Content marketing is set to become a larger influence in the small business market in 2015. We spoke with industry to get the low-down on the future of content marketing and to find out how small business operators can make the most of it.
7 Ways Content Marketing Will Change in 2015
1. Visual Content Comes into Its Own
"One trend we'll see is the weight and the importance of visual content," says Holly Hamann, co-founder and CMO of influence marketing agency and platform provider TapInfluence. Not only do consumers often connect more quickly with pictures and videos, Hamann says, "Visual content is shared more often than text-based."
Instagram, You Tube, Vine, Pinterest—these are likely to be hot platforms for small businesses in 2015. Worried your offering isn't a good fit for visual content? "There are ways to find the visual angle of products," Hamann assures small business operators. Try posting a few pictures from a recent sales event or take a quick video of how your company makes your product.
2. Teasers Drive More Website Traffic
Ben Grinnell, co-founder of digital marketing agency Two Legit, says short video excerpts posted on social media already prove an effective way to draw more customers in for the full view.
"[Small businesses] just put the first 30 seconds up on Facebook or their networks and they say, 'Want to watch more? Head on over to the site.'" Prospects "click through to the website to watch the whole piece." It may be a good way to convert on-the-fence lurkers and, Grinnell says, "It's a very smart tactic."
3. A Mobile Audience of Diverse Ages
Mobile devices aren’t just for Millennials anymore. "We're finding that the older demographics are definitely catching up," Hamann says. The older generations often have disposable income, they're healthier, they travel more and they want to stay in touch with their kids and grandkids.
"They keep up with their families through their mobile phone," Hamann says. Texting, getting the latest news, finding old friends and staying connected to their families will likely continue driving up mobile usage among the older demographic.
4. Concise Content for Mobile Shoppers
"When it comes to mobile, the time your potential viewers spend on websites or on social networks is pretty short," Grinnell says. He suggests keeping the time that mobile visitors need to read or watch to less than a minute, because interruptions—an alert that someone has posted on Facebook or that they have a new email—abound. "Include as concise a call to action as possible, or make an offer that they can act upon quickly," Grinnell says.
5. The Rise of Consumer Content
"We'll see a lot more consumer-generated content," Hamann says. Even large companies often find it difficult to create enough content to keep customers happy. "They just have insatiable appetites when it comes to content," Hamann says of consumers.
Fortunately, small businesses don't need big budgets to take advantage of consumer content. Hamann suggests finding people who are already talking about your business and partnering with them. "It makes sense to build relationships with those people—whether or not you compensate them—because those people influence the purchase behaviors of their peers."
6. Embrace Promoted Content
"Regarding the reach of your content, more businesses will accept the fact that they need to pay-to-play on Facebook to amplify their reach," Grinnell says. Many small businesses have judiciously avoided paying to promote their content on social media networks, but that may be changing.
"The surprising thing will be that once they do discover how effective and affordable it is to promote content—at least for now before it gets too competitive in the paid space—they'll easily sink more of their marketing budget into it."
7. Increase Your Content Marketing
Small businesses can support more social and visual content if they focus their efforts. "Stop and take stock of where your target consumers interact online," Hamann says.
Research conducted by TapInfluence revealed that consumers turn to the blogosphere when they want to purchase something. Consumers looking for entertainment head to YouTube and Instagram. Once you've identified where your consumers congregate online, Hamann says, "create a presence on those platforms, because that aligns with consumer behaviors."
Grinnell encourages small business operators to boost their content marketing strategies by putting more energy into their blogs. "Think about your blog more like a magazine and include visual content," he says. Combine traditional blog posts with photos or videos, or use social media to augment the content and to connect with more visitors.
"Unlock the Facebook-plus-video strategy as soon as possible," he suggests. His team has seen fantastic engagement for their clients when combining video and Facebook.
Julie Knudson is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in technology magazines including BizTech, Processor, and For The Record. She has covered technology issues for publications in other industries, from foodservice to insurance, and she also writes a recurring column in Integrated Systems Contractor magazine.
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