Content marketing is here to stay. According to a report by Smart Insights, content marketing was rated the most valuable technique for increasing incremental sales throughout 2017—and it shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.
Here are some key content marketing trends to focus on for 2018:
1. Original Content is Still Critical
Relevant, original content will continue to occupy the top spot in the digital marketing toolbox for 2018. Not only does quality content (whether video or print) help grow a business’s following, it keeps current customers engaged and connected. In order to stay relevant and competitive, businesses need to position themselves as thought leaders in their fields—and content helps convey that level of authority to customers in a way that other marketing methods simply can’t compete with.
Keep in mind that it’s never enough just to have good content—if no one is reading it, it won’t make a difference. Consider content syndication to get the word out about your blog, or invest in a white paper as gated content that you can promote through your blog or via social media. Gated content not only increases website traffic, it allows you to collect contact information for your customers that easily translates into leads for your sales team.
2. Brand Transparency is Essential
Today’s consumer is becoming jaded and desensitized with respect to marketing messaging. Millennials—the generation with $200 billion in buying power in 2017—will have the most buying power of any generation by next year. Millennials are particularly affected by brand honesty and authenticity, and they tend to be drawn to businesses that support charitable causes—as long as that support doesn’t seem forced or dishonest.
Because consumers tend to trust their peers more than brands when it comes to authenticity, influencer marketing has really taken off—but keep in mind that it can be a slippery slope with respect to transparency. The FTC, for example, takes serious measures to protect consumers from businesses who aren’t transparent in their marketing tactics: think back to the Machinima case in 2015, where the FTC cracked down on the gaming network for not disclosing paid endorsements for YouTube content producers.
The takeaway here is that brand trust is built on honesty and authenticity. To that end, a high level of transparency should be an integral part of your marketing strategy across all channels for the upcoming year.
3. IoT (The Internet of Things) Makes Off-Screen Content and Voice-Search Mainstream
Even as Google begins prioritizing mobile sites over desktop, content is no longer all about the smartphone. The Internet of Things has made content available to consumers across voice-service technologies like Siri and Alexa, to the point that optimizing content for voice search should be part of every content marketer’s 2018 strategy.
Think the IoT and voice-service tech aren’t major players just yet? Think again. Global organizations have already jumped on board when it comes to voice-service content. The American Heart Association utilizes Alexa voice technology to deliver instructions on performing CPR in a play-by-play format during an emergency, and Purina recently deployed its “Ask Purina” expert pet information service through the voice-service.
According to Gartner, with 8.4 billion connected devices in 2017 (up 31 percent from last year), the IoT brings exciting—and seemingly endless—opportunities for digital marketers to develop innovative content strategies in 2018 and beyond.
6. Pre-Recorded Video Content Takes a Backseat
Live video continues to overshadow pre-recorded content. According to Facebook, viewers engage 10 times more during live videos than when watching the pre-recorded variety.
Think your service or product isn’t particularly suited for live streaming? Consider taking an insider’s look at a business event from behind the scenes, or put together a light-hearted skit based on company culture—the opportunities are endless, and 2018 is right around the corner!