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Hot Topics: Content Marketing Leaders Come Together to Discuss the Trends

Updated: Apr 14

I was brimming with excitement to be back in New York City after nearly two years. While I would have loved to spend days wandering the streets of Nolita, Soho, and the West Village, I was there for another purpose: business. 


Ok, ok, I did get a few moments to myself to enjoy some of my favorite food like the scrumptious eggplant panini at Rubirosa and NOLA iced coffee from Blue Bottle. Then there was the scroll through Bryant Park and dinner at The Smith where I met up with long-time friends and had the quintessential New York celebrity sighting. I did a double take to confirm that Cynthia Nixon was really enjoying a casual dinner a few tables from us.


I digress. So why was I in NYC for business? I was invited to attend Knotch and Foundry 360’s Content Connect content marketing conference, and I was jazzed to reconnect with industry colleagues, meet new ones, and keep my pulse on the latest goings-on in content marketing from the most sophisticated content teams around. 


Zillow. Bank of America. JP Morgan Chase. Wells Fargo. EY. Square. KPMG. Kaiser Permanente. Marriott Hotels.



I was eager to dive deeper into the current state of content marketing: 


  • What’s new?

  • What’s interesting?

  • What keeps content marketers up at night? 

  • What’s the most helpful tactic teams are using to grow?


I have so much to share, so let’s dive in!


What’s new? 

The hottest topic in content marketing this year by far is generative AI. The overall tone of gen AI by conference attendees is that of cautious optimism captured by this sentiment: the train is already moving so get on or fall behind. According to Knotch’s AI Adoption in Marketing study, 65% of marketing professionals already use AI at work.


Aron Tzimas, co-founder and chief creative officer at Knotch said, “AI isn’t going to take your job, but someone who knows how to use it will.” 


While there’s consensus that adoption is necessary for organizations to embrace, there’s also agreement that we’re still in the Wild West era and to proceed cautiously with governance front of mind. 


Concerns surround:


  • How to govern appropriate gen AI use

  • Who can use gen AI within an organization

  • Brand reputation and credibility

  • Accuracy of information and sources

  • Ownership and copyright 

  • Bias in content

  • Quality and originality  

While there are concerns, there’s also optimism for the variety of use cases that help content teams become more efficient:


  • Content atomization 

  • Editing and condensing original content 

  • Simplifying dense content

  • Translations and localization

  • Structure content for different formats

  • Check readability, spelling, and grammar

  • Tailor an existing piece of high-performing content for a new audience 

  • Ideation and storyboarding

Lou Cohen, director of digital marketing and demand generation at EY, recommends content teams “experiment, try, learn, and play” with gen AI. Also, teams should start getting familiar with prompt engineering to generate the best content outputs. Training AI with datasets from your brand will get you the best results. And always keep humans in the loop when using gen AI, according to Vivek Sharma, CEO at Movable Ink.


What’s interesting? 

Carla Zakhem-Hassan, CMO at JPMorgan Chase, opened Content Connect 2024 with a strong point of view that content marketing is just plain marketing. She said, “Content is everything, from offers to social media, articles we write… It’s persuasive in everything we do.” It extends beyond marketing to product, customer experience, and sales.


“What’s not content?” she asked.


A productive center of excellence, or COE, was center to this conversation where alignment beyond the marketing team on shared goals and outcomes drives the most impact for the organization at large.


Anda Gansca, CEO and co-founder at Knotch, added, “Content marketing used to be a blog and now it’s become everything.”


What keeps content marketers up at night? 

Performance.


Laddering up to key senior leadership objectives helps content marketers prove their value and keep their budgets. 


From driving revenue, fundraising from donors, acquiring new customers, and retaining existing ones, content marketers target high performance to generate bottom-line results. 


Content marketers can add analyst to their responsibilities because they’re as concerned about producing audience-led strategies and high-quality content as they are about using data-backed approaches to make strategic optimizations to enhance performance.


“Outcomes not output,” said Cindy Lewis, global head of content at Square. "Content integrates with brand, product, lifecycle marketing and more to build a message and populate the message in the right way across channels. That's when you get somewhere interesting – over a long time, repeatedly, at the right touch points, according to Lewis.


Once you find what content works, it's about activating it further, not creating more,” added David Brown, SVP/head of strategy at Knotch.


Most helpful tactic?

Put 20% of your content budget toward piloting to uncover new innovative approaches. Amanda Curtin, vice president of content and social media at Synchrony, suggests this has helped her team find ways to better connect and engage with target audiences. A pilot can help win over stakeholders to get buy-in for scaling after success in the MVP phase.


Like any other marketing tactic, content needs to be tested to find the highest-performing pieces for your audiences. According to Knotch, 40% of content is high-performing, the other 60% isn’t all that effective. Ian Port, director of content at Zillow, said out of 1000 pieces of content they produce, 150 truly move the needle. 


Testing can help you identify which are best suited for your audience before mass rollouts.


Bonus: Tweetable moments from Content Connect

Kim Rosenblum, CMO at Betterment, said, “In content marketing, you need stamina. It’s always evolving and never-ending.”


Jenn Eldin, SVP, head of content marketing at Bank of America, on Content Connect 2024: “It’s like being at content prom.”


See ya next year!

I’m already excited about next year’s event – and the opportunity to join content marketing leaders for the critical conversations that push our industry forward.  


Oh, and let's not forget about having a few fun jaunts around NYC, too! 

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