December rang in myriad content marketing developments, and the month’s end also meant the start of a new year. While many marketers hopefully enjoyed the festive season, here’s our take on the end-of-year content marketing trends that could help you get a competitive edge.

SEO is (still) all about content 

Content that creates a positive user experience is still the only way to stay ahead of the search curve, evidenced by an algorithm tweak around December 13th that caused noticeable SERP changes – though it wasn’t any of the usual animal-themed suspects. Matt Cutts confirmed on Twitter it was one of the company’s other 500+ algorithms rolled out each year to keep brands on their toes.

Then, the company released content-centric Panda 23 on December 21, changing results for 1.3 percent of queries.

MattCuttsTweet - no Panda





Social marketing: It’s time to call in the experts

Content that fuels SEO should be a top priority for 2013, but more than half of brands will boost their social marketing, according to a recent StrongMail survey. 

One of the largest investment areas is social media marketing technology, cited as a priority for 26.5 percent of respondents.

While technology and automation tools may get a boost, many companies could benefit from hiring experts who provide easy integration and goal-appropriate metrics. Social measurement is a top challenge for brands.

A NASDAQ report shows 65 percent companies currently assign social tasks to non-specialized employees, and 27 percent are unsatisfied with how their brands measure social results.

It’s time turn to savvy and innovative social marketers who can become your brand advocates and generate social leads in 2013 – especially as eCircle reports 21 percent of companies say social marketing helped drive holiday sales. 

Email marketing is a not-to-be-forgotten asset

If holiday sales figures are any indication, boosting email marketing is a wise investment too. Forty-three percent of ecircle respondents said email was “very important” to generating additional sales this Christmas. 

While email is undoubtedly one of the more “traditional” web marketing outlets, it’s an ever-evolving channel that businesses are ready to spend big on this year. Strongmail found email marketing program investments will rise among 55.5 percent of its survey respondents. Companies that want to maintain or gain an edge in prospects’ inboxes should be armed with standout messages that capture clicks.

For email success, fresh, mixed media content is key. SundaySky reports videos in emails and subject lines help clicks jump 26 percent or more. 

2013: The year of video

December brought a flood of headlines about the top web videos of 2012 – spanning industries and genres. Some roundups to check out:

  • The best Matt Cutts videos from WebProNews
  • The top 10 video ads that went viral charted by Mashable 
  • Four of the best marketing videos of the year according to  CBS News (a publication that shows video marketing has entered mainstream consciousness)

Video is on its way to becoming 2013’s hottest content. Overall, Brafton has reported that 2012 was a record-breaking year for video. The web format reached an all-time high of 188 million American viewers in August, and various content surveys indicate the majority of U.S. businesses invest in some form of video content for marketing purposes.

Those brands who want to set themselves apart in the New Year will need to treat videos like other marketing efforts: Strategy and consistency are required. Brafton’s latest marketing guide, Video Marketing from Production to Purchases, offers a video marketing checklist and tips for executing sustainable, results-focused video campaigns.

Cut the content overload and focus on a strategy

As more content types enter the mix, it’s important that brands have a cohesive strategy to unify all their content marketing programs. An  IMN  report reveals only 28 percent of marketers have cross-channel content strategies, and just 32 percent have editorial calendars. 

Marketers need to make it their News Year’s resolutions to develop integrated, multi-format content marketing strategies to drive search, social and email leads in 2013 – or find partners who can.