5 predictions on content marketing trends and strategy in 2015

Marketers from GE, Intrepid and GE plus content marketing consultancies comment on the year that was as well as their predictions and investment plans in 2015

King Content: More strategic, measured and technology-driven content

According to King Content founder and CEO, Craig Hodges, 2014 was undoubtedly a growth year for content marketing in terms of maturity and investment.

“While it’s difficult to get a handle on the entire market as ‘content marketing’ is such an umbrella term, from our perspective we have seen a significant increase in dollars spent and in the knowledge our clients have,” he said.

“The types of content programs we are running for clients now, compared to 12-18 months ago, are much more mature. There is a greater focus on measurement and the vast majority of our clients have a documented content strategy or roadmap for success.”

Globally, there has also been a leap in the number of companies investing in marketing technology and content marketing platforms. This further indicated the emphasis placed on measuring ROI, Hodges said.

“Organisations are looking at what is actually working, rather than blindly creating volume. There’s more focus on the marketing rather than just the content, if you like,” he said.

In his content marketing predictions for <i>CMO</i> for 2014, Hodges claimed content marketing would move from being the industry’s “darling child” to become a critical element of any marketing strategy. He stood by this view and saw content marketing only gaining more strategic importance in 2015.

“You only have to look at global mainstream brands that are diverting marketing funds from traditional advertising and paid media to owned media channels,” he said. “These brands are realising they can have direct, relevant conversations with prospective customers without having to pay an intermediary. Our offshore offices have grown at twice and three times the pace of Australia, which shows that even in mature markets there has been significant uptake.”

Another driver of growth in 2015 will be technology used to evaluate and shift content marketing’s effectiveness, Hodges said.

“I’m hoping that many more than 35 per cent of brands [based on the Content Marketing Institute’s recent Australian research report] will have a documented content strategy in the next 12 months,” he continued, pointing out 80 per cent of King’s clients have a documented content strategy in place.

“If we can move this to anywhere near 75 per cent, we’re in good shape.”

But while content marketing will continue its solid growth next year, Hodges said there will also be significant concerns about the amount of ‘noise’ this creates. “Many brands enter the market, eager to quickly make their mark, so they start producing a high volume of average [or low] quality content without a documented strategy or organisational buy-in,” he said. “This creates a lot of content ‘noise’ for consumers to sift through and fragmented internal processes – both of which significantly lessen the chance of content marketing success.

“Content marketing is an institutional learning curve and a slow burn.”

Hodges’ advice to CMOs is not to produce content “for the sake of it”.

“More isn’t better, better is better,” he said. “Invest in a content strategy and develop content that is well thought out, audience-led and of a value.”

CMI: Content becomes horrible in 2015

For Content Marketing Institute (CMI) founder, Joe Pulizzi, 2014 was a milestone year for content marketing as it became a legitimate approach to marketing in most large enterprises.

“The problem is, we are still doing it wrong,” he claimed. “Only a handful of organisations actually have a documented [or written down] content marketing strategy. What does this mean? Get ready for a whole lot of horrible content in 2015 and beyond.”

On the flip side, it also means the organisations who take a thoughtful approach to content will have an easier time with building audiences over the long-term, Pulizzi said.

Last year, Pulizzi predicted more brands would start actively pursuing mergers and acquisitions in the content space.

“I still believe it’s going to happen, but the problem isn’t that there isn’t a big opportunity for this, it’s that it makes no sense to marketing people to consider buying a media company? If you come from a media company where M&A is commonplace, it makes perfect sense. But non-media companies always use M&A to buy product and service companies, they've never considered this for buying audience, talent and processes. Long story short, it's a culture change that's needed, and culture eats strategy for breakfast. I still think this will happen, but it will take time.

Pulizzi claimed print will actually play a significant role in content marketing strategies in 2015.

“Airbnb’s print magazine launch was just the first of many we will hear about in 2015,” he said. “Since so many traditional publishers have left print for digital waters, it has opened up a huge attention getting opportunity with the printed channel.”

According to CMI’s research, the two biggest channels of difference between great content marketers and everyone else are podcasts and printed books.

“With the advancements with Apple carplay and Android for automobiles, podcasts are seeing a second revolution,” Pulizzi claimed.

His advice for marketers going into 2015 is to keep the spotlight firmly on what consumers and customers want.

“Don’t focus on activity, focus on building a loyal audience,” he said. “Web traffic and shares don’t mean anything if we can’t build an audience over time.”

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