Michael Gerard

Content Marketing: New Trends to Watch

By: Michael Gerard | February 11, 2014 | 

Content Marketing: New Trends to Watch

By Michael Gerard

As brands strive to build trust and customer engagement, content marketing will play an even bigger role in their strategy.

A 2013 Curata survey of 500 marketers revealed 71 percent plan to increase investment in content marketing this year.

Content Marketing and Technology

When content marketing first hit the scene, marketers often used a patchwork of tools to plan their editorial calendars, create and promote content, and track performance using any number of analytics tools.

They might scribble ideas in a notebook or on a Post-It, write the content in a Word document before copying it into WordPress, and maintain an editorial calendar on a shared whiteboard to collaborate on new ideas.

This could be affectionately called the duct tape method.

With the explosive growth of tools designed specifically for content creation, marketers now collaborate and do more with dedicated content marketing software.

These tools help streamline, as marketers and CMOs are recognizing the value of well-developed systems.

Fifty-six percent of those surveyed are now using free tools, vendor software, or internally developed tools rather than spreadsheets for building editorial calendars, and word processing applications for formatting blog posts.

Content-specific tools designed to help marketers manage their content workflow are proving to be vital assets in organizations of all size.

Content Marketing: New Trends to Watch

Content Marketing and Internal Staff

There’s a lot of discussion surrounding who “owns” content creation efforts.

The marketing department or department lead was often tasked with creating content, or at least organizing other internal stakeholders to contribute their perspectives. The trouble with this approach, however, is push-back from employees who don’t consider themselves strong storytellers, or who struggle to find the time to prioritize content creation.

Many brands are actively hiring content strategy executives and dedicated content development teams, and also launching brand journalism efforts as part of their content marketing programs.

Content Marketing: New Trends to Watch

Content creation teams may or may not have traditional marketing experience, as an increasing number of brands move to hire people who can think like journalists to tell their story in a compelling and credible way.

Outsourcing Content Creation

That said, many organization are combining their internal talent with external content creators.

Outsourcing creation creation isn’t necessarily new, as companies with limited internal resources look for outside help. What was first a cost-saving measure has now become a legitimate way of creating content to a schedule.

As brands strive to feed the content beast and produce a steady stream of high-quality content, many will invest more time and resources into outsourcing, by contracting with more and more freelancers. These specialists are able to create quality, brand-aligned content to support an existing content strategy.

As this becomes more common, online content marketplaces and tools will help scale these efforts.

Marketing tactics evolve, and content marketing will continue to evolve as new trends, tools, and processes become available.

About Michael Gerard

Michael is the CMO of Curata. He has more than 25 years of marketing and sales experience, having successfully launched and sustained three start-up ventures as well as having driven innovative customer creation strategies for large technology organizations.

  • While we have a lot of great data here on companies that may increase their content marketing efforts, is there any data that supports an increase in marketing spend, or will we see a shifting of marketing budgets? I am just curious how marketers are going to pay for it when there is still a definite trend (56%) toward the use of free tools.

  • I’m most curious about the new focus on outsourcing. There’s so many articles out there warning about the pitfalls of outsourcing content creation, especially after some notable high-profile stumbles (i.e McDonald’s), I’m surprised that organizations haven’t gone running and screaming in the opposite direction.  It’d be interesting to see if this trend is centered around specific industries.

  • MichaelGerard

    ClayMorgan  Thanks for your comment Clay. IDC’s recent tech marketing benchmarks study indicates that marketing investment for 2014 will essentially be flat – i.e. 0.5% decrease. http://tinyurl.com/n4bzu6g Based upon this data point as well as an analysis of marketing spend over the past 10 years, marketers have been shifting their investment from more traditional spend areas (e.g., advertising and in-person events) to digital marketing. We’ll see more of this shift in the coming years, including an increase in “for pay” marketing technology.

  • MichaelGerard

    jasonkonopinski  Hey Jason.  No doubt, some companies have gone running and screaming away from outsourcing. 🙂  In many cases, some of the best intelligence for creating content is within our own organizations; however, we have to do a better job of crowdsourcing our content internally. (read more here re: crowdsourcintg: http://www.curata.com/blog/content-marketing-crowdsourcing-across-your-organization/ )  This strategy will increase in importance as our audience drives us to create more relevant and higher value-add content that you just can’t outsource.

    That said, if you can find the right freelance writers out there who truly understand your industry, then outsourcing can serve a useful function to help with your content creation process.

  • I think the main problem with outsourcing for content is that people in-house always want to get good content for cheap and then are displeased with the low quality when they receive it. 
    Obviously a lot of people eventually realize for the amount of money they would need to spend for quality work, they could bring the whole operation in-house. And that begins a whole new cycle of back-and-forth between in-house and outsource. 
    If your mind is on the cheap, you’re always going to be displeased with the results. The question should be rather if you have the talent in-house to create quality content. If not, then outsourcing for quality work should be the reason you do so. 
    Just remember — you get what you pay for. Other than that, good article. I’m curious to see how outsourcing plays more of a role in content marketing myself.

  • ClayMorgan Only 56 percent?

  • MichaelGerard

    JRHalloran  Well said JR.  You do get what you pay for in this life. 🙂

  • Interesting perspectives.

    In my opinion, the real value in bringing on outside expertise for content creation is to keep the organization honest in storytelling. By that, I mean keeping the focus on the external, not the internal.

    We all know how when working inside of an organization, it is easy to become trapped in the company lingo and a cheerleading “we are the best” mentality. We also all know the realities of internal politics. It is therefore easy for the content, when led totally by internal marketers, to creep into what will make internal stakeholders happy, as opposed to what is the content that the external targeted audiences really need to hear.

    Effective content marketing also requires creativity and thinking outside of the box. While not true in all cases, on the whole I think it is easier for outsiders to bring fresh perspective and challenge the organizational status quo. 

    Of course it is a challenge finding the right external source who can truly live and breathe the brand to reflect internal priorities / business objectives and the targeted audiences appetite for content.

  • I agree with kevinanselmo that the real value in outsourcing is to keep an organization honest. BUT (to jasonkonopinski’s point) it has to be with an organization that truly understands the industry so bad things don’t happen. I’ve also seen content outsourced that has been plagiarized (a la UPS). Of course, that doesn’t make the agency look bad (because it’s rare anyone says who they’ve hired), but it completely undermines the credibility of the company.

    That said, we do content development for most of our clients so I’m happy to see this trend!

  • MichaelGerard

    kevinanselmo  Great points Kevin.  Using outside experts to help with your content creation process can certainly help you to be less “egocentric”. (fyi, here’s a post I did re: STOP Egocentric Marketing http://www.curata.com/blog/stop-egocentric-content-marketing/)  Another way to increase your focus on the “external” vs. the “internal” is to use curated content to complement your created content.  I recommend a split of 65% created content, 25% curated content and 10% or less of syndicated content. (more details here:  http://www.curata.com/blog/welcome-to-the-content-marketing-jungle-what-path-will-you-take-in-2014/  )

  • MichaelGerard

    ginidietrich kevinanselmo jasonkonopinski  No doubt that plagiarism, either intentional or not, can be a real problem in the content marketing space. As you indicated Gini, a company’s brand equity can be damaged if one of their outsourced content creators plagiarizes someone’s content.  Here’s some information about copyright and fair use as it applies to content marketing that may be helpful for readers:  http://www.curata.com/blog/what-marketers-need-to-know-about-ethical-curation-part-1/

  • michaelgerard

    DecentFootage Thanks for the comment Dominick

  • codinaester

    BrennerMichael ginidietrich Interesting but challenging for companies that we create technical content

  • lexxy_squirrly

    JeffSheehan michaelgerard SpinSucks I love to see that many companies desire to have their own in-house dedicated team for content.

  • jasonkonopinski  Interesting point Jason – one of the things I’ve seen that’s rarely talked about is the role trust plays in outsourcing content. Brands want to know that a) the vendor or freelancer can grasp their story and the data behind it and b) they are ethical, and the content is creative, original, and any materials used are sourced properly. 
    Our explicit internal and external promise at Visually is to deliver an experience that brands can trust. We can’t necessarily control every factor but we can and do guarantee that if a problem or concern arises we’ll fix it and make sure the infographic, video, etc… delivered at the end fits their need and is high quality. I had an hour long conversation with global procurement & HR for a very large brand the other day, and they apologized at the end for grilling us….we told them that we actually not only didn’t mind but appreciated it. I very much believe brands considering outsourcing should be thoughtful and careful about where they put their dollars.

  • Dev445

    This is an interesting read! I believe that marketing good quality content should mean that you are focusing on the external audiences versus the internal. If a company focuses too much on what goes on internally, they will be deemed as self-absorbed.

  • Meg Sutton

    Dev445  agreed, Devon! Readers want to hear from their peers and other credible sources as well. First-class marketers are publishing from a variety of sources to keep information fresh and ideas diverse. Check out Stop Egocentric Marketing (http://www.curata.com/resources/ebooks/stop-egocentric-marketing/) to see how marketers are giving their audiences higher quality content.

  • Pingback: TRENDAFRiCA | DAiLY TRENDS: 17 February()

  • guptaabhijit318

    Such nice information for
    SEO people. This blog helps a lot them. Content is one of the most important
    things. All the tips described here is well also. Thanks for sharing
    with us.

  • Pingback: Five Best Practices for Start-Up Content Marketing by @crisrennella Spin Sucks()

  • Ambercarl

    information. Fortunate me I found your web site accidentally, and I’m stunned
    why this twist of fate did not happened earlier! I bookmarked it.