Are we entering the golden age of content marketing?
Well, it depends on whom you ask – but one thing is for certain, and that’s that 2018 is going to be a wild, fast-paced year for the content marketers who are ready to go all-in.
Video continues to overtake other types of content. Enterprises are placing more and more emphasis on original content. Commitment to content marketing is increasing in marketing departments of all shapes and sizes.
All of that is great, but what does it mean for you and your brand? We’re going to break down a few of the most important trends right here, right now.
Blogging just isn’t enough anymore.
Until fairly recently, having an active, engaging blog was enough to earn you plenty of attention, both from Google’s algorithm and from your customers.
You might mix up your formats now and then – post an infographic here, a video there – but by and large, brands that committed to traditional blogging and turned out posts on a regular basis didn’t have to worry about falling behind.
In 2018, that won’t be the case.
But before you get too worried, it’s important to say that this doesn’t mean that you’re going to have to turn out tons of blog content in addition to a bunch of other types of content.
The way we’ve approached content marketing has been slowly changing for years, and this is just the latest step. When content marketing was new, everyone focused on getting as much content out there as possible, regardless of misspellings, grammatical errors, keyword stuffing, and other major no-no’s.
As the industry matured, the focus moved to quality over quantity. Instead of purely measuring shares and reach, we’re measuring engagement.
In 2018, the focus is still on quality, but in an expanded group of formats.
Take video. It’s becoming increasingly important to content marketing and it’s not going away. We’re seeing actual short films come out of a wide variety of business marketing departments, instead of just the ones, like Marriott, with massive budgets and in-house content studios.
Podcasts, apps, commercials – succeeding at content marketing in 2018 will require brands to identify and embrace their strengths, then apply them to a variety of content formats. As Neil Patel writes, content teams will need more than just writers.
At the same time, however, you don’t want quality to suffer because you’re branching out into something new. Pulling back on a blog or podcast series for a little while to work on something new and awesome won’t destroy your brand. Just make sure you’re getting help in the areas you need to, whether that’s video editing or app-building.
There will be more ways to consume content away from our screens.
TED Talks have been discussing the evolution of technology away from screens for years, and it’s definitely happening.
We can thank the Internet of Things (IoT) for this. Smart devices like Google Home and the Amazon Echo are allowing content marketers to think in completely new terms. Amazon’s Alexa Skills allow developers to create voice-activated apps – and those apps provide an incredible opportunity to branch into new content formats.
As VentureBeat reports, Sesame Street has an Alexa Skill that allows children (with parental consent, of course) to call Elmo and learn about the alphabet and numbers. The Skill Cook Reference can suggest wine and beer pairings for specific foods, among many other things.
With AI and the IoT growing more sophisticated, the sky is the limit when it comes to content.
To stay competitive, your brand should be considering how to make use of these new capabilities, even if you’re not ready to launch an AI app just yet. Since these technologies will become more widespread and easier to access, planning for how to integrate them into your content marketing is key.
Content marketing is not advertising (no, really, it isn’t).
Joe Pulizzi at the Content Marketing Institute recently wrote about the increase in budgets for content marketing that he’s been seeing worldwide.
Research bears this out: in a 2017 CMI study, 39% of B2B marketers expected to increase their content marketing budgets over the next 12 months. Curata found that 75% of marketers are increasing investment in content marketing.
This is good news, right? Well, yes, he says – except he also notes that these budgets are very campaign-oriented. In other words, they’re treating content marketing as if it’s a bunch of advertising campaigns run one after the other.
This misses the point of content marketing. While it’s true that campaigns are a part of any strong content marketing strategy, your content marketing must be greater than the sum of its parts if it’s really going to bring you results.
In other words, it has to be more than something that may be slightly different from, but basically still amounts to, a string of advertising campaigns.
Your content marketing has to be unique, relevant, and compelling. If it’s not, then all the budget increases in the world won’t bring you real results.
Brands will have to master the art of creating content for the micro-moment.
“Micro-moments” refer to a specific type of consumer behavior that Google identified and named back in 2015.
It’s that impulse that we all –96% of us, to be exact – have experienced, probably on a daily basis. We think of a question we have, and we pull out our phones to get the answer. It doesn’t matter if it’s “How long do elephants live?” or “Where’s the best pizza place near me?”
No matter the question, we expect an immediate answer.
This has greatly influenced the way consumers interact with brands. When they have questions about your product or service – maybe they want reviews of your latest shoe style, or testimonials from your consulting clients – they expect that information to be easy to find, follow, and understand.
The last thing a consumer wants to do nowadays is dig through your website to find the answer to their question. A single click (or tap, since we’re talking mobile here) is optimal.
How does that affect your content marketing? It means that your content marketing team has to refocus their efforts on creating content for every stage of the sales funnel, as well as content pieces that anticipate and address some of your customers’ most common questions.
The best way to see how well you’re addressing these micro-moments with your content is to take the time to do a full content audit. Do you have pieces that address customer questions from every stage of the funnel, from awareness to decision?
If not, that’s your homework for 2018.
Content marketing in 2018 will be more comprehensive, more creative, and more challenging. If you need to up your content marketing game, read our post “6 Tips for Creating Content That Converts.”
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