It’s time to look into the crystal ball and see where content marketing is headed in the coming months and years. Of course, it’s impossible to predict with exacting accuracy, but some of the writing is definitely on the wall.
Nearly 60% of businesses are using some kind of content marketing strategy right now. This number is very likely to continue to rise in months and years to come as companies become more aware of its potential and importance.
As awareness increases, focused and organized strategies will begin to be developed. Companies and individuals will start defining their goals with greater specificity, and they will take more care in understanding how content marketing fits into their overarching marketing plan and objectives. They will begin to see more niches to fill and more opportunities to pounce on.
As companies become more aware of the power of content marketing and begin to outline their strategies, the need to hire experienced professionals or consultants will also become obvious. Some businesses will likely try to manage their entire content marketing plan within their team (and perhaps even do it well), but many others will be interested in bringing on new team members in the marketing department.
It is possible that businesses will begin to look for ways to automate and streamline their content production. However, this will only be of limited use until better apps, tools and software becomes available. Google will continue to rank relevant, authoritative content higher than spun articles or low-quality content stuffed with keywords.
Even so, some new social media and blog management tools are likely to come onto the scene. Perhaps they will increase efficiency, but there is always the chance that they will be of limited use in a fast changing market. It will definitely be interesting to watch.
Of course, there is always the tried-and-true entrepreneurial tactic of outsourcing and hiring overseas virtual assistants. Whether there will be increased adoption of such strategies remains to be seen.
Adding game-like mechanics to forums, personal management apps and social networks has become increasingly commonplace. Though providing useful, actionable content is always going to have its place, people enjoy the novel and the fun too, and content marketers will likely want to incorporate more game-like elements into their content pieces to engage their audiences.
More User Participation
Social networks are essentially host to other people’s content. The content they produce for their blog or news section only makes up for a very small percentage of the entire site.
As businesses seek to increase the amount of content they host, some will choose to leverage their user base to quickly grow the amount of content on their site.
Greater Emphasis on Storytelling
As businesses seek to build relationships with their customers and build loyalty, they will likely want to begin telling their story. They will want to spend more time talking about the purpose behind their vision as opposed to the specifics of their day-to-day operation. In order for customers to demonstrate any kind of long-term fidelity to specific corporations in today’s world, businesses will have to be willing to be more transparent about who they are, what they do and how they are benefitting society.
Greater Emphasis on Social Media
Recent changes to Google Analytics (which now tracks how many people are coming to your site from various social networks) suggests that social media is going to factor into index ranking more than ever before. As such, content marketers will have to be all the more diligent about using social channels to share and promote their content.
As you are likely aware, Google is still the most popular website on the internet, so don’t be surprised if Google+ also increases in importance, in particular because of Google Authorship and YouTube. Credible, relevant information has always been important, but this trend is only going to amplify its significance. It is quite likely that there is going to be more emphasis on the credibility of authors and content creators in general (which could also play a part in rankings).
The other facet of this is that the number of social networks and content sharing sites like SlideShare are only going to increase. Though many of them might be futile attempts at taking over existing sites like Facebook or Pinterest, there will likely be a few that stick and stay around.
Growth in Mobile Usage
Mobile devices continue to grow in popularity, and they are on pace to outrun desktop usage by 2015. It’s difficult to determine exactly what this will mean for content marketers, but in general, it’s likely going to require marketers to develop content that can be consumed on the fly. Content will also need to be easily readable and navigable, so if any companies don’t have mobile-friendly websites or email campaigns yet, this shift in medium will inevitably demand change.
New Tracking and Analytics Technology
Much like social media, it’s fairly difficult to measure the return on investment with content marketing. It is often the cumulative effect - rather than the visitors, subscribers, or buyers on any given day – that really matters. Businesses are going to want more data that they can inspect and assess, and there will undoubtedly be some new providers of tracking and analytics tools to fill this niche.