What’s In Your Content Marketing Crystal Ball for 2013?

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Marcus Sheridan, one of content marketing’s rising stars, looks to the year ahead and shares four content marketing predictions for 2013.

Marcus Sheridan's Content Marketing Predictions for 2013

2012 was a banner year for content marketing, with companies and brands investing millions into content strategies dedicated to informing their prospects and engaging with their customers. What does 2013 have in store?

1) We’ll continue to see explosive growth in content marketing adoption

We’re currently experiencing a golden age of content marketing. It’s never been easier for companies to connect with, engage, and inform their customers. The scope of our reach and accessibility is astonishing. I can teach someone in Australia something valuable about fiberglass pools. I can answer questions and have a discussion with someone in Iceland about inbound marketing.

It’s never been easier, and more and more companies are starting to get it. Content marketing is only going to be more prevalent in 2013, not less.

2) Get ready for the content marketing arms race

Of course, that also means more and more content is going to be produced, and the majority of audiences are already inundated. We’re going to see increased competition to a) publish content as quickly as possible and take the hill before anyone else does; and b) publish content that stands out and gets noticed.

That will have two distinct effects:

  1. At the bottom, there will be a large amount of bad content produced that sacrifices quality for quantity and speed.
  2. At the top, heated competition will drive companies to continually raise the bar for excellence, pushing them to produce more innovative, high quality content in an attempt to outdo each other.

As a result, while we’ll see a proliferation of low-quality content, we’ll also see new breakthroughs from the companies doing it right. And in that sense, the rising tide will lift all boats.

3) Automation will become even more key

It’s going to be a great year for the HubSpots, Marketos, and other marketing automation platforms and services out there. As their content workload increases, marketers are going to see these automated tools and access to detailed data and analytics as essential to doing their jobs effectively.

4) Our definition of blogging will change

The way we think of the term “blogging” will change and take on a broader definition as it becomes less associated with a single, stand-alone format, and more associated with a company’s overall content marketing strategy.

Likewise, marketers will extend their focus beyond working with individual pieces of content in single, separate formats to incorporate a broader, more fluid approach to their campaigns.

5) What’s your content marketing prediction?

You’ve heard from Marcus, now we want to hear from you. What content marketing trends do you see making a major impact in 2013?

  • Rob Yoegel

    Great post… Marcus is an engaging speaker and B2B marketers can certainly learn a lot from what he’s done.

    Personally, I’m committed to driving more website traffic from social. In fact, I think we can get social traffic to surpass total search (paid and organic) referrals. While search is more top of funnel, we’re seeing traffic from Twitter, Facebook, etc. to be more qualified. Time will tell. Happy New Year!

    • Rob, thanks so much for the kind words, I do appreciate it.

      Regarding search vs social, I really think that all depends on the industry. If we’re talking about marketing, it’s certainly doable, if were’ talking about a location based swimming pool company, then it’s a whole new ball game 😉

  • Good predictions, Marcus. I think your dead on for #4, but it only scratches the iceberg. What drives blogging to change in 2013 is going to be an influx of associate level content marketing staff in midsize and larger companies. I think we will see a ton of displaced or frustrated journalists make the move to brand journalism and bring all that formal training, savvy and experience in storytelling to the brand side.

    I think that also supports your #2 in that more resources with higher skill levels in content creation is going to make the landscape incredibly competitive. In 2013, the winners of the arms race will do so by maintaining both quality of the story AND the speed in which it is produced.

    Just my additional $.02 thought. Your crystal ball is pretty clear.

    • Well said Nate–quality, quantity, and speed is certainly of the essence here, and the defunct journalist realm is likely the group to pick lead the charge.

  • jcrowe_openview

    Great post and love this discussion. Nate, I agree with you and Marcus that as content marketers we’re all going to have to step up our games this year.

    My two humble suggestions for rising to the top:

    1) Build your content support network by giving what you would like to receive (in terms of comments, social shares, etc.)

    2) Always be trying something new. You can’t keep trying the same things over and over and expect improved results. With the competition heating up and content creation & delivery constantly improving, you can’t even expect to achieve the same results. That means you have to find new tools that can help you experiment. For starters, here’s a nice list from Kay Singh: http://myventurepad.com/ksingh/158676/10-content-marketing-tools-you-may-not-know-about

    Rob, would love to talk more about the differences you’re finding in search vs. social traffic.

    • Love your suggestion about going about things differently. This is still a young marketing methodology, at least in a digital sense, which means we’ve got tons of opportunities yet to be tapped. I’m hoping to stumble upon a few myself! 😉

  • abelniak

    This follow-on post is great timing. I listened to the Kevin/Marcus podcast over the weekend, and drafted up some additional thoughts myself. One thing that I think will continue to emerge is more on curation. With the barriers of publishing posting, and hosting so low now, just about anyone can create. So, how do you sift good content from the bad, the great from the good? Curation.

    http://www.subjectivelyspeaking.net/2013/01/08/content-marketing-in-2013-another-opinion/

    I, too, think the term ‘blog’ needs to evolve (as both a verb and a noun), since today it isn’t really what it was five years ago. And it’ll surely be different five years from now.

    Great interview. And Marcus – I enjoyed seeing you speak at CMW 2012, and hope to see you on a stage in 2013!

    • Great thoughts, and a very interesting point about curation.Time will certainly tell!

  • I think this post is spot-on. I few observations:

    1) Regarding the “arm’s race”: Yep, a lot of people will just approach content as an open-hose strategy. This, unfortunately, will not only lead to disappointing results, but an overall black-eye to content marketing in general.

    2) Automation: I recently interviewed a number of high-tech marketers and you’re right — they see automation as important. But they also see it as confusing and frustrating. They know there’s more they should be able to get from their platforms, but they don’t know how.

    3). Mobile: We’re sick about hearing about it, but mobile is growing and is just getting bigger. More of our content efforts will HAVE to address mobile access, mobile users.

    • Very interesting points Jonathan. Regarding the black eye, I gut tells me the content marketing industry will be just like the majority of the rest– 20% of the companies will produce 80% of the good results…But in everyone industry I think there is good and bad, so I really don’t think this one will be that much different in that regard. As for automation, yeah, you nailed it. Businesses are getting more confused by the minute, and this will get worse until these companies start messaging their product in a way that actually makes sense.

      Good stuff man, thanks so much for chiming in your thoughts.

      Marcus

      • Marcus, you’re right about the good/bad ratio in content marketing. What frustrates me is that because “content marketing” is still in its nascent stage of development, we have a unique opportunity to shape its direction and perhaps the way it’s perceived. I hate to see that opportunity squandered by mis-applications of the root ideas: correctly executed, “content marketing” should not be a fad or a one-off tactic, but a permanent and intrinsic way of communicating value.

  • I don’t disagree with any of this. I’d also keep an eye on a trend toward inherently useful content (Youtility…like what OpenView does here), and a BIG move to visual content rather than written content.

    • “Youtility”…..hmmm, If you don’t mind Mr. Baer, I’d like to use that as a book title 😉

  • Terrific thoughts, Marcus. I’d like to think that marketers will increasingly move away from a campaign mentality and instead get in sync with the buyer’s cycle as they consider the timing of their content shares. According to the 2013 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends from Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, only 42% of marketers tailor their content by buying stage.

    Along those lines, it’ll be interesting to see whether or not more B2B marketers create content based on buyer personas…this percentage has been slowly trending upward but is still quite low (36% according to the “Account-Based Marketing in 2013″ report from Demandbase and Ziff Davis).

    • Great points Stephanie. I think we’ve got a lot of work to do in the “buying persona” arena…a lot 🙂

  • kevincain

    These are all great insights and predictions. Now let’s see how they play out over the next 12 months. We’ll revisit this topic in December and see how everyone’s ideas matched up to reality.

    In the meantime, keep the predictions coming!

  • Thanks Marcus…as always, you are pretty spot on. A couple things I’m seeing…
    1. We are starting to see agency consolidation around content marketing (i.e., the McMurry and TMG media merger). This means the industry, from the marketing services standpoint, is start to mature.
    2. I believe that more brands (of all sizes) will start to purchase smaller media companies that are telling a compelling story (the build it versus buy it scenario).
    3. SEO agencies will all begin changing to content marketing agencies (whether they have a clear understanding of what content marketing is or not).

    Of course, I’ve been predicting the second one for years and only a few players (like Google’s purchase of Zagat) are getting into the mix.

    Should get interesting…

    • Joe, down with this. In fact, regarding #3, I think a new phrase/acronym will come out of this soon–something that combines search engines and content marketing…I’m going to chew on that a bit 😉

  • Marcus,
    That’s right in line with what we’re seeing, too. Brands have finally discovered that content marketing works, has the credibility they need, and delivers the consumer engagement to attract new customers and keep existing ones coming back.
    It’s all about relationship building, and consumers have come to expect real value from their content. If yor brand can deliver that consistently, you’ll cement the relationship with that consumer (whether in the B2B or B2C arena).
    As you noted though, planning ( a vital component), developing, producing, and distributing the kind and volume of content it takes to do the job can be a daunting task. That’s why so many organizations are now onboarding dedicated CM professionals to head up their marketing and develop strategy. Even if they outsource much of their content, the trend is still toward having a content marketing manager on staff, and many organizations will embtrace that this year.
    Nice piece,
    Steve

    • Well said Steve. I think content marketing staffing is an industry in and of itself that’s just waiting to take off–huge potential there.

      Again, thanks for the thoughts,

      Marcus

  • JasonWBall

    All great points (and interesting comments).

    Firstly, as companies wrestle their marketing automation platforms to the ground, I think we’ll see a far more systematised approach to content that marries the right material to the right persona at the right stage of the buying cycle (in B2B at any rate). Hopefully, we’ll also move to more trigger-based content.

    Secondly, I expect outbound to rebound as companies who struggle to win the ‘arms race’ find they need to take a more active approach to promoting their content. This will invariably mean more email but will also involve greater partnerships with high quality media properties (and maybe other partner organisations). We may see larger business begin to advertise their content over and above their products.

    Finally, I think we’ll see a lot more personalised content – whether simply in the material it covers or, for very high ticket items, utterly bespoke items targeted at individual buyers.

    However, it pans out, 2013 should certainly be a fascinating year.