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Content marketing trends to watch in 2014

Content marketing has quickly established itself as a necessity for companies in the B2B industry. However, as these techniques develop, it is no longer enough to simply have content. Marketers need to make adjustments to their marketing materials to ensure they are effective. While content marketing is essential for B2B success, many marketers are still struggling to find the perfect methods. 

Content may prove to be a driving force in 2014, according to an infographic from WebDAM. In fact, marketers are predicted to spend $135 billion dollars on new digital collateral this year. Currently, approximately half of companies are utilizing a content marketing strategy, and this number is expected to increase. Most notably, 78 percent of chief marketing officers consider custom content the future of marketing. What was once a small trend is now playing a huge role in strategies and budget planning. In particular, content marketing is a huge source of lead generation for B2B firms. While blogging regularly may seem like a lot of work, B2B companies that maintain a blog generate 67 percent more leads than firms that don't.

New developments in content in 2014
Content marketing is becoming so important that many companies are looking to hire employees who are specifically dedicated to creation and publication, Mashable said. However, the nature of internal marketing departments may shift. CMOs will be held accountable for delivering results and demonstrating the return on investment for their efforts in both content and social media. This organizational development may lead to the evolution of content curation platforms that are integrated with customer relationship management platforms. This will enable marketers to create content that is more relevant for leads in different stages of the sales funnel. 

Mobile content is growing in significance as well. While mobile marketing may be seen as more of a B2C trend, the majority of adults now own smartphones, which means the line between work and life may be a bit blurred. B2B buyers often conduct research from their mobile devices on the go, which will require marketers to consider how their content performs through this channel. The brand experience should be seamless between desktop and mobile.

In addition, some B2B marketers may seek the services of an interactive marketing agency to keep up with the demand for content marketing. It may be difficult for smaller B2B firms to generate enough collateral on their own, particularly because they need to provide content for buyers in every stage of the sales funnel.

Due to recent changes in Google's algorithm, content creation may take precedence over search engine optimization, according to Search Engine Journal. While SEO will still be important to drive traffic to the website, one of the best ways B2B companies can see results is by focusing on creating high-quality content. If blog posts and articles answer users' questions, companies will experience better SEO results.

How much content should B2B marketers be producing?
Many companies are struggling to find the right balance between quality and quantity. It can be a challenge to produce enough engaging pieces of content on a regular basis. Fifty-seven percent of marketers share 10 or more pieces of content per day to reach their audiences, MarketingProfs said, citing data from Trapit. Despite this, nearly half of all companies are struggling with content curation. Fifty-three percent think content creation is becoming more difficult because of over-saturation. 

Respondents to the survey noted the growing importance of visual content. While videos may seem more essential for B2C organizations, B2B marketing can benefit from how-to demonstrations or a behind-the-scenes look. Visual content tends to perform better on social media. As marketing technology gets more savvy, B2B buyers are expecting more personalized content. Marketers need to ensure they are producing enough content for leads in each stage of the customer journey to avoid losing leads along the way.

Adjustments to make to improve content marketing strategies
Small tweaks can make a big difference in content initiatives. Even in B2B, content needs to be fun for marketers and readers. Companies need to develop a brand personality. This can play a major role in engaging prospects and improving brand recognition. One way to do this is add variety into the content marketing mix with visual materials, such as video and infographics. 

To see improved ROI, organizations need to measure the success of their efforts. Important metrics include the number of leads generated, phone calls, social media shares, form downloads and on-page clicks. When marketers have a better sense of these considerations, it's easier to make improvements to content. 

One way to alleviate the worry of not producing enough content is to create an editorial calendar. This can also improve organization as marketers create content for different buyer personas and stages in the customer journey. 

Sheila Kloefkorn

With more than 25 years of hands on marketing strategy and operations experience, Sheila Kloefkorn is dedicated to developing marketing strategies and plans that help clients succeed. Some of the world's largest brands have depended on Sheila for marketing programs that delivered tangible and substantial results. Specialties: B2B marketing, lead generation, lead nurturing, sales strategy, marketing strategy, competitive marketing strategy, social media, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), mobile marketing, email marketing, website design, marketing plans.