Traditional advertising is becoming less effective as technology constantly improves to save users time, effort, and money. As a result, brands are embracing the idea of content marketing. While some have been swimming in the deep end for a while, others are just now taking their first dive. Here are some of the most successful content marketing trends of 2014 that should be in your brand’s content strategy for 2015.
1. Content Marketing in General
If they haven’t already, every business will soon realize that content marketing is a must. It’s easy for users to avoid old-school marketing. Don’t believe me? Here’s the breakdown.
||How to Avoid
||Option 1: Make a sandwich
Option 2: NETFLIX
||Turn the page
How do you get your audience’s attention when traditional advertising is so easily avoidable? Emerge as a trusted content provider on relevant topics. Check out this example from Four Seasons Hotels. Instead of telling you rates and showing you pictures of their hotel in Paris, the brand takes you on an enchanting digital tour of Paris to persuade you that seeing the city is an absolute MUST. After you complete their immersive experience, they subtly mention they have the perfect hotel for you to stay in while you’re there to complete this once in a lifetime getaway.
2. Responsive Design
Responsive is no longer an option. According to a comScore report pulled in May 2014, 60% of all digital media traffic comes from smartphones and tablets. A responsive web design resizes itself to fit any screen, which allows your audience to comfortably view your content from any device. Consumers’ average attention spans are now shorter than that of a goldfish, so if your content doesn’t please them right away or is difficult to access, they will likely move on.
3. Location-Based Content Marketing
Location-based content marketing is a big deal for brick-and-mortar businesses. This plays right into the mobile trend and our goldfish-like attention spans. People using mobile are typically on the go and only spend about five seconds with a piece of content. If you’re only going to get five seconds to engage, shouldn’t that five seconds happen when your target is standing right in front of your store? Location-based marketing appeals to a person because it’s relevant to where they are at that moment. It doesn’t take a lot of extra effort on the consumer’s part to engage with you a little longer and maybe take the extra few steps to walk into your store.
4. Curating Existing Content
Many brands struggle to stay relevant and do it within budget. But listen up to why that struggle is not real. Curating content is allowed! According to Business to Community, only 63% of content is original. Social sharing is an easy and effective way to do this. Social networks make it simple to see what’s trending, so sharing a post on a trending topic that is also relevant to your brand helps you become part of the conversation instead of posing as a fly on the wall.
You can also reach out to your legal team and get a release form for user generated content (UGC). Yes, even your consumers (users) can be popular content providers for your brand! Walmart World, an internal communications program at Walmart, uses input and stories from its associates to populate its magazine and website with content that empowers and engages other associates. Here is a seasonal Halloween campaign that featured an associate author who wrote a short story specifically for Walmart World.
5. Visual Content and Visual Selling…DUH
It seems every time I write a blog post I feel it necessary to stress the importance of visual-based marketing. Visuals appeal strongly to those with a short attention span, as proven by Pinterest, Instagram, Vine, and the growing popularity of animated gifs.
You can check out my blogs on the 5 Digital Marketing Trends to Follow in 2014 and Visual Ecommerce: The Facts About Selling on Pinterest to learn more about this content marketing trend.
6. Interactive Content
Speaking of goldfish-like attention spans and the importance of strong visuals, interactive content is a great way to keep a consumer’s attention. If you are engaging with content that literally moves or requires you to click through, your eyes are a lot less likely to glaze over than if you start scrolling through a flat story longer than 500 words. BuzzFeed does a great job of keeping people entertained with its interactive quizzes and user participatory articles.
7. Multichannel Marketing
If you aren’t already doing this, you definitely should be. Your brand needs to be where the target is, and it needs to be an active influencer. Never join a new platform without a strategy. Ensure your brand has a content plan and consistent messaging across every platform. You can see how Women’s Health has done this. They have a presence on so many platforms that their consumers should be able to interact with them anywhere (print, digital, social). The brand has made itself readily available.
Having all of these channels also helps your brand get a higher ranking on search engines. Google and Bing both consider data including Likes and Shares from social sites when ranking content. If you’re really trying to amp up SEO, make sure you’re on Google+. Google has created several incentives for businesses to join Google+ that help improve search ranking, like the +1 feature, for example. For more information on Google+, take a look at my Social Snapshot: A Social Media Reference Guide.
8. Content Analytics
Your brand needs strong analysts. Yes, there are certain analytics the average marketer can pull, but professional analysts seem to know secrets that can really make a difference. They’ll tell you the strengths and weaknesses of your content so you can make tweaks to ensure your content aligns with what your audience is looking for. That might seem easy until you realize you have recently implemented this awesome “multichannel” program and each channel hosts a different segment of your audience. Content with a certain sentiment might be popular on one platform but not another. In other words, analytics can get complex, but they are really important when it comes to optimizing your content and tracking ROI.
So there you have it. We outlined 8 trends that truly flexed their muscles in 2014 and will likely continue their stronghold into 2015. What did we miss? Tell us a content marketing trend you thought packed a punch this year. Or maybe you see something on the horizon that we should all keep an eye on? Share in the comments below!