Content Marketing Predictions for 2015

It’s only a few weeks old, but 2015 is already shaping up as a year in flux for SEO and content marketing. Google’s been relatively quiet since its localization-focused Pigeon update in October, and the search engine giant’s spam guru Matt Cutts remains on leave into 2015. With less information about Google’s goings-on, content marketing experts have relied on their own insights to predict what 2015 will bring for SEO. Here’s our take on what you need to know about content for the coming year.

Mobile Marketing a Must

More visitors than ever now see the mobile version of your site, read your emails on mobile devices and check their smartphones for Facebook updates. If you aren’t catering to these customers with mobile-friendly responsive design, you’re missing a huge chunk of your audience. The good news is that responsive web and email design has become accessible for everyone. With current technology, your content marketing team can put together mobile-first designs that welcome your whole audience to visit your site, read your emails and click on your landing pages.

Sleek and Streamlined Content

Responsive design is just the start of the mobile revolution, which is also affecting how sites look. High-contrast color combinations, bold yet simple images and text with plenty of white space are direct results of mobile-first marketing design. From your logo to your layout, the content you present should look as good on a smartphone screen at 9:00 at night as it does on a desktop unit at 9:00 in the morning. Because viewers want streamlined sites that work well on any platform, content has to be concentrated. You don’t have room for padded writing or fluff-filled copy. Every word counts, and your content creator must keep that editing pencil sharp.

Marketing Automation Makes a Splash

At first blush, automation sounds like the antithesis of what content’s about – specificity, relevance and authority. In reality, marketing automation software just takes the guess-work and extra steps out of moving content from your creative team’s brains to your audience’s eyes. With it, you can customize landing pages, email and even your home page with content directed straight at the audience you want to reach. Triggered email events, audience segmentation and lead scoring are simpler with a fully automated system too, but the heart of the process is content – and lots of it. If you plan to upgrade to full-service marketing automation software in 2015, be prepared to supply your new system with plenty of content.

LSI Matters More

Latent semantic indexing, or LSI, has been a driver for SEO and content marketing for years, and businesses can expect that trend to continue. The term sounds complex, but in practice, it’s just a way for search engines to recognize high-value sites by seeing beyond keywords. For example, if you’re in the business of restoring classic cars, your site’s content might include car makes and models, automotive terms and synonyms for restoration. Search engines that use LSI – or at least something like it – pick up on these signals in your content and index your page more highly. Think of LSI as search engines’ natural defense against keyword-stuffing and thin content.

Google Pulls Away from Analytics

Google has already started playing their big data analytics closer to the vest by dropping their Google Keyword tool-set, and content marketers predict an increasing tendency to withhold similar information. From the search engine’s standpoint, freely providing access to this information helped not only legitimate white-hat content marketers but also black-hat SEO who could use the knowledge to game the system. For marketers, that means greater reliance on in-house software to analyze performance.

SPICE Up Your Email Content

Timing, subject lines, a great call to action – they’re all important to your email marketing strategy, but nothing you do is more important than your content. Marketing depends on its message, not just its medium, yet too many companies send email content that doesn’t live up to the promise of a punchy subject line.

To help you and your content marketing team put together irresistible email content, just remember SPICE: segmentation of your audience, personalization that makes each customer feel special, interesting topics that address their needs, creating curiosity with your content and developing empathy with readers.

Segmentation

Until you know your audience, you can’t grab them with great content. Outstanding email content starts before your content marketing specialist writes the first word with proper list segmentation. How you select your audience is complex enough to merit its own series of articles, but the key here is to group people with similar interests together, then mail targeted content to each segment. For example, your budget-conscious customers might respond well to a sale offer while your longtime clients may want to hear more about your loyalty program benefits.

Personalization

Think of personalization as another layer of segmentation – one that segments each email recipient into a group of one. These days, customizing email content is more than just adding the recipient’s name to the header. You can now deliver images, text and calls to action tailored to the person who opens your email. The demographic, firmographic and behavioral data your marketing team gathers translates directly into better personalization, so working from clean, well-maintained lists is a must.

Interest

Nothing will save your email from a quick trip to deletion if you don’t hold readers’ interest. That means using lively writing that goes beyond sales cliches. It isn’t enough to tell your readers you’re introducing a new product line; you need to show them why they should care about that with examples that showcase its benefits and create excitement. If you promise your readers a newsletter, don’t give them ads; tell them what they need to know to make decisions. Clear, persuasive writing looks best with plenty of white space around it, so make sure form follows function in your email content.

Curiosity

Headline writers know how to grab attention. They promise to show you five things you can’t believe about Congress or show you one ″weird old tip″ to get healthy, and you click. Email marketing depends on curiosity to get readers to click now instead of waiting. Building curiosity into your subject line is a good start, but your email’s content should sustain that curiosity and make readers eager to click through. While you want to make them curious, though, you don’t want to make false promises; they need to trust that when you tell them you have something amazing to show them, you mean it.

Empathy

The most successful email marketing messages talk to potential buyers as people, not as targets. Think about the email you read and what inspired you to read it. Did it speak to your needs or serve the sender’s? Did it give you a clear message, or did it waste your valuable time? Did the subject fit the content, or did you feel tricked into clicking? Your mail to others should contain the kind of content you’d like to read.

Make Your B2B Content Sing

If you’re selling sporty convertibles, it’s almost impossible not to make your content sexy. How do you make accounting software or medical supplies memorable with your content marketing, though? Transforming B2B content into something exciting takes a little more thought than glossy pictures and marketing hyperbole. Here’s why we believe there’s no such thing as a dull subject – only content marketing teams that don’t know how to handle a challenge.

Show How It Works

People love getting a glimpse of how the magic happens, and your B2B content might be perfect to showcase with a demonstration video. Products that involve many manufacturing steps or undergo dramatic changes during use are especially good candidates for tours and demos. If you have a water jet cutter or electroplating rig, you’re set to go viral if you get creative with your concepts. For products that aren’t as photogenic and for services that don’t lend themselves to demonstrations, animation and infographics can bring your content to life.

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How to Have a Conversation with Your Blog’s Readers

Plenty of businesses understand how important content is, but they don’t know what kind of content they should offer. Blog posts that read more like ad portfolios or lecture notes miss the mark because what customers want something from your blog that they don’t get from company website or landing pages: conversation. Blog posts are your chance to let your customers hear your company’s natural speaking voice. Social media is good for that too, but a blog lets you steer the conversation in ways social media can’t match. Here’s how to keep your company blog exciting enough to attract new readers and welcome them into your brand’s conversation.

Use Keywords Naturally

Businesses don’t just have blogs for human readers; they also want to satisfy their SEO marketing needs. When both purposes come together seamlessly, that isn’t a problem, but too often, blog posts turn into keyword-stuffed blurbs that turn away your regular readers. Keywords are still vital to SEO, but they should happen naturally, not get wedged into every sentence. If you look, you’ll see phrases such as ″business content″ or ″content marketing″ in our posts, but the keywords are just part of the overall conversation, not the sole purpose of it. You wouldn’t enjoy a conversation with someone who always said the same phrases, so don’t make blog readers slog through a sea of keywords either.

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