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With the popularity of content marketing going from strength to strength, and an ever-increasing number of digital technologies becoming available, it’s getting harder and harder for brands to make their marketing efforts stand out from the crowd.

These new technologies are helping to drive the need for content marketing, but it’s not just about writing great content anymore. Instead, marketers need to think harder about how their content is applied to these various technologies to reach and engage their audience in the most effective way.

This next phase of content marketing will bring both opportunities and challenges for brands, which is why a well-planned content strategy is more important than ever.

Content marketing is no longer the new kid on the marketing block, with more and more companies investing in a documented content strategy in 2014. A solid foundation for your content marketing efforts is more important than ever, with new  digital trends forcing brands to think differently about the content, consumers and context of their campaigns.

Perhaps one of the biggest impacts on content marketing this year will be the fallout from recent changes to Google’s search algorithms. Hummingbird, announced in September last year, aims to improve the quality of search results based on ‘conversational search’ – or the way we naturally speak – by looking at the context of a whole sentence rather than particular words. The result of this is that content that matches the meaning of the search will rank higher in Google results, which means marketers need to work harder than ever on content planning and creation to keep content fresh, innovative and – most importantly – relevant.

With the increased adoption of digital marketing technologies, users are also able to experience content in different ways. So content must first be relevant, but also unique to the devices being used to view the content.

A recent study by Morgan Stanley on the future of the internet forecasts a dramatic shift toward mobile web use, predicting that it will take over desktop internet use by 2015. And as the overlap between mobile users and social web users also continues to grow, more and more users are accessing the social web from a mobile device. So incorporating mobile into a solid content strategy is key.

This requires a thorough understanding of your audience and their content consumption habits, as well as the ability to curate and deliver content in whichever format they require. What type of devices are your audience using? Will long-form or short-form content work best? What actions are they taking after reading or viewing?

It’s time to stop producing content for the sake of it. Instead, take the time to build a solid content strategy, get creative and consider how technology will affect your marketing. It’s important to think about the way in which your message will be conveyed and what will work best for your audience.

How will you make your content stand out from the crowd in 2014?