eShow Barcelona 2015: Lessons and Takeaways

When you attend an industry event, do you still expect to get groundbreaking information about your sector? I don’t anymore.

Like at this year’s edition of the eShow in Barcelona, where I heard that push marketing costs 3 times more than pull marketing. Nothing new, but more mainstream now, everyone starts to see the value of pull marketing, or inbound marketing, as they also call it.

eShow Barcelona 2015

Attending this year’s 10th edition of the eShow in Barcelona (the fair and conference spot for all things e-commerce and digital marketing) I’ve gained a few fresh perspectives about the sector. Here they are:

Content is (still) king: is this good news or bad news?

Practically every talk nowadays starts with: content is king. Yep, content is king, we all know it by now, even the most backwards-minded business owner out there. And that’s thanks to Google’s Panda and Penguin updates which forced every website owner to acknowledge and believe that: content is king. Every time I hear this phrase I get the King Kong on top of Empire State image in my head. Never mind…

So. Just because this phrase is so overused, and because all businesses started cramming tons of content through the veins of the web I think it will soon backfire on us.

At our latest Content Strategy Barcelona Meeting this topic came out again: there is simply too much content being published today and people are beginning to ignore it, just like they got used to ignoring advertising banners on websites a few years ago.

At CS Barcelona we are a mixed bunch: content strategists, marketers, journalists, copywriters, business owners and former newspaper directors. All of us agree that we don’t need more content, we actually need less of it, but with a better strategy behind it. We need to know why we publish something, and avoid putting out there any content if we don’t have a clear idea of how and by whom it will be used. The same views as we’ve heard expressed by international content strategy experts at last year’s European Confab event.

At this week’s eShow Barcelona, Pau Valdés, co-founder of Inbound Cycle, repeated a few times his version of a definition of useful content: you need to produce great content for your business so you satisfy the informational needs of your ideal clients, who are at a particular buying phase process, but they are still undecided or not prepared to buy.

eShow Barcelona 2015 talks

Expensive tactics of inbound marketing: social media & SEM

In social media, the cost per lead (CPL) is much higher than any other inbound marketing technique. That was a surprise for me, as the segmentation and reach possibilities are so focused on some of the social platforms that one would think they are very cost-effective. I think social media is one of the most popular techniques of content marketing because it’s perceived to be easier. After all, everyone updates their status on a personal level, so how difficult can it be to post stuff up on your business page?! But social media, even done well, still seems to be more expensive than other forms of inbound marketing.

SEM, search engine marketing, is another tactic which was presented as quite the expensive way to get visibility and traffic for your site. To remember it easier, a visual comparative always helps: SEM is like paying for an advertising billboard in New York’s Times Square or on Passeig de Gracia (Barcelona, Spain’s most expensive avenue), while content is more democratic: everyone, big or small, can produce quality content at a much lower cost.

Paid content as a kick-start strategy

This one is pretty straightforward, intuitive technique. Paid content is a catalyst so you can reach faster a higher audience, but it doesn’t mean it’s simply advertising material. The trick is to treat a paid content project just like any other content you produce: make it useful, valuable, centered on the needs of the prospect client. It’s not an excuse to push covered advertising or auto-promotional material. The users are smart enough to spot that a mile away. The ‘paid’ part is just for reaching a wider audience; the quality of the content should not be compromised.

The study Inbound Cycle made about the state of content marketing, which will be presented in a few days, shows that paid content is a highly unknown technique compared to other content marketing practices. This is an advantage, a chance to jump on that train before everyone else does and the space gets too crowded.

All content must be user-centric: we already knew that, but do we apply it?

Every piece of content we publish needs to be focused on the users’ needs. Most businesses say they do that, but in reality they only follow their business interest. They put out information focusing on what they want to sell, what they want to push forward. The main problem is that many companies don’t know much about their prospect clients. They have no clue who they are, what they care about, their preferences, how and where they like to be approached. Many companies use the shotgun approach: they keep shooting out information – in the best cases somewhat useful, in the worst, purely promotional – hoping it will ‘hit’ some prospects. It’s as useful as crossing fingers, hoping for good luck.

Unfortunately, many companies are taking the easy way, producing volumes and volumes of content – congesting the web further! – in the hope that it will reach some of the desired potential customers. But useful content needs to be planned for each shopping phase the prospects are at, helping them decide on making the purchase or on reading further.

Why publishing great content is not enough

Let’s say that you’ve got it clear who your audience is, what they are looking for and where they prefer to get it. Let’s say that you also produce useful material for them to help them in their buying process. All those are great first steps, but it’s simply not enough to just push your content through your platforms (web, social media, email, etc). Each potential customer you’re trying to reach is at a different buying process than the next. One is just shopping around no clear idea in mind yet, another is selecting a few potential providers, while another may already have their credit card out of the wallet. How do you reach each of them and with what content?

Here’s where marketing automation will help you address each potential client individually, personally, as they like to be treated. Marketing automation is the technique of sending an automatic series of emails to your qualified leads.

After the lead scoring process, where you catch leads which are more or less qualified, you advance to the lead nurturing phase. In lead nurturing you have each lead qualified and categorized depending on the stage at which they are in the buying process. And then you set in motion the great machinery of marketing automation, when you send personalised emails that make sense for each prospect at the buying stage they are. Like that the prospects are continuously informed and hopefully “pushed” through the funnel towards the much-desired sale.

The same Pau Valdés from Inbound Cycle described at the conference automation marketing in a way that’s harder to forget: surgeon marketing. Like a surgeon, you apply the right cut with the right tool for each patient individually. And ending the lesson on a positive note too: if a prospect never becomes a client after a marketing automation process, they will surely become an evangelist for your brand thanks to all the useful, interesting information you provided.

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