7 Thought-Provoking Takeaways from #MozTalk Content Edition

March 31, 2018

On Tuesday night, two of my colleagues and I trekked our way across the Mass Ave bridge into Cambridge to join a group of mainly jovial SEO and content marketers in Wistia’s “school-chic” office. With its high ceilings, exposed brick and oversized windows the office envy set in immediately, but we were too distracted by the spread of gourmet brussels sprouts and cheese spreads to dwell on it.


I left feeling content at the fact that I chose to attend MozTalk over catching up on Homeland on the couch, since I found all three talks to be not only valuable, but entertaining. I took away more than I expected from the local Boston-based event, and I’d liked to share that knowledge with you all.

Kristen Craft, Director of Business Development at Wistia

#1: Use the Mere Exposure Effect to Your Advantage

Wistia’s high-energy beer enthusiast Kristen Craft kicked us off by discussing the mere exposure effect, developed by scholar Robert Zajonc in the 1960’s. The psychological theory shows that people tend to prefer things they’re familiar with.

This makes sense right? When we grow up with a certain brand of syrup we tend to have a deep-rooted loyalty to that syrup. Or maybe that’s just me… As a health-nut and avoider of artificial sweeteners, I still opt for Aunt Jemima high fructose packed syrup over real maple syrup because it’s what I was raised on. Enjoying pancakes without my favorite aunt to top it off is unthinkable in my mind.

Businesses should learn from this by ensuring their brand has a large reach and on-going presence to their target audiences. With that said, Kristen reminded us that it’s important to prioritize quality over quantity. For those of you who saw the James Bond movie SkyFall you likely remember the widespread Volkswagen product placement, but as these cars were violently crushed whilst falling from a fast-moving train it probably didn’t leave movie goers saying “I want to get myself one of those.”

Moztalk image of VW cars falling off the train in Skyfall

Whether it be using online marketing tactics like display advertising and remarketing, having more facetime with people through local events or using product placement and billboards to spread your brand presence, don’t be afraid of overdoing it with brand promotions. As long as your content is quality, the mere-exposure effect will likely work in your favor.

#2: Create an Emotional Reaction So People Remember Your Marketing

This is something I preach in my writing and speaking engagements; the power of emotion cannot be ignored by businesses striving to be successful. Creating an emotional response is by far the most powerful way to engage leads and customers.

“Get someone to feel something and they will remember you,” said Kristen. Educating through relatable content and putting a face to your brand is a great way to elicit emotion and ensure people remember you. Kristen shared a variety of examples, my favorite being the Zendesk commercial below.

 Zendesk sells customer service software, which is not a super glamorous industry, but by provoking emotion through these charming and witty commercials of an elderly couple, they’ve managed to make me remember them and understand what they do. After we watched the commercial Kristen gushed about how the couple reminds her of her grandparents. You could see the emotion all over her face, and it was clear that Zendesk is doing something right!

#3: Don’t Be Afraid to Make Big Asks

As the head of business development at Wistia, Kristen shared a lot of forward thinking knowledge about making connections and partnering with the right people to expand your audience to an entirely new audience, and one thing she encouraged attendees to do is to be bold and make big asks.

Back when Wistia’s employee headcount was only in the teens they decided to ask SEO legend and Moz founder Rand Fishkin to star in a Wistia video when he was in town for a conference. To their surprise, Rand said yes! If you’re in the world of digital marketing you probably know of Rand, who’s famous for his whiteboard Fridays and serving as a top thought leader when it comes to everything SEO. Basically, he’s a big deal. So they made this video, posted it to the Wistia blog and homepage, and it ended up driving tons of new traffic, leads, and future Wistia users to their site, proving that big asks can go a long way.

Moztalk pic of Rand Rishkin in Wistia video

Be bold and don’t shy away from making big asks to big influencers.

Ronell Smith, Content Strategist at Moz

#4: Content Should Not Be the Goal, Opportunity Should Be

Moving right along, Moz’s content genius Ronell Smith took the stage leading off with a point that content marketers often forget when bogged down in their day to day of producing piece after piece, which is that content should not be the goal, opportunity should be!

Ronell reminded the audience that rather than falling into the pattern of monkey see monkey do, we should be looking for the next big thing, because why create content that isn’t unique and useful?

“Content isn’t going to fix your problems, better ideas are going to fix your problem,” he said.

One great example Ronell shared is when he was a kid growing up in rural Mississippi. When he needed a pair of boxers or a new belt his only option was Macy’s, which actually wasn’t an option due to the 30 mile drive and his limited means of transportation. Walmart saw this opportunity, came into town, and provided a solution for the thousands of people experiencing the same dilemma as Ronell.

moztalk tweet 

We need to think about this when creating content. Rather than re-writing your competitor’s blog post, look for what information is missing from their post and create one that’s way better.

#5: Look for Underserved Industries You Can Connect With

All too often business owners and marketers get too tied to their core business, not realizing that there’s a market that they could better serve. Ronell encouraged audience members to not be afraid to bring in new people by offering something outside of your target market.

To me, this makes perfect sense. You’re never going to stand out in a sea of duplicate business models, unless you take a step back and realize how you can better serve your audience. “Don’t obsess over your current core business, but rather what it leads into,” said Ronell.

Ronell used Wistia as a prime example of a company that has done this well. Wistia has branded themselves as the solution for creating, hosting, and analyzing videos for lead gen and business marketing. Yes, everyone knows YouTube, but YouTube is intimidating to business owners; the playing field is over-populated, and often seen as the place to watch cat videos rather than a place to market one’s business. Wistia has positioned themselves as the leader in the business video marketing space, and when it comes to competition, well, there really isn’t any.

Rhea Drysdale, CEO of Outspoken Media

#6: Leverage the Power of “Why?” and Real Behavior in Your Content

What could be better than a charming pregnant woman? A charming, pregnant, wildly successful CEO who runs her own company. Rhea’s quirkiness shined through as she had everyone laughing, but also ferociously jotting down notes.

Rhea explained to the audience how Google understands human behavior better than ever before (and likely better than we do!). But why do people search for what they search for? This can be difficult to understand. Yet, when we create content around the “why” it becomes content that serves a real purpose. The problem is finding out the “why” isn’t always easy.

“Search and social won’t tell us why someone wants to purchase something and making assumptions will only take us so far,” she said. You won’t find out the “why” through keywords research tools, competitive analysis, or your own analytics. You can type your content into Pinterest to find poorly written and illustrated, but wonderfully helpful content. You can also look at segments analysis, but this only goes back 90 days.

The real answer to the “why” is found in ethology (the scientific and objective study of behavior, especially under natural conditions). We need to use observation data, which we can gather from talking to customer service and sales, conducting surveys, holding focus groups, and interviewing subjects.

Rhea asked the audience what they would Google if they needed an exterminator and the majority of attendees shouted out things like “exterminator in Boston” and “best exterminator near me,” but that’s not what people are actually searching for. Rather they search for things like “scratching in my walls” and “what kind of ant is this.” This is why we need to better observe our subjects to truly understand the “why.”

Moztalk screenshotof Rhea's slide

#7: Focus Less on Building More Content and More on Being the Authority

For years now we’ve been told that to get better rankings we need to become content producing machines, but that’s not actually the case. According to Rhea, authoritative content is much more important than the quantity of content produced.

“You should already be investing in authoritative content that anticipates and answers the needs of your audience.” Authoritative content needs to match the intent of your audience during all phases of the consumer journey (awareness, consideration, decision, retention). What questions are people asking during each stage? How can you answer these questions through authoritative content?

You’re going to get better placement in the SERPs if you focus on authoritative content. Rhea found through SERP analysis that Google frequently displays Answer Boxes (AKA the featured snippet) with a competitor’s features above the client’s 1st place organic listings. Just take a look at the example below where a small ad agency ranks above Twitter when asking how much Twitter ads cost.

Moztalk serp example

To say this event was useful would be an understatement. In less than two hours I gained some truly thought-provoking and useful marketing knowledge, and am super thankful to Moz and Wistia for hosting!&

Margot Whitney

Margot Whitney

Margot is a content marketing specialist at WordStream and nutrition graduate student at Framingham State. She loves all things digital, learning about nutrition, running, traveling, and cooking.

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