Everyone working in the digital marketing industry knows by now that content is king. However, as the whole world starts to understand that content is key to what they are doing online, a greater focus will fall onto the types of content that are being produced, and how this content actually serves to make a difference to anyone, not to mention how good it is!
Content marketing is an exciting field with many possibilities for where it could go in 2014. Here are our favourite industry predictions for the year ahead.
For a long time, content was something that got done whenever someone in the office had the time to do it. The increasing awareness of the importance of content throughout 2013 has finally seen small business owners, in particular, realise that they need to be spending time on content as a priority.
At the same time, these same business owners realise that the time they spend producing content would be better spent, from a personal perspective, doing things they’re good at. 2014 will be the year that even small businesses realise they need a content department, even if it is outsourced to the other side of the world.
Although the term “content is king” has come to the fore, the truth is that it has been this way for many years. However, there has never been the level of scrutiny on content creation that there is today. In 2014, how we measure the return on investment on content as a whole and on individual types of content will be critical to whether content remains king into 2015 and beyond.
This year, marketers will develop systems so the precise return on every aspect of digital marketing can be calculated. If content marketers aren’t delivering brilliant returns for their companies, and PPC marketing is bringing in more money than various types of content, then they’ll find themselves needing to refocus their expertise elsewhere come the end of the year.
We should add that we’re confident that content marketing will indeed prove its worth in 2014, and that the doomsday scenario in the previous sentence won’t come to pass. The big challenge for businesses will be recognising the difference between content that drives traffic and content that drives conversions.
B2B companies have been using LinkedIn for many years, but there is a feeling that B2C companies have a huge opportunity here, too. The reason for this is because individuals as much as businesses like to ensure they have their profiles on the “Big Four,” and will use LinkedIn increasingly when they are looking for “sensible” networking away from the baby and food photos that are notoriously ever present on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.
However, B2B is still where most of the activity will be, and in 2014 LinkedIn stands to become a “go to” hub for business news and opinion. With subscription prices increasing across news platforms and businesses using gated content more and more, LinkedIn is likely to become the non-intrusive alternative for anyone who wants to get their news and views quickly and enjoy the chance to discuss what’s happening with those within their network.
Expect written content to present a huge conundrum for content marketers in 2014. With the use of mobile devices for surfing the internet increasing all the time, content marketers will adapt by creating short form content that can be read on the move. At the same time, content marketers will also be focusing on long form copy and in-depth articles so they can convey their expertise and enjoy higher search rankings as a result.
The best approach for companies to adapt here is to ensure they are creating a diverse range of content including both long form and short form. It would be disastrous were businesses to start creating “middling” content that is too long to read and simply waffles for the sake of an extra 200 words, or content that is too short to put what should have been a wider point.
When it comes to written content, businesses need to have a well-planned editorial calendar so they know the type of content they’re producing, and the reasons for doing it.
When we talk about personal content we’re looking at where your target market is in relation to your buying cycle. There is a lot of content produced at the moment that is general and widespread rather than targeted in a specific area. Another thing companies do is to look at promoting their own thought leadership without considering the impact this has on the wider audience.
In some ways, this is giving new meaning to the term relevancy when looking at content. In the past, relevant content would be content that is aimed at the target audience of the site and fits in with what the site is about. This will extend in 2014, and content marketers will need to do that but also convey why that matters to someone reading or watching a piece of content.
For example, websites publishing industry news or trends will still be seen as a great resource, but the extra 10% will come from telling people what this means to them and to their own businesses. Knowing that something is happening is great, but knowing what is happening, why it is happening, and what it means for yourself is even better.
Above all else, 2014 should be the year when everyone finally “gets it” with regard to content marketing. If they don’t, then they will be so far behind that it will be difficult to recover as the digital marketing industry continues to evolve.