Content Marketing: “The overarching practice of using information and entertainment to promote a brand or product”. – Contently
Content marketing, as a way to reach an increasingly wary audience, shows no signs of slowing down in 2014. Rather than using outdated, traditional methods of outbound marketing, businesses are finding that content marketing attracts customers and builds real trust between brands and consumers.
In 2013, I made some predictions for where I saw content marketing going in 2014. If you missed the post, you can read it here: The Top 7 Content Marketing Trends That Will Dominate 2014. In this article, I’ll revisit my predictions, and take a look at the current research related to content marketing.
1. Businesses Will Finally be Able to Define Content Marketing
In my previous post, I stated that 60% of businesses were employing some form of content marketing. Less than a year later, a report by the Content Marketing Institute indicates that a whopping 93% of B2B marketers now use content marketing as part of their overall marketing plan.
While there have been countless articles published in the past couple years about the importance of content marketing, it’s only now that the term is becoming part of the everyday vernacular of businesses. Marketers are seeing firsthand how social media and content marketing are inextricably linked, and are understanding the importance of having a content plan; in fact, 44% of B2B marketers now report having a documented content strategy in place. To figure out how to build a content strategy for your business, see my posts:
- How to Build Your First Content Marketing Strategy
- How to Build a Kickass Content Strategy
- How to Grow Your Personal Brand with Your Content Strategy
2. The Top New Marketing Job Title Recruited and Hired will be “Director of Content”
While I can’t point to any hard and fast statistics regarding the rise in popularity of the “Content Director” role, it’s clear that an increasing number of companies are centralizing content creation, curation and promotion.
According to the Content Marketing Institute’s State of B2B Content Marketing report, the most successful B2B content marketers have 2 things in common: they have someone who oversees their content marketing strategy, and that strategy is documented (this makes sense: a dedicated content manager will be more likely to have a content plan in place).
Surprisingly, smaller companies of less than 100 employees are more likely (78%) to have someone oversee their content strategy than companies with 1000+ employees (58%).
3. Mobile Content Marketing will Separate Winners from the Rest of the Pack
I’ve argued before that the release of Google GOOGL +0.77%’s Hummingbird update has significantly upped the ante when it comes to the importance of a mobile content strategy (see Google Hummingbird: A Mobile Content Marketing Strategy Just Became Essential.)
But while the majority of marketers now know the importance of having mobile-friendly content, many are still lagging when it comes to actually carrying out their mobile strategy. For instance, according to Exact Target TGT +1.2%’s 2014 State of Marketing report, 41% of respondents said that up to half of their subscribers opened emails on a mobile device; and yet, 42% of marketers also said they rarely or never used responsive design in their emails.
Clearly, there’s still a disconnect between what marketers know they need to do, and what they’re actually doing. For tips on how to properly implement your own mobile content strategy see my post 10 Steps to Creating a Mobile-Optimized Content Strategy.
4. Calculating Content Marketing ROI Will Spawn New SAAS Software and Companies
As the industry is seeing increased ROI when it comes to content marketing, new content creation companies are emerging and/or continuing to gain steam to challenge key players like Text Broker. Content Runner and Content Equals Money are two such emerging companies, which match writers to companies looking for high-quality content.
According to Amie Marse, Founder & Managing Partner at Content Equals Money, demand for their services is at an all-time high: “2014 has been a powerful force for my company. We have doubled our sales each year, but 2014 is on track to triple our 2013 numbers. The content generation landscape is saturated with all different types of companies, with new competitors popping up every day. Whether you want a marketplace or a more personal touch, you can really find any number of companies to choose from. That in itself speaks to the growing demand for quality content.”
5. Businesses will Look for Ways to Automate their Content Marketing, and These Efforts will Fail
With businesses creating and promoting more content than ever, it’s no surprise they would be looking for ways to streamline and automate the process. With 78% of the most successful marketers creating more content than they did a year ago, it only makes sense that the popularity of marketing automation would rise significantly simply in order to keep pace.
However, many argue that automating content isn’t without its problems; unrealistic expectations of what marketing automation can accomplish may be one of the biggest hurdles. Obviously, the idea of having a system in place that captures and nurtures leads, moves them through the online sales funnel and ultimately converts them to customers, is an extremely attractive one.
However, according to HubSpot, a leading content marketing automation provider, content marketing isn’t a ‘once and done’ proposition: “Marketing automation needs constant care and awareness for it to work effectively. Too many companies skimp on these details and think they can let their automation do all the work—not exactly the best way of accomplishing your goals. Marketing automation works as a supplement to your sales strategy, allowing you to strategize the path ahead. It’s not meant as something you can set and forget.”
6. Google+ and Slideshare Will Become Essential for B2B Content Marketers
We’re seeing a disconnect between the actual usage of Google+ and Slideshare, and their reported effectiveness for business use. On the one hand, their use has jumped quite significantly: use of SlideShare among B2B marketers has increased from 23% to 40%, while the use of Google+ has gone up from 39% to 55%.
Yet according to research by the Content Marketing Institute, only 45% of B2B marketers believe SlideShare is effective for their business, and a surprisingly low 21% believe Google+ is effective. And with Google+ making the decision to remove Google Authorship photos, many business owners are wondering whether their heavy investment in Google has been – and will continue to be – worth it.
So which platforms are important to marketers then? According to the Social Media Examiner report, top social platforms being used by B2B Marketers are LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, with Google+ coming in 5th for marketers in 2014. Slideshare doesn’t appear to have been included in the survey, so its importance among respondents can’t be pinned down.
7. Location-Based Content Marketing Will Provide Huge ROI for Brick-and-Mortar Businesses
Location-based couponing and promotions are continuing to drive in-store visits and sales. According to Cisco, location-based mobile advertising accounts for $4.5 billion this year; and this number is expected to rise to over $10 billion by 2017.
One example of how brick-and-mortar businesses are using location-based marketing to increase ROI is the use of geo-aware marketing in a campaign launched earlier this year by Meguiar’s (an auto-care products company). By showing relevant ads in areas that showed a high volume of car and car-accessory buyers, the company was able to achieve a $1.31 ROI and a 118% increase in sales in exposed markets.
Clearly, while the tools and delivery method for our content may perpetually shift and change, the importance of content marketing remains constant at this point of 2014. I’m interested to hear your thoughts about content marketing in 2014: What’s missing from this list? What should we expect to see in the latter half of 2014?
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Originally published on: Forbes
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