If January is a clear indication, 2013 is going to be filled with insights for marketers to make their content campaigns more effective. This month’s top content marketing headlines can guide strategies for investment, optimization and measurement.

Content ROI is there for the taking: Think video

Nielsen data

Brands that invest in optimized, quality pieces generate returns on cross-media content. According to fresh Nielsen data, 55 percent of global consumers are more likely to purchase a new product when they learn of it through brand web pages. Landing pages and ongoing blogs or articles should be created for every new business offering, especially since 53 percent say website articles increase their purchase intent. This finding piggybacks off of data from HubSpot, showing companies with more than 1,000 website pages can increase leads by up to 250 percent compared to sites with 101 to 200 pages.

Beyond written text, 37 percent of audiences are likely to purchase based on videos they find on sharing networks – as if marketers needed another sign that videos are one of the most important formats of the year. Businesses across verticals are poised for major returns from video marketing. For example, a new IDG report shows 58 percent of tech professionals watch videos to learn about products they want to buy – but brands should remember to go beyond a commercial focus with video content and create diverse visual clips. An additional 57 percent of tech buyers look for how-to content, which can inspire tutorial video blogs, and 52 percent look to videos to keep up with the latest tech developments ideal for marrying news content marketing with video outreach. 

IDG tech video viewers(Check out Brafton’s free white paper on video strategies for more insights on identifying video types to support unique brand goals.)

Video marketing is the content effort du jour, but brands can’t forget about other channels: Nielsen’s data indicates social media updates are necessary to reach 43 percent of audiences likely to purchase products they discover on preferred networks, and SEO still takes the cake with 67 percent of respondents saying search findings drive purchase likelihood.

For SEO, create SXO content

To reach search audiences, Google has reminded marketers to start their years with SXO – search experience optimization. Following Matt Cutts’ end-of-2012 declaration that SEO is becoming SXO, the search giant released another Panda update on January 22, impacting 1.2 percent of English queries. Once again, the company pointed to its guidelines for high-quality website content to help marketers understand how to succeed on the web.

Google’s blog post reminds marketers to focus on SEO content quality standards including a niche focus, careful editing and researched topics, and here’s an extra hint: Focus on the snippets for various content pages. Cutts highlighted the SERP experience as a critical component to SEO. The snippet copy should be an engaging page teaser that makes people want to click (and, of course, the page should live up to the promise of the this description). Snippets are important places to get in keywords, but don’t skimp on the creativity.

Cutts also referenced page-driven conversions, readers bookmarking pages and people “telling their friends about” content as indications of good SEO/SXO copy, which means brands should monitor website interactions for insights on search robustness. This should also remind marketers to look for results beyond SEO keyword progressions and traffic volumes, helping them refine success metrics around content.

New measurement tools highlight content that counts

According to an SEOmoz report updated at the start of 2013, traffic figures and conversions are the most “critical” data to marketers. The survey asked 780 readers (nearly half are SEOmoz customers) to rank metrics that matter for optimizing and auditing. With the majority of B2B and B2C brands increasing their content investments this year, it should be good news to marketers that more tools can help measure these and other results.

New Google Analytics Jan 2013Brafton reported January brought updates to Google Anlaytics, with a new dashboard feature that lets marketers see their most important data front and center. Google gave brands a further boost with a new Google+ Page manager dashboard that lets marketers instantly see how many followers a given Page has and when the last post was made.

For social marketers who also use paid options to get content in front of users, new Facebook metrics can help build results-oriented campaigns. The social giant announced a new conversion measurement and optimization system that will help businesses understand which ads influence conversion actions on their websites.

As a wider variety of “new” formats become the content marketing norm and SEO continues to prove intertwined with the quality of content, it’s clear businesses have to prioritize their content analytics to invest smarter in 2013.