When Ivie & Associates was founded in 1993, “digital content” didn’t exist, and neither did tablets or smartphones. In the years since, the way consumers receive information has changed dramatically (to say the least!), and those who are trying to reach them have had to change, too.

Recently, associates from BlueLeaf (Ivie Digital) attended the Gilbane Digital Content Conference in Boston to further expand our knowledge of digital content, customer engagement strategies and industry trends. Through countless sessions, keynotes and workshops, one key theme emerged: Gone are the days when consumers were mostly passive recipients of corporate-driven marketing messages; we are now in a “knowledge economy” where consumers are in charge of when, where and how they will interact with brands.

In today’Ivie BlueLeaf Gilbane Digital Content Conference Ivie BlueLeaf Gilbane Digital Content Conference s branding world, digital word-of-mouth is as good as gold; with review sites at every turn, influencer marketing is growing to be one of the essential pieces to every integrated marketing plan. When a real-life consumer speaks (or posts) well about a brand it has a big impact – and, conversely, when a consumer has a complaint, that message travels fast, too.

Brands can learn a lot by simply listening and watching the social media posts being published by their existing customers and their target market. Keeping track of the conversation about a product or service and hearing about unconventional ways customers are utilizing it can lead to new ways to drive profit. And digitally making amends with an upset consumer by working to solve the problem gives a brand a chance to help shape its perception not only with that customer, but with his or her connections as well.

Through digital content, companies have the opportunity to use multiple platforms to present a unique view of a consumer’s favorite brand. Using Facebook Live, for example, or Snapchat stories, they can instantly post to fans to deliver exclusive content that previously would have taken weeks, if not months, of planning and production. This helps customers and prospects not only gather the information they’re looking for, but it also serves to make them feel like a part of the brand, inspiring loyalty.

Ivie BlueLeaf Gilbane Digital Content Conference Although consumers want to be knowledgeable and involved, the sheer amount of content online can lead to information overload. Make the content as easy as possible for the audience to see and absorb. Be cognizant of how consumers actually interact with the content and how easily they can find what they need. If viewers have to click through a long series of pages to get to the one they were originally looking for, odds are they will never reach it.

In addition to these aspects, conference speakers also addressed the importance of consistency and focus as well as testing and analytics as critical pieces of successful digital content marketing.

When devising strategy, we must think first of what information the customer needs in order to take action, carefully consider how and where the content will be seen and absorbed, devise content that is personable and engaging, and use what the customer is saying as reinforcement for further messaging.

While print and broadcast media remain integral and will continue to be foundational in our industry, understanding and leveraging the digital “knowledge economy” will only become more and more important in the years to come. Ivie will continue to proactively study its evolution so that we can always keep providing cutting-edge marketing strategies to our clients.