Over the course of the past year, content marketing has really taken the spotlight. While the importance of quality content has been preached for a long time, in 2013 it proved to be the talk of the digital marketing industry and beyond.
A regular marketing tool for many companies, content creation became a prime method for success in 2013 and will become a definitive one in 2014.
While "content" is a common term, the past year has consisted of truly digging in and finding the precise definition and methods that go along with it. As a result of this yearlong brainstorm came a good amount of content strategy insights.
What We Realized About Content in 2013
Content is More Than Just Text
Content doesn't just have to be text. In fact, it can be a lot more than that.
Think about the various ways people learn. Some individuals are kinesthetic and hands-on while others are auditory learners and can take something straight from what they here, while a great many are visual may prefer to read something straight from a page or on a screen.
Content marketing is no different. It should be a mixture of types that can adhere to diverse learning styles.
For example, using video or even an infographic as a form of content can be an extremely beneficial and noteworthy way to communicate your brand and help you stand far apart from your competitors. Not only are you encompassing the auditory piece, but you're also providing a visual outlet.
We've also learned that shorter content isn't necessarily the be all and end all, but rather as long as you are communicating your message and your brand, content can be any length necessary for what you're trying to accomplish.
Mobile is a Go!
In 2013 we've really started to confirm the importance of mobile, and this includes content as well. How many people out there search for things via their mobile browser, specifically when on the go? I know I do.
Creating content that is effective on a mobile device can absolutely increase your chances of success overall; by being represented properly on the devices and platforms that individuals have access to, the better success rate you will have in the long-term.
Creating distinctive content that is suitable for specific devices while sticking with your niche and holding the interest of your followers, you'll be that much more likely to achieve a content marketing victory.
Content is a Piece of the Big Picture
In the past year, we've realized that content isn't a lone unit and as such, many have begun to implement it as a part of their digital strategies as a whole.
Rather than creating content and simply hoping that your customers will be attracted to it, we've begun to truly look into the heart of our followers, in turn discovering the content best suited to them and creating it and from there, delving into promotion via social and beyond.
Tell Your Story With Content
Not only that, but we've realized that content isn't just about discussing a product that you may carry. Rather, it's about using content to communicate who you are as a brand.
You can easily tell your story by way of content; write a blog post with a personal touch, create a video showing your daily grind. By being transparent to your followers, you will likely gain and even greater audience by making known who you are and what you want to accomplish with your business.
Keep Promoting Your Content
While 2013 has been a year of new and interesting content, we've realized that just because something may be older and created a while back doesn't mean that it won't be of interest currently. By re-promoting your older content, you'll be able to bring your audience back to something that they may have forgotten about or missed entirely.
So just because something may be considered "outdated," don't let it fall to the wayside; keep on promoting it and see where it goes.
Where Are We Going in 2014?
Content is Worth the Investment
In 2014, the realization of the dire importance of content within business models is going to continue. Budgets are have already allocated more funds to content strategies both in the U.S. and around the world, and content budgets for 2014 have already shown total increases.
While some may assume that since content marketing is newer and more unique than traditional marketing, that it will cost more. But, this isn't the case.
Content marketing doesn't necessarily cost as much as traditional marketing does. Plus, you will most likely give you even more leads and sales as a result.
Right now many businesses are taking a look at their content efforts from 2013 and deciding upon which strategies worked, which didn't, and how they can improve upon their tactics in the New Year.
We're going to start looking more into our audiences and finding more locations in which to promote our content. Many people are seeking to just get their content out there and aren't necessarily digging deep to find out who the best followers would be.
Also consider the number of content-specific conferences out there. This number has skyrocketed; and what does this tell us? Simply that people want to learn about content; how to create it, how to be successful, and how it can help their businesses to prosper.
With so many companies increasing their content investments in 2014, it could become a true battle for search visibility, even if the content you create is of high quality. So what can you do?
Make sure that your content is unique and the true voice of your brand. Make sure you know the ins and outs of your audience and are speaking directly to them and their interests with each and every piece of content that you create.
Strategies on the Way
Rather than aimlessly throwing content out on the web, people and businesses are going to start working with actual strategies for content creation and promotion. This includes documenting and tracking everything in order to locate successes and failures.
Use an editorial calendar to keep track of your content in 2014. By planning everything out on a calendar, you'll ensure that you keep everything in line with your goals.
If you weren't before, measure your results; whether you do this with an old-fashioned spreadsheet or with the help of Google Analytics. By measuring and analyzing your success, you'll be able to decide where you want to definitively go with your content in the future.
Google's Influence on Content: Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird
All of Google's updates in 2013 have proven how important content is, and how important it will continue to be as we enter into 2014.
Content in 2014 is going to be a lot more like a good old conversation that you might have with a co-worker in the hallway. Thanks to the Hummingbird algorithm, Google searches are akin to the way that we naturally speak, so content is going to be forced to adjust to these conversational searches.
Here's to Content in 2014
No matter what day, month, or year it is, content is in the works, and in a big way. A big picture word nowadays, content has truly driven the industry into new realms in 2013, and 2014 will be sure to be another adventurous year. So here's to content in 2014 and the many places it will continue to take us.
What are your predictions for the year to come?
Meet Your Favorite Search Engine Watch Contributors
Many of SEW's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Thom Craver, Josh Braaten, Lisa Barone, Simon Heseltine, Josh McCoy, Lisa Raehsler, Greg Jarboe, Dan Cristo, Joseph Kerschbaum, John Gagnon, Eric Enge and more!