As the number of days remaining in 2014 shrank, the amount of articles predicting trends or events for 2015 seemed to rise in inverse proportion. The surge has continued as the new year begins. The prognosticators in the world of content marketing are among those riding the trend outlook wave.
Jayson DeMers is nothing if not self-confident. The Forbes contributor and self-described SEO and online marketing “demystifier” headlined his blog, “The Top 7 Content Marketing Trends That Will Dominate 2015.” These aren’t just trends to watch, these are the ones he claims will dominate. His authoritative, how-to tone rings throughout the post.
A couple of DeMers dominators—“companies will learn that publication is only the small first step; value comes from [strategic] distribution” and “companies who embrace content marketing will achieve higher search engine rankings”—are echoed in other trend-watching articles. But I was surprised by his fifth über trend: “the reputation of guest blogging as a content marketing strategy will be repaired.” Apart from Google’s crackdown on certain “guest blog” networks, I didn’t get the memo that good guest blogging, effectively distributed, needed a makeover.
The latest iteration of the annual B2B content marketing study conducted by the good folks at MarketingProfs and the Content Marketing Institute (yes, that is a thing) provided ample fodder for several forward-looking features. Ann Handley leans heavily on the report’s insights in her article in Entrepreneur, “Content Marketing Strategies You Can Steal,” which itself invites voracious curation. She plucks six themes from the best minds in content marketing compiled in the CMI document, and asks, “What can you steal from them in order to replicate their successes at your own company?”
Here’s an idea worth stealing from Ann’s article:
“The best modern marketers don’t rely on just one or two approaches to reach and engage their audiences. The most effective ones use an average of 14 tactics and seven social media platforms. Tactics for B2B marketers include in-person events, webinars or webcasts, videos, blogs, case studies, white papers or e-books, research reports, e-newsletters and microsites. The most effective social channels for B2B marketers are (in descending order) LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and SlideShare … Create a broad variety of content—and don’t rely just on those tried-and-true blog posts or case studies. Have a varied social media engagement/distribution plan so that you cast a wider net online.”
The content marketing study also inspired an infographic that I came across via Leighann Morris’ curation at DotRising, then tracked across to Business2Community’s post on the blog at Kurtosys, the team that prepared the graphical eye-candy. No surprise that the increasing popularity of infographics as content marketing tools showed up in the bullet list of mined nuggets from the report; 62% of those surveyed said they’d used infographics, up from 51% in the previous year’s study.
If you don’t want to wade through the entire 40-page report, the infographic provides a crisp visual executive summary (and the institute’s own synopsis also boils it down nicely). In the bottom third of the descriptive illustration sits one very relatable takeaway for this content marketer: “The top 3 challenges of B2B content marketers: 1) creating engaging content; 2) producing content consistently; and 3) measuring content effectiveness.”
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the role of mobile devices as part of a content marketing trend-watching piece. Some variation on the theme of “get mobile friendly or get left behind” (thanks, Sheila Kloefkorn) makes it into nearly all of the 2015 outlooks.
“Roughly 80% of phone owners have their devices with them 22 hours every day, so if your site doesn’t display well on these devices, you’re missing out on tons of opportunities to connect with them,” writes Sujan Patel in a Small Business Trends post titled, “5 Ways Digital Marketing Will Change in the Coming Year.” Sujan implores “design[ing] all of your media outreach, webpages, infographics, and video clips to display appropriately on any mobile device—and if your current service provider doesn’t have this kind of dynamic ability, find a new one.”
As the user of a new iPhone 6—which is not just any mobile device—I’ve been wildly impressed by how great content can look on the retina HD display and how much smarter the “phone” is. It’s another reminder that the future of content marketing will increasingly—and inextricably—be connected with mobility.