On Wednesday, Gartner, a top research and technology and advisory firm, released the 2019 Magic Quadrant for Content Marketing Platforms report. The report is meant to help marketing leaders evaluate the market's direction, maturity and the technologies participating in that space. For our team at CoSchedule, it is the first time making the quadrant and we're thrilled to be included with such a great list of companies, but it really got me thinking about the future of content marketing.
What will content marketing software look like five years from now?
There are signs that a lot is about to change.
Content Marketing Then And Now
The truth is that content marketing itself isn't particularly new even though we've witnessed a tremendous surge in its popularity over the last two decades.
John Deere's Furrow publication is one of the oldest examples of content marketing and goes back to 1895. The publication cleverly focused on educating farmers and focused on solving farmer's problems rather than on marketing John Deere products. Which is basically the definition of content marketing.
In recent years, marketing teams have been eager to apply the lessons learned by John Deere to the digital age, and it's kicked up a ton of new technology and activity.
According to a report by the Content Marketing Institute, 26 percent of marketing budgets were spent on content marketing in 2018, and 38 percent of respondents expected to increase their content marketing budgets in the next 12 months.
As we look at the future of content marketing, however, the tools and tactics required for the job are changing.
It's Not Just Content Marketing Anymore
The reality is, we are working in the ultimate content age. Content is everywhere, and more accessible to us than ever, and that is changing how we use it. The way I see it, content marketing is no longer just a tactic or a type of marketing that we can implement. It's actually the new definition of marketing itself.
In talking about how content marketing will evolve in the future, Robert Rose, Chief Strategy Officer at Content Marketing Institute, recently stated that the content teams of tomorrow will no longer be responsible for simply driving traffic and SEO, but they will need to become "the experts in delivering audience value at every stage of the customer's journey."
This means that content marketers need to constantly expand beyond the content publishing on their company blog or website. They will need to take their story to new places, like social media, video sharing sites, and other paid channels.
In other words, it will be more about creating a unified story across a variety of mediums, not just a tool for driving traffic and page views.
When Rose calls, for a "unified strategy for content," this is exactly what he is talking about. And a different strategy calls for a new way of doing things.
Introducing The Age of Agile Marketing
We are graduating from a phase of marketing that has been completely channel-centric. What I mean is that marketing teams are built around the channel that they serve--social media, email, pay-per-click, etc.
The next age of marketing won't be about adding new channels, it's going to be about telling the same story across a wide variety of them.
This means that we will have to break down barriers between teams and reinvent how digital marketing teams work overall. Rather than setting up a distinct team by channel, these groups have to learn how to work together in multi-disciplinary teams to create unified content experiences that unify all of their brand stories and messages together.
Agile project management was actually invented to do just this.
Agile marketing practices promote flexible processes that help diverse teams break down internal barriers to collaboration and overcome frustrations working cross-functionally. Things like daily scrum, story planning, and sprints--all part of the Agile formula--are setup to make this work seamless.
Imagine a team that includes specialists from content marketing, social media, and email automation or digital ads on one team and executing against a specific brand message, rather than a singular channel. How does their strategy change? How do the tools they need to get the job done change?
Marketers have figured out how to do good content marketing, the bigger challenge now is about creating unified messages and solving collaboration hurdles. Teams typically function very well as individual, specialized disciplines. However, the future of these teams will be about getting everyone rowing in the same direction--toward the same goal.