Let's face it, content marketing has gone mainstream. That kind of sucks, really, because it used to be a hugely powerful differentiator in most markets.
Soon it will just be the price of entry. Everyone will have a rich content library, so a new eBook or video won't be enough to make you jump out from that pack of pesky competitors.
So how will the world of digital marketing change when content marketing becomes the norm for everyone?
Here are ten predicions and what you can do about them...
Old-school, broadcast-style interruption marketing will make a comeback
Only now we'll be advertising our latest piece of content instead of our latest product launch.
This means the content-to-promotion ratio in mast budgets will swing towards promotion. Inbound meet outbound. Depressing but true.
Your content brand will be as important as your brand-brand
The winners will be the brands who become famous for great content – informative, entertaining, well-written, clearly-presented insights.
This means spending more on fewer pieces – which kind of runs counter to today's trend of rapid-fire info-nuggets (but they'll always have their place).
It will be harder and harder to earn downloads
Attention will become the most expensive commodity on the planet. The days of cranking out a mediocre eBook and getting tens of thousands of downloads are passing.
This means paying more attention to the utility of every piece, it's title and subtitle and the way you sell it on the landing page and in promotions.
Content production will become commoditised
As every brand scales up its content efforts, it's starting to look like a contract publishing play (but digital). OF course, in every commodity market, there's room for premium players (our agency, Velocity, is much more likely to go the premium route rather than becoming a massive, global contract publisher -- but you never know).
This means deciding what content can be created by a scaled-up content machine and which needs more careful crafting.
We'll have to work much harder to earn people's names and contact details
Less of our content will be gated. More will be sprinkled across the waters. Prospects will click away if they don't think the piece is really worth it.
This means fewer forms, shorter forms and progressive profiling. It also means using lead nurturing so you can track people (or IP addresses) while they're still anonymous, then associate all that past behaviour to a name when they finally share it.
Active shares will be the killer metric
Getting someone to read a piece is good (click). Getting them to share it is great (tweet). Getting them to actively promote it to their followers is solid gold (ka-ching).
That means cultivating good relationships with the sharers in your market -- and rewarding them for sharing your stuff.
Cross-promotion will become essential
The very best target for your next piece of content is the person reading your current one. Failing to cross-promote is a big mistake today -- tomorrow it will be malpractice.
This means going back to your old content regularly to sprinkle in some promotions for later content. Don't be lazy. go back and revise.
Trigger events will be the new personas
A trigger event turns a tepid prospect into an information-hungry beast. Marketing to personas and buying stages is important but finding your trigger events is a powerful weapon for finding people with a real need to know.
This means not just identifying the trigger events for your products but crafting specific campaigns and content around them.
Library marketing will be the next critical discipline
We've all got pretty good at promoting a single piece of content. Now we'll need to learn to manage and market the entire resource library.
This means mapping content to buying stages and surfacing the right content to the right person at the right time (not just pushing your newest, shiniest piece).
Social CRM will become the core technology for most marketing departments
CRM is already the logical place to hold all the marketing and sales data around each prospect. With the addition of social, you'll also be able to associate all that great social activity with this data.
This means making sure your CRM is social-powered -- and that your'e set up to respond to social activity (one way that trigger events announce themselves).. The Social Success site we worked on with Salesforce.com has lots on this.
Get ready to raise your game
Content marketing isn't just the secret weapon for the brotherhood of content geeks. It's everybody's now. And that means working hard to make sure your content rises to the top.
The easy wins will be fewer and further between, but that just means the goodies will go the marketers who best understand the dynamics of content and work hardest to exploit that understanding.