make the required adjustments along the way, take a step back, listen to your customers needs and test everything you can!
If traditional marketing focuses more on a quick profit generation, a long-term strategy is more likely to open new markets and to communicate your company’s or your brand’s vision and story.
Do not waste all your resources on creating short-term traffic; take the time to build a sustainable strategy based on your conversion objectives. Develop a community rather than seeking quick profits, and most of all, nurture these relationships and prefer loyalty over novelty.
What is the key to a winning long-term strategy? Let’s repeat it again: your content, your story.
Some interesting keynotes from InboundCon2014
This article was originally written by Laurence Soucy.