Shafqat Islam | Mashable

When Felix Baumgartner jumped from the edge of space, it represented a watershed moment for content marketing. With 8 million people watching live, Red Bull showed the world that the “brands as publishers” movement was here to stay.

As we look forward to 2013, it’s not just consumer brands that will lead the way. Corporate and B2B brands are investing millions of dollars into content-marketing campaigns that help generate leads, bolster their reputations as thought leaders and help inform and engage their customers. In the year 2013, marketers will break through with innovative content-marketing strategies. Here’s what we have to look forward to:

1. Practice will be over

If 2012 was after-school practice, 2013 is the varsity championship game. Many marketers spent the past year getting up to speed on content marketing. They were interested in the growing trend, and realized they needed to leverage it, but didn’t quite know how to do it. Now that it’s game time, marketers face increasing pressure to drive traffic, leads and sales through content marketing. With the right data and strong analytics, marketers will have to prove that their efforts have real business value.

2. The microsite will die

The microsite just won’t cut it anymore. Social media and new technologies have allowed people to hyper-curate their web experiences, meaning they’re way more likely to go to a brand’s Twitter page than homepage. Marketers need to think creatively to gain distribution beyond their owned properties. In the words of search-marketing guru, Li Evans: “Content doesn’t win. Optimized content wins.” Marketers will need to find out exactly where their audiences are, and use relevant content to drive them back to owned sites. Marketers must activate and amplify the content they create.

3. You’ll have to scale or fail

In 2013, marketers will need to figure out how to scale and sustain their content-marketing efforts; and the answer is technology. Having an intern write three measly blog posts a week isn’t going to cut it. Even a network of freelancers isn’t enough. Scaling means customizing content to specific targeted audiences and delivering enough content to consistently capture their attention.

4. You’ll either go big or go home

In the spirit of scale, marketers need to fully commit to their content-marketing efforts. If you’re going to be creating and pushing out content, it needs to reach all target markets, from international to hyperlocal. Our “always on” culture demands that marketers devote sufficient resources and time to carefully planned content strategies.

5. People will judge a book by its cover

Although the phrase “B2B” invites conservative and utilitarian associations, this does not mean B2B companies should offer user experiences that prove them true. Savvy, plugged-in consumers expect innovative platforms and design wherever they are, and B2B marketers need to deliver them. Innovation in design should not be limited to consumer brands or the new generation of publishers.

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