With data showing that companies deemed content marketing leaders experience 7.8 times more site traffic than non-leaders, it's no big surprise that more brands than ever are getting on board. The question, though, is: How do you become a content marketing leader?

Last week, I went to Chicago to attend Orbit Media's ContentJam conference to look for an answer to that question. Experts in content marketing came from around the world to share their insights--and I've distilled some of the major takeaways I learned at the event below.

1. Don't be afraid to sell within your blog posts.

Joanna Wiebe, copywriter and co-founder of Airstory, pointed out that since the early 1900s, businesses have been making a sales pitch within written content--be it in a long-form sales letter or print ads.

She referenced the iconic sales piece by John Caples: "They laughed when I sat down at the piano, but when I started to play..." to show that modern blogging is not all that different from the marketing tactics of the 1920s.

Her overall message was simple: Don't be afraid to make a sales pitch within blog posts. If you're educating readers and providing a valuable lesson, it's a good idea to include a helpful solution (namely, your product) at the close of your piece--because they're primed and ready for it. It worked decades ago, and it still works today.

2. Viral content is shareable content.

Nadya Khoja, Marketing Manager at Venngage, shared her insight into how the company has regularly achieved virality with content. In her experience, shareability, relevance, and quality are the major components that contribute to whether or not a piece of content goes viral.

She went on to explain that relevancy comes with deeply understanding your audience--so that when you create something like an infographic, for example, the subject matter is both timely and interesting to the people you're targeting. If you don't truly understand the needs and wants of your demographic, content often falls flat.

3. Create content that stands the test of time.

Are you creating "evergreen" content? Aaron Orendorff of IconiContent says you should. Evergreen content is content that stands the test of time and that is still relevant months (years, even) after it's published.

These are typically posts that include elements like how-to lessons, original quotes from experts, original research, and step-by-step processes that hold up to the passage of time. 

The reason evergreen content is so important: It gets linked to and referenced by other content creators--and it continues to deliver results on an on-going basis. 

4. Don't let confirmation bias lead to false conclusions.

Unbounce is a company that knows about testing--and co-founder Michael Aagaard spent his stage time talking about the dark side of testing when it comes to content marketing: Confirmation bias.

Believing in false positives can lead to poor decision-making and lost sales, so he advocated for long-term tests and ongoing curiosity rather than quick results that ultimately fail over time. The bottom line: If you're split testing your website or marketing tactics, don't be fooled by quick wins.