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Wednesday, 2nd January, 2013 | By Tara Hornor | Category: Marketing and Trustcasting

Ahead of the Curve: 7 Content Marketing Trends to Conquer in 2013

marketing-trends-article

If you’ve heard it once, you’ve probably heard it one hundred times: content is king. But why?

The answer is simple: people don’t want to interact with brands; they want to interact with other people. Content puts a human face on your company and makes your brand approachable. It’s the common ground between your company and your customers.

And not only is your content the spark that ignites conversation, but it’s also the fuel on the fire that keeps it going. When you recognize and respond to those who comment on and share your content, you make them feel like they’re part of something meaningful and give them added motivation to invite others to join the party.

While content that builds community can come in many forms – from blog posts to tweets to pins to videos – as new technologies and new platforms emerge, your content marketing efforts must evolve to meet the changing preferences of your customers.

Here are seven key trends in content marketing that you must conquer this year to keep your customers engaged and your cash registers ringing:

1. Visual content

Remember: content is more than words on a page. In today’s age of YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest, your customers’ brains are programmed to crave constant visual excitement and stimulation.

As a result, capturing their eye is more important now than ever. No longer is visual content – photos, videos, illustrations, infographics, etc. – a nice-to-have; it’s a key strategy in building customer engagement and influence. There’s simply no better way to drive home a message, evoke an emotional response or bring your brand to life than through the impact of an image or video.

Video in particular is becoming an increasingly important piece of the content marketing pie. Because video by its very nature is a more engaging medium, video-based content is also much more likely to be shared by your readers via social media. Furthermore, multimedia content gets huge points with Google. In fact, keyword searches on Google often include video posts in at least one of the top five results, making your keyword-enriched video much more visible to Web surfers.

As with any type of content, the number one rule of visual content is to provide value. Whether it comes in the form of information, entertainment or both, value is the one and only reason why someone will give you their time and attention and and pass it along to others as well.

That being said, the medium opens the door to all types of fun, engaging, creative content that simply wouldn’t pack the same punch in written format. By boldly venturing into the world of visual content, you can rise above the competition and create a deeper level of engagement with your fans and followers.

Read more:

Let’s Get Visual: Four Tips for Using Photos to Engage With Your Customers

Worth a Million Words: How to Boost Your Blog with Great Video Content

2. Mobile marketing

Smartphones represent more than 50 percent of new mobile devices being purchased, and according to data from Ericsson, there will be over 50 billion connected devices in circulation by 2020. It’s also expected that 2013 will be the first year in which mobile devices will surpass desktops and laptops as the top source of Internet access.

What does this paradigm shift mean for you? Smartphones and tablets are not just a hot tech trend, they are the new reality.

Especially if yours is a small or local business, it will become increasingly important to leverage the power of mobile marketing to capture customers in the moment when they’re making decisions about where to go and where to spend their money. Your website must be responsive and touch-friendly, and your email marketing campaigns must be designed to be as easily read on a smartphone or tablet as a desktop. And don’t forget about location-based marketing outlets, from Fourquare to daily deal sites. After all, mobile is not just a channel; it’s a way of life for your customers.

3. Google+

Google+ has become much more business-friendly through its Pages offering, so use this to your advantage.

Having Google+ at a local level aligned with Google Search, Maps and Reviews means that search and location are now strongly tied to social. If you’re a bricks-and-mortar operation like a retail store or restaurant, this is a huge boon because it empowers you to talk about your business in a meaningful way that’s directly linked to search.

4. Local marketing goes digital

They say everything old becomes new again, and that’s certainly true of local marketing.

A recent survey from marketing technology firm Balihoo Inc. reveals that over 91 percent of national brands plan to increase local marketing efforts in 2013, with digital leading the way. When asked what digital tactics they weren’t already using but would like to implement next year, respondents ranked mobile, local blogs and online customer reviews as their top three priorities.

If the Goliaths of the industry are getting serious about growing their business at the local level, it’s mission critical for you to beat them to the punch. One of the best tactics you can employ to get immediate results is a pay-per-click advertising campaign that is targeted to your local market. A well executed PPC campaign will ensure that when customers in your local area are searching for your products or services, your brand will be there.

Make sure, too, that you’ve established your profile on Google Places and other key online local directories. Then encourage your loyal customers to leave reviews there as well as on other location-based sites like Yelp. Boost your recognition in the social sphere with sites and services such as FourSquare, Facebook check-ins and Twitter hash tags.

You have always been focused on serving customers in your local market; 2013 is the time to prove it.

Read more:

PPC & SEO: Two Great Traffic-Building Strategies That Work Great Together

5. Integration across all marketing channels

When we’re in the process of planning budgets and allocating resources, we tend to view our marketing efforts in silos: web, mobile, social, search, email, etc.

However, your customers don’t think or behave that way at all. They’re shopping on a variety of channels and devices, often simultaneously, and they expect you to be accessible to them anytime, anywhere.

They may start researching their purchase online – whether it’s on your website, reading reviews from other customers or even vetting feedback on your Facebook page – but prefer to complete their transaction in your store. Of course, their activity can just as easily flow in the other direction: they may come into your store to browse and compare and then choose to complete their purchase later at home or even on their phone.

As a result, it’s critically important to ensure that your marketing efforts are consistent and complimentary on both mobile devices and desktops, online and offline. Every experience your customers have with your brand should be outstanding, no matter how or where they choose to engage with you. And it’s up to you to ensure that you’re present and available to cater to them in the channels they prefer to frequent. If you’re not keeping up with the latest technology, your customers will move on to a competitor who will.

6. Listening and response

As marketers, we can sometimes become so focused on the content we’re producing and distributing that we can lose sight of the importance of actively engaging with others.

In 2013, make sure you’re ready to receive and respond. Increase the number of posts that encourage customer feedback, and invest more resources in monitoring the conversations that are happening around your brand in social media.

Of course, it’s not enough simply to listen. You must be prepared to respond in real time and effectively process all of the questions, requests and issues that arise.

Consumer expectations are rising in this area, and progressive brands are stepping up to the plate. A recent Oracle study found that users expect a personal response to a Twitter question within two hours and a Facebook question within 24 hours, so make sure that you allocate enough resources to your social media efforts to ensure that you’re not only publishing great original content but that you’re listening and responding to your customers and fans.

Remember: social media is a public space. If people are trying to engage with your brand and their efforts are going unrewarded, people will notice, and your reputation will suffer greatly.

7. Blogging stays strong

Blogging is hardly the flashiest or sexiest tool in your content marketing toolkit, but there’s no denying that it remains one of the most effective.

Your blog is your proving ground; it’s where you can flex your expertise and establish your reputation as a go-to resource in your industry.

It’s also the catalyst that can transform your website from a one-and-done brochure to a thriving community hub where people return again and again to find content that informs or entertains.

Moreover, it’s the currency that helps you establish credibility in the eyes of search engines and boost your organic ranking over time as you build up a cache of high quality content on topics that people are searching for.

While researching, writing and promoting great original blog content requires a significant investment of time, there is good news: a new survey by Hubspot reveals that small businesses benefit the most from blog articles in terms of both new leads and traffic levels generated.

How great is the benefit you stand to gain through blogging, you ask? Here are a few stats from the Hubspot report that will pique your interest:

  • Companies that blog 15 or more times per month get five times more traffic than those that don’t blog.
  • Small businesses see the biggest gains in traffic when they post more articles.
  • Companies that increase the frequency of their monthly blog posts from three to five times to six to eight times almost double their leads.
  • B2B companies that blog only one to two times per month generate 70 percent more leads than those that don’t blog.
  • B2C companies see a 59 percent increase after growing their total number of blog posts from 100 to 200.
  • Companies with 200 or more total blog articles have five times more leads than those with 10 or fewer.

What does this mean for you? 2013 is not the time to let your blogging efforts wane in favor of chasing newer, more attractive marketing avenues. By contrast, it’s time to step up your game.

Increase not only the frequency of your posts but also your attention to promoting your posts through other channels such as your social media profiles and email newsletters. Make sure as well that each post offers social sharing options to let your readers share your content on their network of choice with the click of a button.

But – and this is key – never sacrifice quality for quantity. If the level of the value and relevance of your posts will suffer in your attempts to boost your frequency, then just stay the course. Consistency and quality will always win the day.

Read more:

Writer’s Block Be Gone! 9 Sources to Mine for Endless Blogging Ideas

Tara Hornor
Tara Hornor has a degree in English and has found her niche writing about marketing, advertising, branding, web and graphic design, and desktop publishing. She writes for PrintPlace.com, a company that offers color printing for business cards, printed catalogs, posters, brochures, custom postcards, and more printed marketing media. In addition to her writing career, Tara also enjoys spending time with her husband and two children. Connect with Tara on Twitter @TaraHornor.