Content marketing took the world by storm in 2013. Businesses and companies that had never thought about blogging were posting multiple times a week, videos were everywhere, and Oreo proved that you could dominate the Internet with a single, well-timed tweet during the Super Bowl, even if it’s not the most clever or witty thing ever written.
Content is powerful. It mattered in 2013, and it’s going to matter even more in 2014. This means it’s likely going to take more time, effort, and attention. Whether you’re a veteran or a newbie, here are a few reasons you should invest resources into content production throughout the coming year:
- It’s the “face” of your company. It’s old news that content is more than articles and words. It can (and should) also be images and videos. Anything that you put in front of your target audience, whether it’s your social media followers or website visitors, should be viewed as a potential conversion tool worthy of extra time and attention. It’s important to remember that people generate their opinions of a brand through the content it produces. Badly written blog articles or outdated images are turn-offs. Take the extra time to put your best foot forward and ensure that your content is substantive and reflects the trustworthiness of your brand.
- It turns site visitors into customers. How do people know what your company is? How do they understand what you do and how you can help them? Through your content. If you’re describing products or services, describe them clearly and thoroughly. Communicate your approach to your visitors and explain to them why you’re the company that best fits their needs. Finding the best way to reach and connect with these visitors takes time and a lot of trial and error. To determine the right kinds of content and the right distribution channels, you'll need to strategize, test, and adapt as necessary.
- It builds a community around your brand. Using content to promote products and services is a must, but a well-planned strategy will also incorporate content that reflects who your company is. Feature your employees, show the ways you give back, and talk about the fun things you do. This kind of content is especially engaging and works well on social media to increase the number of people who know about your company. Yes, it’s a balancing act, but this content will help you reach people that the admittedly less exciting “industry” stuff misses. And I wouldn’t be surprised if the people who are “just fans” of your company recommend you to their friends who are looking for the services you offer.
- The search engines say it’s important. When Google talks, people listen. And when Hummingbird was revealed back in September, Google was talking, in part at least, about content. Google has always encouraged and rewarded the production of unique, useful content, but Hummingbird took this endorsement up a notch. In short, the algorithm makes it possible for Google to better understand the meaning behind a search query and to return results that are relevant to that query. The relevant part is the kicker here. It means that your content can no longer simply match keywords; it needs to match searcher intent. And this means you need to understand your audience more than ever and create content that answers their questions and adds value. Thin content has been worthless for a while now, and it's still worthless.
- The experts say it’s important. The Internet has been full of best-of-2013 and predictions-for-2014 posts over the last few weeks, and marketers have definitely been talking about the future of content marketing. According to what I’ve read, content is only going to get more important. Companies are investing more in it, and Mashable is predicting that it will eventually comprise its own role or department in companies. In my personal experience, I’ve already seen this happen. Joe Pulizzi, head of the Content Marketing Institute, predicts that in 2014, “at least three Fortune 500 brands will hire a Chief Content Officer.” And Moz’s esteemed leader, Rand Fishkin, an authority in the SEO and inbound marketing industries, believes that “resumes listing content marketing will grow faster than either SEO or social media marketing.” All this is to say that content isn’t going anywhere. Which leads me to my next point…
- It’s a future-proof marketing tactic. Well thought-out, relevant content with value will always be one of the most useful weapons in a marketer’s arsenal. Could the content marketing craze die down in the coming years? Sure. But when has educating and being useful to your audience ever been a bad thing? Speaking as an SEO, the creation of authoritative content is a tactic that will never be penalized by the search engines, and that means it’s worth your time and effort. Well-crafted content always has been and always will be effective.
So, there you have it: my two cents on why content matters in 2014. Do you agree or disagree, and where do you think content will go this year? Share your thoughts in the comments!