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Top 7 B2B Content Marketing Trends in 2014

Date posted: September 11, 2014

In an article on Forbes Entrepreneurs section, Jayson DeMers notes, “Content marketing, as a way to reach an increasingly wary audience, shows no signs of slowing down in 2014. Rather than using outdated, traditional methods of outbound marketing, businesses are finding that content marketing attracts customers and builds real trust between brands and consumers.” He goes on to revisit his predictions for content marketing in 2014 (made last year) in light of the current research related to content marketing. We summarize the discussion here:

  1. Businesses will finally be able to define content marketing.
    In his previous post, DeMers stated that 60% of businesses were employing some form of content marketing. Less than a year later, a report by the Content Marketing Institute indicates that a whopping 93% of B2B marketers now use content marketing as part of their overall marketing plan. Marketers are seeing firsthand how social media and content marketing are inextricably linked, and are understanding the importance of having a content plan; in fact, 44% of B2B marketers now report having a documented content strategy in place.
  2. The new top marketing job title recruited and hired will be “Director of Content.”
    While one can’t point to any hard and fast statistics regarding the rise in popularity of the “Content Director” role, it’s clear that an increasing number of companies are centralizing content creation, curation and promotion. According to the Content Marketing Institute’s State of B2B Content Marketing report, the most successful B2B content marketers have 2 things in common: they have someone who oversees their content marketing strategy, and that strategy is documented.
  3. Mobile content marketing will separate the winners from the rest of the pack.
    DeMers has argues that the release of Google’s Hummingbird update has significantly upped the ante when it comes to the importance of a mobile content strategy, but while the majority of marketers now know the importance of having mobile-friendly content, many are still lagging when it comes to actually carrying out their mobile strategy. For instance, according to Exact Target’s 2014 State of Marketing report, 41% of respondents said that up to half of their subscribers opened emails on a mobile device; and yet, 42% of marketers also said they rarely or never used responsive design in their emails.

  4. Calculating content marketing ROI will spawn new SaaS software and companies.
    As the industry is seeing increased ROI when it comes to content marketing, new content creation companies are emerging and/or continuing to gain steam to challenge key players like Text BrokerContent Runner and Content Equals Money are two such emerging companies, which match writers to companies looking for high-quality content.
  5. Businesses will look for ways to automate their content marketing— and these efforts will fail.
    With businesses creating and promoting more content than ever, it’s no surprise they would be looking for ways to streamline and automate the process. With 78% of the most successful marketers creating more content than they did a year ago, it only makes sense that the popularity of marketing automation would rise significantly simply in order to keep pace. According to HubSpot, a leading content marketing automation provider, content marketing isn’t a ‘once and done’ proposition: “Marketing automation needs constant care and awareness for it to work effectively. Too many companies skimp on these details and think they can let their automation do all the work—not exactly the best way of accomplishing your goals. Marketing automation works as a supplement to your sales strategy, allowing you to strategize the path ahead. It’s not meant as something you can set and forget.”
  6. Google+ and SlideShare will become essential for B2B content marketers.
    Observers are seeing a disconnect between the actual usage of Google+ and Slideshare, and their reported effectiveness for business use. On the one hand, their use has jumped quite significantly: use of SlideShare among B2B marketers has increased from 23% to 40%, while the use of Google+ has gone up from 39% to 55%. Yet according to research by the Content Marketing Institute, only 45% of B2B marketers believe SlideShare is effective for their business, and a surprisingly low 21% believe Google+ is effective. And with Google+ making the decision to remove Google Authorship photos, many business owners are wondering whether their heavy investment in Google has been— and will continue to be— worth it.
  7. Location-based content marketing will provide huge ROI for brick-and-mortar businesses.

Location-based couponing and promotions are continuing to drive in-store visits and sales. According to Cisco, location-based mobile advertising accounts for $4.5 billion this year; and this number is expected to rise to over $10 billion by 2017.

How do these trends fit with what you’re seeing in content marketing? As a business writer, I can say that a significantly increasing percentage of customers and prospects are looking to us for content marketing related work— hardly a surprise as the marketing tactic continues its explosive growth.