Content Marketing has become an important tool for companies who wish to establish their online presence, and create a relationship with their customers / users. However, with the influx of content via Social Media and other channels differentiating oneself from the “noise” is a big challenge. With the growth in various technologies and solutions marketers hope to do just that, as the new year brings on a new view towards content marketing. We asked experts and practitioners of Content Marketing to share their insights and predictions on the future, and various trends that companies should focus on in the upcoming year.
The Future of Content Marketing: How Will It Impact Businesses?
1. Joseph McKeating, Founder of Pulsar Strategy – @josifmck
In 2014, content marketing will continue to dramatically transform the public relations and media industries. Poor writers and communicators will be weeded out of reputable public relations agencies. An increasing number of traditional journalists will leave the media industry to help companies tell their stories and form strong relationships with customers. Both will lead to a more educated public used to on-demand information and advice.
2. Sloan Gaon, CEO of PulsePoint – @sloaner
Programmatic will solve native’s scale issue:
Expanding on the above, native advertising – which has been the darling of the industry for the past two years, but has yet to truly take off due to its inability to scale – will start to be offered programmatically. Brands like Red Bull, AMEX and L’Oreal have already successfully made the leap to becoming great content publishers, as traditional publishers like NYT, AP and Hearst are starting to think more and more like marketers. Yet for the ‘right ad at the right time’ to finally become the ‘right content at the right time’, content marketing will need become seamlessly integrated and distributed through advanced targeting technology via ad exchanges and RTB platforms.
3. Walter Blake Knoblock, President of Felix Exi – @WBKnoblock
- The “listicle” trend has proven to easily to emulate/is indistinguishable. Look for companies to invest in more unique forms of content that rely upon creativity instead of ease.
- With Vine/Instagram’s video technology plus videos being able to stream on Facebook timeline, look for short video memes to become more deeply rooted with content. Consider them mini-commercials.
- Because of updates to Google search algorithm that favor Google+ shares over other social media networks, content marketers will begin to cater their content (and calls to action) to emphasize it being propagated through the Google+ platform.
4. Derek Merdinyan, Founder of VideoIgniter.com – @VideoIgniter
Limited attention spans plus an abundance of new content formats suggest that higher quality, visually rich pieces of content that communicate concisely will give marketers an edge over those solely relying on text-based content to communicate their messages.
5. Adi Bittan, Co-founder & CEO of OwnerListens.com – @adiownerlistens
2014 will be the year of video in content marketing. Platforms like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, are now or will soon allow video ads in consumer content feeds. With videos becoming cheaper to produce and platforms such as Veed.me opening up access to affordable creative talent, even small businesses can produce high quality videos. Expect to see many more content marketing videos in 2014!
6. Frank Strong, Communications Director at LexisNexis – @Frank_Strong
Content consumers will gravitate towards thoughtful, insightful and well-researched long form content. It will perform better in search, more actively share and attract traffic from a community that seeks relevancy and actionable information. Businesses will take content production seriously by investing in experienced or especially talented professionals that can connect the dots in a respective industry like no other. Blogs produced by companies from Moz to Buffer App are already demonstrating the influence of this approach to content – and we’d all be wise to follow in our niches.
7. Steve Susina, Marketing Director at Lyons Consulting Group – @ssusina
When firms first started with content marketing, the goal for many was simply to get something produced. In 2014, marketers will be challenged to create content tailored to each stage of the buyer’s journey. Some content for top-of-funnel lead acquisition, different content to help with product selection, and still more for on-boarding and retention marketing.
8. Sara Flick, Manager of Content Strategy and PR for ZOG Digital – @ZOGDigital
Google will start to rely more heavily on authorship and social signals to determine credibility and authenticity of content. Therefore, we expect more brands to recognize the value of content marketing as part of their digital strategies. As more brands and industries start utilizing content marketing, it will drive competition for users’ interests. Starting to think through a content strategy early can help marketers solidify their place as a thought leader.
9. Diane K. Danielson, Chief Platform Officer of Sperry Van Ness International Corporation – @dianedanielson
In 2014, smart content marketers will segment their messaging to reach distinct target markets. No more one size fits all.
10. Alessandra Ceresa, Director of Marketing at GreenRope – @MissAleCristina
I believe that we are going to see an increase in B2B content marketing. More and more B2B companies are going to be developing highly specialized content as their means of gaining trust with leads, as well as offering a sense of expertise in their respective industries. Businesses will focus on content that will assist in the sales process, versus content for lead generation.
11. Victor Gaxiola, Subject Matter Expert: Social Media at Actiance – @VictorGaxiola
Consumers shouldn’t, and won’t, tolerate multiple marketing channels. In 2014 they will laser focus on the platforms that matter and discard those that don’t. What does this mean for the big players? Will rumors of Facebook and Twitter’s slowing user growth cause them to lose their position as top dog? Or will they rebound with new features for marketing professionals? The answers are still up in the air, but I believe newer platforms, such as Pinterest and Instagram, will gain in popularity and importance. Meanwhile better known marketing platforms will find themselves in a survivor-style battle to stay relevant, with consumers readying their votes for who’s going and who’s staying.
12. Henry O’Loughlin, Marketing Manager at TakeLessons – @henryoloughlin
A huge part of content marketing is capturing contact information through lead forms. Until now, if you filled out one lead form, you’d receive one content piece (whitepaper, eBook, etc.). In 2014, one form will get you access to all of the company’s gated content. Once marketers find an easier way to track behavior behind the scenes, the entire process will improve for everyone involved.
13. Kim Lombard, Founder of UPRISE Media – @UPRISEmedia
Due to the most recent round of SEO updates, content marketing will only get more vital for businesses. Any businesses who were on the fence about the value of original content will officially convert, and any who don’t will be left in a vortex of third page Google searches. This will over-saturate the internet with content and make competing for the attention of your audience even more difficult.
14. Dave Rigotti, Senior Marketing Manager at Bizible – @drigotti
- To keep it’s dominance in the B2B advertising space, LinkedIn will launch a lead generation ad format (one click to share information) much like Twitter has with the Lead Generation Card. This will effectively lower cost per lead for marketers as there will be no landing page drop off.
- Facebook will continue to feel pressures to grow ad revenue so will open up more professional-related targeting fields to attract B2B ad budgets away from LinkedIn.
15. Richard De Pass, Managing Director at Spotlight Media and Publishing – @rdepass
Developing the Brand Beyond Advertising Rather than simply displaying their products, smart businesses in 2014 will take their content marketing to new levels of interaction with prospects. Smart businesses will build relationships with future clients by using short form gifs, images and videos that introduce their business in an innovative way. By using sound, sight and motion to engage the attention of their audience, smart businesses will put themselves in the best postion to succeed.
16. Michael Shepherd, President/CEO of The Shepherd Group, Inc. – @shepherdgroup
Content marketing in 2014 will feature more short-format video and rich-media executions. More video blogs will debut and marketers will find inspiration from big brands such as Coca-Cola’s Content 2020 initiative.
17. Wayne English, President of WebContentRx – @WebContentRx
Content marketing will go down in flames unless businesses aren’t taught how to use it properly. The secret is to publish material that’s useful. Content marketing is not just another place to advertise. People will not consume content unless it’s pertinent, helpful, and well-constructed. As we like to say, “Your content will either get read, or get lost.”
18. Rachel Parker, Founder and CEO of Resonance Content Marketing – @resonancecont
In 2014, small businesses will “bust out of the blog” and really start leveraging video, infographics, podcasting, and other formats formerly dominated by larger organizations. In embracing these formats, SMBs will be able to better leverage their closeness to their customers in delivering the right content to the right people, in the right place, at the right time, and in a format that fits their preferences.
19. Jessica L. Levin, President and Chief Connector of Seven Degrees Communications – @JessicaLevin
In 2014 Content Marketing will start to be once again called “just marketing.” Although companies will get better at hiring people who can produce content internally. I believe that tools like Facebook ads will evolve to help marketers better reach their target market with the right message at the right time so that rather than simply ads, valuable information will be shared and spread. These will be cheaper options than some of the marketing automation tools out there and should force those products to become more budget friendly.
20. Atchison Frazer, CMO of KEMPTech – @marchitexture
The future of content marketing is all about data-driven content origination and curation that are optimized for organic SEO (nonPPC), highly relevant and targeted, that will redefine the Long Tail principle – isolating segment of one topical resonance profiles, not necessarily state of mind to buy profiles. Marketers will design and build their own ‘nurturing stream’ software to customize and track results of content asset “performance” in a systemic fashion.
21. Wayne Liew, Founder of Sprout Geek – @WayneLiew
Businesses to start adopting analytical approaches to content marketing. As businesses spend more resources on content marketing, business owners and marketers will need to start measuring the effectiveness of different types of content using tools such as Google Analytics. This approach allows marketers to have a sense of direction when it comes to content creation and to justify their investment to management.
22. Boni Satani, SEO Specialist at Cygnet Infotech – @bonirulzz
Content marketing is still limited to few content formats like articles and Infographics. Next year we may see great focus in creating different forms of content ranging from podcast, vblogs, quiz content and creative content format. The focus on creating long resourceful content will be back – as that in most of the cases it helps generates lots of value for users as well as publishers
23. Lori Feldman, President of The Database Diva – @lorifeldman
Marketers will get better at database segmentation so they are able to develop more relevant content to more subgroups of their community, rather than a “one size fits all” effort. This will result in more engagement with their companies by more people.
24. Heather Carson, President and Co-Founder of Onboardly – @heatheranne
This year, opinion will trump information in 2014. There seems to be a surge of more thought-based / in-your-face content emerging – whether or not it’s sourced adequately. Seeing less ‘how-to’s’ and ‘tips’ posts in favor of posts that inspire. People are using content to convince, rather than simply educate, more than ever. Those who will win in the end, will pair a powerful opinion with factual data.
25. Sam Ford, Director of Audience Engagement at Peppercomm – @Sam_Ford
Companies will put increasing budget behind telling their own stories and will continue their evolution toward acting as content producers. Innovative organizations will treat creating engaging content as a company-wide initiative beyond just marketing that impacts every part of the business. As a result, emphasis will shift from the volume of content created toward the editorial direction of the company’s content as a whole and the continuity for the overall story the company is telling.
26. Kimberly Kurimski, Brand Manager for We Rock Your Web – @kkurimski
I believe consumers will become more engaged on social media sites, video will be more prominent for businesses, humor will be the go-to for grabbing consumers’ attention, and a higher percentage of people will access their content on a mobile platform.
27. Oliver White, Head of RebelLabs – @RebelLabs
The key to successful content marketing in 2014 for the average company is in cultivating and transforming the knowledge & experience of specialists inside your organization into regular, meaningful contributions that educate, challenge and entertain your primary audience. This impacts business by creating a content ecosystem that highlights your expertise, relates (ideally) back to your commercial interests, and enables smoother conversions to product down the line with increased brand familiarity.
28. Emily Long, Online PR Specialist at Web Talent Marketing – @webtalentmktg
Content marketing is all about the consumer’s needs and user experience. It is a key part of capturing a consumer’s attention — which is at an all-time premium in this digital age. With that in mind, we predict content marketing will play an absolutely vital role in achieving success as a digital marketer in 2014. We will see a decrease in contrived guest blogging and an increased number of marketers building valuable relationships with journalists for content creation. We also predict an increase in the importance of market research — businesses need to first understand who their audience members are and what they are looking for before implementing an effective content marketing strategy.
29. Carly Fauth, Director of Marketing and Outreach at Money Crashers – @MoneyCrashers
Video and image-based content and infographics will occupy a greater space in the overall content marketing realm. Social media websites that promote that type of content, such as Pinterest and Instagram, will continue to improve in popularity. More content creation will be outsourced next year as well. Mobile content will also be more prevalent. Businesses must adjust their content marketing strategy to include these key elements if they want to be successful in 2014.
30. Hillary Berman, Small Business Fanatic and Founder of Popcorn & Ice-Cream – @popcornicecream
With so much buzz surrounding content marketing, I expect small businesses and franchises will seek opportunities to license and share content. While creating original content can be time consuming, the risks associated with “borrowed” content can be substantial. Third-party content is intentionally generic – often limiting relevance to any one business. Additionally, a quick Google search easily shows readers that one business’ content is identical to another. Content for content’s sake is useless. Businesses should stick to relevant content that provides real value and information of interest to their customers and followers for content marketing to prove its merits.
31. Jason Robbins, CEO of ePromos Promotional Products – @epromos
All businesses need to be in the content game in 2014 – they can’t afford to sit it out anymore. Content is king, and in 2014, I expect marketers to use new mediums such as video to share content with their audiences. It’s all about educating and driving awareness in fresh, creative ways.
32. Marc Landsberg, CEO and founder of SocialDeviant – @marclandsberg
Brands will translate engagement into specific business metrics. Engagement will be measured content unit by content unit or campaign by campaign, and at a specific moment in time, rather than by aggregate measures over a period of time. The success of one piece of content might be measured by referral traffic while another piece might be measured by conversions. Likewise, social content and interactions will drive more readily to e-commerce platforms.
33. Kurt Andersen, Executive VP of Sales Enablement and Marketing at SAVO – @SAVO_Group
Content marketing is hot, BUT – Marketers appreciate the metrics they receive from content marketing, but Forrester Research has found here’s very little return on it − 80% of qualified nurtured leads don’t move forward after the sales handoff. To be fair, this conversion rate isn’t any better than what’s realized through other means of marketing. In 2014, marketers will look at this trend closely and find a method to demonstrate ROI from content marketing initiatives.
- Investment in Sales Outcomes – In 2014, marketing will become more invested in sales outcomes. As such, content will be more tightly tied to sales enablement and enabling reps to have more relevant conversations with leads following the handoff.
- Day-to-Day Simplification − Each year, organizations spend billions of dollars on content marketing, CRM solutions, training and other tools, but all these options simply overwhelm sales reps and they don’t know which assets to use. This impacts leadership’s ability to subsequently measure performance − what reps are doing, what content is being used, what content is working, etc. To overcome this in 2014, organizations will determine how to drive reps to a single point of reference.
34. Ian Fitzpatrick, Chief Strategy Officer, Almighty – @ianfitzpatrick
I think 2014 is the year that more organizations adopt the idea that content isn’t solely a marketing tool, but rather a form of product or service that they offer — an additional layer of utility or entertainment on top of the things they already deliver. Fundamentally, it will be a shift from the cynical — content as an acquisition tool — to the empowering — content as a tool for facilitating great customer experiences.
35. Derek Slayton, CMO of NetProspex – @NetProspex
Content Marketing is just a fancy/trendy way to refocus marketing efforts on orienting everything around the customer viewpoint – and then using content strategies to create engagements that take THEIR view of the world and help shape it to enable them to see the value in the product or service your company is offering. That’s a long way of saying that content marketing is becoming the marketing department. So the industry will continue to thrive – and disappear at the same time. New capabilities will focus on creating interactions and conversations through content to drive deeper engagement (and help prescriptively navigate) as potential customers work their way through the buyer journey.
36. Corey Post , Founder of Agile Leverage – @coreypost
Marketers will continue to embrace content marketing as they confront further Google updates – or penalties – and lack of keyword data.
Those that create a well thought out content strategy – one that incorporates the voice of the consumer, relevant distribution channels, resource allocation, and “problem-solving content” – will, through considered implementation, have the opportunity to win big through higher lifetime value and ARPU, increased brand loyalty and decreased churn.
37. Adam Connell, Marketing Manager at UK Linkology – @AdamJayc
As more and more businesses invest in content marketing more effort will be needed to cut through the noise, ultimately though it will give small businesses a chance to use their expertise to craft great content that will enable them to become an authority within their market sector and grow their business.
38. Rich Blackwell, Creative Lead at Metia – @BlackwellRich
Simply pushing content to your customers isn’t a successful marketing tactic; you must consider how they’re likely to respond, give them the means to do so, and embrace it. Understanding the fundamentals of two-way communications will pay off. Two-way communications occur when content is pushed out to be consumed with the expectation and means for recipients to respond, for example, a tweet or a post within a group discussion on LinkedIn.
39. Michelle Garrett, Owner of Garrett Public Relations – @PRisUs
Content marketing is all the rage and will continue to be in 2014, which is shaping up to be the ‘year of content marketing’! This is good news for PR pros, who are steeped in creating content with press releases, blogs and customer stories, as well as through media relations which generates news articles—which, of course, creates even more content to use in your marketing.
40. Alex Boyce, Chief Strategy Officer at Woven Digital – @alexboyce
“Content marketing is becoming inherently more social – as adoption continues to increase and users are turning to mobile devices as their ‘first-screen’ experience, the ability of content creators and businesses to reach them is contingent upon providing an easy, elegant and authentic experience. Businesses who fail to focus on mobile will fall behind in 2014 and those that embrace platform-agnostic content syndication and tie it back to a user’s social graph will emerge as winners.
41. Neil Myers, President of Connect Marketing – @connectpr
Many people are focusing on 2014 being the year of content marketing. That’s not really true – content marketing reached critical mass over the past few years. What we are seeing with our clients is how content marketing is effecting how marketers perceive, value and create content.
Take video. Companies historically have used video to push what they wanted to say to their prospects. Content marketing is changing that by encouraging marketers to focus more on what their prospect wants to learn about. That means in 2014 we’ll see less talking head interviews from executives, and more chalk talks, customer case studies and tutorials.
Or, how about infographics? Whereas past infographics have focused on putting colorful graphics next to statistics, content marketing demands a narrative. We’re seeing infographics shift to visual stories as opposed to pretty pictures with numbers.
And it is not just content style, but also content volumes. Companies have moved from a focus on occasional videos to trying to keep their video channel pipelines full.
Overall, we see 2014 as the year content gains purpose.
42. Amanda Elam, Marketing Director at EarthIntegrate – @EarthIntegrate
The future of content marketing is entirely dependent on and driven by the consumer. The more information they want and the faster they want it will determine which brands succeed and which fail based on their availability to match their consumers need for information. The faster and more local a brand can make their content, the more business that brand will win. We believe brands are going to begin focusing on meeting this need by embracing technology like distributed marketing platforms in order to allow for the fast, hyper localization of their content.
43. Andrew Caravella, VP of Marketing at Sprout Social – @andrewcaravella
From brands across many industries, I think we’ll see a needed increase in strategic, relevant content that centers around social customer care. Beyond reactive responses to sensitive issues like a delayed flight or mixed up food order, brands will take a more proactive approach to content that anticipates audience needs. They’ll create and deliver content, ideally using various mediums, that answer questions, provide resources and stimulate helpful dialogue to increase repeat conversations and ongoing customer engagement.
44. Vincent Dipas, Partner at Agency 33 – @Agency33
In 2014, content will make/break purchase decisions. There will be an unforgiving expectation that content is engaging *and* diversified (by type e.g. written, audio, video, as well as by channel/platform e.g. social (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.) and/or freemium download (webinar, whitepaper, e-book, etc.), Additionally, consumers will demand content is accessible on any/all technologies at hand *and* optimized for each/all technologies. SEO results will depend on content more than ever before.
45. Angela Shugarts, PR Strategist at Frankly Communications – @angelashugarts
The future of content marketing will be less about recycling content from what’s available in the digital ecosystem and more about personal stories that establish an emotional connection with customers. Content that is humorous, sad, joyful, or just plain weird resonates with customers more than snappy catchphrases or memes. Unlike fleeting digital trends, content marketing strategy in 2014 will be focused on getting to know the local customer, his family, and his dog…where they shop, where they eat, and how technology plays a part in their individual lifestyle. Multiply this strategy by billions and you’ve got yourself a solid andmeaningful content marketing strategy for 2014.
46. Devan Brown, Content Specialist at Anvil Media – @devan_brown2
- Smaller, smaller, smaller. Content will be synonyms with single images, single stats, and one-liners. Think ‘micro-content’
- Data sales will explode. Content creators will be looking for stats, trends, facts, and other data to help birth their content. Those infographic numbers don’t make themselves!
- “Content repurposing” will be a digital marketing service of it’s own. Don’t want to dig through those archives to make something out of nothing? Let us do it!
- Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter will come up with new and inventive ways to make sure you are paying to distribute your content on their site. Expect to see some additions to sponsored stories and promoted tweets.
- Micro-content will make it’s way into the physical world. Magazine ads will look eerily like Pinterest pins, and PSA’s will really be animated infographics.
47. Shahed Ahmed, Vice President of Content Strategies at Merritt Group – @shahed4
The importance of good content is going nowhere. Whether via search today, or the semantic web tomorrow, customers will look for and find only the quality, relevant content. In 2014, more marketers will realize that quality and relevance, and not channel-hopping, is the key to great content marketing. Relevance will mean the need for better analytics of customer behavior and needs. And, quality will mean building a narrative that is customer-focused and shareable.
48. Joseph Bachana, President and Founder of DPCI – @joebachana
In order for content marketing initiatives to succeed in 2014, marketing executives will need to align their strategy with the right set of supporting content technologies. By integrating digital asset, content management, and workflow management technology, organizations will be able to more effectively deliver well-curated content across multiple channels.
49. Brian Tervo, President & CEO of TIE Kinetix – @TIEKinetix
Organizations will take advantage of content marketing to drive lead generation and thought leadership for their brand, especially when delivering partner programs with a channel community.
Channel syndication solutions are one way to support the distribution side of the content marketing strategy. Syndication gives partner marketers the control to influence the entire marketing and sales funnel, from awareness and engagement through to user experience and support. And, since it’s automated, it allows partners to focus their time on selling.
50. Cliff Pollan, CEO and founder of Postwire – @cliffpollan
In 2014, sales applauds marketing as they actively use marketing’s content to close deals. Thanks to analytics linking reps’ content sharing activities to revenue recognition, marketing will ensure their latest and greatest content is put directly in the hands of their sales team, rather than relying primarily on marketing automation systems to disseminate it. Reps will personalize the content for each prospect to create more meaningful discussions and close deals.
What are your predictions on the future of Content Marketing? Share them in the comment section below.
Click here for more 2014 predictions.
Good research and communication with these all experts. I really loved to read all predictions with each point of view.
Has it ever occurred to any of your respondents to leave people alone? One of the really big problems with the internet is the fundamentalist choice that no one actually made but that overwhelms everything from B2B to the NSA — why is the default mode toward privacy, toward the constitutional bias toward a right to be left alone. You are all in a mad rush to put your stuff in everyone’s face, mind, unconscious, human essence, 24/7. Why, really, why? Why do I not have a right to be left alone, even on the internet, on my phone, all the time? Oh, right. Money to you for nothing.
With a 35 year old MBA, and several years removed from any strategic marketing for major and minor consumer/business products, I read in this article the same ideas from years ago,
communicated through newer media, and new nomenclature.
Drucker told us to know our product, segment our audience, and promote, promote, promote! However, at this time the political climate and economic indicators make any market segment unstable and mercurial…good luck basing decisions on a segment that is worried more each day about their retirement, their current job, and their increased family pressures should the children return to live at home.
First, as one of the contributors, I appreciate the kind words, Nikhil. And I especially wanted to chime in to say that I appreciate both Luisa and C. Grutchik’s perspectives here. Luisa, I have a buddy in the world of corporate communications and marketing who once said that one of his greatest frustrations is that the lessons companies need to learn seem to remain the same, even as the details change. As a consultant, he felt he was saying the same basic strategic needs for evolution he had said many years ago…a sign that we move to new landscapes and new tactics without fixing some of the fundamental errors in strategic thinking that plague marketing and communications.
Meanwhile, C. Grutchik, it has certainly occurred to me, and I think you voiced one of the industry’s biggest issues quite well here. As long as communications/marketing is thought of as trying to persuade people to do what the company wants them to do rather than primarily as a listening function that enables the company to better align itself with the wants and needs of the audiences it is trying to serve and which keeps the organization alive…we’re going to have those problems. If you want to email me at [email protected], I’m happy to share more with you, or you can find some of my thinking along these lines at http://blogs.hbr.org/sam-ford/ and http://www.fastcompany.com/user/sam-ford.