This week I have been debating the content marketing trends we are likely to see in 2014 with my colleagues and friends. After much heated discussion I think we will see 8 key trends as follows:
There is a huge volume of content being produced across the internet, over 90,000 new articles a day. To stand out and gain attention you will need to produce engaging content. This doesn’t simply mean creating an engaging content format such as video or infographics but creating timely, relevant and original ideas.
Insights will be key to developing relevant, timely and original content. This will mean more content discovery and keeping abreast of what is being shared across social networks to ensure that your content is unique and fresh. The originality and timeliness will be increasingly important to get your content an audience.
Effective content marketing is not about providing information but giving people insights they can use. In essence being helpful. Jay Baer has it right when he says smart marketing is about helping people. Jay goes so far as to say that content marketing should be so helpful people will pay you for it. This is a good test to apply to your content, would people pay you for it?
Content will increasingly need to be produced in a range of formats. This includes articles, graphics, animations, videos, podcasts and reports. Mobile content will be increasingly important as the world has shifted from single channel to multi-channel usage by users.
Users will expect a seamless experience as they move from device to device, and from format to format, creating a requirement to repurpose and reuse content, whilst at the same time adding value in each channel.
Content marketers will need to adapt to Google Hummingbird and the drive to understand the context and questions behind queries. Combined with the growth in voice search we will see more natural language search queries and more long-tail searches.
Content in this semantic world will need to be focused on context and answering the queries of users. Hummingbird is getting better everyday at understanding context and how user queries often start with broad questions and then narrow down. Content will increasingly need to be focused on the nature of this conversation and how content relates to other content rather than keywords.
Content marketers cannot separate content marketing from SEO. As Lee Odden says “you have to help people discover content” and Bryan Clark is very clear that “SEO is part of the content marketing process.”
Social signals will become more important in SEO. Social shares may not be as important as links but they are growing in importance. Content marketing is not simply but about content creation but distribution and amplification. This will mean even greater focus on social networks and influencers.
Google is increasingly focused on content authority and identifying more authoritative content which it can display for users. Google’s Matt Cutts is clear that it is appropriate to rank authors “a little more highly if you’re some sort of authority.”
This is given more explicit support through Google authorship which uses a person’s Google+ account to bring together disparate information on content, authorship and authority. Thus it will be increasingly important to become an authority in a particular topic area.
7. Content marketing technology will become more essential
At Content Marketing World this year Robert Simon of Four Seasons said; “If you don’t understand technology and think you are in content marketing, you’re not.”
It is not enough to be able to produce great content whether writing an article or producing a video, you need to use tools to support content discovery, track trends, influencers and identify popular shared content. You need technology tools to deploy content across multiple networks, to track engagement and to monitor effectiveness and conversions.
8. An increased focus on content ROI
Traffic and page views are the traditional measure of content effectiveness. However, as content marketing grows there will be renewed focus on proving the return on investments. Traffic is not enough to prove effectiveness. Increasingly we will see a focus on engagement and the sharing of content as well as a real focus on conversions. Content marketers will be forced to demonstrate the role content plays in converting users to customers and hence, the value it delivers directly.
What do you think? Do you agree? What have we missed?
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