Learn what topics were trending and TREW's big takeaways from INBOUND, Content Marketing World, MozCon, The Martech Conference, and the PMM Summit.
In this episode, I'm joined by several senior members of the TREW Crew to share the big trends and takeaways from conferences we each attended in Fall 2022. These included:
Here are just a few of the topics we covered during the episode:
Lee Chapman, TREW President, shared a key INBOUND theme of connectedness. Emerging from the isolated Covid times, marketers (and humans in general) are seeking ways to feel connected. One has a sense of this at in-person conferences, where people are more eager than ever to talk to the stranger in the next chair over, and online, where new communities are springing up as gathering places for learning and connecting. Lee's favorite presenter was Dale Bertrand from Fire and Spark who provided in-depth advice on how to diagnose and improve SEO performance.
Morgan Norris, TREW Senior Brand Strategist, reports that pillar pages are still a thing! Demonstrate your expertise and help your buyers by publishing long-scrolling web pages packed with relevant, connected content. You can score high marks with Google AND with prospective buyers through this strategy. While at CMW, Morgan tried out several AI tools for content marketing, nabbed the top score at a content-themed whack-a-mole game, performed at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (sort of), and presented with yours truly during the CMW Industrial Marketing Summit. Morgan's favorite presenter was Lisa Gately from Forrester who covered thought leadership – what it is, what it isn’t, and how to create a thought leadership campaign.
Erin Moore, TREW Account Director, was the overachiever that fit in two conferences: MozCon and The Martech Conference. A big focus at MozCon (and INBOUND and CMW!) was Google's greater emphasis on EAT: expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. Partly in response to the misinformation of today's times, brands need to do more to build their authority. This might be niching further down, creating even MORE content on a subject (and tying it together with that pillar page), and publishing author bios along with blogs and articles. Erin's favorite presenter, Lily Ray from Amsive Digital, went into the background on EAT, the Google patents that she thinks went into it, and a lot of fantastic examples to showcase how Google can piece together an entity's authority.
Collaboration and AI-assisted content marketing and SEO were also big topics at The Martch Conference. During the episode you'll hear Erin share an easy "hack" for figuring out trending keywords used by your target personas, so be sure to listen for that.
Rounding out the five events, I attended the Product Marketing Manager Summit along with TREW client Rich Goldman from Ansys, who presented a content marketing collaboration between our two teams on a GIANT movie theater screen. About half of the sessions were themed around positioning and messaging, along with how to do content marketing at scale and ways to support sales. I had two favorite quotes, one of which “The Gartner buyer’s journey is REAL, y’all” refers to just how much of a slog the long B2B technology buyer's journey can be, and pivotal ways marketing can help.
- What's New in HubSpot: Top 11 New Feature Updates from INBOUND 2022
- Trending Topics for Technical Audiences at Content Marketing World 2022
- Ansys + TREW case study: Focusing on Content Strategy to Optimize Content Performance
- Rock and Roll Hall of Fame "performance" by Morgan and Wendy
- Gartner's B2B Technology Buyer Journey infographic
Narrator: Welcome to Content Marketing, Engineered. Your source for building trust and generating demand with technical content. Here is your host, Wendy Covey
Wendy: Hi, and welcome to Content Marketing, Engineered. On each episode, I'll break down an industry trend, challenge, or best practice in reaching technical audiences. You'll meet colleagues, friends, and clients of mine who will stop by to share their stories, and I hope that you leave each episode feeling inspired and ready to take action. Before we jump in, I'd like to give a brief shout out to my agency, TREW Marketing. TREW is a full service agency located in beautiful Austin, Texas, serving highly technical companies. For more information, visit trewmarketing.com. And now on with our podcast.
Wendy: Hey, everyone, and welcome to another episode of Content Marketing, Engineered. Today we'll be talking about key themes, trends, and highlights from our favorite sessions of recent conferences. Specifically, I have Lee Chapman, TREW marketing president, who attended INBOUND; Morgan Norris, senior brand strategist at TREW Marketing who attended Content Marketing World; and then extra bonus points for Erin Moore. She's account director at TREW. And she attended two conferences, the Martech conference and MozCon. And then finally, you have yours truly, who attended the PM summit. And I was off to the Content Marketing World with Morgan, so I'll make sure she gets it right, but I think she's on it. So welcome, everyone.
Erin: Good morning.
Wendy: So those listening and watching might not be aware of all these conferences, so just some quick basics. Let's give just a short overview of each conference, and we'll go in that same order that I introduced you. So, Lee, you'll lead us off.
Lee: Yeah. So Inbound was created by HubSpot, so probably if you've been on our site, you've heard us talk about HubSpot, a marketing automation platform, been around for more than a decade now. We've been going to this conference since 2012. I think this was the 12th year that they've held it in Boston. The 6th one I've been to in person. So really some great sessions, hundreds of sessions, from deep dives into helping you stay on top of trends in sales and marketing. B to B and B to C. And then also some just world class speakers, lots of people who have books out. Viola Davis was there this year. She was great to hear from. Of course, Obama, Barack Obama keynote closed it out on the last day, Jane Goodall, just to name a few. And they're about 10,000 attendees this year, so typically it's around 40,000. A little bit smaller this year. But they also had an online hybrid event going on along with that, too.
Morgan: Awesome. And then I was at Content Marketing World in Cleveland, and that was my first time to be there. I've consumed a lot of Content Marketing Institute's information and articles and things like that. I hadn't been to the conference before, but great experience to just connect with other marketers. It's specifically focused on content. So there's a lot about kind of content ROI, there was a lot about AI and content and what's emerging there. Some kind of new trends, as well as your steady state how to create a content strategy and move forward with that. There were probably, I would say, 2500 people there, if I guessed correctly. But then one thing that's great about it is on the last day or the second day, they divide up, they have kind of industry tracks. So we were able to participate in the Industrial Marketing Summit, which was specifically focused on the types of audiences we have marketing B to B technical audiences. And that was just a really great opportunity for all these people with similar challenges and audiences to be in the same room for multiple sessions and then to be able to connect with those people afterwards. So, great opportunity for that, right?
Erin: And then I was at MozCon and the MarTech conference. Both of them I went to remotely. So MozCon is held in person in Seattle every year. I'm not really sure how long it's been going on. I know it's championed by Moz, which is one of the foundational SEO tools. It's really well regarded in terms of SEO conferences. It's probably the biggest SEO conference, so I haven't had the chance to go before. And I was really excited about being able to do the remote option this time, versus flying to Seattle in the middle of a crazy week. And so it covers kind of everything around the topic of SEO and search engine optimization, focusing a lot on content, as well as strategies for local search and things that are a little bit more specific to, say, a site type or a medium or something like that. And then the Martech conference is, not surprisingly, if you guess by the name, it's focused on marketing technology. And so this is one again, this is brand new to me, but we got an email, it actually happens to be free. They rely a lot on sponsorship for it. It was fully remote. So I attended a few sessions of this one pretty recently, and it's really focused around optimizing your tool stack for your processes, for your team workflow, picking tools that you might not know about, that maybe have additional functionality. And yeah, just really everything kind of wrapped around that topic of marketing technology and the tools that you're using.
Wendy: I can't wait to get into some of the things we heard in these conferences, because it sounds like there'll be a lot of overlapping trends. But I don't know. I don't know. We'll see. Well, finally, I attended the Product Marketing Management Summit, and this is a very niche event. Few hundred people attended, and they hold it in different cities across the United States and in Europe. So it's meant to have more of a regional pool. This particular one was in San Francisco, and so you saw a big concentration of really large enterprise tech companies, but it was meant to be an event focused on B to B tech PMMS in all stages of their career. It was over two days and the topics varied quite wildly from skills training, like Nutanix shared their go to market strategy, and then there was a panel discussion on how to build and scale product management teams. So a little bit there for different people, different stages in their career. Alright, so let's talk about some of the trending topics that you notice.
Lee: All right, so I'll start off with HubSpot. One of the things they kicked off the conference with, they've got a new CEO, the first woman CEO, Yamani Rankin, and she talked a lot about, in addition, all the enhancements to the HubSpot platform this year, which I've got a blog on our website with all the download on all the specifics and the tools, so I won't go into those too much here. But she talked about at the highest level, but really this need for connection that we're all coming out of the pandemic. We've all been doing more remote work, hybrid work, and people are just sort of missing being in person at conferences and having that need for connection met. So one of the things that they're doing is starting an online ecosystem called Connection.com. It's going to launch later this year. It's basically kind of creating this portal in this way that people can come together, also help find freelancers, help find jobs. I think all of us are really, you know, challenged with especially as content as we talk more about the trends and the tools and all these things, the need for content is continuing to grow and evolve. And so having a way to connect people to be able to find tools, resources and other experts to help them expand and their content needs, I think was a core part of this. So that was really cool, tying into this whole tools piece. I think as we were talking about this earlier, if we listed out all the tools that we all learned about across all these conferences, like you could just take the entire podcast, so we're not going to do that here. I come out with a post later that has some of the tools that we're seeing. But AIs, definitely, we've been hearing about them for years. It's been in our trends outlook for probably the last five years, but really this year, I think one of the takeaways I had was, although a lot of these are still in their infancy, some of them are really coming along pretty quickly and there are things that we need to start piloting and testing out. Some of the things that we're going to be looking at here at TREW this fall, but especially around SEO and content development. So those were really big. Also ABM Tools. Six Cents role work. There's a bunch of others, but just tools and efficiency and connection. I think we're kind of the main overarching themes at HubSpot. Morgan, what did you see at Content Marketing World?
Morgan: Awesome. So one thing that I had jotted down that kept coming around was pillar pages, which is crazy to me because this is something that we have talked about and done for years and years as a recommended practice, creating this kind of long scrolling page or multiple pages on your site that are around a specific topic and link to supporting content on your site. This helps the search engines see that you have authority on this topic, you have depth of knowledge in this space. But it seemed like that concept still felt like new and I think it was affirming to be able to hear people's strategies around pillar pages. I think in content marketing you're going to do things for years and then you've got to kind of always be pushing back saying, is this still working? Is this do we need to adjust? Do we need to pivot? And the thing on pillar pages was keep doing them and make them longer and have more content to support them. And so I was at a really interesting session by a company called Demand Jump that does kind of SEO through pillar pages and massive amounts of content. And while that their strategy is geared and the examples they were given were geared more towards really B to C audiences, it's very similar for B to B, but your keywords are different and you have sort of less search traffic. And so you don't need 87 blog posts around a single topic, but you do need a handful. And so that was just a really interesting piece. And another theme that kept coming up was data. So Wendy and I actually presented, Wendy presented on our research that TREW marketing does, and that just gained a lot of traction. I feel like people were grabbing at data to understand what direction to go. And so there were I went to another session that just had an interesting topic around data of every organization holds data. Your finance people have data, your project or your product managers have data. What data within your organization can you use in your content to better market yourself? And I just thought this was such a great concept. Like, for example, right now I have a client who's trying to evangelize their engineering services. They're typically a product company, but going back to them and asking how is your service business increased, what's actually increased 100% over the last year? And so being able to evangelize the fact that, hey, we do engineering services and people need them, and it's okay if you need engineering services too, you're not in the minority. This area of our business is growing because it's something we're good at and there's a need in the market. And so just being able to find that data within your organization and use it in your content, I thought was just not a novel idea, but just something that I don't think we look into enough. So it's a cool topic.
Erin: Well, I will take it from Morgan so, again, I went to two conferences, but I'll try to be quick on both of them. So for Moz for the MozCon, I mean, it's all around SEO. So a lot of it was, as I kind of mentioned, it's not just SEO and the terms that I think some other conferences touch on it, it does kind of cover that larger SEO ecosystem. So I did notice that there were a couple different areas that were discussed. As I said, things like optimizing product pages, for instance, or visual search, which I'm not seeing, really. Anyone else talked about things like local search tactics. That was, I think, a big topic. I didn't really watch those because for us, most of the companies we work with, for TREW, we're not really marketing on a local level. But it is interesting to see the buzz around it, because I know that's been a big topic in the SEO ecosystem. So it was interesting to see some of these topics that have been a little bit slower to permeate less SEO focused arenas, and have a little bit more focus sessions on that. So that was one piece of it, just kind of expanded discussion around SEO. Not just about how do you architect a web page, how do you write content, how do you do keyword research, back linking. But some of the more related stuff out there, there's also a lot of focus around, I mean, Google's algorithms, I was definitely thrown at first because I expected deep dive sessions around, what is Google doing and why is Google doing that? What changed?
Wendy: Why are they doing that? They're like, surely you know the answer to algorithms.
Erin: I think that's the biggest thing about SEO, nobody knows the answer. Google doesn't tell you. So you have to make a lot of inferences, and a lot of people will just do a bunch of testing and you'd know, when Google has updates. So I went to a really interesting session that goes into it's called EAT. So it's expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. And this is a new big range. I don't think it's all that new, actually, but it's a big ranking factor, and Google has made it a bigger and bigger one. And I think a lot of this is due to misinformation. It was the COVID pandemic. There was a lot of information out there that was very quick to come out, but wasn't necessarily correct. And so Google basically is rebalancing a playing field. So if you look up a lot of searches now related to it's called your money or your health, you'll notice that if you search for vaccine information, all of the ranking links are going to be really reputable health agencies or national health chains. It's going to be people who are people entities who are really, really authoritative in that. And so that was a big trend that I saw throughout this entire conference was a lot of people talking about EAT and how to build that authority in the search engine's eyes to show that you really are the expert. And it really comes down to actually being the expert. You can't just fake being the expert. So it comes down to a lot to like proving your expertise to the search engine so that they see that you actually are the originating source of content. People are linking to you, you're not linking out to a bunch of people to site different facets. So that was a really big piece of it. I was a little surprised that it didn't focus more on technical improvements, for some reason thinking about an SEO conference, I thought it would be pretty technical and like back in page edits and schema markup and all of these like slightly more in the weeds thing and it definitely was integrated into them. But I didn't see a lot of focus sessions on those topics. So yes, that was Moz and then for Martech, again all about marketing tools, the one big thing, and I think Lee and Morgan might have already alluded to this little bit I think the last couple of years have broken workflows a little bit. People are feeling disconnected, remote work is here to stay. And when that translates into marketing tools, there's a lot of processes that I don't think ever really works. But when we went remote, people really noticed that they were broken. So they really noticed that everyone has a different version of this file and we have no central hub and permission tracking is really hard because I've got email and slack and I think everyone has realized that just working over zoom and all these tools that things are kind of breaking down a little bit. So that was a big topic was like how to build a remote tool stack that makes your workflow simpler, makes them more streamlined, has a source of truth. I heard a lot about how all these remote teams that were never remote before, they don't know what their source of truth is. It's inefficient and then we heard a lot about too like marketing collaboration is messy. I think we all see this. We send out links in Dropbox and somebody else downloads it and sends you back tracked comments and somebody else sends it in drive. There's so many different tools and platforms that things are just kind of a little bit chaotic right now. Bad news, nobody has a great solution, I was really hoping that somebody would have kind of that silver bullet. Nobody does. But it was a big discussion, so at least you're not the only one dealing with it. We're not the only ones dealing with it.
Wendy: And then the other, hey, we're 14 years into this remote working thing and we're constantly reevaluating our tools. So I'm not surprised to hear there's no silver bullet.
Erin: And we heard about all these great tools and I was like really hoping that there would be one that solved this collaboration issue. And there are definitely tools that do aspects of it. So I heard about some that are more like photo based, where it's imagery and permission sharing and graphics and shows like the dates where you're allowed to use it. It just doesn't apply to a lot of our stuff with content. So maybe there's something out there, I didn't find it. And then the other final topic that was trending at Martech that I think a lot of people may have heard about is just the kind of loss of cookies concern of first party data. It's a lot around the changes in this privacy environment. A lot of different places, companies or countries and states are introducing their own privacy regulations and it's going to have a really big impact on what data we get, how we get it, how we can use it, how we can process it, how we need people to opt in. And so there was a fair amount of discussion around tracking people using first party cookies and how to manage your cookie policies and just what that shifting ecosystem looks like and how it affects your marketing technology tools. So again, not a great answer yet, but there are, I think, tools being built for it. So in 2023, 2024, when the system has really shifted, there will be hopefully a couple of people who saw that.
Wendy: Good. And then in the meantime, the Martech landscape just keeps getting more and more crowded. That logo slide that goes around each month, they're just good. Well, at the Product Marketing Manager Alliance, there was a lot of talk about how a product manager is in this really unique central position where they're working with RNC and they're working with MarCom and they're working with sales and they need to know the customer. And there's just so many demands on their time. And it gave me a little bit of PTSD from when I was the product manager way back in the day for software services. But it drove home the point that there's only so much time in a day. So they need to be very thoughtful about how they invest their hours and how they can scale their knowledge to the greater organization. And so that's how that came out in themes. The first one was a lot of talk about you need to first understand your personas, you need to understand their problems, then go solve it. Right? Don't start with your value proposition, but first start with who are those personas? What are they hurting? One of their pain points and they emphasize on personas created very practically. Don't kill yourself with months and months of research to do these perfect personas. Just use institutional knowledge and then get out there and talk to people and refine personas over time. And it made me laugh because at TREW, we have personas and we're constantly like tweaking them. I mean, we're so continuous improvement on them. But it works. It works really well for us because the more conversations we have, the better we hone in on what they need. Another one was cohesive positioning and messaging. So how do we take the corporate brand messaging and then what you need to do for your products, your solution, and make sure that the two sound like they're coming from the same company. And then how do you back up your messaging with proof points? So, Morgan, I know that's like, near and dear to your heart, a lot of talking messaging. I think probably half of this conference has something to do with messaging. So I found that interesting that it was so dominated because product managers touch all kinds of things. As we said, they talked about the buyers experience and how product managers shouldn't be thinking just to the sale, but past that sale, how to build trust and then how to scale content marketing. And I'll get to that when I talk about my favorite session. But then finally, my favorite quote of the day was, y'all, the Gartner's Buyer's Journey slide is real. If you have ever seen this slide, and I'll put it in the show notes, but Gartner came out with it several years ago, and it shows this very messy buyer's journey. Instead of being linear, it shows all these backwards tracks and oh, there comes the buying team. And oh, now you need to go backwards to this and you download a white paper and you go forward, you go backwards and you'll get it. But the point was, it is that messy. And so you need to go to where the buyers are and you need to really focus on sales, enablement content and helping them with battle cards and proof points and PowerPoint and all the right messaging so that they can be prepared when those things hit them because it's not going to always be clear what stage people are at. So that was mine. Okay, so this will be a fun one. What was your favorite session and why? Lee? INBOUND?
Lee: Well. There are several great sessions that I went to that I loved. But I think the one that I'm still thinking back to daily and figuring out kind of how to solve and probably not going to be a surprise that we've been talking here today. But there was a great deep dive session that Dale Bertrand from Fire and Spark did on impacts to your SEO strategy based on all the Google algorithm changes that Erin was talking about earlier and just really some trends. And as we said, there's no silver bullet or any particular way to solve it, but kind of the key takeaways are test out some AI tools with your team. See if those can help you give you a little bit more insight, deepen your niche. So now, as Erin was saying, it's about this trustworthiness, this credibility. You've got to go deeper. You've got to really prove that you have this deep knowledge in these particular topics to help boost your authority. Getting things like guest blog posts, back links to and from credible sites, all of those things can build it. I mean, we were all hoping backlinks were, in the way, way back, but they're not. They're going to be supported. We got to get those off. Look at this again, things that it's not all about blogs or long articles anymore, so long pillar pages, but not necessarily long articles that you can have success with, 400 word deep topics that you have domain authority on. And then things like images, videos, and some really neat short form content to really help you gain momentum with these SEO changes. And the last one, the quote that he said that I loved was we can think of Google as a prediction machine, right? Somebody types something into a search bar and it's basically predicting based on all of these data points that it's collecting what people are going to want to see and what other people who have done that same search, what they have clicked on and how deep an engagement they went once they got to that click. So this God of Engagement metrics, it's not enough just to get people to the page.They need to go two or three pages, spend a lot of time on site. All of those kind of data points are really influencing where you're going to show up in search.
Wendy: That really supports the pillar page comment, then, back to Morgan from the beginning versus the one blog post, huh?
Lee: Absolutely. It's really having this deep authority and then it's also this balance of there's a bunch of other channels out there, right? Obviously your website is really key and you need to have all the content on there, but you need to be thinking about your social media strategy. You need to be thinking about your referrals partners, co marketing, all of these other things that you can be doing again that boost your credibility and authority and help you attract people to your site. So there were some tactical takeaways and definitely a lot of changes in this space. So that was by far my favorite.
Morgan: Awesome. I will go next but before I talk about my favorite session, what you just mentioned about channels came up in a couple of sessions that I went to, but I went to one specifically about using OPC (other people's content) to leverage to get your name out there and it was like a bunch of tips and just kind of strategies around. How do you yes, like you said, your website is incredibly important, but how do you leverage other vehicles that are already moving to get your kind of name and message there as well. Okay, but my favorite session was on thought leadership, and it was by Lisa Gately from Forrester, and I will forever be a Lisa Gately fan. She gave the most, it was a thoughtful thought leadership presentation. But it's so easy. You sit in a room of kind of executives or somebody says, I want to be a thought leader, and I want to be a thought leader on this topic. And that's so often how thought leadership is approached. But she laid out this beautiful plan where you assess the market, you assess your target audience. What are they doing? What are they talking about? This is like over a long series of meetings with a group of people, not just this one person who wants to be a thought leader, because, surprise, at the end of the process, we're actually going to pick the person who's the best voice for the market need and the message that we have. And it might be somebody different than you originally intended, and that's okay. But it's this process of listening to your audience, taking in those audience insights, and then figuring out what's your corporate alignment with the needs in the market? What is it that you can talk to? And then who's the right person to deliver that message? And it was just so cleanly laid out in that way. And she was just made it clear that it's like doing corporate messaging. It takes a minute to figure out what the right topic is and who the right person is. And then a point that she made that I loved was somebody asked a question like, where do you recommend? So now you've got your kind of thought leader, your topic. You create some messages and talking points for them. Now, where do you kind of like, pitch that? And she said, it's two places. The first place is where your audience already is, and the second place is where that thought leader will initially be comfortable. And so she said in the beginning of that thought leadership, you need to be willing to take a couple, this speaking opportunity may not have much bang for the buck. But they need to get their feet wet and just speaking to an audience or having this kind of audience in front of them or being on a podcast or whatever it is. And so not to be afraid of those. Like. Kind of low hanging fruit type of opportunities that might come up just to get those people trained. And so great session.
Erin: That is so smart. I feel like everyone I don't know anybody who doesn't have a level of stage fright, and I feel like it does go away after time. So I could see that being really helpful. Yeah, well, I will steal it from you then. Morgan. Yeah. So for Moz, not surprisingly, my favorite session was all about EAT. There was a speaker who as I think I alluded to, she runs an SEO company or she's president account director. Her name is Lily Wright. And so she just covered the topic really, really thoroughly, which was great because again, I've kind of seen it floating around out there. But with everything with Google, honestly, it kind of feels like blackmagic sometimes and it feels like guesswork, I like concrete answers. We work with a lot of engineers. Engineers tend to be very fact based. And I definitely have that aspect of my brain, so I want set in stone, this is what's happening and why. And she was able to kind of go into the background on EAT just showcasing like what it is. She covered the history of patents that Google had applied for and how she thinks that they apply to EAT. She covered different tools that kind of recreate Google's algorithmic process for measuring authoritativeness, for linking different entities together. And she just gave a lot of really fantastic examples that showcase again, this whole like how Google can show what these different entities are. So people and places and websites and how it will kind of assign an authority. So it was very methodically laid out, which I really liked because I have not seen the topic covered like that. And it really helped me understand it and kind of wrap my head around. Again, it's authority. And it's easy to say, well, of course we're the authority in that. How could Google not see that? But then when you break it down on a more tactical level, here's how you actually show a search engine your authority. It's stuff that you don't think about. So I really like that because she kind of covered site examples that have optimized for this and showcased the things that, a lot of us have lost search traffic in the last two years, these sites all went up 400% in search traffic and they've done a lot of the same things. So she kind of covered some of the key items that they were all doing, things like they had really robust bio pages for all of their team members and their authors. Bios were on blog posts. This is something that I think a lot of us got rid of probably five years ago. People went for that slim down. Even author agnostic blogs. Well, it's coming right back. Apparently it's showcasing awards, it's getting very detailed how-tos, it's writing your content to kind of optimize a little bit for featured snippets. So thinking about if you're writing, should you give an example of one was like a pest control company and they have gone up phenomenally and they're regional, but they are ranking like number one on some really big queries. And it was just giving really detailed examples. And then a lot of it too is making it very based on your own experiences. So using info, images, videos from your experience talking in first person, again showing Google that you are the expert, because you actually do this all day long, saying, here's our process, here's how we do this, here's videos of us doing this, or here's images. It's really giving them all of those proof points, because I do think there are a lot of echo chambers on the Internet. There are a lot of people who are writing fluff or who are repurposing content from other sites, but don't actually have that expertise themselves. And so it makes sense that Google, trying to keep up with serving people the content that fits their needs, is looking for who is the actual expert, who was the original author on this, who knows what they're talking about, and backs that up. And so a lot of the session was kind of around like, how do you show a search engine that you're the expert? That was really interesting. I've got probably three pages of notes just from that session alone, and I'm about to send it to everyone on our team because I think it's useful for everyone.Yay. Again, I was very excited after that one and then for Martech, again a lot of it was based on tools, so there were definitely sessions that I got about halfway through, kind of realized that it wasn't a fit for my use case, our use case, our clients use cases. And that's fine, that always happens. But one that I found really useful was all about site search. And I don't know why I never really put that much thought into this, but your website search is one of the only places that you see what your visitors are looking for in their own words, and you can actually dig into that. So Google Analytics has a whole section on site search that I immediately dug into after the session that will show you what people are searching for and where they're clicking and how many people are searching for different queries. And it's right, it's like it just was such a no brainer of like, of course you've got site search, of course that data is collected. And so it was really, really interesting to see the value of using site search again to hear from your customers, your visitors, what they're looking for, and also see where they're finding it, where they're not finding it. And there's like, really cool measures. I definitely geeked out on this. There's some really cool measures. How many? I know, I know. Shocking. But it will show you, like, when somebody searches it and then they rephrase it, it will give you that insight of, like, are they finding what they need? Are they modifying it? How many pages do they look at? When do they bounce? So it gives you a lot of good context as to what your content gaps are and maybe what your visitors are calling something, but you're calling it something else. Super interesting. So that was a great one of just like this little facet of a website that I didn't necessarily think about, but I loved that.
Wendy: And low hanging fruit, something you could go and do right away. I love that. Well, cool. Well, at the DNM Summit okay, selfishly, we had a client present there. His name is Rich Goldman from Ancestors, and he presented on a collaboration with through Marketing. So, of course, that was my favorite. And I'll put a case study in the show notes. But basically what they did is they use our Content Marketing, Engineered as a way to establish a common marketing language between all these different marketing groups. So they've done a bunch of acquisitions and they had a lot of high performing marketing people, but they were all doing different things, calling a pillar page, maybe something else. And so they wanted to utilize the folks that they did utilize the book to get one common language, one way to conduct strategy. And then from there, they wanted to do two things. The first is they had a centralized content production group that had no framework or process for prioritizing requests or being strategic about which content projects they took on and what the context was to campaigns and bigger pictures. And so TREW came in and consulted with them and helped them create this framework and these processes. And then now we work with individual business units to do content marketing strategy. And so he presented what that looks like. So what does the content marketing strategy look like? What are the different elements in it, and then how does it get deployed? And there were a lot of people taking pictures, particularly of those slides, because I think that was something that those product managers didn't have and could just go implement right away. So that was pretty cool.
Lee: And it was like in a movie, right? Was it huge?
Wendy: Oh, my gosh, Lee, you took my thunder on question four. It's okay. Yeah. Later we talk about what surprises to the event. And that was we'll talk about it now. It was so crazy. So, yeah, one of the breakout session rooms within a movie theater like think with recliners this giant theater. And so his slides were just giant. And then he looked like a tiny little Lego man compared to the slide. So the poor presenters had a typo because it's like underlying and giant. That was crazy. I've never experienced that in a conference. Oh, I don't care. That's all good. Hey, Lee. So were there any vendors on the show for that got you excited and follow up, Were there any promo items or activities that were fun? Let's add that on because that's always fun to get new ideas.
Lee: Full confession. I know with your background, Wendy, this is like cover your ears, but I'm not one of those people who go and talk to vendors at trade shows. I avoid those. I walk all the way around to avoid walking. Now, they had a lot of great folks that were there. They had a lot of cool swag. The closest I got to the vendors was they always have these really cool photo booths with crazy props and stuff and backgrounds, and I dipped my toe in there, but no.
Wendy: Hey, okay, yeah, we lost Lee. We'll come back to her. How about you? Morgan?
Morgan: We talked to a bunch of interviews at Content Marketing World, but one of the themes just in general that we've mentioned is AI. And I saw a couple of products. I did a couple, like, product demos even, of some of these new tools that are out. And they do vary a lot. Some of the AI tools are more almost more of like, an SEO tool, not replacement tool, but like, very focused on SEO. So they're doing things like predicting you're typing in a term. It's giving you some headlines and headlines that you need to use in your content to do well for that term. That's one bucket. Another bucket is actually writing content. So these are not there yet for really kind of deeply technical content. But like, there's a company called Writer I thought was just really interesting. They've got tools. You, like, put your style guide into this AI tool and then you write your content or run your content through it. And what it is, is it's like Grammarly, but customized for your company. And so it'll do things. I could see this working well in a massive company where you've got marketers all spread out. You've got content coming from different places to make it all. We all know that if your content follows the same style guide, it's going to look and sound and feel better. It's going to feel cohesive. And so it'll do things like, hey, remember your company uses title case in blog headlines. It'll give you little notes like that. And anyway, it was interesting. I was talking to somebody at the conference who had taken our writing course in the past. And he's in the middle of his company has acquired a bunch of other companies. And so they've got these really disparate teams. And he was looking at using that tool instead of hiring a central person to edit everyone's content. But instead of giving everybody that tool with a style guide plugged in. And that seemed like such a great use case for it. So pretty neat things on the horizon. I'm excited to watch these AI tools kind of grow and evolve.
Wendy: And also, Morgan, you were like the reigning champ for a full day at whacka Mole.
Morgan: Yes, Content Crunch, they have this, like, whacka Mole game, and I got the high score, which earned me a gift card and my name on the whiteboard. It also gave me I was like, shaky for like 20 minutes after that after being so stressed to hit all of them and I won a drawing contest that night when we were sitting around in the oh, that's right. I said it was all these rounds of drawing stuff, and then halfway through, I realized the guy running it, his, like, 14 year old daughter is the one judging the drawing. So we pivoted and got to know your audience, and so we made our next drawing into, like, one of those little fortune tellers that you fold up out of paper. And then I won that. Didn't give me anything.
Wendy: Amazing. You got a notepad. I got a tiny little notepad. And I'm sure someone bought you a drink at the bar for that.
Erin: Remote. So I didn't talk to anybody, which is pretty wonderful. You can just kind of do it at your house. You can cast it on your TV remote. Conferences are fantastic. But so, yeah, I didn't talk to vendors. There were definitely a lot of sponsors at the Martech conference. None that really stuck out to me as a use case that I would personally use. But I will talk up Swag because we have a client that does something very cool when they go to events, they make printed circuit board motors. And so they've literally got these little PCB stators that they have like a QR code on and their logo, and they use this they've used it to invite people to, like, a happy hour at their booth. They've used it to give them information about their company. But such a cool little thing. I love it. So anyway, just like out of the box thinking, getting creative, and doing something very long brand to what you build and do and what your product is. But I love it. I was so happy to get one of those.
Wendy: Awesome. Well, so starting with swag at this conference, they had the tiniest waterglasses you've ever seen. Come on. And so if you forgot to bring your water bottle with you, your reusable bottle, you were kind of screwed, right? And everybody wants water. And so I'm complaining about it to this guy I just met at the conference. And so I dared him to go over to one of the tables and just talk to whoever it was just to get the water bottle. And it went up, and he was all shy, and he kept looking back at me. So I had to go join him and show him how it's done and just ask for it. So I got a big water bottle that fits in perfectly with my laptop backpack. But the vendors on the show for honestly, they were very product marketing manager and enterprise centric. But I always love to talk to the people at High Spot, because High Spot focuses. They have a software platform for delivering content for sales enablement, and they do a great job, kind of like HubSpot does a great job of education on inbound marketing. High Spot does a great job for sales enablement. And so I always love seeing how they're pushing boundaries, how they're educating about sales enablement. And so if you're wondering if you're wanting to sharpen your content for sales game, go to the High Spot website, maybe subscribe to their blog or check out some of their webinars. Okay, so speed rounds, because we're running out of time. What surprised you about the event?
Lee: The size of the crowd. So there's 10,000 people in person. They also had an online event, but typically there's 40,000 people there. So there was less people, but higher quality of conference overall. It was just surprising because there's usually a lot more people.
Morgan: I think the content marketing world, just the kind of closeness of that Industrial Marketing Summit surprised me. I was surprised that that kind of came to life so well in that room. I was thankful to be a part of that, but it was just a really cool community of people doing technical b2b marketing. So, like that.
Erin: OK. Yeah. So for Moz, I think I've alluded to this a little bit. I thought I'd be a little bit more focused on technical SEO, but I was really pleasantly surprised about how much it was around content and the value of creating that really targeted, thoughtful, expert content. Because I think a lot of people think of SEO as like a function apart from content. But I mean, they're super intertwined at this point. So there are definitely, I think I mentioned there are sessions that I think anybody on our team, it would be valuable to them. I have always thought of Moz as like the conference for people who do SEO, not so much the conference for everybody. And I think it is, it was a lot more applicable to just everybody on our team because it was a lot more based around things that realistically, everybody should know. It's not just like the technical SEO marketer or the web person or somebody who's doing kind of this background work and link building. It really is content, which is how we should think about SEO. But I think that surprised me a little bit.
Wendy: Two more questions, then we're out of here. Did you all do anything fun? Anybody have a fun story to share. While you were out in the way?
Lee: Yes. So two quick things. One was Trombone Shorty, who's an amazing trombone player. You might imagine playing a concert out in the rain in Boston the first time I got there. You would think that would sound terrible, but it was fun because coming from Austin, where we had 90 100 deg days in a row, rain, 65 degrees, great music, lots of people, that was fun. And then also had a chance to meet one of our clients. Jenny Picassky from Pickering was also there in person. So I got to meet her, hang out with her, and we went to see a comedian, Jimmy O. Yang, who was in Crazy Rich Asians. He's an awesome comedian. So that was just a blast. So lots of fun entertainment. Yes.
Morgan: And we went to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame one night. They rented it out for the conference. Specifically, it was closed to the public, which was really cool. Just cool to be able to walk through and see all sorts of things in there. They had this crazy video things set up where you stand in the middle, and it spins around you and takes your videos. I have this video of Wendy and I holding, like, blue guitars, and we look so cool.
Wendy: So cool. Maybe we need to put that in the show notes. Everyone will be so impressed.
Erin: We need to put that on our homepage.
Wendy: Yeah. And we did all of that with one of our clients, also from Windows. So that was fun. And then Erin, you were virtual, so you didn't get to do all the in person thing.
Erin: It is so much fun stuff, though. I got to sit on my couch. My dog was next to me.There you go. I had a dog sleeping and snoring while I watched conference sessions.
Wendy: Fair. Fair. Well, I took Rich and his wife out for dinner and fun story. They live on a boat in the Bay Area, and every year there's an air show. I forget. I think it's Navy. It's a naval air show. And they use their boat as a target, and the plane kind of dive bomb their boat and pull up at the last second. And it sounded amazing. Very exhilarating. So what is to be like.
It is well, it's a house boat, but it's like, floating out there. Yeah. Anyway, that's cool. Okay, last question and then we're out of here. What is the one thing that you recommend marketers dig into as a result of what you saw and heard at the conference?
Lee: So I would say what we're going to do here at TREW, so I give this advice to everybody is really two, four is always a good time. Getting prepared for the next year to really hone your brand positioning and messaging, thinking about the trust and authority that we were talking about. Engagement, trust and authority. Trying out some of these SEO tools, seeing what can help boost your organic traffic there. Buttoning up your web strategy. Just really getting your foundation back in check and thinking through and looking at some of these trends of figuring out gaps and content that you might also want to address, too.
Morgan: I will say invest in your pillar pages. So go revisit them. Make that content better, stronger, more, all of it.
Erin: We all have very similar takeaways. Yeah. One thing that kept coming up was around just the volatility of everything in the last couple of years. It's been interesting, and that volatility has been brought into tools. And Google, Google has had a ton of updates. So I would say for me the biggest thing was digging into that EAT, understanding how a search engine understands authority, because I think all of these other things are really fantastic, but we also need to do, it's like when you apply for a job, you do need to prove your expertise and I think we're now needing to do that for Google and it's not necessarily the way that a lot of people have thought about it. You think more about proving expertise to your visitors and ranking well and just writing good content. And I think there are some extra steps now that we need to take to tell Google that, hey, we're experts, so that they put us in search results in the first place. So that was by far my biggest thing that I'm digging into and kind of looking at some of the quick hits of adding bios and adding more certifications. Our research report is a great way to build that authoritativeness. So that for me would be the biggest takeaway.
Wendy: And as a reminder that we're not just writing for search engines but for humans, my big takeaway is this other quote about messaging and it goes like this why anything? Why us and why now? And if you can answer those three things, you have a great start on a solid message. So why anything? Why us and why now? But that was great. So thank you all so much for being here. I have lots of things that I'll put in the Show Notes as a result of what you brought up today. And alright, I can't wait to see what we do next. So fun.Thanks guys.
Wendy: Thanks for joining me today on Content Marketing Engineered. For show notes, including links to resources, visit trewmarketing.com/podcast. While there you can subscribe to our blog in our newsletter and order a copy of my book, Content Marketing Engineers. Also, I would love your reviews on this podcast, so please, when you get a chance, subscribe and leave me a review on your favorite podcast subscription platform. Thanks and have a great day.
Wendy Covey is a CEO, a technical marketing leader, author of Content Marketing, Engineered, one of The Wall Street Journal’s 10 Most Innovative Entrepreneurs in America, and she holds a Texas fishing record. She resides in a small Hill Country town southwest of Austin, Texas, where she enjoys outdoor adventures with her family.
TREW Marketing is a strategy-first content marketing agency serving B2B companies that target highly technical buyers. With deep experience in the design, embedded, measurement and automation, and software industries, TREW Marketing provides branding, marketing strategy, content development, and digital marketing services to help customers efficiently and effectively achieve business goals.