5 Content Marketing Trends & Predictions for 2014

Content Marketing Trends 2014
A recent study shows that brands who are using content marketing are seeing a huge ROI to their bottom line meaning more sales and conversions. So where are we headed? At the start of the New Year (almost- in 2 weeks!), it’s always good to look at current trends and how they will impact our future success.
A study by Content marketing Institute and Marketing Profs on benchmarks, budgets and trends for North America indicated that for the first time, 44% of marketers have a documented content strategy and 73% have a person who oversees content marketing strategy. What was surprising was that the smaller organizations seemed to fare slightly better in having a content strategy in place. 48% of smaller B2B organizations (10-99employees) have a documented content strategy, compared with 41% of large organizations (1,000+ employees).
Let’s look at some interesting trends based on these studies and current SEO and social media trends. We’ll take a closer look so that you can shape your content marketing strategies accordingly as we head into the new year.

# 1. Social Media, newsletters and blogs will be the top content distribution channels

Content Marketing Trends 2014
Although the use of social media is rising, brands are still not getting the message quickly enough as to how important social media is to successful marketing.

I think that in 2014 more brands will catch on and use social media as one of their top content distribution channels. In addition, corporate blogging will also be on the rise.

Ideas for content marketing success:

  • Spend money on blogging, getting influencers to promote your blog content and hiring blogging tribes to review your products.
  • Try Triberr’s new Influencer marketing campaigns that connect you to influential bloggers who would be willing to endorse your brand to their audience.
  • Create a definite social media strategy in place to promote your blog posts, whitepapers, case studies and seminars.
  • Increase your budget for using social media not only for content distribution but also as a way to increase customer interaction and engagement.

#2. Brands will need to market content to a multi-platform majority

For the first time, we’ve reached a point in the U.S. where more than 50 percent of Internet users are accessing the web using more than one device. A third of the average leading retailer’s monthly traffic now comes exclusively from mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets. While an app may not yet be a “must have” for every retailer, a mobile strategy is essential for growing retailers’ market shares and reaching new audiences who might be more inclined to shop via a mobile device.
Content Marketing Trends 2014

A recent comScore data study on multi-platform use in North America

Ideas for content marketing success:

  • Outline a strategy that works for different devices.
  • Create content that is shorter and more relevant.
  • Have a responsive site so that every user can have a good experience.
  • Create apps to improve the user experience and make it convenient for your users.
  • Use geo-targeting and GPS to send customers the right rebates and discounts based on their location.

#3. Hummingbird will make conversational content more important

When the Hummingbird update was announced back in September, SEOs everywhere were wondering what the algorithm change meant for the future of SEO. Hummingbird is trying to ensure that Google understands the questions and long-tail queries that users are typing in (especially into their mobiles) but are also asking with voice search. No longer are we optimizing for single keywords but for the entire context of the conversation.
Hummingbird simply makes better use of conversational search and the relationship between words, which means that SEOs are now thinking more holistically about the relationship between different pieces of information on a page and how they are related.

Ideas for content marketing success:

  • Focus on long-tail queries.
  • Understand user intent and the questions that they are typing in.
  • Make your content more conversational. This is especially true for larger brands that tend to speak corporate.

#4. SEO and Social Media will be intertwined

Previously, in the democracy of the web, links were the number #1 way for search engines to recognize the strength and value of your content. Even though links are still important, social signals are gaining importance. The more people that are sharing a piece of content, the higher quality it’s likely to be. It’s no coincidence that the top-ranking search results tend to have lots of social shares, while those ranked lower have fewer. Besides this, social shares can serve as a stamp of approval (ie, a trust signal) for visitors landing on a page.

Although social signals still don’t carry the same weight as traditional inbound links, it’s undeniable that they play a big role in organic search rankings these days.

I predict that social signals will become at least as important as links in 2014.

Google Authorship and author rank

Most experts are predicting that author rank will soon be included in rankings. Author rank is currently loosely determined by the number of +1s your content receives, your number of circlers and authority in non-google networks.

Google+ pages

A Google+ page has page rank and page authority. It’s also the #1 place where info is pulled out for Google’s knowledge graph.
For more info on social and seo see my article on Is Social Media the New SEO?

Ideas for content marketing success:

  • Invest in some form of advertising on social networks be it Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.
  • Invest time and effort in growing your social networks.
  • Use analytics to find out the networks where your audience hangs out.
  • Set up Google authorship, if you don’t already have it set up.
  • Have a Google+ page and invest time in making it grow.

#5. Conversions will become a more important metric in measuring content marketing success

Content Marketing Trends 2014
Traffic is important but does not mean much without conversions. Most people are predicting a death of SEO. I predict that these two metrics will become more important in 2014: SEO and conversions. Both are directly related. The better your seo efforts, the more customers will find you and the more customers find you the better chances you have of converting them.
Brands will also become more aware of SEO in 2014. Let me rephrase that….brands will become more conscious of the new SEO and what that means with semantic search, Hummingbird and link-building.

Ideas for content marketing success:

  • Increase page rank, page authority with link-building and producing strong original content
  • Optimize for conversions. This means trying many different things such as a/b testing, Usabella and other tools to check heat-mapping.

What do you think of these predictions? Do you have any more to add? Please share in the comments below. Thanks.

Comments

  1. says

    Very solid post, Gazalla. I am totally with you on trend #2 where brands now need to cater to multiple devices, meaning mobile-optimized newsletters, blogs and websites, perhaps exclusive content for tablets, and so on.

    I am bit puzzled with your last trend, though. I mean, hasn’t “conversion” always been a key metric to measure for both B2B and B2C companies? Plus, I don’t see this metric specifically mentioned in the chart provided by MarketingProfs, or did I miss something?

    2014 shall indeed mark another important year in the evolution and adoption of content marketing strategies for brands wishing to strive online. Interesting times, I say!
    Frederic Gonzalo recently posted..What Role for Facebook in the Online Travel Landscape?My Profile

    • says

      Thanks, Frederic. Yes, I knew you would like trend #2. You have written about this trend since awhile now. You are right – I don’t see the trend on this chart, but I certainly think that it needs to be a key metric. Yes, interesting times – The good news is that I think the majority of brands have realized that content marketing is absolutely essential for their success in the digital marketing landscape.

  2. says

    These are super helpful tips. Sounds like real engagement on social media platforms is the way to go. This is helpful as I come up with my 2014 marketing plan for my online tutoring business. It has already started getting me thinking about things that I can do to get people talking about me in a positive way.
    Joanne recently posted..Reopening an Abandoned LibraryMy Profile

    • says

      Thanks, Joanne. The trends definitely show that social media=ROI. It’s one of the best content distribution channels, is good for SEO and is a great PR tool. All the best with your social media strategies.

    • says

      I agree with you there, especially since SEO is such a tough game these days. Content marketing is a sound business investment. Thanks for visiting and your feedback.

  3. says

    Hey Gazalla,

    I love these predictions and I honestly hope they do come to pass. I keep hearing that you just need to write darn good content and I’m so happy that the conversational aspect of it will be coming into play more. That’s what I do best so now to just step it up in a few other areas and then I should be pretty good to go or so I hope.

    Really great share and interesting to see what people are predicting here. I won’t be unhappy if SEO takes a backseat for once and it becomes much more social.

    Thank you for reporting this and I so appreciate you letting us know.

    Hope your week is going well and you take care.

    ~Adrienne
    Adrienne recently posted..You Have Been Found Guilty for Breaking HeartsMy Profile

    • says

      Thanks, Adrienne. Yes, you are certainly doing all the right things – producing great content, keeping it conversational and rocking at social. Wishing you a great week ahead as well and happy holidays:)

    • Alex says

      I totally agree Adrienne. I’ll be glad to see SEO take a backseat because I feel alot of SEO-obsessed people aren’t really social (in the dictionary sense). Social is about informing/helping, digital word of mouth, and on a high level, social is about caring. I feel too many SEO-obsessed people care only about converting! Thank you Gazalla for a great article

      • says

        Thanks, Alex for your feedback. I hear you about SEO obsessed people only wanting conversions. Previously, it was possible for SEOs to work in silos but now more and more SEO and social media work hand-in-hand. You cannot be a good SEO if you do not know how to be social. I’m kind of glad that it’s taken this turn – the results are more organic. Few people are going to like an article if the quality is not good.

    • says

      Thanks for your feedback, Ileane. Good to have you visit. Yes, that’s a very clear trend – thanks for pointing it out. Mobile marketing is going to be at least as important as web marketing if not more in 2014.

    • says

      Yes, social signals are definitely helping move content all the way into first page results. Links are slowly losing their importance. Any good SEO strategy should use both efforts – link building and getting more social shares. Thanks for your feedback.

  4. says

    Gazalla, thanks for your recomendations. I see you advise to créate short pieces of content because are more SEO-friendly with smartphones. But Google prefers deep content, and this usually means long pieces, like White papers.
    John Lawers recently posted..BankingMy Profile

    • says

      Thanks for highlighting this point, John. It’s a very valid point. Google advises that if you want to build up your author rank and authority, you need to write long pieces of content. They don’t want short content – anything less than 250 words is considered very thin content and is often penalized by Panda. A recent Search Engine Watch article indicated that the best ranking content runs usually between 850-1,200 words. But at the same time, we want this content to be mobile friendly. So what do we do? The answer is that for right now, there’s no right answer. My solution is to create both forms of content. I like to create long content for readers who would like to read in-depth articles. At the same time, I like to keep my titles shorter. I like to write content in bullets with lots of sub-heads. I think that in the coming year, Google is going to have to address this issue of short vs. long because right now, it’s confusing the heck out of SEO’s everywhere.

  5. says

    It’s great to see that quality content will have more weight in the coming years and that social signals are playing a stronger role in search queries. I’m interested to see which local businesses will jump on board with content marketing as a way to out rank the competition.

    Good read, great predictions.
    Stephen recently posted..Creating a Brand Identity – Branding a BusinessMy Profile

  6. says

    Hi Gazzalla, Really very informative post. Year 2014 is going to be a kind of trendsetter in online marketing and things will never be same again as the internet space has grown too advanced now. People need to interact more socially, write deeper contents aimed to solve visitor’s queries and doubts. Good content along with effective content marketing will only bring success.
    Vandana Singhal recently posted..5 Habits bloggers and writers followMy Profile

    • says

      Thanks for visiting, Vandana. Yes, content marketing has really taken on in a big way. The year 2014 will be very interesting…… Exciting times, ahead.

  7. says

    All perfectly dead on! I think all the Google changes are probably the most impactful from the standpoint that we have so very little control over our fates in search results unless we’re constantly cranking out “great content” which is all pretty ethereal anyway. And as we know they do like to spit out their animal updates. Count on them to be pushing G+ more and more by tying it into rankings and “credibility”. It’s a little worrisome, honestly, because we can opt out of something like Facebook if we don’t like the overbearing sharing of our data, but nobody I know can just opt out of search. And so we must be on G+, we must have authorship, we must even be on other social networks giving out those social signals, Google says jump and we say “off which cliff?” But to your point…. yes! All these things most definitely :)
    Carol Lynn recently posted..You Don’t Need New Year’s Resolutions. You Only Need This Marketing Plan.My Profile

    • says

      Thanks, Carol Lynn. I know – it’s such a shame but unfortunately it’s the real world and Google is the 900 lbs gorilla that we just cannot ignore. Talk about monopolies – Google has the giant share in Search and so we must all bow or bow out! And the animal updates have become the bane of our existence. I agree with everything you say, but unfortunately there’s no real solution for now. Thanks for your feedback, as always.

  8. says

    Interesting stuff as usual Gazalla. In the first trend you highlight social media as the main conduit to disseminate content.

    What would be the main content type do you think? Blog posts? Videos? Whitepapers? Appreciate that it will very much depend on the business, but wondered what the general trends are.
    Adi Gaskell recently posted..Can big data unearth Dr Who?My Profile

    • says

      You’re right, Adi. I think that as you said, it depends on the business. The CMI study that I mentioned earlier, found that these were he pieces of content that marketers had the most confidence with: case studies, videos and webinars. Blogs came in after these 3 as a tactic for content marketing success. Thanks for your feedback, as always.

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