These days having an online presence is a necessity for businesses. Ninety-three percent 93% of online research begins with search engines, and 68 percent of potential customers research businesses using social media before making a purchasing decision.
Content marketing is a critical part of this online presence, as 93 percent of B2B companies use it to build their brand and create demand. In fact, B2B companies that blog regularly generate 67 percent more leads.
Here are 12 trends search marketers can’t ignore with their content marketing:
1. Businesses That Embrace Content Marketing Will Improve Their Search Engine Ranking
Businesses that embrace content marketing will be more likely to rank higher in the search engines. As content marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) come together, it will attract more links, shares, and other signals to the search engines that increase ranking.
High-quality, long-form content that has several social media signals (i.e. likes, etc.) typically ranks better with most search engines. It has also been shown to get more attention through social media, which in turn also helps its ranking. While search engine optimization using keyword research and other tools will remain important, content will be the primary driver for ranking in the search engines.
2. Hard Sellers Will Be Ignored
While 87 percent of buyers say that content can have an impact on their purchasing decisions, 43 percent of them say hard selling and blatant advertising is a turn-off.
According to Mike Stelzner, chief executive (CEO) of Social Media Examiner, while some selling is OK, the marketers that constantly push their products will likely be ignored by prospects. According to Stelzner, it’s time for businesses to start caring. “That means dedicating more resources to things that are harder to track like answering customer questions and providing more value online.”
3. Advertising Will Become More Subtle as Ads Are Integrated With Content
Native advertising has become popular with publishers like The New York Times, Forbes, and many others. As banner ads have become less effective, native ads like branded and sponsored content in advertorials are increasing their effectiveness.
Advertisers will embrace advertisements that are placed strategically in great content. Advertisers and publishers will work more closely to make sure that paid content adds more value to the user experience.
4. More Businesses Will Learn Publication Is Only the First Step to Content Marketing
Some businesses that create content have learned that publication is only the first step. However, according to an article on Forbes.com, only 26 percent of marketers have invested in a content distribution plan. Strategic content distribution will become more important as businesses fight to get more eyes on their content. Your content needs to be constantly improving your brand, optimized for search, and ready for mobile. You will also need to focus on finding the influencers in your niche and reaching out to them as part of your content strategy.
5. Content Marketing and Social Media Marketing Will Benefit Each Other
Social media can be a powerful way to amplify your content. In the future, you’ll see more businesses realize the potential of using their social media accounts to reinforce their content. This will lead to an increase of organic social media as well as social media paid advertising. Businesses will continue to increase spending to promote posts.
6. Content Marketers Will Improve Email Marketing
Email has long been a popular way to promote content (i.e. blog posts) and sell products. Unfortunately, low-quality email marketing has caused the medium to steadily decline as spam filters block more email.
Smart marketers will start using their content marketing skills to improve the quality of their emails to increase engagement. This will have the added advantage of decreasing the rate of emails being caught by the spam filters as the emails become more relevant and compelling to the subscribers.
7. Hyper-Local Content Will Continue to Grow
According to Ryan Buckley, cofounder of Scripted, restaurants, real estate agencies, and other businesses that rely on local customers will continue to need hyper-local content. This type of content marketing can sometimes be difficult because it’s usually done by writers living in a specific geographical area. This can require a large number of writers, but the results can be worth it. The search engines will fuel the growth of hyper-local content because this type of high-quality content typically ranks well.
8. Personalization Will Become Even More of a Game Changer
Content marketing personalization will continue to grow. As marketing automation tools continue to improve, it will allow more relevant and unique customer engagement. This will allow companies to target customers based upon their needs and wants. Marketers can then push personalized content directly to the reader. Better personalization will lead to improved customer retention as they are reading and interacting with meaningful content that was personalized for them.
9. Reusable Content Will Grow in Popularity
The Content Marketing Institute conducted a survey in 2014 asking content marketers what they will be working on in the upcoming year. Sixty-nine percent of marketers said their goal was to create more engaging content. At the same time, 86 percent said they wanted to find ways to repurpose their existing content on to new platforms without having to re-create or reformat.
“Companies are seeking out the ability to create cost-effective, user-driven content that can address multiple constituents within the buying ecosystem, and across multiple selling environments (sales meetings, websites, trade shows, briefing centers, training, etc.). Same brand, same message, same value story,” says Dana Drissel with the American Marketing Association.
10. Guest Blogging Will Rise Again
Guest blogging used to be a popular method of improving search engine rankings. However, when Matt Cutts stated that guest blogging was “done,” it caused a mass exodus as writers moved away from this popular model. He later came back and said he was misunderstood and he was actually trying to discourage guest blogging as strictly a link building technique. Matt Cutts later went on to say, “I’m not trying to throw the baby out with the bath water. There are still many good reasons to do some guest blogging (exposure, branding, increased reach, community, etc.).”
At the time, most content marketers understood that what Cutts was really trying to say is that there is still a need for legitimate guest blogging that adds value. There are benefits of guest blogging other than simply getting inbound links.
11. Vertical Content Channels Will Increase Profits
As businesses provide high-value vertical content channels, it will allow them to hold on to a particular niche, according to vice president of content marketing strategies at Time, Newell Thompson.
“A curated, consistent, trusted voice that sits inside this tsunami of commoditized content will be where consumers will turn to satiate their passion or need for business information,” he says. “And advertisers who want to have meaningful and engaging conversations with their most important customers will follow them,” says Thompson.
12. Content Marketing Budgets Will Continue to Grow
Fifty-eight percent of B2B marketers are planning to increase their content marketing budgets this year. Out of this group, 10 percent are planning significant increases, according to a 2014 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks report. As more businesses see the benefits of content marketing, it’s fully expected they will move their investment away from traditional SEO campaigns.
This will mean budget increases for creating:
- blog posts
- case studies
- white papers
These are 12 trends you really can’t ignore with your content marketing. The days of hard selling and pushy advertising are giving way to a content marketing approach. Businesses are increasing their budgets and getting smarter with their content marketing strategies.
These strategies will improve their content marketing distribution across multiple channels including social media, email marketing, guest blogging, SEO, and more. When you combine this with an engaging, personalized touch, content marketing shows great promise for years to come.