Last year was a great year for content marketing, one that saw it established as a key discipline as brands looked to create a genuine rapport with their target audience. And there were big names leading the charge; the likes of Coca-Cola and Red Bull both embed content strategy as an integral part of their overall marketing strategy.
Of course, with this new-found celebrity status comes a greater spotlight, and there are a number of key recurring themes and trends that everyone needs to get to grips with, if they are to really push forward with their content marketing strategies for 2013.
1. Content marketing is no longer a fad… so get your strategies in order
Content marketing is getting a bigger slice of the marketing pie, and has seen a 13% increase in spending over the past two years, according to the Custom Content Council’s report, “The Spending Study: A Look at How Corporate America Invests in Branded Content for 2012″. On top of this, 79% of people involved directly in marketing are now reporting that their companies are moving into content marketing either at a moderate or aggressive pace, while 52% of companies are reporting that they have outsourced some portion of at least one type of content creation in 2012.
However, Econsultancy’s Content Marketing Survey Report highlights a worrying trend; while 90% of those involved in marketing believe content marketing will become more important over the next 12 months, just 38% of companies have a content marketing strategy in place – or to put that another way 62% of companies are just doing content on an ad hoc basis.
2. Greater understanding of the link between content and digital
Content strategies need to underpin digital strategies. Take Facebook for example, anyone can get Likes on a Facebook page, but what sets brands apart is what they do with those Likes once they get them. That’s all about understanding your target audience and then delivering the content they want to engage them and keep them coming back for more on a strategic and not a one-off, campaign-driven basis.
It’s easy to get carried away with the numbers, but a Facebook like isn’t content. It is a small part of an overall content strategy that needs to look at how content is distributed to consumers across a variety of relevant touch points. On top of this, content is now inextricably linked to SEO. This has been driven by Google, which has implemented algorithmic changes, such as Panda and Penguin, aimed at improving relevancy and rewarding quality and unique content.
3. in terms of content, quality is most definitely king
One of the biggest challenges of all for everyone is understanding that content is not just “stuff”, and if you want to really engage your target audience, your focus has to be on quality. Anyone can produce “stuff”, but there is a world of difference between well thought-out, strategically developed content that absolutely tells stories about brands, as opposed to material – written, video or audio – that is produced without a thought for quality, understanding or strategy. And this, of course, is one key reason why brands should seek out companies experienced in creating properly thought-out content to underpin their marketing activities.
4. Multi-channel needs a strategy first approach
With so many different devices and channels available, making sure you are sending out consistent messaging across all your channels and effectively managing information and associated rich media assets, such as photos and videos, for all of your products is a huge challenge. Managing customer facing content has evolved into an extremely complex process, driven in no small part by the fact that consumer expectations have risen exponentially. We now all want to be able to see the same content and have the same level of experience and engagement whether we are viewing a website or webshop on a laptop, a tablet or a smart phone.
To be able to cope with this, retailers and brands need to have a fully integrated approach to their content marketing, which covers all the channels they operate in, and ensures their story is told not only in an interactive way, but also a consistent way. The most important to remember here is that only once an overall content strategy has been created – which will be very much determined by your business objectives – can you focus on individual platforms and look at distributing your content across all channels.
5. Big data will become a big issue
With the vast amounts of information created by and for all the different channels that brands and retailers operate in today, the concept of Big Data has been doing the rounds as an issue for some time now. As content marketing becomes much more prominent in the marketing mix so it is going to become equally important that these same companies have the tools and technologies in place to deal with the data they have coming in – including everything from visitor behaviour, posts on social media sites and digital pictures, to videos, purchase transaction records and location-based information. By integrating their data sources, brands and retailers will be able to hone and guide their marketing efforts.
6. Mobile is still the right way to go
With mobile devices set to continue their explosive growth into 2103 and way beyond, making sure that content displays correctly on mobile platforms will be a key focus for people involved in content marketing content moving forward. And with so many competing platforms out there, this is going to be a tough process. The consequence to companies and websites of not capitalising on this growth is potentially losing visibility in a massive market place.
Current trends are highlighting the fact that while content consumption via mobile continues to grow at the cost of other channels, the iPad continues to be the real game changer. According to US-based e-commerce solutions provider Monetate, in its Ecommerce Quarterly report for the third quarter of 2012, the iPad accounted for 88.94% of all website visits originating from tablets, followed by Android devices with 6.34% and the Kindle Fire with 4.71%. In the UK, Screen Pages research from July showed that 20.8% of visits to ecommerce site were coming from mobile devices, and of that 84.5% were from Apple devices. Most interestingly though, iPad shoppers buy more; average conversion rates on iPads are 22.5% higher than on other platforms.
7. Video will continue to be hot property
Research late last year by Visibility IQ revealed that 78% of web users in Britain watch online video every week. And if you needed further convincing of the continued validity of video content, according to data from comScore, US Internet users watched 39 billion online content videos in September 2012. For anyone looking to create viral content, there is no better medium than video; even if you’re re-using old content or creating something low-budget, it’s still worth it. Shareable, eye-catching and effective, you don’t have to look far to find videos that have become incredibly successful.
8. Content curation
The type of content that you share can say as much about your brand as any direct sales message, and with a seemingly ever-increasing number of channels at our disposal, collecting and promoting relevant and on-brand third-party content is becoming a huge task. Today content curation is becoming a science in its own right, as well as becoming increasingly more relevant to the modern marketing strategy. Good content curation isn’t as simple as pushing a share button, it’s a combination of finding great content and following some simple best practices on how to successfully share that content.
9. Print isn’t dead
Despite what many digital agencies may tell you, print is far from out of the equation for most businesses. Brands are continuing to take the role of traditional publishers and monetizing their content across all their channels by delivering marketing ROI, but this is not taking place exclusively in the online domain. Certainly in the UK, all the big retailers are increasing their magazine print runs, and this is definitely the case in South Africa with rapid growth among certain demographics where readership of free magazines is incredibly high.
10. New roles are emerging
If your business doesn’t yet have a Content Strategist, Data Scientist, Social Business Manager or something of that ilk, the chances are they will be having one fairly soon.
Prophets Agency presents “ID13″: the trends in Interactive Design for 2013. Third year in a row, after the ID11 and ID12 trends. Written and designed by our Design Director Petra Sell.
Starting at the emerging trends in 2012 moving to what is happening in interaction design in 2013. the consolidation of ongoing trends up to future thinking and some advice on how to keep up.
Take your time to browse through the 147 slides of this impressive deck. Brands who fancy a ‘live’ presentation in their offices can contact us to make an appointment. Do spread along, cause sharing still is caring.
Michael Brenner on Marketing and Social Business
“Data is the new oil.” That was one of my favorite quotes from a conference I attended earlier this year.
The businesses that can harvest and take advantage of big data will prosper and win in today’s hyper-competitive, social-driven and mobile-accessed economy.
For marketers, this presents a massive challenge: first, we need to cover the cost of gathering and storing the data. Second, we need the foresight to look at new technologies and tools to access it. And third, we need to hire the knowledge and expertise required to use these insights to move our business forward.
That is why, as part of my 2013 marketing predictions, I identified data scientists in marketing as one of the emerging roles. And this is also why I want a real-time, big data marketing dashboard.
Otherwise, how will we know that our activities are moving the needle, creating business results and resonating with our customers?
Retailers Looking To Leverage Big Data
I’m not alone. Retailers are quickly realizing that big data is the new battleground in the fight for high-volume but razor-thin sales margins. The convergence of social media, cloud computing, mobile access, location-based information and e-commerce are all combining to create a “perfect storm” of big data.
Big Data Analytics are helping these retailers shrink their supply chain costs and to determine whichproducts to sell, at what price, in which place and on what level of promotion (remember the “4 P’s” of marketing?). They are also using Big Data to understand who is shopping, and how to deliver the best experience through personalization. This is only possible by analyzing lots of Big Data.
What Is Big Data For Marketing?
One of the key metrics for marketers to determine the effectiveness of marketing activities, especially content marketing is what I call “share of conversations.”
“Share of conversations” is the percentage of time your brand shows up in online conversations.
The number by itself, probably has little meaning. But when compared relative to your product’s market share, or when compared to your competitors, or when compared over time, this metric can help you determine if your content marketing is working.
“Big Data Is Bullshit”
In a recent eBook from Big Data provider Lattice Engines called “What’s in Store for Sales, Marketing and Big Data,” Foundry Group co-founder Brad Feld says:
Big Data is bullshit…20 years from now the thing we call ‘Big Data’ will be tiny data . . . The key for 2013 with Big data is to figure out how to make a difference. Don’t let marketing noise obscure what’s real and what isn’t.
It’s easy to see how Brad is not far off. If the information created in the last 2 years is greater than the information created from the dawn of time until then, imagine what Big Data will mean to marketers in 2023 or 2033.
All I Want For 2013 Is A Real-Time Marketing Dashboard
I want to combine the powerful forces of Big Data for marketing, the “noise” of all the social conversations, the power of understanding prospect intentions in search insights with the results generated in web analytics.
Is this possible?
Here are the steps I think we need to take to get your own big data for marketing, real-time analytics dashboard:
- Define your keywords. You need to look at topic modeling around your own solution areas to determine which words your customers are using when they search for solutions. It all starts with the keywords.
- Gather search analytics using unbranded keywords on your top categories and themes. ThinkGoogle Trends on steroids. For example, you need to know how many searches happened yesterday on terms in your solution category. You need to know which terms were most used? And you need to understand what % of those searches included your brand terms?
- You need social analytics on how many conversations occur each day across the social web. This is where the data gets really big. You need to know what % of those conversation include mentions of your brand. You need to know what are the main topics and hashtags and titles.
- You need to use web analytics to understand how many of your web property visitors come organically, through search and social and what % of those visitors are from unbranded terms (visitors who didn’t already know you).
- It is the combination of these 3 massive big data sets that will give you share of conversations! Now you need a tool to bring them together, normalize them across dimensions and display the insights you need to run your business.
Michael Brenner is proud to be the author of B2B Marketing Insider, the co-founder of Business 2 Community and also serves as Sr. Director of Integrated Marketing and Content Strategy for SAP where he is the founding editor for the SAP Business Innovation blog. Follow Michael Brenner on Twitter @brennermichael or connect with Michael on Linkedin, Facebook or Google+.
Writing prediction pieces is a funny thing because there is really no such thing as “next year.” Time is a continuum, and the calendar is a human construct designed to help us keep organized. Things that will happen “next year” are already happening now, we may simply not take note of them until the sun rises and sets dozens and dozens of times.
So as I look to 2013, I realize that much of which I expect to see in the coming 12-to-14 months has been quietly (or not so quietly) developing for months, even years. From my point of view, it’s unlikely 2013 will contain any revolutionary or ground-breaking advancements in technology, social media or even the nexus of the two. Believe me, I want breakthroughs. But in order for them to be such, they have to be things I’ve never seen before, which means I have little chance of predicting them. Let’s be honest, I’m no Nostradamus.
On the other hand, I can tell you about the trends that will make a difference “next year.” If you’ve been paying attention you may already know what they are.
1. Second-Screen Revolution
Photo by Nina Frazier
Here are some stats for you:
More than 80% of smartphone and tablet owners use these devices while watching TV.
At least 25% of U.S. smartphone and tablet users use the devices while watching TV multiple times per day.
51% of those who post on social media while watching TV do so to connect with others who might also be watching the same thing.
24% of Facebook users report posting about the movie they’re watching (in the theater!).
In other words, the Second Screen has arrived, but the revolution awaits us. In 2013, brands, media companies and marketers are going to get far more aggressive and inventive when it comes to second-screen engagement. During a recent panel I moderated for Viacom’s integrated marketing group, Mondelez’s (a Kraft spinoff) VP of Global Media Bonin Bough reported engagement is far stronger for second-screen integrated marketing programs than for traditional online brand advertising (read “banners”).
Marketers see blood in the water, and in 2013 they will release the sharks.
This is not a bad thing, but the old days of getting the full entertainment experience on screen 1 (TV, movies) is quickly coming to an end. Companies will expect you to watch their shows and see their product pitches with smartphone in hand and tablet (still usually the iPad) on your lap.
Meanwhile, a legion of second-screen engagement enablers like Shazam,Zeebox (both of which were on my panel), Viggle and GetGlue are lining up to help you connect big-screen consumption with small-screen activities.
Their goal will be not only to enrich your viewing experience, but to also extend the consumer connection as you turn off the TV and walk out the door with your smartphone in your pocket. Twenty-four-seven entertainment and branding will be the norm in 2013, though you won’t always be aware the connection between what you saw on your first and second screen at home and what your smartphone is telling you as you pass the local Wal-Mart.
2. Big Data
Image via iStockphoto, Nikada
Part of the solution of that puzzle will be data—whole bunches of it.
Thanks to the Internet and our ubiquitous, always-with-us and always-on smartphones, companies are capturing mountains of data about us. And 2013 is the year they finally figure out what to do with it.
One reason companies and marketers will more readily embrace big data is because they’re finally starting to trust it. The 2012 Presidential Election was a validation of data over guesswork. This may lead people to think that is that somewhat vertical (politics) set of data can be so telling, what can all the socio-demographic-geographic-activity data they’re grabbing now tell them.
In 2013, we’ll see the fruits of that data: targeted information on all channels, new discoveries that impact all walks of life based on deep data dives. We’ll have better products, sharper and more insightful predictions (on future elections, weather; basic needs like food, water, shelter and energy). We’ll also see the rise of the Data Scientist.
At this year’s Technomy in Tucson, Ariz., Annika Jiminez, senior director of Data Science at Greenplum, described the role and requirements for new Data Scientists. She explained that they have to be more than smart statisticians.
“They must have very strong programming skills and foundational statistical chops and communication skills.” That last skill will be critical because for all the support there is for the rise of Big Data, many companies still don’t get it. The Data Scientist has to be the cheerleader.
The best of these scientists will “optimize, predict, score and forecast” and, in the process, change our world.
3. End of Anonymous Trolls
Image via iStockphoto, essem.W
There is a growing tension between what the ever-watchful eye of the Internet and its big data vacuum know about us and people’s desire to remain anonymous. I have no issue with people who seek to protect their privacy on social media (though this is a fool’s game—nothing is ever truly private on social media). But I have no love for people who use the cloak of anonymity as a shield from behind which they can toss Molotov cocktails of venom and malice into people’s lives and the public discourse.
In 2012, Reddit’s most popular and prolific troll was shoved out into the spotlight and forced to own up to the horrible things he had been curating/promoting on the so-called homepage of the web. He cried free speech—as did his supporters—but I think the message was clear: Trolls can’t hide forever. In 2013, I expect that role to slowly fade away.
There will still be people using nom de plumes, but the trend is definitely shifting toward personal branding. And it’s hard to brand, “HappyBoy46.” Digital natives who have grown up with the Internet actively seek to build personal brands and are learning some hard lessons about the persistence of embarrassing online acts in the process.
In 2013, we will see a flood of young people entering the online stage with a fresh perspective on branding on online discourse. It will not be cool to make up a fake names, use other people’s photos as your avatar, lie about who you are and anonymously attack others online. We might also call this time the Dawn of the Age of the End of Bullies. There have been too many sad stories about young people being driven to or near suicide by the callous and almost always semi-anonymous online actions of others.
In short, 2013 will be time to clean house. Watch it happen with me.
4. End of Privacy
Image via iStockphoto, stocknshares
Concurrent with the end of anonymity will, obviously, be the end of privacy. As I noted above, people can try to keep only activities private and hide much of who they are, where they live, what they do and so on from the world, but every action they take will belie it. Constant data collection, ever-growing number of services that ask you to share something about yourself and a generation of users who don’t care about privacy will change how many of us think, feel and act about our own personal, digital space.
If you don’t believe me, just ask David Patraeus. He thought Google Gmail’s Draft folder would protect his privacy. Not so much.
In 2013, consumers will spend more time cleaning house, assuming that whatever they have posted on social media, what they consume and where they go will be public info — unless they actively seek to keep it out of the digital domain. Perhaps 2013 will see the rise of digital-jamming tools — software and hardware that acts a bit like “incognito mode” in Google Chrome. Not only can your own hardware not see where you are or what you’re doing, but third-party sensors are rendered unable to see you as well.
5. Rise of Reporting
Image via iStockphoto, shaunl
Too many reporters and sites got burned in 2012 by re-reporting or over-trusting so-called “known sources” (Google: We Did Not Acquire ICOA, NASA Confirms: No Major Discovery in Curiosity’s Mars Soil Sample). More media companies will rely on their own original reporting and those on social media may hesitate for one extra second before hitting Like, share and retweet.
Expect 2013 to be filled with a lot more long reads, real investigative reporting and fewer digital mea culpas.
6. Official Death of Desktops
Image via Flickr, Hannaford
The Window 8 launch event in New York City sticks in my mind for two reasons: 1) The amazing mirror-like setup of 200-or-so Surface tablets; and 2) The utter lack of traditional desktop computers running Windows 8. To demonstrate the new OS, Microsoft pulled together and impressive array of system. But while there were tons of laptops and tablets and even a handful of All-in-One PCs (a screen that’s also a computer), I did not see a single traditional box.
Sales of desktop computers have been steadily falling since 2006 (when the Consumer Electronics Association reported them at a high of 8.9 billion unitsin the U.S), and laptops officially surpassed desktops in 2008.
Now, however, PC sales are in an all-out tailspin. One report suggests that they won’t turn around for years (if ever). All-in-ones, like the kind I saw at the Windows 8 event, may grow a bit. But I’d say the writing is on the wall: In 2013, we will bury the box PC (at least in the U.S. consumer market) for good. Considering most of us no longer burn CDs, install software from discs, I doubt many people will miss them.
7. 3D Printing
Photo by Nina Frazier
It moved into the home and retail stories this year and will explode in 2013 as the initial $2,000 price of owning a home 3D printer tumbles.
It’s true, consumers may not yet fully understand 3D printing, but the companies they know and love surely get it. In 2012, Staples announced plans to add 3D-printing services to a handful of European outlets and will expand to other countries in short order. When consumers see a 3D printer next to tall stacks of bright-white printing paper, they may start to wonder what all the 3D hype is about.
Concurrently, there will be more and more stories of 3D printing in our everyday lives and industries: at doctors’ offices, in hospitals, even at the local auto mechanic.
In 2013, I expect to see a lot more 3D-printer hardware and services competition and possibly even the first 3D-toy printer (are you listening Hasbro?).
8. Flexible Devices
Image via iStockphoto, klgoh
When it comes to TV, computer, tablets and phone screens, I’m pretty sure we can’t get any thinner. On the other hand, 2013 could be the year of the flexible display—and possibly flexible computer. By year’s end, we should at least see a bendable phone (hard-ish rubber body, flexible display, plastic screen cover). The only question is which company — Apple, Google, Samsung, HTC — will deliver it first.
There’s also an off chance that we’ll see the first flexible HDTV (hang it on the wall, or roll it up and move it to another room).
9. Embedded Technology
Image via iStockphoto, Grzegorz Slemp
NFC may not have made it to the iPhone 5, and some consumers remainconfounded by it, but traditional objects with some smarts built in will happen (in fact, it already is). I predict a whole class of household products that offer instructions when you tap your NFC-enabled tablet or phone (but not your iPhone!) on them and their own embedded NFC chips.
Embedded technology will also show up where you least expect it: utility poles, door handles, sidewalks, you name it. Any place they can jam a sensor to capture — you guessed it — data, or let you quickly gain information about location, situational awareness, there will be embedded technology.
Also, 2013 might also be the year we see a lot more people get technology embedded in them. I’m on the fence, though, about just how big a trend this will be.
10. Crowdfunding Mania
Three years after Kickstarter launched, 2012 became the proving grounds for a host of new crowdfunding platforms, including Indiegogo (which actually launched in 2008), iCrowd and SmallKnot. Companies, small businesses andindividuals are all finding success and funding, which will lead to an explosion of crowdfunding startups in 2013.
By the end of the year, the market will be saturated and returns will have diminished. I don’t think 2013 marks the end of the crowdfunding craze. But, as more people realize that you do not always get a comparable turn on investment (these are often risky, high-concept projects, after all), we will see compression by 2014.
11. Robots Rise
Image via Flickr, randychiu
The consumer robotics space has been pretty quiet for the last five years, but I think that’s all about to change.
Robot wizard Rodney Brooks, whose Rethink Robotics recently unveiled the remarkable Baxter, now thinks we’ll see more powerful in-home robots in just a few years. I expect there could be a surprise or two in the home-robot-companion space, either from a company we know, like Wow Wee or iRobot, (which is doing some awesome research), Honda, Toyota. Or perhaps it will be an Asia Pacific firm we’ve never heard of.
Those are the big trends, but there are sure to be many other ones that are smaller, but just as interesting. How do you think 2013 will shape up? Share your ideas in the comments below.
Homepage Photo by Nina Frazier