Google’s algorithm updates—via the Caffeine, Panda, and Penguin—and its algorithm rewrite, the Hummingbird, have radically changed online marketing during the last two quarters of 2013 and the first quarter of 2014. With emphasis shifting from keywords to content, high-quality content that is rich in context and is not overly keyword optimized will emerge at the top of Google’s SERPs this year.
High-quality content will become increasingly vital to the success of businesses in 2014, as consumers are using Internet search engines to look for products and services, and to search for answers to their queries. These days, leads on the lookout for particular products and services use the Internet as their first port of call; they check out business websites and social media profiles, and sign up for newsletters to get more valuable information.
According to the Custom Content Council, the content marketing industry was worth a staggering $44 billion in April 2013, while a study conducted by AOL/ Nielsen states that 27,000,000 pieces of content are shared each day. Clearly, content marketing has become a dynamic and important industry, but what exactly are the objectives of content marketing, and what value does content provide to consumers?
The objectives of content marketing
Content marketing focuses on generating and distributing targeted information that builds trust and relationships with leads and customers. Content encompasses print, electronic, and other types of media. Content that is effective at building relationships enhances brand awareness and promotes customer loyalty.
By investing in research and publishing new information, brands can be recognized as thought leaders in their industries. Just as importantly, content marketing enhances a business’s bottom line, as it drives sales without using “hard sell” tactics.
Content marketing is also about providing consumers with useful information about the different products and services that businesses are offering. This helps consumers make more informed decisions about the purchases they’re making. According to the Custom Content Council, 90% of consumers consider custom content to be useful, while 61% of consumers feel better about companies that deliver custom content, and are more likely to buy from such companies.
Trends in content marketing this 2014
While written content in the form of blog posts, press releases, and articles will continue to remain standard, other forms of content—such as infographics, video blogs (or vlogs), podcasts, slides, and PowerPoint presentations—will gain greater prominence. More technical or in-depth content will also be demanded by more specialized users, which will facilitate the growth of long form content like e-books, whitepapers, and webinars.
While microblogging on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter will continue to remain integral to most businesses’ content marketing efforts, other sites—like Instagram, Pinterest, and Tumblr—are gaining more members and greater traffic. These visual-centric social networking sites are great for posting infographics, visuals, GIFs, and short videos.
Many experts predict that short form sound, sight, and motion content will deliver higher viewership than long form content in 2014. Studies have shown that attention spans are rapidly deteriorating; according to Statistic Brain, the average attention span has dropped from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds in 2013. Hence, short form media will prove ideal for many target audiences.
This year, many businesses will be merging all their content strategies to ensure greater coherency. Increasingly, content managers will be hired to oversee content production, and specialists may be brought in to assist with content production on a permanent or semi-permanent basis.
Content will also be increasingly seen as a means of extending the brand’s narrative beyond traditional advertising. Hence, stories will become increasingly important to content production in 2014. Lastly, real-time content marketing will take off as brands strive to take part in real-time conversations on social media and other platforms.
Tips on how to create compelling content
Content needs to be planned ahead of time: To ensure the delivery of high-quality content, topics should be brainstormed and researched to ensure that they appeal to the target audience. A daily or weekly plan of topics should also be created for different kinds of written content, such as articles, blog posts, industry news, and social media posts.
Content should be interesting, updated, and relevant: As the average person spends 1 minute on any given webpage, compelling content needs to be tailored to fit this short attention span. Sentences should be concise, coherent, and highly readable,
Additionally, paragraphs should be short, and eye-catching subheadings should be inserted. Content can also stay hip and current by referencing pop culture, the news, and other topics that are applicable to the target audience.
Keyword stuffing is out, but SEO still matters: Content should be optimized with keywords and keyword phrases, and keyword research should be performed. Quality backlinks should be created, and content should be linked back to business websites, social media profiles, blogs, or previous posts in order to boost SERP rankings.
Businesses can also engage in constructive link-building techniques by commenting on blogs, forums, and articles around the web with links back to relevant posts on their websites. However, these comments need to add value, or they will be flagged as spam.
Social media platforms should be used to promote and distribute content : Social media platforms should be used to promote content like blog posts, articles, press releases, vlogs, podcasts, webinars, whitepapers, and infographics. Content can also be submitted to discussion pages, groups, and communities.
All content needs to be produced with the consumer in mind: All aspects of content creation and marketing should be undertaken with the consumer in mind. Content that affects the emotions of consumers, and directly applies to their needs, circumstances, or aspirations is particularly effective.
Create compelling stories: Compelling stories should be told to humanize brands, which in turn will make them more appealing to consumers. Stories can include how the brand/practice got started; who started it and what makes it unique; why the brand/practice got involved in a particular niche; what prompted the brand/practice to reach out to certain members of the community or adopt certain values; and how customers have been positively impacted by the brand/practice.
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