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15 Smart Marketers Share Insights on the Future of the Industry

yarn-light-bulb-ideaMarketers, rejoice. You’ve made it through an intense Q4. Now, it’s time to start thinking about this year -- and guess what? It’s never been more exciting to be a content-loving, metrics-driven marketer.

The beauty of marketing is that it's creative, community-focused, collaborative, and fun. What does 2014 have in store, you ask? Here is what 15 expert marketers think about the future of the industry.

1) Get creative.

Neil-Patel-1"Content marketing and social media will have the same emphasis, but people are going to get more creative. More unique pieces are coming out, which saturates the existing market. With more people in the content marketing space, the same techniques won't hit as hard. I think people will continuously innovate in the content marketing arena. Different types of content will take off. Nobody was really doing guides and animated infographics, for instance."

-- Neil Patel, Founder of KISSmetrics, CrazyEgg, and QuickSprout

2) Learn that less is more.

Joe-Pulizzi"The content creation space is getting crowded. Nearly all companies, both media companies and non-media companies, are creating vast amounts of content (over 92,000 articles posted per day). Content velocity is not a winning strategy anymore. Brand content needs to tell a different story in order to really make an impact. I believe in the next year, you'll see more brands focus on owning a channel (instead of 'spray and pray' in multiple channels) and move to a 'less-is-more' strategy by focusing on truly differentiated content. At least, I hope this is the case."

-- Joe Pulizzi, Founder of The Content Marketing Institute

3) Deliver personalized experiences.

Suzanne-Baran"Expect more customer-centric content and personalization in 2014. There's a shift from metrics like eyeballs (pageviews) and traffic created through content bombardment to a dedicated effort of personalization, targeted distribution, and amplification. 2013 is the year brands began to adopt a publishing and media company mindset. 2014 brands will continue to create savvier ways to reach consumers through social TV (Twitter), in-store ads, and a shift from user-generated content to useful content."

-- Suzanne Baran, Co-founder of Sticks & Stones Agency

4) Create more substance.

Dany-Wong"Crafting in-depth content will be everyone's new focus (at least, as a reader ready to consume great reports and stories, I hope that will be the case). Many marketers have neglected to create content with significant substance. But soon, they will realize pushing out just any content no longer works, especially as customers quickly become inundated with all the information now available for any and every topic they search for and develop more refined tastes in the media they consume. Marketers will wise up and create immensely useful content for readers who will offer their loyalty in exchange for uncompromisingly meaningful in-depth reads."

-- Danny Wong, Co-founder of Blank Label and Marketing Manager at Shareaholic

5) Hire growth hackers.

Untitled-2"Hiring growth hackers was clearly a hot topic for 2013. In 2014, we're going to see more companies building entire teams around growth hacking to merge engineering and marketing skill sets."

-- Lars Lofgren, Growth Manager at KISSmetrics 

6) Invest in mobile.

Adam-Smith

"A major trend for 2014 will be the continued growth in time spent and budget allocated to mobile and tablet. This will challenge marketers and platform developers to re-think customer expectations, from cross-device experiences to real-time feedback and engagement via social media. At a time when individuals are increasingly connected, the value of simplicity, consistency, and transparency has never been more important to marketers looking to tell a unique story."

-- Adam Smith, Marketing Manager at Investopedia

7) Experiment with content length.

Renee-Warren"2014 will be a determining year for content length in content marketing. Popcorn posts and long-form content will become increasingly popular, as people seek quick tips and/or in-depth articles to help educate them or to make better purchasing decisions."

-- Renee Warren, Co-founder and CEO of Onboardly

8) Focus on marketing in real-time.

Karl-Wirth"2014 will be the year of real-time marketing, but not just in social media. Companies will take all they've learned from seeing the lift from behaviorally targeted email marketing and apply it to the main channel where they interact with prospects and customers: their websites."

-- Karl Wirth, Co-founder and CEO of Evergage

9) Hold yourself accountable.

Jessica-Meher"A recent study found that 73% of executives don’t believe that marketing drives demand and revenue. Marketers don't want the reputation of being a cost-center. It's up to each of us to hold ourselves accountable for revenue generation, and in 2014, we will change how we market. To do this, we need to set aggressive goals that directly impact sales growth, pick a metric to measure and prove performance, and then crush it."

-- Jessica Meher, Head of Enterprise Marketing at HubSpot

10) Think about buyers over channels.

Ian-Greenleigh"2014 is all about universal convergence. Consumers don't experience the world in channels, so it's time companies stop marketing that way.”

-- Ian Greenleigh, Author, The Social Media Side Door: How to Bypass the Gatekeepers to Gain Greater Access and Influence

11) Define a more holistic strategy.

Tyler-Young

"Definitely a move toward greater integration. Brands are starting to understand that you can't have a Facebook strategy, and a blogging strategy, and an email strategy, and so on as though they're all separate -- you need a single, overarching strategy for connecting to prospective customers."

-- Tyler Young, Principal Consultant at Conversion Insights

12) Adopt visual storytelling.

Ana-Yoerg"Brand journalism will evolve beyond text-based storytelling. Content marketers will experiment with more sophisticated multimedia (e.g., images, video, data animation) techniques to reflect the changing content demands of the customer."

-- Ana Yoerg, Partner at Pivotal Pod (Content Marketing Agency)

13) Measure the right results.

Linda-Pophal

"I believe, and I hope, that a top trend in 2014 will be a focus on measurable results. Now that the novelty of social media is beginning to wane a bit, I think that marketers will (and should) be more focused on ensuring that their social media activities (along with all of their other marketing communication activities) are designed to general real, bottom-line, measurable results. Effective social media marketing should not be about counting retweets, friends, and followers any more than effective traditional marketing is focused on how many people liked your ad. It's about results."

-- Linda Pophal, Founder of Strategic Communications, LLC

14) Go from traditional to native advertising.

Ali-Phalen-2

"We're going to see more native advertising on social in 2014, as we're already seeing Facebook's right column ads slowly die."

-- Ali Phalen, Content Marketing Specialist at Command Partners

15) Match content with context.

Meghan-Anderson"One concept that you will see more marketers embrace heading into 2014 is this notion of context. Over the last few years, content has been the 'king' of the marketing universe. But even good content without context (delivering the right information to the right people at the right time) simply creates an overwhelming amount of information no one cares about. Content combined with context suddenly makes your marketing far more powerful and effective because it's highly targeted and relevant. Through marketing automation, targeting content has been prevalent in email marketing, but I think this year, you'll start to see more of that personalization possible across all of the channels customers use."

-- Meghan Keaney Anderson, Product Marketing at HubSpot

What advice do you have to share as we get going in 2014?

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