As an Inbound Marketer and an avid fanatic of data tracking, I often am wondering what is going to be the next big thing in web marketing. And I assume that I am not the only one! Between the various updates that Google is making to its search engine in order to deliver the best possible results for their users and the ever increase in pressure from competitive rivalry, we are consistently challenged to step ahead of the competition and still delight our clients.
Some time ago, Monday to be more precise 🙂 , I was reading an article about the future of content marketing on Moz (great article, by the way, ) and I could not help it not to think how shadowy the future seems to be in our field, especially for smaller businesses! Having majored in Marketing and Entrepreneurship, I am really concerned about how those change are going to affect smaller companies.
In this editorial, I will review the article of Stephanie Chang on Moz using the point that I believe to be the most accurate and will also complement with some of my own thoughts on what are going to be the next big trends for 2014.
If content was king in 2013, quality is now ruling 2014
Inbound marketing and content marketing are more popular than ever. It is said to have grown 50% in the last 3 years. I always am happy to see such numbers as an inbound marketer, but as someone who is very competitive, it tells me that I now have more people to fight against!
To take Stephanie’s examples, the Huffington Post alone produces at least 1,200 pieces of content a day and WordPress users generate a whopping 35.8 million blog posts a month!
This significant increase in the production of material takes source in Porter’s 5 forces model more precisely at the level of the entry barriers. What entry barrier are there now to join the web? None! As long as you have a computer and an Internet connection, you’re good to go! Some of you might say “Well, you still need to have some know how in order to …”. NO! The reality is that as long as you know how to double click then your good to go. There exists tons of solution that allows someone to create its own blog within minutes and most of them are even free!
Now the question that kills; how are you going to fight against those great volume publisher? Since it is impossible, and I really mean impossible to fight them on volume, most businesses will have to outsmart their larger opponents.
A fundamental step in embracing Inbound Marketing is to generate personas. Personas are fictional characters created to represent your ideal customers (thanks Hubspots for carving this in my mind!). By knowing exactly what your value proposition is, you will be able to come up with a clear idea of what your ideal customer is and what he is looking for. Rich from those, you will provide them the content they want to read! You are not going to work harder; you will simply work smarter and maximise the conversion rate of your content.
Stephanie’s article makes a great point about the various type of products and the level of involvement they require. A high level of involvement for the product will make a significant impact on your odds of converting. This high level of cognitive activity translates in more research from clients, deeper analysis and ultimately more chance for them to find your product and consider YOUR value proposition. Quality content gives you more chances for you to delight your customers.
On the other hand, low involvement product should focus on building relationship with clients since they rely less on cognition but more on emotion process for their decisions. Social media really makes sense at this stage.
Social media are taking more and more importance, and that is proven by the fact that Google is giving them more importance in its search algorithm (+1 etc.…). Social Media are now becoming part of SEO and can no longer be put aside. It’s been said that social media are a conversation about you online and that you should participate. For 2014, it should now say; social media are a conversation online about you and that if your not responding, well you’re losing clients and you hurt your SEO.
Also, make sure to try platforms that come along. Having the first mover advantage really can make a difference and give you an edge. I believe that, in 2014, businesses will be more and more interested to join on-the-rise social media platform to secure their social domain but also to quickly capture exposure. Give yourself the mission to spot social media that are on the rise and join them and see what happen!
Let’s make thing clear, if your site is still not mobile friendly or is not in responsive design, well, you’re behind and have to do work to catch up. In 2014, new medium will make their way. Both Nike and HTC plans to release their smart watch in 2014, and this is not even mentioning Google glasses who is planning to sell near a million glasses for 2014 in the US only.
Those new mediums are going to take marketing to a whole new level and will bring major marketing opportunities. You will have to be ready to try, adapt, collect and make sense of these new technologies and the data collected. A big challenge that will pay well to the ones risking it.
KPI and Dashboard are the new GPS to find your route!
If you can’t measure something, you can’t improve on it. In 2014, executives and marketing managers will requires the use of dashboards using handpick KPI’s tailored specifically to their needs. As the competition is getting stronger, businesses will rely on data (finally) to take their business decisions. If we are lucky, 2014 will be the end of shady gut feeling, last minutes decision for web strategies… Maybe I’m just dreaming…
Data is everywhere and more so in 2014. With the arrival of new communication devices, marketers will have an even broader view (channel wise) of their market and at the same time, a much more precise view of the use made by the visitors of your content.
As mentioned previously, the selection of those KPI’s is primordial. You don’t want to pick the same randomly. They will measure your success of failure, and the wrong measurement will always cause failure.
I recommend you taking a close look at this series of articles specifically written about KPI’s. Some of them might be of interest for you and your company. The first two will explain you what KPI’s are, how to select them and the third one is a list of many of the most pertinent KPI’s.
KPI exposed: The official how to guide for KPI (Part I)
KPI exposed: The official how to guide for KPI (Part II)
KPI exposed: The official how to guide for KPI (Part III)
Answering customer’s needs, problems and concerns will be key in 2014
The last major trend that I believe will mark 2014 is the way business approaches Q&A request from their clients. The way people are using search engines has greatly evolved over time, and we can observe that with the arrival of many Q&A services such as answer.com, ask.com, chacha, Quora and others.
We saw an explosion of these websites in 2013, but I believe that marketers will seek to take advantage from that in 2014. This is not even mentioning the popularity of such services on mobiles. Think about Apple’s Siri who became the first large scale deployment of voice based Q&A. Even Google is also giving a try on voice based Q&A search service with Google Now.
We focused for a long term on keywords for the content we were posting online. I believe we will start to orient those keywords on Q&A format. Not only you are targeting long tail keyword but search exactly for the term that will be used by your personas in 2014. Don’t miss out on those billions of searches.
Predicting the future is not an easy task, and I don’t pretend to know all! However, based on my experiences, the best sources of the web available and the current trends, I firmly believe that you should keep an eye on those trends for your content marketing efforts! If you have any comment, I recommend you to leave a comment, and I will gladly answer them.
Latest posts by Gabriel Touchette
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