If 2014 was the year content became the connective thread for all marketing, 2015 is poised to be the year that brands actually understand their audiences, and finally prove return on investment. As we enter 2015 in a more mature industry (58% of B2B marketers plan to increase their content marketing budget over the next 12 months), marketers will now focus on measuring their efforts with each individual consumer.
In order to prove ROI, marketers will need to shift from focusing on page views, to focusing on individuals. Brands will need to own long-term relationships with their audience, instead of creating a fleeting interaction. 2015 will be the year of ROI, but also the year that the power shifts, once and for all, to the consumer as people decide what content to engage with and share. Brands need to meet them at the right place with the right content, and should take note while there is still time to strategize.
1. Marketing will become people-focused
In 2015, marketers will gain a deeper understanding of their brand’s audience — going beyond traditional demographics and segmentation to focus on individual people’s interests and preferences. 2015 will be all about creating and delivering the right content, for the right person, at the right time, every time.
2. Big brands will focus intently on content governance
With so much content being created for so many channels, across markets for leading global brands, governance and compliance will become a greater priority and focus. If 2014 was all about creating content at scale, 2015 will see a marked intolerance for mistakes when it comes to content that is off-color or entering a gray area when it comes to compliance. This will particularly be true in industries like insurance and finance.
3. Feeds will force brands to invest in owned versus social
The words “social” and “mobile” were used over and over in 2014. 2015 will see the rise of more owned and offline channels. Brands will rebel against social algorithms continuing to push branded content from organic to paid, and instead, build off-platform content experiences and owned channels to grow their audience on their own terms.
4. Big brands and tech companies will battle over journalists
Journalists will be in high demand as big brands hunt for content editors, and tech platforms from Google to Twitter build out their own content marketing opportunities. You’ll be seeing a lot more requests for “data journalists” and “corporate storytellers” on LinkedIn, and may find yourself seeking out that talent as well.
5. Marketers will become growth engines for their businesses
Now that content marketing has proven it can drive engagement and audience growth, marketers will need to prove how they are increasing revenue. In the new year, marketers will be able to grow their businesses through content, and prove it. They will need to tie value to their content marketing strategy, and prove that the relationships they’re building add revenue over time.
6. The path to millennials will be individualism
Millennials are the independent generation; a generation of wolves, not sheep. Despite popular stereotypes of all millennials being lumped into a single demographic, in 2015, marketers will embrace their individuality. Marketers will start tailoring content to individual cultural interests, location, price ranges and more. This approach will be the only path for marketers to inspire true brand loyalty.
7. Content marketing providers will focus on solutions partners
As content marketing continues to become further aligned with business goals, market integrations will become invaluable. Brands will demand seamless solutions that make it frictionless to connect their content marketing efforts with their CRMs and ESPs. Technology providers will grow their partner ecosystem with exclusive contracts and look for new integration opportunities that will benefit clients.
8. Market consolidation will expand into content marketing
With major acquisitions in the marketing automation industry such as Responsys and Silverpop over the past year, market consolidation doesn’t look to be slowing down. Will content marketing platforms be the next targets for these legacy players looking to build out cross-channel solutions? Maybe. As workflow and editorial calendar products become standard and commoditized, and every content marketing platform starts to look the same, some smaller players in the space may get snatched up. As social and content platforms begin competing as well and marketplace confusion rises, real technology innovation will set apart the leaders and laggards as acquiring companies assess who could be additive or transformative in the long run.
9. Video will play a larger role in content strategy
With more social platforms adopting video and the need for engaging, user-generated content ever-increasing, brands will leverage platforms such as Vine and YouTube more to quickly create video content to reach their audiences in real-time.
10. Content exchanges will become a top priority
Again with so much content being created, global (as well as national) brands will need to create content exchanges. These aren't the digital asset management solutions of yesterday, but centralized platforms where brands can create, collaborate, share and publish content at scale. With these exchanges, marketers will finally be able to measure what content is performing and why.