With just about every industry tallying up its successes and shortcomings as we’re about to enter 2013, let’s take a quick look at this year’s best defined trends and some expert predictions for 2013 in the realm of content marketing.
According to the slew or recent articles on the subject, content marketing has really turned the corner in 2012. We’ve seen more companies define and put a firm marketing strategy in place, the emergence of promising digital marketing tools, and the addition of social content to search engine results, among other things.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing has become “the must-have element of every 2012 marketing plan, driven by the exponential growth of social media and the disruption of search rankings by Google Penguin and Google Panda.”
Marketing expert Heidi Cohen lists five “awesome examples” of this year’s content marketing trends:
- Businesses get [religious] about using social media.
Roughly nine out of 10 businesses use social media, according to eMarketer.
- Search: Pandas and penguins, oh my!
There’s no reason to fear Google updates, no matter what type of animal they name it after, if you’re using non-promotional, quality content to build your following and drive traffic.
- It’s a mobile, mobile, mobile world.
We live in a four-screen world, comprised of televisions, PCs, smartphones, and tablets. […] Therefore, you must have information available for prospects where and when they want it.
- Smile. It’s the year of the photo.
Smartphones provide owners with high-quality photos that are easy and cheap to take, keep, and share. This is a factor fueling the growth of image-driven social media like Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumblr.
- ‘Shop till you drop’ no longer requires the mall.
Consumers seek content marketing at every step of the purchase process, especially for product information, coupons and discounts, how-tos, and styling.
Not everyone is on the same page, recent surveys show, and there’s room for improvement, of course. Tanya Irwin at Marketing Daily/MediaPost cites a multi-industry survey recently taken by digital marketing company IMN on how the companies across several industries (automotive, franchise, financial services, insurance, and others) are faring with using content marketing to engage their customers. She writes:
Regardless of industry, finding and sourcing relevant content and internal resource constraints were the top two roadblocks to successful content marketing programs. […]
According to the results, 78% of respondents indicated that content marketing was either a medium or a high priority, while 52% did not have a separate content marketing strategy in place for each channel it distributes content through. A full 32% of respondents had a content marketing calendar in place to track the topics that would be covered, when and by whom.
The survey showed, Irwin writes, that social media, video, websites, and newsletters ranked the highest among the “effective content marketing vehicles.” This, no doubt, shapes the current and emerging trends.
Kat Liendgens, Chief Executive Officer at content management company Hannon Hill, recently wrote a widely circulated article about “Content Marketing Trends for 2013” on her company blog. The “SEO game has changed,” she wrote, “placing an increasing amount of importance on the freshness factor and engagement. […] Because it brings the attention back to substance, innovation, and thought leadership.”
Her predictions for next year include:
- More specialized jobs
… [M]oving forward, there will be a surge in even more specialized jobs within content marketing itself, such as video producers, infographic specialists, researchers, and bloggers, to name but a few.
- More content curation tools and modules
Curating content can be a job in itself, so it’s no surprise that there has been a significant emergence of curation tools, such as Scoop.it, Scribit, and Bundlr. I believe that we will see new content curation tools enter the market, as well as connectors from content management and content marketing systems to those curation tools.
- More collaboration
As high quality content and thought leadership continue to be pivotal in the world of marketing and communications, many organizations are actively exploring new partnerships with research firms, subject matter experts, and other industry leaders. In addition, we are certain to see more cross-departmental collaboration when it comes to creating content.
- COPE (Create Once, Publish Everywhere)
In other words, the ability to output a single piece of content in multiple formats (such as mobile, text, PDF, etc.) and to many different destinations (multiple pages, sites, and even web servers) is more important than ever. As a result, one of the most crucial considerations when selecting a content management system will be how easy the CMS makes it to share assets across multiple sites.
- Different versions of the same content
[…] I think that we will see an increasing number of sites having multiple versions of the same content tailored to specific audiences. The reason for this trend is that communication professionals strive to hit just the right tone to ensure that it resonates with different segments of their target audience.
- Agile Marketing
In a nutshell, agile marketing means that you track and measure all of your efforts, analyze the results to determine what works and what doesn’t, and then adjust your strategy based on your findings… [T]here will be an increased emphasis on agile methodologies, which means more metrics.
- An even stronger focus on content strategy
[A]s organizations continue to invest in both the technical resources (CMS, Analytics, Social Media) and human resources (web teams, content managers and contributors) in order to manage their content, it only makes sense to put resources towards the essence of it all: the actual content.
In his recent guest post for Forbes, Rob Eleveld, CEO of Optify, also speculates as to which trends will dominate in the new year. His predictions are:
- Due to rapid demand, Digital Marketing Agencies will double in quantity.
- Email grows even bigger.
- Customers will want broader suites — not more point solutions.
- All marketing campaigns will be integrated marketing campaigns.
- Paid search for B2B companies will become less popular as new, better ad platforms emerge.
- Google will start charging for its data and access to its analytics.
- Google will continue to dominate the B2B search market.
- Journalists and bloggers will be defined by content, not titles.
- Sales responsibilities will be moving to marketing.
- Marketing budgets will grow to meet IT demand.
Research analyst at Altimeter Group, Rebecca Lieb, in her own digital marketing trends analysis for 2013, also touches on the broader skills and tighter workflow, and emphasizes that visual information like infographics and video will become more important.
She adds a couple more interesting points into the trend mix: online and offline marketing channels convergence, and media convergence. In other words, we will see more digital messages on billboards, and TV screens “hosting streaming and social media.”
As for the media convergence, Lieb summarizes what the marketing pros had been saying this past year:
The blending of paid, owned, and earned media will continue and intensify in 2013, spawning new technological solutions and necessitating new skills, new workflow systems, and new partnerships. As the lines continue to blur between what’s paid, owned, and earned in digital (and soon, traditional) media, this will be the trend that governs nearly all other major changes in the digital marketing and media landscape.