CLEVELAND, OHIO — More than 3,000 people have converged upon the resurgent rustbelt, gritty city of Cleveland, to dream content marketing dreams at Content Marketing World, the largest convention of its kind in the nation. Those dreams include finding, by some miracle, the magic bullet data that unassailably convinces execs of the long-tail, expensive, time-intensive, difficult-to-prove ROI of creating, distributing and measuring content.

Content marketing is obviously the future to all of us in the room, but analytics are not the endeavor’s strongsuit, mainly because it dabbles in qualitative things like trust and brand. Ask any marketer, those are hard to measure.

Bank of America content marketing exec John von Brachel broke down his content efforts on stage. #whydoallbankingexecshavethatsuperiorslouch?

But everyone should recognize that displaying content you’re passionate about on topics your target clients care about builds authentic, tighter relationships with leads, increasing conversion rates and lowering the cost of business acquisition.

To put this in real estate terms — instead of paying for leads from sites like and Zillow Group, which have implemented their own powerful content marketing endeavors in addition to the millions they spend on straight-up advertising (more on Zillow Group’s remarkable, powerful content marketing efforts in a coming profile), build your own audience on a site you own and manage.

It takes a ton of effort, but you get warmer leads, have more fun and build a strong, meaningful, long-lasting business (see Spokane, Washington agent Marguerite Giguere’s story).

Before going into content marketers’ analytical dreams, must say that Cleveland is amazing. It has a resurgent vibrancy pulsing in the air. Walking the bridge across the Cuyahoga River into downtown, rusting drawbridge train tracks below near a new glassy condo building, aging factory a few leaps upstream and vast Lake Eerie peering in the distance, the fresh energy is palpable.

 Gritty, resurgent Cleveland on full display in a morning walk across the Cuyahoga River. Gritty, resurgent Cleveland on full display in a morning walk across the Cuyahoga River.

Analytical dreams

Content Marketing World’s expo floor is definitely tamer than the National Association of Realtors and full of vendors aiming higher, as in bigger clients. NewsCred is one. It’s out to solve the persistent ROI challenge facing content marketers by showing exactly which leads converted on what content with a new deep Salesforce integration.

When it’s fully rolled out, the tie-in will allow the firm’s customers to see the full content lifecycle of each lead in their CRMs, proving value and eliminating content marketers’ cold sweats when the next nice-to-have cost-cutting axe swings.

Neil Barlow, a NewsCred director of sales, explains his firm’s value props.

NewsCred really shines in the content licenses it has secured from top-tier publishers like The New York Times, Condé Nast, Forbes and more. It allows its clients to essentially white-label these publishers’ content. It’s not cheap, especially content from the big publishers, but it jumpstarts a content marketing endeavor in a hurry.

Key elements of a content marketing strategy

Andy Crestodina, co-founder of the Chicago-based website development firm Orbit Media Studios, outlined the key elements of a successful content marketing campaign to kick off the day:

  • High quality, original content
  • Network of relevant influencers
  • Organically builds unique search engine authority (SEO)
  • Includes search-optimized pages
  • Features relevant content targeted to specific audiences
  • Is informative and trustworthy