Follow Up – My 2014 Content Marketing Predictions

Back in January, I participated as a panelist in a webinar from the Content Marketing Institute, 2014 Content Marketing Trends (access their archive to find and download a transcript here ) also featuring Robert Rose, Chief Strategist for the Content Marketing Institute and Mark Bornstein, Sr. Director of Content Marketing at ON24. I thought it might be fun to revisit my original predictions and see how they were shaking out, now that we are a little more than 50% through the year.

shutterstock_159394523Here is the answer I gave when asked about Content Marketing Predictions for 2014, transcribed from the webinar with links added where relevant:

“I do honestly and wholeheartedly believe, and I’ve presented on this topic a couple of times … Scott Brinker from Ion Interactive does some great work talking about the role of the marketing technologist …  I believe the content marketer really needs to align themselves with the person — or people, depending on the organization — that run the technology components that are going to be delivering their content. The marketing automation systems, the web analytics platforms, to understand how they work, and the different ways that they can personalize and customize content for their audience within these systems, so that they have a true and full understanding of the different components that are going to be involved when you’re creating each individual piece of content. And also to get better access to and better understanding of the reporting that’s going to come out of those systems. Without being able to put your money where your mouth is and having a deeper understanding of the potential for personalization and also how your content is performing beyond downloads and views, you’re going to have a hard time.”

Also, I agree with you completely that process is becoming more mature. The whole concept of content strategy is becoming more mature. Everyone agrees that you need to have a content strategy and they maybe create a role of a content strategist or a director of content marketing, and their first job is to create this editorial calendar with very little rhyme or reason that just shows that they are going to be producing three pieces of content a week for the foreseeable future. That process is going to get more mature as they realize it’s not enough just to create content. There needs to be a thought process behind which content you need to create, and not just the stuff you think is going to get the most eyeballs either–the stuff that’s going to be most appealing to the people who actually buy.

One more quick thing. We were just talking about how the content marketer needs to be prepared to become the value. I wholeheartedly agree. But I think a new skill set that’s going to become vital for the content marketer is change management because being able to explain how things are changing, how traditional lead generation metrics aren’t always going to be the best indicator of a content marketing plan’s success, you have to be able to benchmark set expectations and educate senior leadership as to what you’re trying to accomplish at the start of the process. Otherwise, they’re not going to get it when you’re very excited about some of the results that you’re presenting that are not in line with what they’re used to seeing.”

The marketing technology subject is as hot as ever, with Scott Brinker co-authoring an article on the topic recently in Harvard Business Review (The Rise of the Chief Marketing Technologist) and Phil Fernandez (CEO, Marketo) and other technology CEOs starting a new movement focused on User-Centric IT (IT .. Marketing’s Friend .. or Foe?).

My prediction on quality, buyer-focused content strategy hasn’t really come to fruition yet. The focus in so many organizations still seems to be on volume of content rather than creation of the right content to serve their buyers. In our forthcoming survey focused on B2B Enterprise Marketing, most organizations state there is a strategy for the development of their content and will be spending more on content creation than last year, with 61.3% stating they will increase budgets. This means more content will be published, but the question of effectiveness and desired results still remain.

And change management? Possibly the biggest challenge in an evolving B2B marketing environment, but the one that is the hardest to get right. If your strategy and tactics change, but your KPIs don’t — and the C-Suite is still expecting to see “net new leads” and web traffic instead of engagement and nurture metrics based on your new content plan (don’t forget to gather baselines for comparison!) — you’re definitely going to have a hard time.

So what do you think? What are we going to be hearing about in Cleveland in September? Or in Scottsdale in February?

Author: Jason Stewart @jstewart_1 VP Demand Generation, ANNUITAS


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