When rebrands go wrong

(And how to avoid the pitfalls)

Ten content marketing trends you need to know for 2014

Content marketing topped the digital priority list in 2013, according to Econsultancy’s annual survey. Yet just 64 per cent of marketers agree that content marketing is set to “become its own discipline”, while only 38 per cent of companies have a defined content marketing strategy in place. Just 34 per cent have dedicated budgets to it and only 46 per cent have dedicated staff for it, judging by the results of the Econsultancy/Outbrain Content Marketing Survey 2013.

Ashley Friedlein

In many cases, people cannot even agree what they mean by ‘content marketing’. There is a lot of excitement about it but little clarity as to what it means as a discipline and how it is likely to impact marketing planning, budgeting, resourcing and organisational structures and processes.

So what do you need to know about content marketing in 2014? Here are ten trends that I expect to be important for brands in the year ahead. 

1. Authority. Content marketing cannot work if it is broad and shallow. Brands will need to be very clear about where they can be authoritative and focus on that. This relates strongly to search engine optimisation (SEO) too, where attributes like AuthorRank – where your reputation as a content creator can affect the ranking of search results – are becoming more important. 

2. Influence. This goes hand in hand with authority. Influencers will be increasingly important in 2014, with their niche but highly valuable personal networks. This is PR’s domain. 

3. Opinions. Google is getting very good at providing users with an interface that means they do not need to click away from Google. This is particularly true for anything factual. Content will need to be increasingly unique, or have an opinion, for customers to have a reason to visit you. 

4. Diligence. In the sense of a customer’s due diligence in any buying decision. We know that customers are using multiple channels to research and purchase goods and services. This year will see further investment in content that supports different types of customer at different stages of the buying process. 

5. Agility. Most content marketing efforts have been focused on good planning and production of content. This provides the necessary backbone for content marketing but in 2014 we will see brands aim to be more fluid, more reactive and more agile around its use, particularly in social media. 

6. Curation. Content curation and aggregation will grow in 2014. In part, this is because customers increasingly value editorial filtering but also because it is too expensive to rely solely on the creation of new content in keeping up a high enough volume and flow of content.

7. Responsive. There will be an ongoing push to make all digital assets, including all forms of content, responsive, so they deliver the optimal experience on the device being used. This is being driven largely by mobile devices. There is little point investing in content if, say, 40 per cent of those who come across it cannot properly experience it. 

8. Video. More than 40 per cent of YouTube views are on mobile devices. So for a start, video will become more responsive over 2014 as described in the previous point. But we will see continued investment in video generally as a content format. 2014 will also see more long-form video content. 

9. Distribution. We have perhaps focused too much on the ‘content’ and too little on the ‘marketing’ in content marketing. In 2014 there will be more focus on content’s distribution, including, for example, internationalisation, translation of content, geographic scheduling, such as Tweets choreographed by time zone. 

10. Disillusion. It seems inevitable that following the excitement, and spend, of 2013 around content marketing, we will see somewhat of a backlash. Marketers may fall into the ‘trough of disillusionment’ in 2014 as they agonise over measurement and return on investment.

Readers' comments (5)

  • Thanks for sharing your predictions Ashley! I agree with your need for emphasis on both Distribution and Diligence. However, what are your thoughts on the new content marketing partnerships we're seeing in paid-media? This magazine may also have a view I'm guessing

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  • This is a useful steer Ashley,

    I agree that many professional services firms waste a great deal of time, money and effort on blog posts and tweets that lack clear objectives, thought pieces and articles that aren’t worth reading, and video that fails to communicate well.

    Your point about distribution is critical is the success of any content strategy - having first identified the right audience.

    I think the heart of content marketing is confidence. It’s confidence in Google: that they will continually refine their search results, to bring to the top the people who are the best at what they do. If you are the best and they haven’t figured it out yet, then you can be confident that it’s their problem. All you need to do is give Google time to catch up.

    I've written a bit more about the approach we take here:
    http://www.sparks-studio.com/blog/141/2013/12/how-to-improve-your-rankings-on-google-/?upgrade

    love to know your thoughts on it.

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  • @Stephen

    On paid content placements... I think that is OK as long as it is a) clear to the reader that the content is sponsored and b) the content itself is good.

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  • @Michael

    It is certainly true that a lot of SEO efforts these days are about content/marketing. And I think you are right that there is little point trying to game Google - much better to focus on great content and great customer experience and trust that Google will then give you the rankings you deserve.

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  • Really helpful article. I accept the video content marketing. Because an image attracts 1000 customers, then think on the video....!! really tremendous ...

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