One of the most exciting characteristics of content marketing strategy is also one of its biggest challenges: It’s always evolving, and often at breakneck speed. New platforms and channels launch practically every day. New data produces new insights, which in turn spur the development of new tools and technologies for more effective content creation and delivery.
In response to all of this constant change, content marketers are always on the lookout for new ways to keep their brands ahead of the curve. To help them prepare, CMI asked a few of the experts who will be presenting at this year’s Content Marketing World to share their answers to the question, “What techniques and tactics are you seeing content marketers use now that weren’t being used two or three years ago? Why do you think this change has occurred?”
I’m seeing content marketers realize the value of product content — documentation, user assistance, support, and training materials. As it turns out, many prospective clients use the web to research companies and their products before they buy. Showcasing quality documentation (tip of the day, task-oriented video, simulations, and support materials) helps build confidence, especially when a customer is already dissatisfied with the vendor they have today. In these firms, the first thing they realize is that their marketing, training, support, and documentation is created differently by different people in different departments using different approaches, standards, and tools. In organizations where customer experience matters, these silos are being broken down and content creation, management, and delivery processes are being unified. —Scott Abel | @ScottAbel
I see marketers becoming bloggers, visual designers, videographers, podcasters, and SlideShare creators (although we’ve always created PowerPoints). This change is occurring simply because the kind of marketing we used to do ain’t working no more. Sure, events still work. Emails still work. But we are not seeing the same amount of time and money spent on direct promotional marketing hype. And we are seeing more marketers becoming brand journalists along every content type. —Michael Brenner | @BrennerMichael
Ego traps galore! Seriously, it seems that content marketers have become hip to the game of incorporating the names of influential people and companies into their content, thereby ensuring endorsement, if not distribution, when the asset is launched. While “ego traps,” a clever term coined by Peter Kim back in 2008, have been around for several years, the amount of content being published by brands coupled with the amount of “noise” in social media has made it necessary for content marketers to guarantee an audience before they hit “publish.” —Joe Chernov | @JChernov
2012 was the year of content marketing, in part driven by expanded social media use and in part by smartphone and tablet ownership.
As marketers gain experience covering the basics, they’ve gotten more sophisticated about content creation. Concurrently, technology supporting these efforts has facilitated and streamlined the processes, especially in terms of content curation and related analytics. Ironically, more marketers are returning to the basics, namely a blog as the heart of content marketing strategy and a contextual call-to-action to drive measurable content marketing metrics. —Heidi Cohen | @HeidiCohen
Too often in the last few years, marketers have been racing to the newest techniques without first determining how to provide real value. Infographics are an excellent example of this. As an example, marketers like Joe Chernov (2012 Content Marketer of the Year) and JESS3 presented sophisticated insight from Eloqua that provided real value for marketers — and the Eloqua brand. Many brands became so enamored with having an infographic that the race to “me too” created a saturation point, and often quality and insight were sacrificed.
One of the more interesting recent tactics that impressed me was Lowe’s use of Vine as a way to educate users on quick ways to solve home improvement challenges. Jay Baer talked about this on his blog, explaining how Lowe’s used Vine to provide real information designed to help customers and trigger loyalty. The direct, to-the-point helpfulness captured in 6 seconds hit me as a spot-on example of a great way to use this developing channel. —Will Davis | @WillDavis
While Big Data is all the rage right now, we’re finding opportunities for content built around “Small Data” — data points that are exclusively available within small- or medium-sized businesses. Take, for example, a firm specializing in security training for real estate professionals. After decades of evaluating, surveying, and training real estate firms and agents, the firm has acquired a boatload of information. But, they haven’t thought to publish it! By gathering and compiling this data, they can begin owning their expertise. Soon, they can build highly relevant content around stats such as “CEO Alert: Top 5 Security Mistakes Made By New Agents” or “Why ‘Open House’ Attracts More Than Just Buyers.” They’ve got compelling stats, percentage points, and data that make for killer content. It’s just a matter of pulling it all together. I look forward to seeing whether businesses will begin embracing their own Small Data in the coming years. —Deana Goldasich | @goldasich
Content marketers increasingly have to justify their expenditures. The content marketing “honeymoon” is over. Senior executives want to see results from your activities. The false promise of content marketing is that all this content will magically turn into revenue without effort. But the reality that content marketers now realize is that they don’t just need more eyeballs, they need more customers. They have to produce revenue from all this content. That’s why the latest research shows that the two highest priorities for digital marketers in 2013 are content marketing and conversion optimization! (I’ll show this research and how to take advantage of the trends in my session at CMW.) —Chris Goward | @ChrisGoward
I’m seeing marketers getting better at using some of their existing platforms because they’ve had time to understand and learn what works for their audience. Take videos and podcasts, for example. They’re certainly not new, but I see marketers using them in different ways. Instead of 30- to 60-minute training videos, they’re creating “snack” size bits of content that fit the crazy schedules of their audience; 10-minute e-learning programs or 90-second demos; quick hits that better fit the needs and demands of their audience; shorter white papers and case studies that are easier to scan. We didn’t use tools like Vine, Path, and Pinterest a few years ago, and you can see how quickly they’ve become popular.
The change comes from people buying differently and knowing exactly what kind of information they want. There’s no need to delve deeply into content to figure out if it’s what you’re looking for. Buyers are smarter — to the point where it’s now “seller beware.” We’re not creating the buying process — we’re facilitating it. —Carla Johnson | @CarlaJohnson
Scrolling sites (with cool parallax tricks) are here now and I really like them. This example called Every Last Drop, by Nice & Serious, is excellent.
Also long-form, wide-screen, content-packed stories like Snowfall by John Branch and the New York Times is stunning.
Infographics are being taken to the next level by making the visual content interactive by scrolling different web elements into the view of the user as they pass certain points of time or a position in the infographic.
Cinemagraphs, or cinematic GIFs, have started to find their way into online marketing campaigns by presenting what appears to be a static image; however, it really provides a very subtle animation in the photograph that quite often warrants a second look just to make sure your eyes caught what changed in the still image.
The use of modern technology pushes the boundaries of what is possible in today’s digital marketing environment by creating one-of-a-kind experiences that are truly memorable in the mind of the user, and attracting thought leadership no amount of advertising dollars could ever compare to. —Arnie Kuenn | @ArnieK
I’m seeing way more short animated videos being done, and videos that are designed to convert to lead forms and sales. This is because the technology has made it possible for everyone to be able to make them. —Jim Kukral | @JimKukral
Don’t miss additional insights and information from our fabulous roster of speakers at Content Marketing World 2013. Register now.
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