Content marketing — like any other type of online marketing — is continually changing and evolving. Meaning, if your content campaign today looks just like it did in ‘07, then it isn’t as effective as it was in 2007.

Example: one of my Internet marketing buddies’ content marketing campaign was built heavily around article directory submissions (think Ezine Articles). His traffic continues to decrease daily.

Another fellow marketeer heavily invests in an up-to-date, regularly updated blog and complementary social media; and his traffic and brand authority are skyrocketing.

If you’re behind the content marketing curve, now’s the time to get caught up — here are 17 content marketing trends relevant to 2014.

1. Social Media Reigns King

Image source

Social media marketing is the most popular content promotion tactic by a mile. Or more accurately, by 6%. 87% of B2B content marketers are active on social media, while 81% (the runner-up content marketing tactic) have articles on their websites.

You really shouldn’t be surprised at this trend, however, considering the many resources available and comparative ease of use and cost-efficiency social media marketing brings to the table.

2. eNewsletters Top Blogs

In all honesty, I did not see this coming, but the research is there to support it.

Sending out eNewsletters tops blogging as a content marketing tactic — 80% of content marketers use the former, while “only” 76% blog.

Chart image sources: KISSmetrics

Industry trends make up the vast majority of the topics of all content created. Somewhat surprisingly, profiles on leaders finishes with second place. I would have expected company-centric content to have figured as the top or second-to-top topic, but instead it retains third place.

4. Driving Sales is the Highest Priority

Image source: Marketing Profs

Every and any major decision a business makes should focus on improving the bottom line. Otherwise, it’s a complete waste of resources.

Fortunately, marketers have their priorities straight, with new sales & leads being the driving motivation behind all content marketing efforts.

5. Only 63.4% of Content is Original

The rest of it is either curated (24.0%) or syndicated (12.6%). What does that mean for you?

Not all content you create has to be original. It’s okay to reuse and repurpose existing content on the web (so long as you get permission from the original creators first). Whereas only outputting original content can be resource-intensive, curation and syndication are comparably less burdensome and easier to deal with.

6. 16% of Marketers Curate Content Daily

Of the above 24.0%, only 1/6th are curating content on a daily basis. That can mean one of two things: we’re getting lazy, or we’re still relying too heavily on original content.

Take into perspective that 48% are curating once a week, the former seems a lot more likely. Whatever content you produce — original or not — needs to produced on afrequent, regular basis.

7. In-Depth Guides are “In”

It started with Neil Patel’s 30,000+ word guides to digital marketing, and since then websites like Qualaroo and Vero have been picking up on the trend as well.

Rand Fishkin of Moz talked about it in his interview with Search Engine Watch as well. Investing in one big piece of content could easily drive more ROI than 50 small pieces — the kind that tend to go unnoticed.

8. Brand Journalists Are The New Content Marketers

After Yahoo! hired Katie Couric, a hugely popular journalist and T.V. news star to reface one of their content strategies, an interview show, more people with backgrounds in journalism and information design are taking lead roles in content campaigns (Content Marketing Institute).

9. Interest Targeting

BuzzFeed — literally the king of the viral content space — is a leading ambassador of this content marketing trend. Their content is highly targeted, playing on people’s identity, emotions, and information needs.

10. “Director of Content” is the Snazzy New Marketing Job Title

Considering the huge ROI there is to be had with content marketing, more and more entrepreneurs & CEOs are taking the plunge to invest in a director of content for their marketing campaign.

11. New Softwares & Tools for Content ROI Calculation

Jayson DeMers pointed this out on Forbes, and he’s 100% right. Only 28% of businesses are able to measure the ROI of content marketing right down to the piece of content (The Drum). That’s foreseeable, considering that the majority of content marketing benefits revolves around intangibles, such as building brand awareness.

Jayson expects to see several new SaaS & softwares come out to help marketers calculate content ROI, and I’m in full agreement.

12. Google is Set to Gain Huge Popularity with Marketers

Would Google the Internet giant do something so questionable as to correlate more Google+ shares with higher search engine ranks to increase the popularity of their faltering social network?

No, of course not.

With research that just can’t be denied, Google+ is an unofficial ranking factor. Consequently, the use of Google+ (for inbound marketers, at least), is significantly on the rise.

13. European Businesses Are Slow to Pick Up on Content Marketing

According to some research done by Mashable, European businesses have been slow to hop onto the content marketing bandwagon compared to their U.S. contemporaries. In fact, content marketing garners close to 400% as much interest in the U.S. than in Europe.

What does that mean for you? Well, if you’re based in Europe, you could have an opportunity to dominate your competition through content if they haven’t yet caught on.

14. Content Campaigns are Diversifying

In 2010 & 2011, marketers only used an average of 8 different content marketing tactics (e.g. newsletters, blogs, white papers, etc.), while in 2012, marketers were using 12 (Inbound Writer). In 2014, I fully expect content to be diversified even more as new channels are explored.

15. Big Brands are Sharing User-Created Content

Social media campaigns like #30yearsold from Kenneth Cole serve to show that user-generated content is becoming a marketing priority. And why not? It’s a huge engagement booster.

16. Interactive Content

Like the previous trend, this one is also a no-brainer. As Internet users become more tech-savvy, they need more and more to stay engaged. Nowadays, marketers are meeting that need by creating interactive content (the KISSmetrics quizzes, for example) that capture their audience’s attention.

17. Automation

As marketers seek to be able to produce more and more content on a regular basis, they’re turning to SaaS products to help them get more done. Brad O’Neil from Tech Validate predicts a huge rise in both the use of content marketing automation and the invention of automation software.

Wrapping Up

Content marketing, just like the rest of the Internet, is evolving. Our Internet audiences are telling us what they want to hear — if you can’t pick up on that, you might just have to drop out of the game.

Make sure you’re able to stay ahead of the curve and the competition by going out and implementing these trends in your content marketing campaigns.