Marketing predictions 2014: Targeted and more effective content marketing

CMO talks to 9 CMOs, marketing agencies and industry experts to find out why they're placing their bets on customer segmentation, data analytics, relevant storytelling and better business metrics

King Content: Storytelling as a critical component in the marketing mix

For Craig Hodges, CEO of content marketing agency, King Content, 2014 is the year content marketing grows up as a discipline. “Having lived and breathed content marketing for the past four years, I could make any number of predictions for 2014 – from new tech platforms and the increasing importance of audience segmentation and personalisation to the growth and transformation of the Australian content marketing industry as a whole,” he said.

“If I were to really forecast the next 12 months in content marketing, however, I would say that 2014 will be the year that we, as content marketers, stop being the darling child of the marketing industry and become just another – although critical – component in any effective marketing strategy.”

While the spotlight on content marketing has been exciting, energising and validating, Hodges said he looks forward to this next stage. “Looking beyond the buzz, brands will begin to really come to grips with the tactics and mechanisms required to drive results and ROI,” he continued. “They will realise that in order to be effective in today’s highly competitive digital marketplace, they need a dedicated content marketing strategy.

“This level of adoption and integration has always been our goal. While 2014 may not be as exciting as the whirlwind of 2013, I think it will be more rewarding. In 2014 we won't have to educate our clients – just deliver results for them.”

CMI: Mergers and brand media acquisitions on the way

For Content Marketing Institute (CMI) founder, Joe Pulizzi, 2014 will bring with it at least two major brands will buy well known and established media companies. “This will spur a trend of ‘build it or buy it’ from a slew of enterprise brands looking for established content brands and engaged audiences to tap into,” he claimed.

More of the top journalistic talent around the world will leave their media companies and move to large, enterprise brands...offering them both higher pay and creative flexibility

CMI's Joe Pulizzi

Pulizzi also expected a large amount of mergers and acquisitions in the content marketing technology space next year; a trend which the industry started to see in 2013.

“More of the top journalistic talent around the world will leave their media companies and move to large, enterprise brands...offering them both higher pay and creative flexibility,” he continued.

But although more brands will think strategically about content marketing, Pulizzi expected it to take much longer than 12 months for storytelling to become truly part of the long-term brand story.

“Sadly, the majority of US brands will still focus on content marketing as a campaign, rather than a long-term, holistic approach,” he said.

Edge prediction: Stronger brand stories

According to director at content marketing agency Edge, Fergus Stoddart, 2014 will be the year of branded content and “content marketing as a buzzword will drive everyone crazy”.

“Brands will continue to recognise and place emphasis on the concept of brand storytelling,” he said. “This will see increased budgets being placed in developing integrated content marketing strategies and the owned and earned media that supports it.”

Stoddart also predicted a “fog of content” that will make it increasingly difficult for brands to get cut through. “As this trend gathers pace, brands will look for more creativity and innovation to ensure their content stands out from the noise,” he said. “Success will come down to the strategy that underpins the activities.”

Many agencies will struggle to move into this space as they remain struck in their campaign mentalities, Stoddart said. “As a result, they will find it difficult to deliver value to clients,” he claimed.

On the social side, Facebook as a paid media platform will come of age and digital marketing budgets will pivot towards its un-ignorable reach and low CPMs, he continued.

“We’ll also see the continued rise of story-tailing, and retailers using branded media tactics. Like we are seeing in the UK, the shift will challenge traditional media as retailers increase their ownership of mainstream lifestyle media titles, dominating with their customer data and supplier relationships.”

On a final note, Stoddart advised marketers to keep their eye on the changing ad revenue models of publishers. For instance, Forbes recently revealed 20 per cent of its revenue now comes from branded content/content marketing.

Content Marketing Association: 5 trends to watch

In the UK, content marketing is now firmly established as a key part of the marketing mix, valued at $7bn and amounting to 20 per cent of total marketing budgets. For Clare Hill, MD of The Content Marketing Association UK, there are key content marketing trends to watch in 2014:

  1. Content Marketing is multi-functional
    Content Marketing is a demonstrable method to secure retention, loyalty and engagement and content marketing is also a key tool in customer acquisition, branding and rebranding. There is plenty of evidence from the winners of this year’s International Content Marketing Awards held on Nov 27th in London, that content marketing is capable of delivering a vast range of objectives including perception changes – normally the preserve of big-budget TV campaigns.

  2. Content Quality and Control
    The repeated adage that ‘brands need to become publishers’ needs to be recognised in conjunction with marketers recognising the need for high quality, crafted, branded content. It’s about creating a high quality consistent narrative. Brands need to invest in producing quality content.

  3. Annual Planning
    Content Marketing can be a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, annual conversation. Marketers will move away from planning traditional campaign planning peaks and move to producing a continual content marketing campaign strategy. It’s not about budget; that doesn’t need to be a barrier. It’s about knowing your audience and adding value to their lives through effective targeting.

  4. Metrics Matter
    The customer journey will be monitored more effectively and more marketers will start to measure social media not just count it

  5. Perfect counter to ad avoiders Ad avoidance and ad-blocking technology is on the increase. Content, because it's interesting and worthwhile, gets marketers round that problem.

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