9 content marketing tips from #ContentJam 2013

The 2nd Annual Content Jam Conference was last week in Chicago. 150 really smart content marketers gathered to hear 18 speakers share their top content marketing tips and tools. Here’s what Brad and I saw that got our tails waggin’.

content jam 2013


1. Links Matter

I really liked Sean McGinnis’ presentation on Link Building Strategies that Work. He made a really interesting point in his presentation that combatted the current thought that “links don’t matter anymore.” He then pulled up the top 100 page-ranking factors. The first 72 indicators were all about links. Content didn’t matter until #73. Yes, links matter for SEO to get better search rankings.

2. Optimize your guest posts

If you’re guest posting on someone’s site, you want to generate more traffic for them. Do your keyword research for the post and optimize the post for them. After the page goes live, suggest ways (like internal linking) to help boost their page rank. They get more traffic and appreciate you investing time and effort into optimizing the post to get them more traffic. It also helps you build a trusted relationship in addition to attracting a relevant audience.

3. Don’t guest post somewhere just to get a backlink

So many SEO firms and bloggers are spamming people with guest post inquiries just to get backlinks, instead of being thoughtful about who their audience is and building a relationship with the them. Sean McGinnis was quick to denounce this (and I agree with him, too.) You want to build relationships with people you guest post with because you guys have the same audience. He advised that we should write and guest post as if it wasn’t helping your search results. The result? Better content, better relationships.

4. Link to new posts from old posts

Andy Crestodina had a great internal linking strategy. After he wrote a post, he did a site search on his website to find other posts that talk about the same topic or use the same keyword as the new post he just wrote. Then goes back to those old posts and adds internal links to the new post he just wrote. I thought that was super smart.


5. No one likes a happy story. Sort of.

Jill Pollack had a really engaging session on story telling with content marketing. Human brains are wired to tell and listen to stories — so when we present our content in that form, it’s easier for our listeners to hear it. Most people are predisposed to sharing stories of how a customer has used your product/service and how it’s helped them. But tension is an essential part of storytelling. Show the fear, pain, struggles or obstacles they experienced before they got the solution. It doesn’t always have to be a straight path, show the twists and curves — people love that.

6. Talk about your employees or let your employees talk!

Gini Dietrich’s keynote presentation was filled with awesome content marketing tips. One of them I particularly like was when she showed some examples of companies showcasing their employees on their websites. T-Mobile has videos next to job postings of people who currently have that job. Another company highlights new employees in their blog. But why? People buy from people. Telling employees stories (or better yet having them tell their stories) shows that they’re human, and puts faces behind your company that are relatable to prospective clients, and prospective employees. They get a look into who is behind your company, and employees get to see what it’d be like to work at your company, too.


7. Marketing automation will soon be the norm for business

Marti Konstant shared what marketing automation can do for your business. Companies are starting to budget for marketing automation just like they started to for SEO, and now most everyone has SEO as a component to their online marketing budgets. I liked her thoughts on how “marketing automation is an designed experience.” It’s the funnel of how your leads will be nurtured until they buy.


8. Your email better work on mobile (but it doesn’t have to be “responsive”)

Mana Ionescu had a great presentation about e-mail (…it still works!). She emphasized the preponderance of email is read on mobile devices so your e-mail better work there. By “work” we mean it’s readable (use bigger fonts), things are clickable (fingers are about 44 pixels) and it works even if images are turned off (STOP sending emails that are just a big image. Please, I beg of you).

Mana went on to say that fully responsive emails are really a big huge pain, and at this point are likely more expensive to produce than they are worth.

9. Tell folks why they should sign up

One of the most important content marketing tips was on call to actions. It’s not enough to say “Join my newsletter” people need to know why. What promise are you making? What benefit will they get? It also doesn’t hurt to throw in a little social proof (Over 5,000 subscribers like you).

What were your big takeaways from Content Jam? Any content marketing tips that didn’t make the list? If you didn’t make it check out the hashtag for more fun: #ContentJam

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Devan Perine

Devan Perine works with small business owners on their marketing and multimedia efforts. She's passionate about helping businesses build their presence online, and giving Gen Y a voice in the workplace. When she's not working, she loves to make a mess in the kitchen, and play with her band around Chicago. She loves to chat! Give her a shout on Google+, Twitter or LinkedIn.


  1. Devan, could you rearrange this and put me first? Sean is telling everyone on Facebook you liked him better because he’s ahead of me in the list. Or at least tell him you like me more than you like him??

    In all seriousness, thanks for the review of Thursday’s conference. It was so nice to put your adorable face with your name!

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