Recap of Skyword's Forward 19 Conference

Even when you are marketing to your entire audience or customer base, your are still simply speaking to a single human at any given time.

Ann Handley

I’ve made it a business goal to start attending conferences, and my first one was this year in Boston. For about 5 years, I have been a contract writer for Skyword, a content marketing company. Last week, I was able to attend their annual conference, Forward, and meet in person people that I’ve previously only spoken to by email. And to hear some great sessions with content marketing strategies.

As most industries are becoming more data-driven, marketing is no different. But despite vast amounts of data at our fingertips for what customers engage with, how many views we’re getting, and, of course, how all that translates to sales, we can’t forget the human aspects. Ultimately, brands grow when they build relationships and gain the trust of customers. Many of the sessions I attended, talked about using data and research to boost the creative process and letting numbers and analytics influence, but not overtake, the creative process.

After an opening by Skyword’s CEO and CSO, Beverly Jackson gave the opening keynote speech about her team’s work in building the social strategy for MGM International. Her team has developed a strong strategy using creative content and social media influencers to show customers the wide range of services offered by MGM and encourage bookings throughout the year.

Ann Handley closed out the day with a great talk about slowing down the marketing cycle. We are all bombarded with information, ads, content all. day. long. It’s time that we slow down and draw out our storytelling.

Other key takeaways for me throughout the day:

  • 70 percent of millennial consumers are influenced by the recommendations of peers.

  • Food on white plates doesn’t convert.

  • SEO research should be driven by brand identify. Have a well-crafted style guide and stick to it.

  • Use data filtered through human judgment.

  • A larger social media following doesn’t always mean that’s the most engaged following.

  • When using original research, define your research story first. Try writing your dream headline before beginning the research.

  • Question what you think you know about your audience.

There are many more takeaways from sessions I wasn’t able to attend. If you were at Forward and want to add to this list, please comment!