2014. Is this the year of content marketing?


We sent our marketing team along to Marketing Week Live #MWL2014 to find out if 2014 is living up to its prediction of being the year of content marketing.
We have seen evidence of this being the case in our own marketing and in the work we carry out for brands, and are always considering how to relevantly push content to customers without disengaging them. Consumers have less time than ever before and attention spans are certainly decreasing.
It was great to hear some very honest interviews with established brands including The Trainline, Notonthehighstreet, and Odeon who provided examples of not only what is working well for them, but the things they could have done differently and how they continue to learn.
All of the mistakes pointed back to a lack of understanding of audience behaviour and it’s clear that insight is key to success.
It was also reassuring to hear that the brands are constantly working to understand their customers and regularly use focus groups to achieve this, just as we do at Kolab.
Appropriate content enables you to legitimise your brand. It plays a big role in improving customer experience and to use it well you need to understand how your brand comes to life in the physical world. Understanding the hierarchy of content in the marketing strategy is vital. It is an important part of the marketing mix but should be considered as part of the whole customer experience.  
Notonthehighstreet reported 50% of all sales are now coming from mobile and that responsive website design is playing a big part of their strategy. They continue to look more broadly at mobile experience and how they engage with consumers through content. They have also learnt that as their customers have experienced Notonthehighstreet as a digital brand, it is what they have come to expect from them and they are not used to engagement taking place with the brand in the physical world. So while the whole customer experience will include face-to-face engagement in most cases, in others it is not actually something that is desired by the customer.
Attention turned to the subject of programmatic marketing being the next big thing to occupy the marketing space in 2015.
Whilst it is an exciting outlook for the future it was comforting to hear that the way in which we use data will still need that all important ‘human ‘ sense check. We are still very much dealing with people and their emotions and there are factors that can’t yet be built into the algorithm, such as a daily weather change or personal circumstances, although you can predict seasonal patterns such as the Christmas shopping trend. The marketer is not likely to be replaced by machine just yet!
MWL2014 was an illuminating and affirming experience. It was inspiring to hear from high profile marketeers about their understanding of the marketing world today and what may be coming in the future. It would seem this matches our experiences and content is dominating the industry in 2014. What is important is to put content into context and make sure we are being clever and relevant with our output. It is clear that a certain amount of experimentation is necessary and this has the potential to slip us up - even the big guys have had their share of misses, but this can also lead to discovery and better future tactics. We are human, after all, and human insight and judgment are still valuable tools… we will still be needed in 2015, possibly the year of programmatic marketing! 

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