Getting your content marketing efforts ready for a more competitive and challenging landscape than ever before.
You see it all the time.
Each year, content marketing lists, trends, tips and predictions appear in all corners of the web. Often, these lists consist of vague suggestions and predictions such as “immersive technologies will lead content experiences” or “AI and/or data will change the face of content.”But these lists don’t provide actionable content marketing advice, rather generic predictions made to sound cutting-edge.
This article will provide some content marketing suggestions, why they are likely to provide a great platform for 2020 as well as some tactical options for their execution. But first, what have we learned from 2019 so far?
- Team collaboration has become an integral part of the content marketing process. And it is now not uncommon to see brands collaborate.
- Content is more conversational (and designed to start conversations).
- The rise in content and increase in competition means that the promotion and distribution of the content is just as important as its creation.
- Content needs to be highly tailored and highly personable.
- If content isn’t original, it isn’t going to provide any real value…
- …but that doesn’t mean you should avoid user-generated content.
- Content decisions are usually made from data.
It seems several recent developments have now become standard practice within the content marketing process. All of which need to be taken into consideration going into the next period. With this in mind, here are seven content marketing trends that can provide some focus for 2020.
1. Competition is fierce. Specialise in content topics – avoid the temptation to be generic.
Regardless of the industry you operate within or the type of audience you’re looking to attract, there will always be other content competing with yours. As previously mentioned, organisations will need to place equal effort on the distribution and creation of the content.
But the creation of the content itself requires a strategic approach to ensure that it is specialised, authoritative and, perhaps more importantly, unique. With the focus shifting away from some of the technology fads, organisations need to go back to basics and focus on the value of their content within their niche or vertical.
The Content Marketing Institute state that 58% of marketers reported spending more on content creation in 2018 than in 2017.These statistics for 2019 are likely to be higher again. To counter this rise in content, ensure the content aligns with your organisation’s objectives, values and products.
This will provide the foundations that your content has its own unique selling proposition (like your organisation, providing that it has one).
Then, ensure that the content you are producing is highly educational and detailed. Great quality long-form content that is niche-specific will always beat content created for a quantity that is general in its nature.
2. Cater content to each of your buyer’s journey stages
Content that is designed to promote or sell or prompt user action is usually tailored to solve a prospect’s specific need at a specific time. Mapping out a customer journey will provide the organisation with the relevant touchpoints – to identify key pain points – that exists within the three basic buyer’s journey stages: awareness stage, consideration stage, and decision-making stage.
Once these touchpoints are identified, the content can then be created to help prospects during these stages.
Content should offer information related to common questions asked during each of the stages of the buyer’s journey. As the journey progresses, it is common that the content evolves from being educational to being more promotional and organisation focused.
\It's length often increases as the journey progresses as the prospect displays more buying intent. As intent increases, guides and case studies are more likely suitable content formats, rather than e-books and blog posts.
Choose a small number of content types for each stage, for example, podcast content for the awareness stage, video for the consideration stage and chat-assisted product literature for the decision stage. Even better is a personalization engine to drive this as it can better identify when prospects are at each stage.
3. Video marketing popularity is still growing; video should be part of the marketing mix
Each year for the past five or so years, marketers have maintained that video marketing should be part of the marketing mix. Research by Cisco predicts that video will represent 82% of all global internet traffic by 2022, with a continuous increase on a year-by-year basis from the start of the study.
Often, over a period of time, digital marketing tactics get stale, where growth trends appear to level off or even decrease. This is not the case with video marketing. Video can engage all stages of the buyer’s journey, builds trust, offers great ROI and appeals to mobile users and its continued growth in terms of usage is a sign of its popularity, and of things to come.
And the options with video are substantial. Video blogs, interviews, behind the scenes, product tutorials/reviews, webinars, and testimonials are just some of these options. To make video marketing work for you and your organisation, decide on your goals, then on the audience/message and then on the video format.
Begin with short videos on YouTube/Google (shared on social media and other owned channels) for the “awareness” buyer’s journey stage and assess whether your viewers progressed in any way to be a customer or repeat customer.
4. If you are not hosting podcasts you need to start now.
With the increase in platforms that offer podcasts, such as Google and Spotify, users can listen to podcasts on the move, have flexibility in what they listen to and reduce screen time in the process. And the great benefit of podcasts is that they are easy to create.
Podcasts generally include a regular host and a guest contributor. Together, they form a short (but usually highly detailed) podcast episode that can be downloaded on any device and listened to anywhere.
The content within podcasts can vary considerably; there is no reason that generating ideas for podcast episodes can be no different from that of generating blog post ideas. Podcasts can also be used as a great way to generate other content, as the podcasts themselves can be transcribed or transformed into blog posts or video posts.
5. Chat features, conversational interfaces and bots
Imagine a tool (with a personality of its own) that deals with customer queries, directs website visitors to relevant sections of the website, distributes content and cut costs. When it comes to finding answers to questions, speed is very much the need. Which chatbots and conversational interfaces provide in abundance.
And when it comes to the actual demographics of those looking for the answers, it seems that chatbots aren’t just for Millennials. Drift’s State of Chatbots report demonstrates a number of potential benefits where the technology has the potential to improve online experiences for all consumers, regardless of age.
Although the trends suggest that automated chatbots are likely to increase, conversational interfaces (that are able to provide users with the above benefits) can also include live chat, messenger apps and social media.I have previously identified instances of conversational contentmarketing from the healthcare industry that serve as good examples.
By tapping into the potential of chatbots, messenger apps and conversational interfaces organisations can transform the way they interact with customers and prospects, as well as become more efficient.
6. If you have the budget, invest in interactive content alongside traditional tactics
As marketers, we face many challenges that affect us reaching our target audience. Most of these challenges lie with the behaviors of our prospects. What we can look to do, however, is to entertain our audiences and look to make a lasting impression that will drive more engagement, encouraging those visitors to engage with future content.
Interactive content, which may include maps, games, 360 videos, time lines, animations, assessments and polls, can really bring prospects closer to your organisation in what is a two-way conversation.
The CMI asked 182 for-profit content marketers who use interactive content of the benefits of doing so and found that 81% agree that it grabs attention more effectively, with 79% agreeing that interactive content enhances retention of brand messaging when combined with traditional marketing tactics.
As technology enhances and presents more opportunities for interactive content (with prospects familiarising themselves with this kind of content) it is likely that these figures will increase further. Look to create one stand-out piece of interactive content.
7. Keep one eye on voice control and search
Voice search is on the rise. And as people invest in more voice-controlled devices and services – such as Google Home, Amazon Alexa and Apple’s Siri – this upward trend will increase as people become more comfortable completing tasks in this manner.
Of course, even if the trend is clear, it is still early days for voice control and search. Organisations can, however, ensure that current written content answers questions that are more likely to be asked of Google. It can also ensure that written/text content is structured in a way that answers questions at the beginning of the post.
Also Key is that this content is written in plain everyday English that has no issues of being understood by algorithms and by those looking for quick answers to questions. Think about the words people say and not the words people type. Watch this space.
The need for a strategy (and a focus on the content tactics)
The production of the content itself is not easy and generating results from that content can be even more difficult. This is why a content strategy – within an overall content marketing plan – is required so that organisations can ideate, craft, publish and distribute content that achieves predetermined objectives. This can only come via analysis, strategic planning and objective setting and experimentation.
Content is powerful. There’s no disputing it. But just creating content to “be doing content” isn’t going to produce the marketing results that you need for your content to be sustainable.
The content tactic that you decide on, the quality of the content as well as its promotion will all depend on your marketing strategy and audience. If you know them well, your content marketing efforts – which is now defining the overall marketing practice –will be greatly improved.
Author: Gareth Roberts
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