New Year, New Priorities: Keeping Up With Content in 2014

With 2014 upon us, marketers are reflecting on the year that was all about content. And folks, if you haven’t embraced it yet, wake up and spend the money because the trend is holding and growing. It’s not just big brands like Coca-Cola that have turned traditional PR and marketing on its head with a laser focus on content. It’s smaller brands like Dollar Shave Club that are becoming the next big thing thanks to creative content and the right digital marketing strategy.

But when it comes to embracing content, the numbers are frightening for many companies. A recent study on digital marketing in Canada by Digital Giants and Vireo Research shows a serious disconnect, and we suspect its the same in many other countries. When it comes to content, only 20% of businesses have embraced it. And the future doesn’t look so bright for Canadian marketers: 59% have a flat digital marketing budget.

It’s time for companies, big and small, to get into the content game. With the right priorities and focus, it is possible. Here’s a few insights on where priorities should be placed in 2014:

Get blogging

A blog is one of the first steps to building your web presence. It essentially gives companies the opportunity to become their own brand journalist. Our research showed that only 21% of Canadian companies are using blogs to drive traffic to their website. For many companies the deterrent to starting a blog is the perceived lack of “things to say” about their brand.

Guess what? Most companies already have a ton of content. It’s buried in their computer, in annual reports, in employee communication materials, press releases, product information, speaking materials and anything else that they’ve used to communicate their services or products. They just need to tap into it and position it as relevant and informative for your audience…and then share it. Educate, inform and engage your visitors don’t market to them.

Get Creative

Start working with a partner that can help you see your business differently, pushing the boundaries of creativity. The more creative the content, the more likely it is to become viral. Take Volvo’s stunt with Jean Claude Van Damme for example. Who ever would’ve thought that a trucking company would have one of the most talked about viral campaigns of the year? Or WestJet’s Christmas miracle — this was creative, real time use of content that brought people to tears. Think of how your content can make the same impact.

Use video

And speaking of creativity, know this: YouTube gets over 4 billion views per day and it’s the second most popular search engine. Videos are shared, commented on and visible on multiple devices. People laugh, cry, learn from and respond to video in a way that isn’t possible with other content. It brings a brand, product or service to life. Plus, it no longer costs a fortune to create a good video, insta-video or GIF. So there really is no reason why video shouldn’t be part of a company’s content strategy.

Embrace social media

Social media is here to stay and it’s an incredibly cost effective way to share a brand message. Think of it as word of mouth on steroids! Interacting and sharing content with customers socially will create buzz around products or services, with the added bonus of improving and managing reputation.

The use of mobile devices further demonstrates the importance of social media with two-thirds (65%) spending their time on social networks using a mobile device. So that means they are bringing their social connections everywhere with them, snapping photos, taking videos and engaging with brands instantly. This is why companies need to have a presence or they are missing an engagement opportunity.

Be visual

As this article indicates, visual content is more effective at connecting with readers. Proof: the rise of the infographic. There are now blogs, magazines and websites entirely dedicated to infographics…and people share them like wildfire. But aside from infographics, there are many other ways to use visual content to bring a brand to life. Online display ads, slide presentations, product sheets, just to name a few. And remember to make sure the visuals are mobile friendly and shareable.

So now what?

Every company should make sure their list of priorities for 2014 includes some or all of the content recommended above. Even if budget is a barrier, each can be executed a minimal cost compared to traditional marketing and advertising. Companies need to take a look at where the marketing budget is being spent and identify where the content opportunities already exist. If there’s one thing we know for sure, the importance of content will only continue to grow in 2014. Companies who aren’t embracing it now will see their competitors step ahead.

About the Digital Marketing in Canada Survey

In August 2013 Vireo Research conducted an online survey in partnership with Digital Giants. The survey was conducted among 340 Canadian professionals, including senior decision makers from both B2B and B2C companies. To learn more about the changing landscape of digital marketing in Canada and get additional insights on the opportunities, barriers, and strategies used by marketers, download the full report and infographic.