As we reach the end of the year, there are two things we can say for certain for 2019:
There’s a reason Seth Godin calls content marketing “the only marketing left” - it’s authentic, useful, and perfectly suited for the internet generation.
But while few can doubt the effectiveness of content marketing, the channels, tactics and tools marketers use to create and distribute content will continue evolving in 2019 and beyond.
What content marketing trends should you watch out for? How should you change your marketing strategy to keep pace with these changes?
Let’s find out.
First things first:
When it comes to any type of marketing, authenticity, transparency, and value have always important.
(Or, at least, they should have been.)
However, by 2019, all of this will essentially be table stakes. That is, if your content doesn’t accurately reflect your brand’s voice, the mission your company stands for, and the value you hope to bring your target audience...well...you might as well not create it in the first place.
Case in point:
Needless to say, companies that don’t provide this transparency - and perhaps even go as far as to create inauthentic content - are going to suffer moving forward.
For one, not being transparent in the first place is typically seen by consumers as a red flag of sorts. Moreover, those who notice said red flags are probably going to dig deeper into said company’s statements to determine their validity; any discrepancy between what a company says and what it actually does, of course, is going to cause major problems among its audience.
With regard to providing value through the content you create, the purpose of content marketing has never been simply to sell your products or promote your brand. Rather, content marketing has always been about providing value to your audience in some way - be it educating them, entertaining them, or otherwise. In doing so, you communicate a sense of authenticity and transparency through your content, in turn allowing your customers to trust your brand moving forward.
The best way to provide value through your content marketing initiatives (and, again, to communicate a sense of authenticity and transparency in doing so) is to create content that:
For example, Away’s main product is luggage - but the content its team creates revolves around the world of travel:
Through its content, Away has been able to position itself as more than just a simple luggage company; rather, the brand thrives on helping its customers get the absolute most value out of every trip they take.
Keeping with the travel industry motif, Southwest Airlines has created a standalone site called Transfarency, which provides “tips on how to outsmart other airline's bogus fees.”
Another prime example in dealing with transparency and authenticity is TOMS’ Giving Report.
(Source | TOM'S transparency and authenticity marketing)
Here, TOMS Shoes, famous for its “One-for-One” initiative that provides a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair purchased by customers, provides full transparency as to how the company’s initiative has panned out.
Again, by presenting informative and engaging content that dives deeper into the goings-on of your company, you’ll easily be able to prove to your customers that you truly care about the things you say you care about.
Core dna customers such as Stanley PMI are using our platform to personalize their eCommerce customer experiences — and we expect to see more content personalization taking place across the eCommerce industry and beyond in 2019. That’s because:
78% of consumers say that personally-relevant content is a determining factor in their purchasing decision
Furthermore, content that provides even the slightest bit of interactivity, according to Jeff Bullas:
That said, as we move into 2019 you’re going to want to figure out numerous ways in which to create personalized content that allows - and in some cases requires - your audience to interact with your brand.
Perhaps the simplest way to develop and deliver personalized content is to reach out to your customers, and engage them in a discussion regarding their recent experiences with your brand.
For example, OpenTable sends its users a follow-up email almost immediately after they’ve finished their meal:
(Source | OpenTable interactive and personalized email)
Not only does this allow the customer the opportunity to review the restaurant in question (creating user-generated content in the process), but it also allows OpenTable to get a better understanding of the user’s needs and expectations when dining out. In turn, the service can provide even more personalized recommendations for the customer moving forward.
Live video via platforms such as Instagram and Facebook are another prime way to create interactive content that can essentially be personalized on-the-fly. While sometimes you’ll certainly want to use such platforms to create scripted broadcasts in which your audience isn’t meant to participate, you also could use them to put on Q&A sessions, create interactive how-to videos, and so on.
Another avenue to consider is to create tools and simple software to accompany other content you’ve created. For example, the New York Times created a tax bill calculator to accompany articles related to the new tax bill, that would help its readers understand how the bill would affect them on a personal level:
(Source | An example of interactive content – NYT Tax Bill calculator)
While the accompanying articles and such content were, of course, presented uniformly to all audience members, this tool enabled the Times to truly add some personalized value in the eyes of every single one of its readers.
The goal, then, is to figure out ways in which you can address your entire audience base and your individual customers simultaneously. If you can do this, you’ll ensure that your content is always relevant to everyone who receives it.
Going along with what we said earlier about authenticity and transparency, the process of content creation should span throughout your entire organization - not just your marketing team.
That is, everyone in your organization - from the CEO to your ground-level employees - should have some input at some point in the content creation process. There are a number of reasons for making this change.
For one thing, each of your team members engages with your brand’s customers in different ways - and will be able to provide varying perspectives regarding their needs and expectations in terms of the content they want to see. Similarly, as each team member plays a different part in the overall operations of your company, they have their own unique understanding of the value your company provides. Putting these two points together, your various team members will likely have a number of different ideas as to how to communicate your value to your audience members.
Jumping on board with this trend will require a bit of a shift in terms of how your company develops content in the first place.
Rather than just having your marketing team develop all of your brand’s content from soup to nuts, it should act as a facilitator of content creation, with other departments creating the content that relates most to their customer-facing duties:
(Source | Cross-team input and development)
In turn, your content won’t come off as “marketing material disguised as value,” but will actually be valuable content developed by the best people for the job.
On a totally different note, you can also create informative, entertaining, and engaging content that puts the spotlight on your various team members, allowing your audience members to learn more about the “ins and outs” of your company.
A few examples:
Again, the goal is to provide transparency, inviting your audience members to become part of your “inner circle” in as many ways as possible.
More and more, we’re seeing multiple brands work together to create content of all different varieties.
A prime example of such collaborative content is Red Bull and GoPro’s “Stratos” project, in which the companies presented Felix Baumgartner’s 24-mile plunge from a space pod down to Earth:
Ride-hailing company Uber has also delved into the creation of collaborative content, partnering with both Pandora and Spotify to help personalize its customers’ ride via their favorite music.
Other examples of collaborative content include:
First things first, the main goal when creating collaborative content is to partner with brands that make sense for you to partner with. In other words, you’ll want to think of brands that offer products or services that relate to your niche in some way - but that aren’t exactly your competitors.
Also, you’ll want to partner with brands whose skills and knowledge of content marketing complement what you bring to the table. Looking back to our example with Red Bull and GoPro, Red Bull is an absolute beast when it comes to marketing - and GoPro’s product provided the best opportunity for the stunt to go off without a hitch.
Or, you could even go as far as to create different versions of your products that showcase your collaboration with other brands, as our client, Tivoli Audio, did when creating its Supreme-styled bluetooth speaker:
(Source | Supreme and Tivoli Audio collaboration)
Similarly to what we just discussed, more and more SaaS companies are beginning to see their partnerships with other service providers as an opportunity to create a ton of content for the end-user to devour.
As explained in a case study from Autopilot, while partnering with other SaaS companies to create integrations clearly allows both parties to enhance the services they provide their customers, the “real impact (on growth) comes from picking the right partners and focusing on strategic co-marketing efforts.”
At Core dna, we’ve seen more customers using our integrations including Mailchimp, Salesforce, HubSpot, and even Oracle. Thankfully for our customers, this trend will be an easy one to use, as Core dna can integrate with any platform on the market.
The main rule of thumb for SaaS companies, here, is to partner with companies whose overall mission and value align with your own.
In this same vein, you also want to be sure that there’s an overlap between your target audience and your new partners; not only will this ensure that the end-user will find the integration valuable in the first place, but it will also ensure that any co-created marketing material you develop will resonate with the audience, as well.
As for the actual content you’ll want to create, you have a number of options. As Autopilot explains:
“At the very least, every launch involves a blog post about the announcement. It might be a guest post swap with your partner, or maybe each side posts on their respective sites. Go above and beyond with a series of posts that show use cases, tips, and best practices to activate and inspire users...A product video, webinar, event, or some form of gated content are a few other demand-driving ways to promote a launch. These are also great post-launch co-marketing projects to take the partnership further.”
(Source | A co-created email from Autopilot and Segment)
Again, you’ll want to play off your and your partners’ strengths, here. Remember: the goal isn’t simply to cross-promote your brands - it’s to provide as much value to your end-users as you possibly can through the creation of supplemental content that allows them to get the most out of your software.
While the buzz around influencer marketing certainly continues to grow, it’s also worth noting that many brands have begun implementing a sort of reverse approach to the marketing tactic.
That is, instead of partnering with influencers to have them promote your brand on their channels, you can invite them to create content to be displayed on your own.
Having an influencer create content on your own channel certainly adds some credibility to your brand in the eyes of your followers. Secondly, the creator of the content is likely to share it with their audience, as well - equating to some massive visibility for your brand.
Similarly to what we said about collaborative content creation, you want the content your influencers create to be authentic and to truly get to the heart of the value your brand’s products or services bring to the table.
Perhaps the most beneficial aspect of partnering with influencers to create internally-housed content is that you can reach out to individuals from a wide variety of industries - as long as your brand caters to these niches in some way. For example, Stanley PMI could surely partner up with famous chefs, authors, survivalists, and more in order to expand its content breadth - and its reach in the process.
As we’ve alluded to a few times throughout this article already, multimedia content is quickly becoming less of a “nice to have” - and more of a necessity.
Regarding the consumption of video content:
While consumption of audio content isn’t nearly as huge, it’s certainly growing as a trend over the past few years. Roughly one-quarter of Americans listen to podcasts on a monthly basis, with one-third of Americans age 25-54 doing so. Additionally, 6 million more Americans reported listening to podcasts on a weekly basis in 2018 than did so in 2017; of those that do, 40% of them listen to more than one show.
Regarding the effectiveness of omnichannel marketing:
Since we’ve already discussed some of the ways to implement video content, let’s talk audio, here.
First and foremost, you absolutely shouldn’t discount the notion of creating a branded podcast as a way to provide value to your audience. The aforementioned travel brand Away has experimented with podcasting in the past, creating a handful of episodes revolving around stories of travel, exploration, and learning about various cultures. Communication software company Slack has also delved into the realm of podcasting, creating a number of episodes based around work-related communication and collaboration.
As we’ll look at a bit more in-depth in an upcoming section, you may also consider creating short, quick-hitting audio content for your Amazon Echo-owning audience to include in their daily flash briefings. Marketing gurus Neil Patel and Eric Siu, for example, post a short, daily podcast for up-and-coming marketers to listen to while they get ready for their day.
Finally, while a bit outside of what’s typically considered “content marketing,” you could also use other brands’ multimedia content to advertise your own company. This may mean developing short-form video content to be played as a YouTube advertisement, or creating a sponsored message for a fellow podcaster to read before they dive into their next episode. Again, it’s not exactly organic content marketing - but it will certainly allow you to expand your reach.
As we alluded to above, the modern consumer is often in search of quick answers to immediate question.
Google categorizes these “micro-moments” as follows:
(Source | Google categorizes these as “micro-moments”)
Accordingly, there is a rather prevalent need for content that answers these questions:
(Source | Micro moments)
To be sure, this data was collected a few years ago - but the trend toward a need for immediate answers certainly continues to grow.
There are two main facets of developing content that capitalizes on micro-moments.
The first, of course, is creating content that - plain and simple - answers your audience’s question(s). While there certainly is a time and place for long-form content that dives deep into the nuances of a given topic, that doesn’t mean that all of your content needs to be so thorough. In other words, don’t neglect the importance of developing content such as:
Secondly, you need to make this content available in the most efficient format possible - and to deliver it via the most logical channel. As a rather simple example, you wouldn’t create a five-minute video explaining the various payment methods your company accepts; such information would obviously be better suited for an on-site FAQ page.
The point of catering to micro-moments is to not beat around the bush, and give your audience exactly what they’re looking for so that they’re able to engage on a deeper level with your brand. The more time you spend explaining an answer that could have been explained in thirty seconds, the less time they spend actually moving forward in their journey as a customer.
Going along with the notion of capitalizing on micro-moments, as well as the importance of omnichannel marketing as we move into 2019, the use of chatbots - both man-made and artificially created - is going to become more and more prevalent.
According to a study by Spiceworks, 40% of large companies will use chatbots and/or “intelligent assistants” by 2019. This is largely due to the growing number of consumers who expect to be able to connect with their favorite companies via chat.
(Source | Why chatbots are rising in popularity)
When it comes to the consumer’s need to quickly find the answer to simple or complex questions, chatbots reign over even branded apps:
(Source | Chatbots win over apps)
In recent years, natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning have enabled companies to create chatbots that are able to carry on surface-level, more transaction-based conversations with their audience members - a trend which will certainly continue moving forward.
As of now, the best course of action with regard to chatbots is to use them to:
With regard to content, you also might consider leveraging your chatbot as a sort of “active search” function that can point consumers toward further reading or supplemental resources regarding the topic at hand.
Along with this, your chatbot needs to be equipped with the ability to recognize or “sense” when an individual’s query necessitates the need for human intervention on your end.
(Source | Human intervention when needed)
While the modern consumer typically doesn’t expect a chatbot to be able to answer every question they have, they do expect it to be able to at least point them in the right direction.
As we mentioned earlier, while providing “snippet” content to cater to micro-moments is becoming more and more important, that doesn’t mean you should forget about creating long-form content altogether.
First of all, longer-form content (e.g., articles over 1,000 words in length) inherently caters to the most passionate of your followers - that is, those who are most likely to become brand loyalists and evangelists. It’s simple: the more interested an individual is in your niche, the more they’re going to want to learn about it.
On a more logistical level, Google’s more recent algorithms tend to recognize longer-form content as being more valuable - making such content more likely to rank higher in search results.
(This, of course, is assuming the content is high in quality in the first place.)
Additionally, Google’s algorithms now place a high importance on topic clusters - that is, multiple pieces of long-form, valuable content revolving around a single topic. In creating content clusters, you essentially prove to Google that you’re not looking to game the system by creating one or two pieces of keyword-stuffed content - you’re actually dedicated to providing your audience with highly-valuable information regarding the topic at hand.
The basic structure of a topic cluster looks like this:
(Source | The basics of content clusters)
As explained by HubSpot’s Sophia Bernazzani:
Basically, for each broad topic your brand covers, you’ll want to create a single, standalone piece of content that covers the numerous subtopics under the main “umbrella” topic. Then, you’ll want to create more in-depth “cluster content” for each of these subtopics, linking out to these pieces from the pillar content piece.
(Also, when creating your cluster content, you’ll want to look for opportunities to link to the other cluster content pieces, as well.)
The goal, then, is not to create just one solid piece of content on a given topic, but numerous pieces that uncover every nook and cranny possible with regard to the topic at hand. In short: you want your site to become the go-to resource in your industry; both your target audience and Google’s algorithms will appreciate it.
There’s something interesting afoot in advertising: display is making a comeback and outpacing growth in search.Take a look at this chart:
Total ad spending on display and search was nearly similar in 2014. Yet, by 2019, display ad spending is expected to be nearly 28% higher than search. This should be a surprise for most marketers. After all, wasn’t display supposed to be “dead”?
The reason for display’s revival is simple: remarketing.
Remarketing - showing people who’ve visited your site ads as they surf across the web - is booming. As data shows, more and more marketers are ploughing money into remarketing.
This higher spending isn’t accidental - conversion rates actually increase the more a customer sees an ad.
Your CTRs may decline over time, but people who do click on your ad after seeing it a couple of times, become twice as likely to convert.
For B2B marketers, remarketing is particularly important. As any sales veteran will tell you, it takes 6-8 touches to generate a viable lead. Remarketing is essentially a digital version of these multiple touches.
In 2018, we predict that remarketing will become the engine that drives lead generation. Marketers will continue spending money on remarketing platforms to get their offer before warm prospects and turn them into qualified leads.
Setting up a remarketing campaign isn’t very difficult if you have some existing customer data. For instance, if you have an email list of people who had clicked through on an offer without buying anything, you might create a Facebook custom audience to show them a discount coupon.
Similarly, you might have a separate custom audience for people who had read 2 or more of your blog posts without signing up for any lead magnet.
If you have existing user data, you can start a remarketing campaign using these platforms:
Interested in more? Read these:
Personalization, aka one-to-one marketing, is the key to delivering delightful customer experiences.
Consider this: you visit a landing page and enter your name and email to download an eBook on social media marketing.The next time you visit the same site, you’re greeted by name. Not only that, you are also shown more eBooks related to social media marketing.
This is the digital equivalent of the maitre’d at your favorite hotel greeting you by name and ushering you to your favorite table - it’s personal, intimate and helps you stand out in a sea of me-too competitors.
It’s kind of obvious but we predict that in 2018, we’ll see more and more marketers push towards providing highly personalized experiences.
The research backs this up:
In another survey by Forrester, 92% of marketers said that interest in personalization had increased in their companies.
It’s not just marketers who want personalization - your customers demand it as well. According to a research from Invesp, 53% of online shoppers believe that personalization is valuable and up to 57% of shoppers are willing to give away their personal information in order to benefit from personalization.
Personalization depends heavily on data. The more you know about your customers, the more personalized messages you can deliver.Start by collecting essential data from your visitors. If you’re in B2B, this might be:
You don’t have to collect all this data from the get-go. Start by targeting the “low hanging fruit” of client data - names and emails. Most visitors will be happy to share these with you in exchange for compelling content (such as an eBook).
Once you have this basic data, start a lead nurturing campaign where you offer leads access to great content in exchange for more data.
Say, in your first lead nurturing email, you might offer leads who’d downloaded a social media playbook a 1-hour social media marketing webinar. To sign-up for this webinar, leads need to enter their company size, URL and designation.
By breaking up data collection into multiple steps, you build trust, thus removing a lot of user resistance and reducing the negative impact on your conversion rates.Once you have some data, plug these into high-impact sections of your landing page, such as CTAs.
Another way would be to show different content for different users.
Here’s a real-life example; Northeast Nursery, a business using Core dna, used Core dna’s personalization functionality to allow contractors to view and receive a special price on selected products. This can be extended even further to product personalization (where some users get exclusive access to products) or showing different shipping options or rates.
Anonymous users will see a price of $190. Check it out yourself.
Personalization is extended throughout the site with contractors being presented with specific banners and calls to action targeted to that audience.
Interested in more? Read these:
As they say, “Start narrow and grow wide”.
No matter what industry you are in, you will need to create niche content if you want to thrive in 2018. For example, consider how Nerd Fitness focuses on a niche in the fitness industry - “nerds who want to get fit”. Or Toggl that recently launched a digital magazine on time management and work processes of successful digital creatives.
This is a natural result of market saturation and maturity. Marketers are creating more content than ever before. In fact, according to one Kapost survey, 70% of marketers said that they are creating more or “significantly more” content than before.
This incredible amount of content production means that to stand out, you have to either:
In 2018, with more and more marketers fighting for the same audience, we’ll see a shift towards super niche content. Instead of writing about “social media marketing”, you might write about “social media marketing for bootstrapped startups”.
Start by identifying underserved sub-niches in your industry. If everyone is creating content about, say, bodybuilding, can you identify a couple of angles that have not been served well? Like, bodybuilding for over 40+ dads or bodybuilding for geeks.
This should be the starting point of your niche content creation process.
Once you’ve identified underserved sub-niches, modify your content calendar to accommodate these niches.
Interested in more? Read these:
According to Gartner’s predictions, we’re moving into a world of screen-less search. This is mainly due to voice search. You might even say that these predictions are conservative. After all, voice searches already make up 20% of all Google searches on mobiles.
Even more important, younger people - your future customers - are far more likely to use voice search. According to one study, 71% of 18-29-year-olds are using voice assistants compared to just 39% of 44-53-year-olds.
Younger people also use voice search very differently than older users. According to one study, 31% of teens use voice search to get help with homework.
At the same time, sales for voice-activated home assistants, like Amazon Echo and Google Home are skyrocketing. According to one estimate, Amazon Echo Alexa alone could add $11 billion to Amazon’s revenues by 2020.
The trend is very clear: we will be speaking more and more to Google Assistant, Alexa and Siri in the years to come. You can already see this in the way Google highlights answers to some questions at the top of the page:
Since the way we speak is very different from the way we type, your content needs to adapt to natural language search. Instead of focusing on keywords, you need to focus on answering questions the way a human being would.
Which is to say, instead of writing about “best small business marketing tools”, write about “What are the best marketing tools for small businesses?”
Here are a few things you can do:
By combining these, you’ll increase the chances of your content appearing at the top of the search result. This will not only get you more traffic to your website but also make your brand more visible.
Interested in more? Read these:
There’s been an arms race of sorts among marketers to create longer and longer content.
As Orbit Media’s survey of 1,000 bloggers points out, the average length of a blog post has been rising steadily over the years.
This increase isn’t accidental - longer content does rank better in SERPs, as Backlinko’s study shows.
This is all well and good if your intention is to rank at the top of SERPs, but with social driving more and more traffic than search, lengthy “epic” content leaves a majority of your visitors in the cold and not to mention the attention span that is “shorter than goldfish” deal.
In fact, if your target market is millennials, you are more likely to get positive ROI from shorter, visually-rich content. As per one study of B2B buyers, millennials prefer videos and infographics (59%) for making decisions, while older buyers prefer in-depth whitepapers (78%).
I predict that we will see a “return to roots” as marketers give up the arms race for longer, fluffy content and create shorter, bite-sized content people actually want to read. Not every keyword or topic deserves a 3,000-word blog post; some ideas are better communicated in 200 words and a relevant image.
Instead of creating long-form content for every topic, mix it up with a combination of long and “snackable” content.Think of tweetable graphics like this:
Or sharable in-post graphics like this from our how to grow your email list post:
Your objective should be to reduce bloat. Whenever you’re creating any content, ask yourself: does this require 1,500 words? Can you condense the content into a simpler article or graphic?
Influencer marketing has been a marketing staple for over half a decade now. The reason is simple: influencer marketing works.
According to a report by Nielsen, 92% of people trust recommendations from individuals (even if they don’t know them) over brands. As per Twitter and Annalect, Twitter users report a 5.2X increase in purchase intent when exposed to promotional content from influencers. A blogger survey by Orbit Media found that it’s become more and more popular for driving traffic three years in a row:
Even Google Trends shows a steady increase in influencer marketing over the last few years. In fact, in terms of search interest, it seems to be closing the gap with video advertising.
While the importance of influencer marketing is unlikely to change, what will change is the way businesses use it.
I predict that instead of going wide, we will see businesses going deep with influencer marketing. This means fewer “100 blogger roundups” and more intimate, in-depth interviews and analysis, like this Grow & Convert interview with Sol Orwell.
This isn’t just a bunch of questions and answers. Instead, it’s a close look at a business with insight from the founder himself. Think of it as a written version of a Mixergy interview.
The genesis for this trend lies in the fact that:
Instead of aiming for volume, identify influencers with whom you share the same brand values and audience. You want to leverage their authority and readership to promote your brand (and vice versa) while also crafting meaningful relationships.
Your key focus should be “collaboration”. Instead of doing a simple interview, collaborate with influencers to create content that speaks to your and the influencer’s audience.
Interested in more? Read these:
Consumers are growing tired (even weary) of brand advertising. Millennials and all consumers, in general, have always preferred transparent companies. However, going forward, old tactics might not work. We call them tactics because consumers are now starting to distrust the promises and choice words which have been used in the past to reflect transparency in an organization. For instance, according to Digiday, claiming you’re “green”, brand advertising, corporate support, and giving to charity won’t be enough. “People’s BS detectors are high,” warns the publication.
In the past, brands have been weaving this into neat “cause marketing” but the post notes a common criticism facing cause advertising: That it’s too heavy on marketing because usually only a handful of the brands who claim it actually wholly embrace the causes.
“With every passing day, it’s getting harder and harder to pull the wool over people’s eyes by trying to create meaningful brand love with disconnected causes — as it should,” says Jim Moriarty, director of Brand Citizenship. “We all crave authenticity. Brands can and should change the world. And the best way to do that is to initiate, support and amplify causes that are connected to the brand’s business and mission.”
Consumers are growing weary of that and they see it as desperate at best.
This 2015 Global Trust in Advertising survey by Nielsen shows where consumers are placing their trust.
Chances are that it will hold true in 2018.
In fact, going forward, brands will need to be even more transparent. As the market grows, consumers are increasingly feeling a lack of authenticity when they hear from brands as compared to their peers.
Granted, there’s growing opportunity for influencer marketing and endorsements. However, without first cultivating a relationship with the cautious consumer, this might end up being wasted effort.
Here are other 2018 trends you might wanna know: