After the current content marketing craze runs its course, what comes next? A look into the digital marketing crystal ball.
Content marketing is the hottest thing in marketing. Social media marketing is on the wane and SEO is in a state of confusion and reinvention. Today, all things marketing seem to end in content.
It’s not yet a mature discipline, though, and it will probably be another six months before content marketing hits its peak. How will we know? Industry consolidation and the attention of an ever-fickle marketing industry will shift to a new darling.
The landing is likely to be soft for content marketing, though. It is the best and most efficient way for vendors to meet customers. Content marketing budgets are not typically net new, and are either branded content budgets shifted into digital (B2C) or lead gen budgets shifted to focus on content (b2B). Content marketing will continue to be very dominant in B2B organizations, where its implementation can transform marketing and sales teams and agency relationships, and not always comfortably. Content co-creation with customers and customer/agency/brand dynamics will also be areas of considerable movement that will generate both creative brilliance and marketing tension over the next two years.
So once content marketing adoption and budgets start to normalize, what will be big next? Two trends loom: native distribution and customer narrative analytics.
Trend One: NATIVE DISTRIBUTION: As platforms like Facebook squeeze marketers harder and harder to reach fans and followers, brands and enterprises will start to appreciate the power of their existing, untapped, organic distribution networks: customers, partners and employees. They will start formalizing these networks and creating distribution infrastructure to tap into the power, reach, influence and facilitate increased proximity of the people in these networks to the company/brand. Some will go from follower to subscriber to community member, a few to employee or evangelist. Some social media marketing platforms will be retooled and redeployed to focus on this kind of organic reach. (To illustrate the continued importance of content, these native distribution networks will need to have content to share and talk about). This type of native network distribution will start to take a greater portion of advertising budgets as it proves its effectiveness.
Trend Two: CUSTOMER NARRATIVE ANALYTICS: Digital engagement analytics will shift in focus from point-in-time and campaign-based to lifecycle digital narratives based on customer behaviour, visible through digital engagement patterns, answering questions like:
if someone follows our brand on Twitter, are they more or less likely to become an email subscriber than a Facebook fan? How many of our Twitter followers become email subscribers every month? How long are they Twitter followers before they convert to email subscribers? Are they more likely to be repeat customers than subscribers who opt in after a search? How should these metrics impact budget?
Another key part of this trend is the growing sophistication of brands when it comes to narrative analytics; they are increasingly more sophisticated at analytics than agencies, who are oriented by nature to campaign analytics, leaving a big and growing credibility gap when it comes to ongoing counsel (and an opportunity for the entrepreneurial marketing technologist!).
Analytics fluency and expertise will be a critical competitive advantage for agency partners over the next couple of years, challenging given the fluidity of the space and agencies’ limited investments in data mastery.
– Content marketing will peak in next 12-18 months but will continue to command a large part of digital budgets once normalized
– The “next big marketing things” for companies and brands will be native distribution and customer narrative analytics
– Analytics capabilities will be increasingly demanded of agencies by customers
Next we’ll take a look at how all types of creative and communications agencies will be impacted by the tech-driven changes in the marketing landscape.
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