Reflections On The First Content2Conversion Conference

Published: May 1, 2012

By Jeff Erramouspe, B2B Content Marketing Expert

Content Marketing is the new black, or so you would believe based on the plethora of conferences, seminars, webinars, magazines and books dedicated to the topic. While some may argue that content marketing is just a new name for something that marketers have done for years, I am in the opposite camp. I believe, at a minimum, that content marketing puts a new focus on the proper ways to allow marketers to effectively engage with their prospects through the sales process.

It was in this spirit that I attended the inaugural B2B Content2Conversion Conference, hosted by DemandGen Report and held April 24 at the Times Center in New York City.  During the conference, I was struck by a number of themes and observations about content marketing, and the processes and technologies that enable it.  Here are the items the stuck in my mind.

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  • Convert, convert, convert: It was in the title of the conference, but it came through loud and clear in each presentation, from the practitioners, the theorists, the technologists and the case studies.  While content allows you to create valuable, non-sales oriented conversations with your prospects, it is critical not to forget that this is about generating quality sales leads.  Make sure that you leave the reader plenty of opportunities to engage with you further – you never know precisely when someone is going to decide they are ready to buy.
  • Mobility is now: CK Kerley (@CKsays) of CKB2B Marketing spoke compellingly on the need to not just be mobile friendly with your content marketing efforts, but to fully optimize for mobility.  Mobile has changed our behaviors and expectations, and there is no such thing as a B2B executive who does not live with  a smartphone and other mobile devices 24/7.  All your content should be easy to consume on a mobile device, and you should consider the unique capabilities of mobile platforms when designing your content.  My favorite quote: “A B2B executive without a smartphone is like the Loch Ness Monster – it doesn’t exist!”
  • Video engages, enhanced video converts: Michael Kolowich, CEO of KnowledgeVision Systems, demonstrated the power of video to engage and convert, and many of the presenters discussed the importance of video in their presentations.  There is no question that video is an excellent way to accurately deliver your message; it can be used for any number of purposes, including awareness, education, solution development and validation.  Just providing a video that delivers a message is a good first step, but by surrounding the video with presentation materials, graphics and transcripts you present many more opportunities to drive further engagement and prospect conversion.  Bonus: Video is the perfect format for communicating information via smartphones and other mobile devices.
  • Inbound marketing vs. outbound marketing: There was a bit of a dust-up a few months ago about whether inbound marketing (being found via blogs, social media, SEO, etc.) was sufficient to drive B2B leads and whether outbound marketing (specifically email) was a thing of the past.  I was struck by this during HubSpot VP of Marketing Jeanne Hopkins’ presentation when she mentioned that HubSpot – the kings of inbound marketing – still execute between 50 and 90 targeted email campaigns per month!  She stressed that they put in controls to ensure that any specific prospect doesn’t receive more than two emails per week, but no matter how you look at it, that is a tremendous amount of outbound email activity. It indicates that even for the best inbound marketers in the world (and HubSpot’s results are very impressive) outbound marketing is still a critical part of the mix.  To be effective, you need to do both.
  • Useful content measurement is hard: Jim Lenskold of The Lenskold Group talked about how to measure the impact of your content marketing efforts.  It was a solid presentation and helped make a good case for why leads generated by content marketing, although more expensive to acquire, should result in a better overall marketing ROI.  Unfortunately for me, the measurement process reminded me of my college econometrics classes, with complex models that attempt to attribute specific content touches their share of the resulting revenue.  What content marketers really care about is the efficacy of a specific piece of content.  If I have created an E-book designed to move decision makers from the awareness to the consideration phase, I want to understand how well that content performs.  Much simpler content metrics, based on buyer persona and buying phase, are required for content marketers to fully understand a content asset’s impact on the sales process.
  • Is marketing automation effective? When asked during a panel whether marketing automation platforms are effective in their content marketing efforts, Heather Teicher, Head of Strategy and Chat for LivePerson, answered, “Marketing automation makes our lives easier but creates a lot more work.”  This seemingly oxymoronic answer made a ton of sense to me.  The truth is if you want to create persona-driven content marketing programs that lead a prospect through their buyer’s journey, you can’t do it without an effective marketing automation platform.  As soon as you decide to get serious about content marketing you’ve created more work for yourself, but that work is easier if you use a marketing automation platform.  The converse is also true: If you’re not planning to embrace content marketing, a marketing automation platform may be overkill and make your life more difficult.

This conference was an excellent forum for discussing key content marketing issues.  If you were one of the 200+ people in attendance, I’m sure you’ll agree.  If you weren’t, I’d encourage you to attend next year.

Jeff Erramouspe is a B2B marketing content consultant with more than 20 years of marketing management experience in both entrepreneurial and Fortune 500 technology companies. Jeff was previously president of Manticore Technology, a pioneer in the marketing automation market.  He joined Manticore Technology from Digby, where he was VP of Market Development, and was the co-founder and CEO of Deepfile Corporation (now called StoredIQ), a leading provider of file management solutions for corporate compliance. Prior to founding Deepfile, he was a venture fellow at AV Labs, the seed-stage fund associated with Austin Ventures, an adjunct professor for entrepreneurship at the University of Texas Graduate School of Business, and the first VP of marketing for Vignette Corporation, a leading web content management software provider.  Jeff started his career with NCR Corporation before moving into executive management roles with Compaq Computer Corporation.

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