When you look at internet marketing, there is perhaps no single area that evolves faster or changes more frequently than content. From what you write and where you publish to how you disseminate that content and engage with readers, the ideology behind what’s effective and what isn’t is continually changing – and usually for the better. Throughout 2015, your content marketing success will depend on how well you can stick with the trends.
Digging Into the Numbers
When 600 readers were polled by Smart Insights, the resulting data showed that 29.6 percent of respondents believe content will be their top digital marketing tool this year. Interestingly enough, content marketing finished just ahead of big data, marketing automation, and mobile marketing. It also well surpassed social media marketing, SEO, paid advertising, and a slew of other marketing activities.
The reason content marketing is such a valuable tool lies in its versatility and reach. According to research gathered by the Content Marketing Institute, content marketers have eight major goals for 2015 when it comes to crafting and disseminating content for their clients: customer relationship/loyalty, engagement, brand awareness, sales, customer evangelism, lead generation, lead nurturing, and upselling/cross-selling.
Nobody’s arguing over the importance of content in the coming months – it will continue to bring healthy returns for businesses of all sizes and in all industries. However, what most people are curious about is how content marketing will change going forward.
7 Ways Content Marketing is Changing
You could probably point to dozens of different ways content marketing is likely to change in 2015, but the reality is that not all of these will come to fruition (or even matter to your business). Instead of focusing on far-reaching ideas and theories, let’s analyze the seven most obvious and significant ways content marketing is changing this year and how you can adapt to these variances for best results.
1. Increased spend on content creation. It’s quite clear that digital marketing has become the backbone for most B2C and B2B enterprises in the private sector. And with content marketing leading the way as the top priority for the majority of these businesses, it should come as no surprise that spending on high-quality content creation will grow in proportion with digital marketing budgets this year. In fact, one report suggests the average enterprise brand plans on dedicating a hefty 15 percent of their marketing budgets to content creation. Companies that are unwilling to adjust their budgets accordingly may find it difficult to compete in an already content-crowded market.
2. Enhanced focus on personalization. There are two primary causes of the enhanced focus on content personalization going forward: (1) social networking sites and evolving technologies are providing marketers with incredibly sophisticated data and insights, and (2) there’s so much saturation on the web that businesses are being forced to search for ways to separate themselves from the competition. According to Dr. John Knight at Hand Wrist Doc, “We’ve discovered firsthand that our patients respond much better to the highly-personalized content our website now offers, as opposed to the generic site copy we invested in just a few years back.” Other businesses in varying industries will repeat that sentiment in the coming months.
3. Better use of visual content. All you have to do is look at the direction of social media to understand where the future of content lies. Over the past couple years, internet users have flocked towards images, videos, and graphics – and the move appears to be permanent. Visual content performs much better than static text and the content marketing field will be forced to appeal to these demands. This trend also goes hand in hand with the evolution of content as a storytelling medium. Visual content is much more conducive to telling brand stories than text – which means videos and infographics will only increase in importance this year.
4. More access to measurement tools. Folks in the analytics industry are anticipating the coming months with plenty of excitement – and much of that is due to the fact that content marketers are falling in love with measurement and testing tools. Specifically, content marketers are learning to love A/B testing. The good news for you is that A/B testing is incredibly easy – yet produces sophisticated results. There are dozens of cost-effective options on the market and all of them are fairly easy to understand.
5. Content will go local. Google has been pretty vocal about their desire to appeal to mobile users and 2015 promises to be a major turning point. Content will no longer simply be adapted for mobile consumption – it will actually be created with mobile in mind. Content marketers will allocate significant portions of their budgets towards reaching local users while they’re out shopping, riding the bus, or grabbing lunch. The end result will be much more personalized and unique.
6. Lines between content and social blur. Content marketing and social media are already so intertwined that it can be difficult to separate the two from each other, but those lines will content to be blurred and erased in 2015. Savvy marketers understand that social media presents the best opportunity for organic growth and will heavily invest in developing brand advocates that share, ‘like’, and interact with content. I personally have been focusing a lot on that with my latest startup Due. With the recent focus on social, it’s crucial for your business to succeed online.
7. Collaborative marketing rebounds. The seventh and final major change content marketing will undergo in the coming months is related to collaborative marketing. While many brands took a step back from guest posting in 2014, some are regaining confidence in collaborative efforts and expect to reinvest in mutual relationships with other social media users, blogs, websites, and industry publications. This one will be interesting to keep an eye on – as Google will continue to crackdown on spammy links – but is likely good news for businesses and brands that have good connections.
Content: an Ever-changing Aspect of Digital Marketing
With the rapid development of new software, technologies, and mediums for distribution, content marketing is evolving at a blistering pace. There’s no use in trying to slowdown or take a breath. Moving along with the changes and learning to adapt to consumer demands and preferences will be worthwhile. As you go forward in 2015, keep these seven changes in mind in order to maximize the efficacy of your content marketing efforts.