I spent much of last week running around Cambridge and Boston to attend FutureM events. In case you missed it, FutureM featured “dozens of events and activities [showcasing] the leading ideas, thinkers and companies on the future of Marketing.”
Kudos to MITX and the others who organized this weeklong shindig. I attended five of the events; the panel discussions were excellent, as were the networking opportunities (not to mention the free food).
On Oct. 5, I took in a session on “The Future of Website Visitor Engagement.” The panelists reinforced some good lessons regarding content and also opened my eyes to content’s evolving role in engaging users.
Here are a few highlights.
Content That is Relevant and Compelling
Myles Bristow (chief marketing officer, CommCreative) noted that visitors to your website have certain goals; your responsibility is to help them complete their mission. Furthermore, we’ve moved from a “world of promotion” to a “world of attraction.” That is, organizations need to generate traffic through content that is relevant to what their customers and others are searching for.
Brett Zucker (chief technology officer, Bridgeline Digital) seconded that notion, offering that users come to your website because they have a need, a pain. Keep in mind that your job is to reach them with the most relevant content possible.
Hans Keil (senior director, corporate e-business, PerkinElmer) proposed that businesses today are publishers who must find ways to produce compelling content. Doing so can be a real challenge (Ed. Note: all the more reason to call The Hired Pens).
Myles added that creating content that informs and educates leads to users knowing, liking and trusting you. And from there, they’ll be more likely to communicate directly with you.
Brett brought up the idea of “content reuse” — i.e. adapting content in different ways for use across various platforms.
Moderator Ann Handley (chief content officer, MarketingProfs.com) had a nice term for this concept: “reimagining” content.
Christina “CK” Kerley (B2B marketing specialist, CKB2B Marketing) liked this description and provided an illustrative example: Think of a single white paper as Thanksgiving dinner — there are lots of possibilities for leftovers. For instance, you could reimagine the white paper as 20 blog posts. I particularly liked the idea of conducting a brief interview with the author and posting the video.
The Role of Social Media
CK talked about the right way to think about social media’s role in engaging visitors: Don’t be the star of the play, but instead facilitate a way for customers to talk to each other. She added that social media takes awhile to produce results. It’s a 24/7, long-term commitment, and you have to be patient.
Myles said that providing a platform that allows customers to discuss your organization can be risky, but it’s an essential element in today’s marketing mix. It also contributes to that sense of trust he alluded to earlier.
Later this week, I’ll share my thoughts on other FutureM sessions.