AiMA's Content Matters Event: Exploring Strategies to Attract, Engage & Retain Customers

Between all the bites of taquitos and exchanging of business cards, the Global Learning Center at Georgia Tech was buzzing with marketing professionals gleaning new insights at the Atlanta Interactive Marketing Association's (AiMA) Content Matters event Wednesday night. Moderated by Colleen Jones, Principal of Content Science, the event consisted of a panel of interactive specialists from companies both large and small. Each panelist shared how they are making content work for their businesses.

Jones began the panel by addressing the state of content. The way people are using technology is changing. We’re familiar with the change in behaviors, as people are spending less time watching television and more time online with digital devices. With this change in behavior, we have a huge opportunity to influence customers.

However, we have to be careful. Content must meet the demands of both people and technology. It must be appealing, engaging, and informing in order to meet the demands of your target users. In addition, the tech side is getting more fragmented as people are accessing content on more and more devices. It's important for content to be CMS and search engine friendly on every medium.

And it's only getting harder.

During the discussion on editorial, the main themes that emerged involved establishing one's voice and credibility while catering content to the technology.

Liza Dunning of Scoutmob pointed out that as a start-up, surrounded by larger competitors with deeper pockets, it is their unique voice that helps set them apart. By writing hyperlocal content with a voice that is more editorial than advertorial, they are able to better appeal to their target users. This also helps them with recruiting businesses, who enjoy their content and see them as something credible instead of just another deal of the day.

Rob Leary of FootSmart and Lance Yoder of Cerner also spoke about the importance of establishing credibility. Each strives to present content that is believable and real to consumers with just enough detail and authority. In addition, content must be consistent in format and tone.

The conversation was then directed toward Darin Wonn of Intercontinental Hotels Group, where he addressed dealing with multiple brands that have multiple audiences and editorial voices. His answer is to keep the content utilitarian, with a little leeway for each brand.

Wonn also went on to discuss the importance of developing content that is customized for each device. Consumer experience is different on each device, from a desktop computer to a mobile phone to a tablet, so the content must fit that experience.

On the technology and architecture side, the conversation shifted to meeting content's SEO and social needs.

For Cerner, Yoder discussed the importance of making sure the site had proper structure and taxonomy. Before their redesign, Cerner’s site became overgrown and hard to search. Yoder and his team put a premium on making sure the site had proper structure, used terms that were common in their industry, and had proper meta data. This increased their conversions and organic traffic.

Social and viral media are also important tools. As a start-up, Scoutmob made many mistakes and learned SEO best practices through trial and error. In the meantime, they were able to rely on their social and viral strategies to attract customers. Leary pointed out that FootSmart also gets a healthy boost in traffic from its multiple blogs focused on reaching each of their consumer niches.

It's important to look at technology/architecture and editorial as friends that can help and benefit one another rather than enemies in constant battle. Whether you work for a start-up and you're striving to stand out with a unique voice, or for a large corporation struggling to manage a consistent brand image, be smart about your use of both technology and content. Make sure it matches your business model and works for your company.

Written by Ken Hammond on October 28, 2011


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Ken Hammond