2013 saw a number of new Internet marketing trends emerge along with a handful of new technologies, practices, and buzzwords. One of these many changes came in the form of Google’s various algorithm updates, which forced countless brands to revisit their existing SEO strategies and give them a much-needed facelift. Another new focal point came from the mobile side, and with 2014 fast approaching, nearly every brand on Earth is looking for ways to tailor their services for mobile. Despite the wide number of changes this past year, one thing stole the Internet marketing spotlight this year—content marketing. As we look towards 2014, it’s obvious that content marketing has already become the hottest trend in the industry—the go-to strategy for most, if not all, Internet marketers. Despite its growth, 2014 will finally bring a full-fledged, industry-wide adoption of content marketing standards and practices. So what are the top players in the internet marketing field expecting with this shift towards content marketing? Actually, thoughts are mixed.
According to infinigraph.com’s Chase McMichael, “2014 is all about going beyond experimenting, to full content marketing integration and executions.” Rather than debating its significance, brainstorming strategies, or trying to establish an appropriate content budget, 2014 will be the year where those who don’t have their content marketing strategies ironed out will be left in the dust.
With widespread adoption of content marketing looming on the horizon, many marketers are wondering what to expect in 2014. Well, if 2013 proved anything, it was that quality content is now the name of the game and that social shares and user engagement are the new benchmarks of a brand’s success. What does this mean for advertisers and publishers? It means that in order to stay relevant in the near future, marketers must be able to create and share original and compelling content that customers (or potential customers) are likely to read, comment, and share with their networks. Simply put, performance marketing in 2014 will be all about earned media.
BKA Content’s Greg Secrist says that he expects to see marketers place an even stronger emphasis on “high quality content, authorship content, and FAQ-type content” in 2014 order to gain traction and to rank better within organic search results. “In short, I think we will see a mind shift in which marketers start taking the SEO out of SEO, and instead, start focusing on creating content that resonates with users and answers their search questions.”
With advertisers and publishers readily adopting new content strategies, it seems as though the digital marketing industry has already accepted the concept of content marketing with open arms; however, there are some people who aren’t on board.
David Spark of Spark Media Solutions is one of those people, and his main concern is that advertisers and publishers are using “content” as click-bait, with the sole intention of selling something rather than providing the consumers with any valuable information.
“I’d like to see an end of the term ‘content marketing’ because I think’s it’s insidious,” Spark explains. “My wish for 2014 would be a quick death for the term ‘content marketing,’ but my 2014 prediction will be a major upheaval in click-bait content such as infographics and listicles. Most brands will realize that these paper-thin content offerings only generate vanity metrics and don’t ever truly deliver value to the business’ bottom line. And herein lies the challenge of content marketing—publishers post pieces of “content” such as memes, viral videos, infographics, etc., and see a lot of user engagement via comments, likes, and shares, which is currently being equated to a successful, revenue-producing campaign.
However, whether or not those “engaged users” actually perform the desired action often remains to be seen. In fact, in most cases when users are interacting with “branded content,” they’re not converting or producing any desired action, rather, they’re skimming over the content, liking and sharing, and moving on. More times than not, these shallow, yet viral pieces of content serve no purpose when it comes to actual business objectives, despite their propensity for inflating a brands “vanity metrics” and boosting perceived “user engagement.” So as 2014 approaches and the content marketing craze continues its takeover, we expect to see a lot of new practices arise and different trends come and go. The main thing that we expect to see in the New Year is for marketers to shy away from the cheap, clickbait content that inflates “vanity metrics,” and move more towards creating niche-specific, high quality content that provides values to their followers. This type of content will not only entice fans to engage and interact with your brand, but it will also help on other fronts such as SEO, and most notably with revenue.”
What are your thoughts about the shift towards content marketing? Have you made any changes to the way your company approaches content marketing?
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