What Is The Future Of Content Marketing And How Can You Prepare?

By Arnie Kuenn

Originally posted on MarketingLand.

Over the past few years, content marketing has come a long way. The term “content marketing” is becoming a part of the vernacular in marketing departments across the world. It’s no longer thought of as a trend, but as a verifiable opportunity to drive revenue.

In fact, businesses spent more than $118 billion on content marketing last year alone. But what is the future of content marketing in 2015 and beyond?

Increased Strategic Adoption

With more than 85 percent adoption among B2B marketers, content marketing is certainly becoming more widely accepted among businesses across industries and verticals. However, only 35 percent of B2B marketers have a documented content marketing strategy in place, while 14 percent have no strategy in place at all.

In 2015, we’ll start to see more strategic content marketing creation and implementation. As Michael Brenner, Head of Strategy atNewscred, said, “In 2015, Chief Content Officers will become a real thing, with budgets and authority to drive strategic content programs.”

With this, organizations will focus on creating content personalized to audience pain points, if not because of the evolution of the online marketing industry, because of necessity. With the amount of content being published increasing every day, only the best and most relevant content will make the cut. As Brenner said, “We’ll move beyond quantity + quality, to creating the right content for the right person in the right place and time.”

Consistency Is Key

As more documented content marketing strategies are developed, businesses will practice consistency in content creation, promotion and distribution.

Though some marketers understand there is no “one size fits all” approach to content marketing, this will become even more apparent going forward. Audiences will have even higher expectations of brands and will expect interesting, relevant content to be available on each network and website they visit.

However, it’s unrealistic for businesses to have a consistent presence on every single network, and it’s not necessary to do so. More and more businesses will come to that realization and work to build a consistent presence on the networks that are most relevant to their specific audience.

As Niih Ahene, COO and Co-Founder of CPC Strategy, said:

Given the fact that every company has finite resources, it’s critical to understand your audience’s path to engagement/purchase to inform where your investments should be. Apple doesn’t maintain an active presence on either Instagram or Twitter, not because they are not cool, but because they understand both what makes Apple products shine and how to position them to drive their consumer to purchase.

While content consistency will be critical in years to come, understanding where and how to publish great content on a regular basis is even more important.

Scalability Across Organizations

Today, many businesses still consider content marketing a campaign. However, treating content marketing as a side project can lead to certain departments operating in silos apart from the rest of the business, often resulting in missed opportunities and unmet goals.

The “campaign” approach may work in one-off situations, but a company-wide, “always on” methodology is necessary to really see results. Content marketing scalability is a real challenge, and many businesses have yet to face it.

Robert Rose, Chief Strategist at Content Marketing Institute, predicts that “2015 is the year that the major content marketing business challenge goes from how to build a business case for a project, to how to build a process that scales across the company.”

In order to see success with content marketing, there has to be a shift in mindset. Instead of focusing on certain tactics, the emphasis needs be to be on helping your customers and providing actual value through content, with the whole business on board.

Content marketing isn’t a one-and-done endeavor, but an overarching philosophy to all marketing, and businesses need to embrace that in order to successfully scale across the company.

Content Will Be Treated Like A Product

Your content isn’t just words or images on a webpage – it is information your audience is looking for. Your content itself is a product, but most businesses don’t see it that way. In the upcoming years, more companies will treat content like the product it is, and work to create the best user experience possible for website visitors interacting with it.

Andrew Davis, Marketing Speaker and Author of Brandscaping, said, “In 2015, we will see more corporations creating content brands instead of branded content. Branded content is created for a company. Content brands are created for a valuable audience.”

By creating a content brand, companies enable users to have an enhanced experience with the first product they come in contact with: content. By providing a positive user experience with content, businesses have an even greater opportunity to increase purchase consideration and ultimately drive revenue through other sold products and services.

More Tools & More Data

The internet marketing industry has come a long way in terms of tools and data. From Google Analytics and Moz to keyword and social media metrics – there are many different platforms that provide great data and insight into content and website performance. And with advancements in software and technology, data will be even more plentiful, and easier to access, but not necessarily easier to act on.

“New platforms and more integration points will make it ‘easier’ to find insights. But marketers will discover that it still takes work to act on those insights. No amount of marketing automation makes marketing automatic,” said Andy Crestodina, Strategic Director at Orbit Media.

More Dynamic, Interactive Content

Much of the content brands publish today is text heavy – e-books, whitepapers, blog posts, free guides, etc. In 2015, brands will expand into publishing shorter and sharper content – still high quality and helpful, but to the point. We can expect to see more animated videos and interactive content that further engages audiences.

Doug Kessler, Co-Founder and Creative Director of Velocity, agrees. He said he believes 2015 will bring “More dynamic, interactive content; fewer crappy infographics. More targeted and personalized content; less one-size-fits all.”

The Future Is Bright

With increased strategic adoption, more consistent publishing and scalability across organizations, more businesses will uncover the value content marketing brings to their audience and their bottom line. Additionally, as companies accept content marketing as a philosophy rather than a campaign, create better, interactive content and treat content like the product it is, brands and audiences will get more out of online content than ever before.

Content marketing has made great strides over the past five years, and will only continue to do so in years to come.

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