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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.

Doug Kessler

Published 25 April, 2012 by Doug Kessler

Doug Kessler is a founder and Creative Director of B2B marketing agency Velocity and a contributor to Econsultancy. 

19 more posts from this author

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Amy Edwards

I think the new Google over optimisation penalty means crafting, quality, useful content is now going to become more essential than ever. OK in the past we've all heard that 'Content is King' and while lots of companies have tried to combine a fantastic content strategy with an amazing link profile and it's paid off, the focus going forward has to be about creating quality content that people will naturally link to, rather than buying links to bump up your SERPs and profile.

Of course, promotion has to play a part. Just like your services, I think you also need to promote your content across the web - social media is the perfect tool as it means your content updates can get fed directly into the news feeds of your fans as well as being placed directly on to your company page. The trick is to create useful, fresh content that people will not only want to read but share as well - social shares are a huge sign of confidence to not only Google but fellow customers and/or potential customers so this is something to be aware of when crafting your content strategy.

over 4 years ago

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Nick Stamoulis

"The very best target for your next piece of content is the person reading your current one."

Great point! What can you do to keep a current reader engaged? You want them to delve deeper and deeper into your content.

over 4 years ago

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Jason Ball

Great points Doug and all true.

A couple of others:

I think we're likely to see far more active content partnerships between brands and online publishers. It is, in a way, an update of the old-school advertorial – but for all but the leading players in any sector, it can often make more sense to sponsor/co-create a section of an existing site than try to create a new one.

There'll be an increasing focus on how content can really affect behaviour. This will move beyond the contents of the latest marketing books and into more robust, more effective strategies based on how people really behave.

While there's a hell of a lot of commoditised being generated out of low-cost content farms, I think clients (especially in B2B) are beginning to see the non-value of a crap click.

As you say, a company's content brand will begin to matter more and more. The reason to produce great content is to differentiate. Commodity content does exactly the opposite.

over 4 years ago

Doug Kessler

Doug Kessler, Director at VelocitySmall Business Multi-user

Excellent points, Jay.

More partnerships: definitely.
And I do agree about the commoditisation of content -- we'll rail against this (for the reasons you state) but I wanted to sound more... diplomatic?

over 4 years ago

Bob Apollo

Bob Apollo, Director at Inflexion-Point Strategy Partners

Hi Doug, great points, almost spoilt for what to comment about, so I'll choose the Social CRM one. As you mention, the likes of salesforce.com have been progressively integrating this (I like the LinkedIn plug-in, for example), but I think there's a new breed of Social CRM about to take the initiative - like Nimble.com - that have built their CRM with a social metaphor at the centre of how they work, rather than as an extension.

over 4 years ago

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Gregory Ciotti

Not sure I agree with 'library marketing', but solid piece nonetheless.

over 4 years ago

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Tom Wright

"it will be harder and harder to earn downloads".

IF Kessler is right, and I think he is, there's a tough time coming for firms like TechTarget who have made their core business lead gen as their user bases become less productive in terms of number of leads per user - they will face a revenue decline. Many will attempt to shortcut falling productivity with telemarketing, and this will mean a reduction in conversion rates and further revenue pressure.

For traditional publishers this will be good news - the wide spread of services they are able to offer are going to make them more resilient and they are likely to see a resurgence in more traditional 'brand' led approaches.

over 4 years ago

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