Content Marketing World Lived Up to the Hype


It’s been months since I felt a chill in the air but on this Tuesday, I am standing outside, with a trench coat on and I am shivering. Back home in Florida, temperatures are reaching the high 90’s… but, I am not in Florida this week.

I am in Cleveland for Content Marketing World, the largest content marketing conference in the world. Every year, Content Marketing World draws thousands of marketers from hundreds of countries to Cleveland for sessions, workshops, and networking. Lake Erie is to my right, as well as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and to be honest; it takes everything in me to not start singing “All the little kids growing up on the skids are going: Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks.”

Content Marketing World Welcome Reception Rocks

On Tuesday night, Content Marketing World kicked off with a welcome party at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. With my local Ohio beer in my hand, I walked around the event enjoying the exhibits and getting to know some other content marketers who have a love for digital content and rock memorabilia. The event was full of great food, great conversations, and the amazing view of Lake Erie from the cafe balcony.


Kicking off Content Marketing World

Joe Pulizzi, you know him, he’s the guy walking around in head to toe orange, and also, the guy that founded the Content Marketing Institute? Well, he kicked off the week with a CMW history lesson. This would be my first year attending the event, though it’s been on my radar and conference wish list since 2012. In 2011, the community was pretty small. Most marketers were still focusing their efforts on traditional, interruptive style tactic: popups and banner ads, commercials, and even radio spots. We would start to see a shift from these tactics to more permission style marketing in the next few years. CMW was a small event in 2011, with roughly 600 total attendees.

Joe Pulizzi told us during his welcome session that according to recent CMI research, 90% of businesses whose content marketing focuses on building an audience are finding success! 90% is huge! How does a business build an audience with their content? A few years ago, I may have told you that we should focus on creating more content. The more content, and possible impressions, the more engagement, and eventually more leads. But, every year, we move further away from that idea. We should not be creating more content; we should be creating better content, more engaging content. And, as you can probably guess, I truly believe that is where interactive content comes to play.

If there is one lesson that I took away from the entire week, it’s that everyone is creating content. Small businesses, enterprise level businesses, your mom, my mom, you are, I am, and everyone in between. But, not enough of us are creating interactive content. And that was fairly shocking.

Content Marketing Institute’s research on interactive content told us that businesses who leverage interactive content as part of their content marketing program are finding that it grabs the attention of the reader more effectively than static content by 46%. We want our audiences to read and engage with our content, and interactive content builds our audience’s engagement by encouraging them to take action and to interact with our content organically.

The Sessions that Made Me Want to Change

I attended several sessions at Content Marketing World and they covered a wide range of topics but there were a few that really stood out to me. For starters, I never miss a chance to see Ann Handley. I met her in 2014 at Inbound, have read her book “Everybody Writes” at least three times, and I was very excited to attend a writing session she hosted on Thursday morning. Her ability to tell stories about storytelling is captivating, educational, and funny.

She motivated me to stop saying that I don’t have the time to write and to instead set tiny goals that will help move me closer to achieving my ultimate goals, which is just to write more and write better. So, be warned…

I also attended a session on Wednesday hosted by Skylar Moss about bridging the gap between sales and marketing. I thought this session was very timely considering that at ion, we had just wrapped up our “interactive content for sales enablement” theme in August and I was still eager to learn more about how we can all better our cross-department communication. Skyler had some great tips on how his team had successfully created a more communicative process between his two departments.

I am almost a little embarrassed to admit how much I loved Casey Neistat’s session. Casey is a brand that our kids love. He is a YouTuber who became famous after making daily videos, skateboarding on a Boosted Board throughout Manhattan (without a helmet on) and doing backflips around the world. But his story is something worth listening to. He has built a wildly successful media brand making short videos on YouTube, by doing what everyone said he couldn’t. He works with well-known brands, commanding high retainers, and he is a high school dropout.

Mike Weir from LinkedIn hosted a session on B2B marketing, and there were a lot of great takeaways (including actual take away material) from this session. Mike talked about finding thought leaders within your organization to command the attention of your audience by creating educational, smart content rather than short form pieces that are not as valuable. This resonated with me, as a contributor to the ion blog and also, as a subject matter expert regarding interactive content.

Unfortunately, my stay in Cleveland had to come to an abrupt halt as a hurricane was making its way to our state. I flew home a day early but still felt full of so much knowledge and inspiration that I know will be beneficial to both ion and our customers.

So, until next year, Cleveland (I hope)! Thanks for a great event and for welcoming me into such an impressive and diverse community. Now, let’s add more interactive content to next years event.