January 15, 2014
Business has never been about “keeping up”. If you intend to simply pace the pack, then you are in for a rocky 2014. Innovation never rests and content marketing is home to a great deal of innovation as businesses discover its ROI and long-term potential for audience engagement and sales conversion. The question on everybody’s mind as the year draws to a close is, “what’s next?”
The simple answer: more. But how much more? More of what? How will consumers respond to more? These are all questions receiving a great deal of analysis by industry leaders and professionals. Through their insights and some knowledge of our own, 2014 can be the year where your business sees the value of content marketing.
Content marketing shows no signs of slowing down. According to a recent study, as many as 27 million pieces of content are shared every day. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to determine that this is a pie worth grabbing a piece of. But the equation is not as simple as doubling the number of Instagram pictures your company produces. Savvy consumers are looking for more rewarding content that enriches their lives.
The axiom “quality over quantity” remains just that, an axiom. As a bevy of content marketing pieces flood available distribution channels, separating yourself from the background noise with high-quality, engaging content is paramount. Regardless of your marketing strategy, engagement metrics, and ROI, failing to recognize the importance of quality content in the New Year will be met with disappointing, though expected, results.
The issue with this, of course, is that quality is not something that is capable of measure. The intangible characteristic can be frustrating for data-driven businesses, but hiring quality writers should be your guidepost. You run a business with aplomb and they carry that same acumen to their respective arena, so trust their instincts and skill.
While “quality” itself is intangible, the range of topics emphasized by your business is not only understandable, but also malleable. Whether you are a B2B or B2C organization, data has shown that current trends in content topics are not cutting it anymore. B2B blogs are guilty of proffering generic industry profiles and parroting industry trends, while B2C organizations are on the hook for pandering based on engagement metrics instead of value.
Luckily, either case has a straight-forward solution. For businesses, utilize case studies that examine the sources of success that propelled industry leaders to their lofty position. In addition, hold live, area events that focus on the consumer instead of the characteristics of your business. Customers are less interested in what makes you tick than they are in what insights you have to give from your position of authority.
For B2C companies, focus on value. If a customer cannot identify what they stand to gain by reading your publication or viewing your video, then you have fallen short. Consumers are inundated with media. Viral videos, news reports, texts, phone calls, and music barrage eyeballs on a constant basis. This scarcity of time should play a part when you shape your content topics. An article can be deemed “useless” before the first word is read, and this would constitute an unfortunate loss of opportunity and a sometimes costly waste of time.
Content receives the bulk of emphasis here due to its importance. However, the method of distribution of such content is as important as ever. Furthermore, understanding the changing trends in distribution can help once again differentiate your marketing from the chaff that fills Facebook feeds every day.
Most importantly, businesses will need to determine how to track their ROI on content marketing response in the year 2014. Research has shown that as little as 25% of marketers actually measure this key metric on their efforts, effectively blurring the line between discussion and noise. The actual return on Facebook likes, shares, and comments will be an area of intense development in 2014, and businesses that adopt this technology will see dividends as a result.
Beyond tracking the return on marketing efforts through analytics, businesses will need to understand the changing distribution platforms of the New Year. Until recently, businesses placed emphasis on “destination” sites; central hubs of interesting content that could deliver value and engage customers. However, this method puts a lot of eggs in one basket. The new model? Integrated, distributed content across earned, owned, and paid properties. Developing marketing efforts across all of these avenues will see better results than the consolidated approach largely due to the distributed nature of our digital lives.
This distribution does not lie simply in the formats through which we consume our content, it also resides in the platforms we use for access. According to data, mobile web will overtake desktop traffic in only two years time. This involves changing screen resolutions, readability, and access that necessitate creating content that spans all platforms gracefully. In all content, consider how the page, material, and layout will be viewed across myriad platforms and utilize practices that bridge the gaps.
By emphasizing quality over quantity, basing content ideas on customer needs, and exercising the appropriate technical practices for seamless distribution, your company can see improved sales, engagement, and customer relationships in the New Year. Content marketing has become an inarguably powerful medium, and failing to utilize it to its full potential would be an exercise in corporate seppuku. Fortunately, a little knowledge, created and used, can go a long way in 2014.
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