Content marketing remains one of the fundamental marketing strategies used by businesses today. In fact, a study done by eMarketer revealed that 87% of B2B companies are going to be using content marketing in 2018.
Of those that aren’t doing content marketing, 75% of them said that they plan to do so within the next 12 months.
Content: the pillar of marketing
Content has now become the fuel driving successful marketing strategies because of the way customers make buying decisions.
In this day and age where technology where information is easily accessible, customers now want to do their research about the products they want to buy, and the companies behind them. According to Sparkd, 70% of customers prefer to learn more about a company and its products through articles rather than ads.
More important, content marketing has proven itself time and time again as a cost-effective strategy. It can generate 3x more leads and cost 62% less than other types of marketing strategies.
As marketing technology evolves, so does content marketing. 2018 is the year of change and growth for content marketing. In this post, I will be sharing 15 of these content marketing trends expected to happen in 2018.
Whether you are a startup founder or have been in business for some time, knowing these content marketing trends will help you develop your content marketing strategy to reach your set goals for this year.
1. Writing skills are no longer enough
There was a time when all you need to run a successful content marketing campaign is to have excellent writing skills (or have someone on your team that does) and a little bit of SEO know-how.
Times have changed. Written content will still play a crucial part in today's content marketing strategy. However, new formats like video and infographics now require content marketers to develop additional skill sets like video and audio production, and graphic design as we see in the graph below.
Source: Content Marketing Institute
2. Shift to mobile
The average person in the US spends an average of five hours a day on their smartphone. Majority of this time is spent on the internet.
Marketers should now incorporate mobile-friendly content in their content marketing strategy. By that, I am not just talking about making sure that the material you create is responsive. You also need to leverage new mobile marketing technologies like ephemeral content, augmented reality, and chatbots. These emerging technologies not only make your startup more authentic but also quickly engage with your target audience.
3. Transparency is the new king
Yes, we have all heard the adage, "content is king." No doubt, high-quality content that provides valuable information is still crucial. However, for US consumers, this is no longer enough for them.
In an article published by Digiday, customers are now experiencing what they call “content fatigue.” It is a new phenomenon brought about by the overwhelming amount of content that's now available on the internet.
According to a survey done by Nielsen, they found that 82% of the respondents are willing to listen to recommendations from those that they trust.
One other survey done by Label Insight shows that 94% of respondents are more willing to stay loyal to a brand that’s transparent to its customers. Another 56% said that they would remain loyal for life.
4. Marketing automation
Another content marketing trend to expect in 2018 is the increase in the need for marketing automation.
Content marketing is now a multifaceted strategy that requires a considerable amount of time and effort to develop, execute and monitor. It is for this reason that marketing why 67% of marketers are now using marketing automation, with another 40% planning to develop a marketing automation strategy within the next 12 months.
In addition to automating various processes within your content marketing strategy, many marketing automation platforms and tools include deep learning systems. These systems can process big data about your target audience, enabling you to make real-time adjustments to your current buyer persona and buyer's journey.
5. Live videos
In 2018, we can expect a shift from pre-recorded videos to using live video streams. Already, 42% of marketers say that they plan to create more live videos, provided that the company has sufficient resources.
One reason for this is that live videos provide your target audience a more authentic and candid experience compared to pre-recorded videos. It also gives them a virtual two-way communication with you. Not only will this increase your engagement rate on social media, but also get real-time feedback from your audience.
6. Augmented Reality
Augmented Reality (AR) is a new technology that integrates digital data with the user’s physical environment. Even then, brands are already beginning to incorporate this into their content marketing strategy.
Take IKEA for instance. It recently rolled out an AR mobile app called "Place," which allows users to preview different pieces of furniture from its catalog to see how it will look in their home.
The prevailing trend observed among people is that when there's a new technology launched, they have this urge to become part of it. This demand from the public, combined with the ease and interactive nature of AR, worth investigating—if not, implementing.
7. Influencer marketing
2017 saw the rise of influencer marketing as more customers turn to social media to learn more about the product that they want to buy. Additionally, 61% of people say that they are more likely to buy a product based on the recommendation of an influencer.
Influencer marketing will remain a content marketing trend in 2018 with a few significant changes.
For starters, customers are now more aware that the influencers they follow on Instagram and other social media sites collaborate with brands, and get compensated. Because of this, they are now more cautious, even skeptical, about any recommendations these influencers share on their social media accounts. Brands would now have to up their game in ensuring that the influencer they choose can create content on your behalf that still sounds authentic and genuine.
8. Increased personalization
With content marketing strategies now being driven more by data, startups and established businesses are now able to learn more about their target audience. In turn, the data you collect can help you create the right content to address the pain points and goals of your target audience at every stage of your buyer's journey.
Data about your competitors is now also more readily accessible. By carefully studying the content types and formats they produce, and how your target audience responds to them, you can now position your startup to develop content to help you reach your set marketing goals.
9. Content creation through AI
Remember those science fiction movies where robots and computers have taken over the world? Well, to a certain extent, that is the reality we live in now.
2018 marks the beginning of the Age of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Just like in the movies, computers and robots are slowly taking over our lives. That includes creating content.
According to a report published by Gartner, 20% of business content published in 2018 are those that were written by a machine. Already, news media companies like the LA Times, Forbes, and the Associated Press have already been using AI to create their news articles, summaries, and reports.
The reason? AI-generated content tends to be more informative, trustworthy, and objective, compared to those written by a professional journalist. This is what Christer Clerwall discovered in his study titled Enter the Robot Journalist.
Does that mean that those who have made a living as content writers are out of a job? Not exactly.
The results of Clerwall's study shows that AI-generated content scored significantly high on the descriptor "boring" and scored very low on "pleasant to read." That is because while the AI-generated material is packed with information, it cannot affect readers emotionally naturally because computers cannot feel.
So while brands belonging to specific industries like finance, science, and healthcare, human content writers can assure themselves that they will still have jobs.
10. Intent-based SEO
There was a time when search engines rank articles and websites based on keyword density (the number of times a specific keyword is mentioned in the content). However, those days are long gone.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is still relevant to content marketing. These days, however, the algorithms of search engines have been updated to become more contextual and relevant to your intent. In other words, search engines now can "understand" the reason behind the search.
That said, SEO in 2018 doesn't just stop with choosing a specific keyword that you want to rank. You also need to be clear on your intent for creating the content. Other content marketing trends I have mentioned earlier like making sure your content is mobile-friendly and content personalization will affect your SEO ranking.
11. More niche-specific content
Startups find brand awareness one of their most challenging goals. That said, you need to streamline your content marketing strategy, so your content focuses on what your business does best, and what sets you apart.
You can do this is by staying updated on the current trends directly affecting your niche. Pay attention to the ever-changing needs of your customers and provide them with solutions.
Doing this helps you achieve three things. First, you can create content that your target audience wants to consume. Second, it helps set you apart from your competitors, helping you establish your brand. Third, you can showcase your expertise and knowledge.
12. Adapting voice search
According to a survey done by MindMeld, 60% of the respondents said that they had used voice search within the past 12 months.
Source: Search Engine Land
This is a very significant content marketing trend because it significantly affects the way we create our content and its metadata.
Before voice search, content marketers have trained themselves to use as few words as possible so that it will be easier for their target audience to find them when they search online. Since we can speak more words than type them, voice search apps like Siri and Amazon Alexa made it easier for people to be more specific in their search.
When writing content optimized for voice search, make it as natural and conversational-sounding as possible. The material should also be written to answer questions beginning with who, what, where, when, how, and why since these are the words commonly used when doing a voice search.
13. Snackable content
When people go online, their attention span is shorter than a goldfish. Their patience to getting answers is even less. Publishing what I like to call "snackable content" gives them the solution to their questions within their acceptable time frame.
As you may have noticed, I consistently publish long-form content here. So snackable does not necessarily mean shorter. Snackable content is any material that is quick and easy to consume and satisfies your audience.
For written content, that means breaking up your content using sub-headings, short paragraphs, and bullet points. That is because people do not read when they are online. Often, they will scan through an article or blog post. Only when they find something that captures their attention will they slow their pace.
When it comes to videos, explain right in your introduction the main points that you will be sharing and how will the video progress. That way, your audience can skip to the part that they want to watch if they are in a rush.
14. Stricter FTC guidelines
Earlier, I mentioned about how transparency is critical for your content marketing success. This content marketing trend is in addition to the other points I already listed.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has caught up with content marketing and other digital marketing strategies used by brands today. In recent months, it has released online marketing guidelines designed to protect consumers from being given false or misleading information. Many of these guidelines gear towards brands that tap influencers to create and distribute content about their products.
With that said, it is essential to make sure that if you decide to ask an influencer to create content for you, that they include the proper disclosure statements. Otherwise, you risk not only of being slapped with a hefty fine like Lord & Taylor's but also lose the trust of your target audience.
15. Content strategy documentation
Through the years, many startups and established brands have been able to get by doing content marketing without any formal documentation. In fact, the Content Marketing Institute says that 41% of content marketers do not have any content strategy documentation.
Source: Content Marketing Institute
As content marketing continues to evolve, the need for a documented content marketing strategy will become more imperative. It will help you stay organized and efficiently execute your content marketing campaigns to get the results you want.
More important, developing a content marketing strategy playbook can make it easier to get new team members on board faster.
2018 will be an exciting year for content marketing. These are, but a handful of the many predictions content marketing experts foresee happening in the upcoming months.
Whichever of these content marketing trends you choose to implement, you need to make sure that you create a content marketing strategy that is fueled by high-quality content catering to the needs and questions of your target audience.
Do you agree with the predicted content marketing trends I have talked about in this post? Are there any other noteworthy content marketing trends that I failed to mention in the post? Let me know by sharing more about it in the comments below.