Whether you're agency or brand side, Content Jam is well worth checking out. This year's event had a tactical focus on using data to make better content marketing decisions, touching on SEO, CRO and good ol' fashioned customer service. From novelty-sized lightbulbs to small "aha" moments, here's what we took away.

Clarity Trumps Cleverness

This year's Content Jam had a real CRO crunch to it, with Marketing Optimization Adviser and Conversion Optimist Angie Schottmuller, CEO of SiteTuners and Chair of Conversion Conference Tim Ash, and COO, Conversion Optimization Expert and Conversion Scientist Joel Harvey all delivering insightful, actionable keynotes. When it comes to CRO, and usability in general, clarity trumps cleverness. As Angie said in her presentation, assume that the user is drunk. Second takeaway: the conversion goal of your homepage is segmentation.

- Taylor Cimala

Map All of Your Customer Experience Touchpoints

My biggest takeaway came from The Customer Experience Investigator - Jeannie Walters. One of the first things she does with a new client is map out all of the touch points a prospect, potential customer, client or past client has (or had) with your company. This will give you a clear look at the paths a person takes with them to become a client and helps identify areas you might have no idea aren't running smoothly. Here's the example she used to illustrate.

Imagine a billing department that sends the bill out on a monthly basis like clockwork. Looks like everything is functioning properly right? Your billing department is on top of things. Now, put yourself in your customer's shoes. What if this is the only touch point they have with your service? What if they have a problem and you've left no way for them to get back in touch? Noreply@billingdepartment.com anyone?

Jeannie's mission is to equip all of her clients with the tools they need to not ruin someone's day with a poor customer experience. Mapping out your touch points and then, as a marketer, crafting specific messages, actions and workflows from the customer's point-of-view can unlock new areas for improving customer experience. - Lauren Matricardi

 Jam is the Best Breakfast

The morning of Content Jam started out on a bad note for me. Between a delayed Metra train, a lost Uber driver and a literal false alarm at our office, lots of things just didn't go well. Though it was a rough morning, it was all worth it, because Content Jam was awesome. My favorite tip from Content Jam came from Story Studio's Jill Pollack. The best content draws you in by telling a story. People identify with characters and stories, not so much with data. Don’t just puke up a bunch of impersonal tactics on a page and hope that somehow people will be interested in reading it. Here's the visionboard from her talk.

George Zlatin

The Creative Brief Connects the Strategy to the Execution

The creative brief, as Nancy Goldstein said, is "a way to be purposeful when you focus on behavior change." It requires you to really identify your audience, and focus on changing their behavior—moving them from what the're thinking, feeling and doing right now, and figuring out what you want them thinking, feeling and doing in the future

.

If You're Not Making Friends, You're Doing it Wrong

Influencer marketing is super hot right now. But getting into the "how" of influencer marketing often feels kind of gross, with its tendency to reduce human relationships to something far more ... transactional. Which is why I was eager to hear Andy Crestodina's presentation on the subject, as he's both a very smart marker and an exceptionally good dude. The biggest takeaway: make friends. Don't be afraid to start conversations online. Everyone loves being mentioned.

The framework is laid out in more detail in Orbit Media's Online Networking Guide—well worth the read. - Tom Shearman If you want to learn more about using data to make awesome, shareable content, check out our webinar with BuzzSumo.

Download the webinar: HOW TO CREATE CONTENT TOP PUBLISHERS WANT TO SHARE