2014 is here! We’ve all ushered in the New Year, some at small, intimate gatherings and others at large, happening parties. Now that the celebration is over and the hangovers are subsiding, it’s time to dig back into the hardy topics at hand. Content marketing predictions are one of the meatier online conversation topics. Social Media Today hit this topic square on the head by presenting a beautiful infographic depicting the digital marketing trends of the New Year. They boldly stated that “2014 will again transform the digital marketing landscape in the form of: content marketing, advertising, big data and mobile marketing.”
The Rise of a New Kind of Content Marketing
In truth, during the last two quarters of 2013, we saw an unprecedented transformation in the what, where, why, who and how of content marketing. To a large degree, the very definition of “content” underwent transformation from a keyword caterpillar to a content-rich butterfly. Reputable online sources have published hundreds of articles with 5, 10, 15, even upwards to 50 online content marketing predictions for 2014. While most of these prediction hold a certain amount of merit, which ones should you zero in on as we plunge into an exciting year of content-focused marketing? That’s what we’re here to discuss:
Prediction #1: Content Will Be Its Own Full Fledged Department
According to a Mashable post on content marketing in 2014, CMOs and agency heads are already “looking to hire new roles with content in the title.” In the past, we’ve seen journalists enlisted to run editorials, but in 2014, we can expect to see Content Marketing Managers, Directors of Content, and Chief Content Officers. Their talents will be in high demand as content becomes its own significant department.
The Moz Blog, a strong source of dependable predictions, says, “Resumes listing ‘content marketing’ will grow faster than either SEO or ‘social media marketing’ [resumes].” This is because the new motto of 2014 will be “less isn’t more.” Content in 2014 is the killer strategy for rankings, engagement, credibility, and authority.
Here at Express Writers, we predicted in December that 2014 would be “the year of the Informer.” In essence, if your content isn’t informing, you won’t be ranking. Content needs to be your new priority, and here’s how you accomplish this:
- Plan content ahead of time. Don’t fall prey to the pitfall of “winging content.” Instead, take time to plan. Brainstorm topics and research their appeal to your target audience. Review the analytics of your website and see which pages are getting the most visits. Use the content of these pages to stimulate further content ideas. With a little planning, you can even repurpose old material—such as presentations and speeches—for articles, blog posts, press releases and social media. If you find your creative well running dry, join communities and subscribe to feeds in your niche to generate new ideas. Try to plan a daily—or at least weekly—release of new, engaging content.
- Keep content interesting. The average person spends about one minute on any given webpage. Your goal should be to make content impressionable and easily digestible in this timeframe. Keep paragraphs short and insert attention catching subheadings and lists. Include client reviews and success stories. Stay hip by referencing pop culture or current events; this can keep your content fresh and timely.
- Keep content relevant and fresh. You’ll miss the point of quality content completely if you don’t keep copy relevant and fresh. Relevant copy informs the reader how your product or service relates to their immediate needs and why they should choose you over the competition. If your content lacks relevancy, don’t expect potential customers to spend more than a minute skimming your page. They will quickly move on, giving their business to the competitor who provides relevant copy. Likewise, fresh copy is all about keeping the material fresh. You can do this by referencing current trends, new information or approaching the topic from a unique or new perspective. The last thing a potential customer wants is to read stale content.
- Search engine optimization still matters. Although we are trending away from keyword stuffing, optimizing your content by including keywords and keyword phrases is still important. Therefore, properly done keyword research should still be a priority for the content department.
- Create backlinks. Your content should be created with backlink opportunities in mind. Season the content with links back to your website, social media profiles, blog, or previous posts. This practice will help boost your search engine ranking. You can even comment on blogs, articles, and forums around the web with links back to a relevant post on your website. But, be sure your comment adds value; otherwise, you will risk being branded a spammer. Remember: linking is about adding value. Do not randomly link to credible sources just for the sake of linking, as this will detract from ranking. Links should add value by furthering the discussion.
- Use social channels. In 2014, social channels are going to work hand-in-hand with content. Your content department should be nurturing this relationship. Use social platforms to promote blogs, articles, videos, podcasts, press releases, whitepages, and any other content you release. You can even submit this type of promotion to discussion pages, groups, and communities that encourage it.
Content marketing is going to tie in with every other avenue of online (and even offline) marketing in 2014. The Content Marketing Institute is an unrivaled source of content marketing predictions. In fact, they’ve been around longer than any other content marketing predictor on the planet, and they make it very clear in their “50 Predictions for 2014” that quality content is at the heart and soul of success in 2014. It will affect everything, from Google SERPs to sales conversions. If your content is weak, your entire marketing plan will likewise be weak. Moving forward, hiring a content professional or content agency will be in your best interests—even if they are only on-staff for consulting purposes.
Prediction #2: Mobile Marketing Is Exploding, Catch the Wave
Our obsession with mobile devices is no secret. We like convenience. I don’t know about you, but I absolutely love having the Internet at my fingertips. I can be anywhere in the world and have the ability to look up whatever I need whenever I need it, instantly. I love it, you love it, and customers love it.
In 2014, mobile phone traffic is expected to exceed that of traditional desktops. Over 50 percent of mobile users depend on local searches, and this percentage will only increase. As a result, mobile marketing is imperative to success in 2014. Websites need mobile optimization in order to display properly across the variety of devices currently used by potential customers. By catering to local and mobile searches, you can be sure of increasing your Internet traffic, which leads to higher sales conversion.
Mobile marketing strategies will need to be built into your content. Daily blogging, press releases, and articles can hit your audience instantly via their mobile devices if you plan it well and tap into social media channels as a distribution source. A lot of people feed RSS and subscriber feeds into their mobile devices. It will be important to ensure your content is visually appealing and easy to digest as readers view it on the go.
Prediction #3: Location-Based Marketing Will Matter
Google search engine result pages are not static, which is one reason why keyword stuffing isn’t going to do you any good in 2014. And as we said, mobile searches are skyrocketing. Google is catering to the individual searching from their cellular device, likely endeavoring to find a local establishment that meets their query. As a result, marketing strategies need to include local search parameters.
In many ways, location-based marketing is great news. It’s handing you the opportunity to increase sales in your own local community. Embrace this change by getting more involved with the audience right there, in your local community. People want to connect to local establishments, and will likely stream to your social media channels if they know you exist.
National and even international search parameters will also be important, as these will be separated from local searches. Location-based marketing will be a heavy focus for advertisers and businesses. Expect a need to incorporate location-based keywords and keyword phrases into your content.
Prediction #4: Everything Will Start and End with Your Customer
An article published by Business2Community had this to say about content and your customer: “You know what you’re selling. But just as important is figuring out who you are selling it to.” Everything from your content creation to content marketing must start and end with your customer in mind. In the competitive, mobile world of information, people won’t spend time reading or listening to content that doesn’t:
- Affect them emotionally
- Apply directly to them
- Address an issue they face
- Effectively solve a problem or issue
It’s imperative to feed the greatest need in marketing today: people want to be educated. They want to make informed decisions. They don’t just want a service or a product from a reputable company. They want to buy from a company that has a story.
Prediction #5: Stories Will Sell
Since the dawn of literature, great storytelling has been at its heart. We’re all attracted to a good story, the kind that reaches into our soul and provokes thought. Content marketing is starting to incorporate this staple of literature into copy.
Why does your audience love social media? It’s because it gives them the opportunity to cultivate a one-on-one relationship with individuals, organizations, and companies. People want to be a part of something, not a sales number that hits your quarterly report. They want to matter, and they want to know why you matter. Therefore, it’s important for them to see beyond your company logo. They need to see the people behind the brand, the inspiration, and passion that lead your business to the place it inhabits today. They want to see the struggles you’ve overcome and be there for the next hurtles you’ll face. They want to see you in the community and contribute to your own internal community. In 2014, stories will make a huge impact on content marketing. We just might see copy that includes stories like:
- How the business got started
- Who started it and what makes it unique
- Why your niche is whatever it is
- What prompted your business to reach out to the community or adopt certain values
- How customers have been affected by your business
- Why customers keep coming back
Content isn’t just about presenting statistics, specs and facts. It’s about connecting with the audience and making them feel a connection to you. This type of association builds trust and loyalty between customers and businesses.
Prediction #6: Content Translation Will Increase
The Content Marketing Institution made the interesting prediction that as the need for quality, relevant content increases in 2014, “the need for translated content will increase, perhaps exponentially.” As your business reach expands from the local to national and eventually international level, you will find that an English-only strategy is limiting (even if you only conduct business within a single country). It will be time to step into the world of translating copy into multiple languages to reach a diverse audience of potential customers.
2014 Is All About One Killer Strategy: Quality Content
As you can see, 2014 is most definitely “The Year of The Informer.” Informative, engaging content should be at the center of everything your business endeavors to achieve. Content doesn’t have to be a headache to create. Today you have numerous avenues to create and display engaging, relevant content through:
- Daily blogging
- Informative, technical or educational articles
- Press releases
- PowerPoint Presentations
- And More
The styles and avenues you can choose to present your content to the world are practically limitless. One common denominate is the 2014 essential: creating killer content. It’s the best content marketing strategy for achieving rankings, audience engagement, established credibility and more.