If you think 2013 was the year of content marketing, get ready for a wild New Year. In 2014, content marketing can be expected to run with the crown and be officially appointed the king of the web. In fact, according to a recent study from the content marketing institute, 58% of B2B marketers plan to increase their content marketing budget over the next 12 months.
No matter what field you’re in, content marketing has the ability to help drive results. Whether you have goals for web traffic, sales leads, or SEO impact; content marketing is a driving force to achieving digital success in today’s world.
Here are five emerging trends that are going to shape the content marketing landscape in 2014:
Content Partnerships Will Start Replacing Media Buys
For years, the engagement between brands and media has consisted of media buying between brands and media suppliers. Brands have their designers create banner advertisements with a hope to get a few suckers to click here and then keep their fingers crossed that they convert. It’s a method that still works today but the ability to achieve success through this medium continues to become more and more challenging.
In the coming years, brands and media suppliers will start to get more creative with their approach to paid advertising. Brands will begin to double down on content partnerships with media outlets that are built on collaboration and creativity. It’s a tactic that has already been rolled out by brands like Bacardi who earlier this year sponsored a post on one of the most popular personal development sites for guys; ArtOfManliness.com.
In this post, the author described everything their readers would need to be considered an “American Rough Rider”. The items on the list included things like a hat, knife, belt, gun, and of course, a nice bottle of Bacardi Rum. The integration of Bacardi Rum into this story is a great way for Bacardi to leverage the influence and trust of an existing media outlet to tell their story and achieve their content goals. Through one post, Bacardi is able to build a stronger bond with the readership of this blog and potentially impact their bottom line as the readers aspire to be this Rough Rider.
What makes this post even more compelling is the integration of visual elements which can be shared through tweets, Pinterest, Facebook, and more. Which takes me to the next trend…
Content Marketers Choose Visual Assets Over Infographics
Have you noticed how visual Twitter has become over the last few months? The embedded Slideshare decks, YouTube video, and viral images? If not, here’s what they look like when you see them out in the wild:
The ease of consumption here cannot be overstated. Instead of having to click a link to a photo, users simply scroll through their newsfeed and the image appears. It’s the same process for videos on YouTube and decks from Slideshare. But let’s take a minute to think about the impact of these small visuals and how quickly they can be shared. In the tweet from Buffer Founder, Joel Gascoigne, you see an image created by the Folks at UserOnboard.com that went super viral in the marketing community. One of the main reasons this image went viral was because it was able to be consumed and shared so quickly.
If you spend a lot of time following the blogs of marketers, you’ll notice that they tend to be ahead of the curve in their tactics. One tactic that has started to take prevalence on blogs like Moz.com and Buffer is the integration of what Rand Fishkin calls ‘visual assets’. Don’t get me wrong, an infographic is very much a visual asset, the challenge is, it’s one of the larger and less effective visual assets. A visual asset can be a chart, graph, photo, inspirational quote or even the images you’ve seen so far in this post. These images are important because they can be pinned quickly on Pinterest, shared easily on Twitter, and even impact search rankings more effectively than an infographic. For that reason, it can be expected that the integration of multiple visual assets in a blog post become more popular than infographics in how they’re more effective in driving a brands reach and search rankings.
Content Marketing Strategists Find A Seat In The C-Suite
According to recent reports, the average amount allocated to B2B content marketing rose from 26% in 2012 to 33% in 2013, and has now settled firmly in between. This kind of investment requires someone to manage the process and ultimately guide the strategic direction of an organizations content. In this role, a content strategist or chief content officer will be key to working closely with both CFOs and CMOs on developing and executing a content plan that drives results.
Enterprise companies and Fortune 500 businesses face significantly more complex challenges than small businesses as it relates to content. Recent reports show that organizations that have a large audience are having a challenge producing the kind of content that engages and lack of integration across marketing. It’s the existing content strategists who have a deep understanding of how to gather insights to implement strategies to achieve these goals. It’s these strategists who will be required to step up to the plate and take on a senior role.
The Amount Of Noise From Content Becomes Overwhelming
The number of tweets, blog posts, status updates, Snapchats, and Instagram photos shared everyday is mind blowing. We live in a world where more content is created every year than the amount of content created in the entire 1800s. As marketers continue to face this ever growing increase in content they must also face the reality that this is their competition. Every content marketer is competing with viral cat videos, compelling Snapchats, and knee slapping tweets.
As time goes on, more content will be created. As more content is created, the more difficult it will become for marketers to cut through the noise. What’s causing the most challenges to a content marketers efforts isn’t the noise from consumers, it’s
the noise from other content marketers. Thousands of brands are creating and publishing content that is irrelevant and far from engaging their audience.
Consumers are revolting against the increase in noise being pushed and are taking a stand against irrelevant content. A developer on GitHub has already taken a step to clean up users’ newsfeeds by creating a Chrome plugin that blocks all content from Buzzfeed. As the noise continues to be created, the less trusting consumers will be in the content created by brands and media outlets. As such, it’s more important than ever to create content that is engaging, relevant and timely. It’s compelling content that will differentiate the best brands from the rest.
Content Marketing Is The New SEO
Link building isn’t what it used to be. And that’s an understatement…
Spending hundreds of dollars on Fiverr to have a series of bloggers link back to your site isn’t going to do you any good. In fact, Google has gone on record to express that implementing strategies like this could easily lead to negative impacts instead
of positive ones. Links are no longer the king of SEO as content marketing has quickly become the king of driving search relevance and success.
In the future, SEO companies will no longer be able to pull out a magical bag of tricks to drive success for their clients. Instead they’ll need to rely on a combination of the traditional knowledge of headers and URLs with the recent emergence of Google Authorship and content marketing. The only way to truly rule the first page is a consistent and ongoing attempt to drive results through content marketing. Ignoring the power of content marketing today is like ignoring the power of Facebook in 2010 – it’s not where you want to bet your chips.
How do you see content marketing morphing in the New Year? Have you got another trend I haven’t included? Let me know in the comments below.
Image courtesy of Steve took it, Flickr.