Top Marketing Trends for 2014

Content Marketing, Email and Videos for 2014

OK, I’ll just say it: Content is Killer
And I mean that in both interpretations: first, content is proving to be the be-all end-all marketing tactic that B2B brands are flocking to, and second, producing content is one of the top challenges of marketers everywhere. Let’s explore both of these points a bit further.

Content: the upside
We’ve all heard that content is king­—in fact I’ve heard several other interpretations of that statement, such as “Content is king, but distribution is queen and she wears the pants.” All joking aside, according to a recent study (December 2013) by Advertising Age, 75% of business-to-business marketers are planning to increase their content spending budget in 2014. No surprise that digital tactics and delivery channels are fueling the increase in content marketing, with 64% of the respondents planning to increase their budgets for email marketing. Similarly, 64% responded that they are planning to also increase their marketing investments in online video. Increases in search, mobile, social and website spends that support these tactics continue to spur content marketing strategies.

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In fact when it comes to these tactics, email, video, social and mobile, a study by Omobono and the Business Marketing Association found that marketers were gravitating to these tactics because of their success with them. Asked which marketing channels they found to be the most effective, 75% of the B2B respondents said it was email marketing. (For additional information about the effectiveness of email marketing, see my earlier blog on McKinsey’s findings.) A full 70% responded that online videos were the most effective and 58% claimed social media. As far as mobile, it seems to be much farther behind as a strategic focus but it is gaining respect—and budgets—quicker than most any other category. Specifically, only 39% of the marketers responded that they currently use mobile in their content strategy. However, almost 50% said that mobile advertising would become extremely important to their organizations in 2014—that’s compared to just 20% from a year ago.

This doesn’t mean that these are the only content marketing tactics being used—just that they are believed by marketers to be the most effective. In fact, B2B marketers use an average of 13 content marketing tactics, including articles, blogs, case studies, infographics, webinars and more.

So content is clearly the place to be. According to a MarketingProfs/Content Marketing Institute study, 93% of B2B marketers are using content marketing, and 44% claim to have a documented content strategy—a very smart move. And on average, 30% of B2B marketing budgets are allocated to content marketing.

Content: the flipside
As much as there seems to be agreement about the need to focus on, and the positive results from, content marketing, there also seems to be agreement on the challenges in implementing this strategy well. There appears to be two large buckets of challenges that B2B marketers face when talking about content: lack of resources and production issues. Specifically, the leaders are: a lack of time (69%), a lack of budget (39%), producing enough content (55%), producing engaging content (47%), and producing a variety of content (38%).

There are several ways that marketers are meeting these challenges head-on. One is out-sourcing. To overcome the production challenge, marketers are outsourcing content creation in addition to developing it in house—72% of large (1000+ employees) companies use both in- and out-sources. And the two functions most likely to be outsourced are writing (64%) and design (54%).

Though outsourcing addresses one aspect of ‘a lack of resources’, the lack of budget remains a stickler. I believe this too will change as budget allocations begin to shift even more dollars (from the current 30%) to content marketing strategies. And as marketers continue to measure and prove their ROI, and marketing budgets grow overall, the amount earmarked for content will also increase.

Both sides now
2014 will be the year to capitalize on content strategies, and implement email, SEO, and video projects and programs. Continued focus on tailored and segmented content along with increased use of the most effective tactics—email and video—will drive brand awareness, lead generation, customer acquisition and thought leadership throughout 2014 and beyond.

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