December 19, 2023
We're swimming in an ocean of data, and content is the biggest fish in the sea. It accounts for 60% of the estimated 97 zettabytes of data today, with 90% created in just the past two years—explosive growth driven by the changing digital marketing, creator, and AI landscapes.
When I think about this trajectory and how it's accelerating into 2024, it's evident that marketing leaders must make two fundamental commitments to continue driving business growth.
Commitment 1: Prioritize content creation despite economic headwinds
In a world overflowing with content, standing out is crucial. That's why good content marketing isn't just a nice-to-have; it's essential to success. This is especially true in a shaky economy.
For example, history has consistently shown us that companies that maintain or even increase their marketing efforts during recessions outperform those that retreat.
Studies by McKinsey and others point to the fact that challenging market conditions present brands with a unique opportunity to capture a larger share of voice and market share amidst the silence of competitors. Brands who come out winners refocus and spend significantly more on marketing in a down economy than even in periods of growth.
What did these brands do to ensure they came out stronger on the other side?
Commitment 2: Innovate to increase your content's impact
Making reckless cuts to content marketing is a critical mistake. But clinging to the familiar will be just as detrimental in the year ahead.
In 2024, there's an unprecedented opportunity to get ahead by understanding and embracing content-led innovation while others wait and see.
Which shifts are forward-looking brands leaning into?
1. Maintaining Visibility in the Shift to AI-Powered Search
New generative AI-powered search engines are disrupting traditional SEO. The innovative ways SGEs generate answers, curate content, and deliver personalized results are redefining the criteria for high-performing content in search.
Now's the time to:
Consult SEO experts familiar with SGE dynamics to refine your strategy.
Prioritize content addressing complex and late-stage buyer questions, areas where AI faces limitations.
Diversify content by transforming written material into images, videos, and interactive formats which are gaining prominence in search results. (We devised a tool to help brands achieve this cost-effectively at scale with AI.)
Deepen your brand's authority on specific topics, aligning with SGE preferences for content sources that demonstrate expertise.
2. Achieving the Perfect Blend of Analytics, Creativity, and Purpose
We've seen a major shift in how brands perceive and rely on data. A swell of AI powered analytics tools promise next-level insight into our audiences' behavior and preferences. Meanwhile, data privacy concerns have compromised third-party analytics to the point that as many as 61% of marketers predicted decreased use of third-party data last year. This shift is reshaping the brand vs. performance marketing paradigm.
Standout brands are concentrated on leveraging strong brand marketing into stronger performance. This means blending analytics and creativity to craft stories that respond to audience preferences while remaining unique and purpose-driven. The key is mastering data-informed storytelling: using data to understand customer desires and creatively reinforce the brand narrative to establish a distinct identity in a competitive market.
3. Adapting to Social Channels as the New Search Engines
Social media platforms are evolving beyond their roots as quick news and connection hubs. With Influencer marketing, sales-driven algorithms, and growing content discovery features, they're increasingly acting as search engines, especially for younger generations. A whopping 40% of Gen Z uses TikTok and Instagram over Google Search and Maps to find local businesses.
In 2024, effective social content strategies demand increased sophistication, with a focus on:
Breaking down silos and extending storytelling seamlessly from site to social.
Expanding content creation to include diverse voices and perspectives.
Studying top influencers and creators to understand how you can engineer your social content for maximum impact.
Prioritizing content that offers surprising value and insight over brand promotion.
4. Pioneering Content Creation with Humans + GenAI
New GenAI applications are emerging everyday, offering exciting possibilities for content creation in 2024. But while generative AI holds incredible potential for content marketing, it also calls for a renewed focus on brand reputation, quality, and reliability.
Inaction isn't an option. Innovative marketers are pioneering a responsible approach to AI-generated content that prioritizes brand integrity, human oversight, and long-term strategic value. When selecting and implementing a generative AI solution, ensure you're considering:
Security: Prioritize secure solutions that protect data privacy and prevent unauthorized access.
Customer-centricity: Use AI to enhance content quality and value, not just volume. Maintain human oversight for brand consistency and audience relevance.
Accountability: Partner with providers who offer ongoing monitoring, auditing, and human oversight.
Scalability: Choose a solution that can adapt and grow with your organization's needs. Focus on long-term value creation and transformation, not only short-term gains.
Are you ready?
Make 2024 the year of innovation rather than hesitation. This year and beyond, content marketing proficiency will widen the gap between leaders and laggards in the market.
This is a lot of change to navigate, especially when we all face the day to day demands placed on our role as marketers. I'm here to say you DON'T have to do it alone.
Our company is committed to help you prove the value of your content marketing and refocus your strategy where you'll make the greatest impact. Here are two easy ways to take advantage of that expertise.
Ping me about:
1) a 1:1 consultation about your content marketing strategy or to gain deeper insight on any of the shifts mentioned above.
2) a free workshop designed to help you and your team devise a purpose-driven content blueprint to deploy in the year ahead.