Kevin Spacey Closing Keynote Highlights - Content Marketing World 2014

| June 8, 2016

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Oscar award-winning actor and producer Kevin Spacey spoke to 2,600 marketers from 50 countries at Content Marketing World 2014, held September 8-11, 2014 in Cleveland, Ohio. Mr. Spacey broke down the elements of a story: conflict, authenticity and audience during his 60-minute presentation. After his keynote, Mr. Spacey joined CMI Founder Joe Pulizzi on stage for a brief Q&A with the audience.

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Forget What I Said: DIY Websites Are a Bad Idea

Article | March 11, 2021

When you’re an expert in something, you forget that not everyone else is. Because website content, user experience and design best practices are like second nature to me, I now realize I was wrong about DIY websites. They are not a good idea. Unless you are in marketing, don’t do it. You’ll make a mess. This year, I’ve worked with a few companies who insisted on updating their websites with the new copy I created for them. These are brilliant companies lead by brilliant people who are leaders in their field. They are phenomenal clients, and I respect them tremendously. But their websites are just … wow. And not in a good way. Why DIY websites are a bad idea Would you do your own dental work? Install and landscape a pool? Replace your home’s wiring and bring it up to code? Now, some smart asses out there would say yes. Dentists, professional pool installers and electricians would say yes. But you get the idea. The crux of my argument is: Leave it to the experts. And yes, I do realize that there are some amazing DIY website platforms out there. They were specifically created to help non-experts build a web presence. But these platforms don’t let you color outside the lines, so to speak. Once you start changing the design of the theme or template, you are headed into wow-not-in-a-good-way territory. The most common mistakes DIYers make The biggest mistakes fall into three categories: content, user experience and design. Content mistakes The number one content mistake I see is what I refer to as “inward-facing” copy. It’s about the company, not the client. Instead of speaking directly to the clients’ needs and saying, “We do this for you,” it’s more like, “We do this.” It’s very me, me, me and we, we, we. Which is a big no, no, no. Your clients don’t care what you do. They care what you can do for them. A lot of companies also write way too much, bunching words in dense paragraphs that no one is going to slog through. And because it’s so hard to write about yourself, messaging tends to be fuzzy. Essential elements, like calls-to-action, are often missing as well. The list goes on, but if you add up just the above, you are left with a website that doesn’t make a good impression. And that leads me to user experience. User experience mistakes User experience, also known as UX, is an important niche within web design. Without a good UX, your bounce rate (how quickly people leave your website) will be very high. (And yes, I know I’m a copywriter, but I have to understand UX to write good web copy.) Most UX mistakes that DIYers make have to do with navigation. For example, I see content broken out into too many pages. Instead of grouping a company’s history, approach, mission and values on one page, each of these topics get their own page. I don’t know of anyone who will patiently click through four pages of a website to learn this essential company information. Good UX also ensures each page is a “closed loop,” aka, web visitors never hit a dead end. They can always navigate to another page from the page they’re on, whether it’s a contact form, a case study or a blog post. This ensures they always have more to do (and it keeps them on your website, which is a good thing). Web design mistakes Even though I was super into art when I was young, I never in a million years would attempt to design a website. It’s an art and a science. Good web design uses different (but corresponding) fonts, colors and sizes to vary the texture of the copy. It also sizes and aligns images just right, adds contrasting blocks to signal you’re in a new section of content and keeps your eyes engaged and the brand visually coherent. This is a tough balancing act that requires excellent graphic design skills. As I alluded to above, I don’t mess around with it. If I did, my website would look like a first grader designed it. And that’s not exactly the vibe I want to give off. So now what? If you’re now thinking, “Oh crap, I wonder if my website is a POS,” I suggest hiring a marketing agency to do a website audit of your front end (what web visitors see) and back end (the configuration and apps that are running your site). You might find out that your website only needs a few tweaks to. Or, you might find out it needs a full overhaul. Either way, you’ll end up with a more functional website that better serves your clients. At the end of the day, it’s all about them anyway.

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Updates to How Google Ads Measures Conversions

Article | June 1, 2021

Google announced it would set a first-party cookie through the global site tag and Google Tag Manager beginning in May. What does this mean, and why is it important to advertisers? First, let’s talk about why Google made this announcement. As individuals are demanding more privacy, we are moving towards an internet world that is free of third-party cookies, which have been the standard of conversion tracking for advertisers. So what are first-party and third-party cookies? A first-party cookie is created and stored directly by the website that you are visiting. These cookies allow you to do fancy things like staying signed into Amazon every time you visit, but they also help advertisers keep better track of their visitors for the purpose of collecting data around conversions, among other things.

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5 Best Practices to Turn Your Virtual Event into a Roaring Success

Article | May 7, 2020

As the world moves closer to smartphones and digital tools, more so due to the coronavirus pandemic in recent times, enterprises are finding innovative ways to go around the geographical distance between them and their target audience. Conferences are the best place to make connections. Even still organizers are moving physical conferences to virtual events for myriad reasons primarily the global lockdown which has made events going online by default than by choice. And the trend is only getting stronger. Virtual events will grow from $14 billion in 2018 to $18 billion in 2023, reported Market Research Media. Besides being cost-effective, virtual events are the perfect way to combine brand experiences with attendee engagement to monetize events and make your presence known globally. While virtual events can never beat the added value provided by physical events and conferences, it isn’t all that bad. A virtual event enables organizers to track and measure every move of the attendees during the event, as a result of which you have some highly qualified leads. Here are some powerful practices you should follow to make your virtual event a dashing success. Table of Contents: - Make Your Titles/Descriptions Crisp - Get the Right MC for Your Event - Keep Sessions Short - Personalize the Virtual Experience - Incentivize Make Your Titles/Descriptions Crisp At a physical event, attendees navigate through sessions while relying on word-of-mouth to decide which session is worth attending for them and why. Virtual events don’t provide this liberty. The information on various sessions is often sent to the attendees through emails, social media posts, etc. Since no guidance is available to help attendees understand and navigate through sessions of their interest, it is important tomake your event and session titles and descriptions more informative and compelling. Get the Right Moderator for Your Event Just as at a physical event, a moderator contextualizes the information presented throughout the event, keeping up the energy levels, and providing important information regarding attendee queries, a moderator is important for a virtual event. Virtual events tend to produce a certain feeling of isolation for attendees. This can be alleviated by a voice that creates a consistent flow between the sessions while adding a much-needed familiarity and maintaining the energy levels. A moderator, like at a physical event, should open a virtual event, moderate questions from the attendees, and hold talks with them in-between sessions. READ MORE:How to host a successful virtual event to help your business survive digitally Keep Sessions Short Usually, keynote presentation sessions last for less than an hour. At in-person events, attendees are surrounded by excitement and peers, watching a presentation that integrates music and inspiring speeches. Attending an event on screen at home is comparatively less exciting and attendees are sure to click away from a session that is too long. Thus, keeping sessions short at an optimal length of 30 minutes during a virtual event will allow the attendees the time to browse around, answer an email, or go to the virtual exhibit hall. Attendees can be directly navigated to a sponsor’s booth after the completion of a session. Personalize the Virtual Experience Virtual events can be either live-streamed or pre-recorded, depending on the goals you have set or the scale of the event. Adobe, for their recent summit, decided to go pre-recorded. Personalized video recommendations were part of Adobe’s event experience. Though your virtual event experience depends upon the platform you choose to set up, Adobe was able to create the ability to create high-end experiences thanks to their in-house development teams and custom platform. YouTube, for instance, used Adobe’s Sensei AI engine to incorporatecustom behavior-based content recommendations. Personalizing content delivery in a virtual format speaks to a much broader trend in events in general. Many are used to receiving personalized suggestions when consuming both content and products on the internet. Though pre-recorded sessions may lack in real-time engagement, they make up for it in providing high-production value, as organizers are at liberty to edit or enhance the quality of the sessions. It also eliminates planning for live-streaming around different time zones and connectivity issues during the event. Pre-recorded events also minimize the probability of attendees getting bored as they are free to tune out of the live stream, watch again anytime, and interact with the content that would bring them the most value, resulting in each attendee tailoring their personal experience. If you do decide to go pre-recorded, don’t forget to establish a forum or live chat where attendees can ask questions, hold topic discussions, and network. Incentivize Though they are not as much fun during a virtual event as they are during in-person events, incentives are proven way to boost engagement during an event. Virtual prizes such as books, iPads, swag, etc., can be awarded to the winners or trophy can be mailed to the winning attendees. Google SheetsCon, as part of their event, hosted a contest to win one of 25 company swag bags to winners who were supposed to share something about the event on social media using the dedicated event hashtag, or visit at least 5 of the sponsor booth pages during the event. Activities such as this increase attendee as well as brand awareness. READ MORE:Best practices to create an ideal webinar

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Content marketing strategy: More than just content

Article | May 25, 2021

Content marketing now plays a key role for any brand and in any industry. However, at a time when users are constantly bombarded with information, creating valuable content is definitely the best strategy to differentiate your brand from competitors and at the same time, allows you to be more engaging. In this post, we’ll dig into the factors that make content marketing a winning approach. We’ll also take a look at how to choose the most suitable content for your target audience and at the most relevant content marketing trends for 2021. Before getting into the heart of the matter, however, it is necessary to give a brief definition of content marketing, identifying the objectives that can be achieved, and the fields where a content marketing strategy can be applied. Let’s get started!

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Spotlight

Firehouse

The need for new ideas and fresh thinking in business has never been greater. At Firehouse, we've aligned and focused our talents to deliver just that. Built around the marriage of highly creative execution and deeply strategic thinking, our expertise unlocks human truths and behaviors to give brands meaning in the eyes of their audience.

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