Let’s start from the very beginning. What is content marketing? According to CMI, content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.
How to succeed at content marketing?
Companies that have made consistent and sound investments in content marketing in recent years are reporting those investments paying dividends.
86% of B2C marketers report they are using content marketing to increase leads and push their brand forward. CMI states that more than 60% of B2B marketers reported their content marketing strategies being more effective than one year before.
What are the factors contributing to that success? Better quality content, strategy development, more time spent on content marketing, and better targeting in content distribution make it real.
As technology changes, so do the strategies companies use to engage their customers online. If you don’t want your brand to be left behind, plain and simple, you need to stay on top of the newest trends in content marketing. Being able to anticipate trends and the change in audience behavior, can help you adjust your strategy and get ahead of the wave.
However, staying tuned into the ever-changing landscape of content marketing might overwhelm the average business owner or marketer. That is why we did the research for you, so you can quickly get up to date on the latest content marketing trends for 2018 and find out what tools you should be using to get the most for your efforts and maintain growth.
Content is fuel for the buyer’s journey
If you look at online marketing, there aren’t too many tactics that can stand on their own without content. Think about the types of marketing the average business does on a daily basis:
– Social media posts
– Blogs and articles
– White papers and e-books
– Email marketing
– Content-driven sales messages and materials
– Paid advertising
They all rely heavily on content to drive conversions. That’s why content marketing will continue to grow as the cornerstone of all marketing.
Content is what catches the attention of your audience and builds the trust with your brand. It’s the experience created by your content that moves the customer through the funnel to the final conversion of the buyer’s journey.
In 2018, your content strategy should support every stage of that buyer’s journey, and your content will need to be more diverse, purposeful, and nurturing so it propels the customer forward. Most importantly, it can’t stop at the point of conversion. Without relationships, your audience isn’t going to carry your content beyond the first glance, so continue to nurture those customer relationships with content!
Transparency is crucial
It’s true that consumers want companies to be more authentic, transparent, and driven to give back to society. According to Digiday, there’s a growing fatigue in brand advertising, “green” claims, charitable contributions, and corporate support for causes. Brands try to tie it all together into “cause marketing,” but wary customers see this kind of promotion as desperate or dishonest.
Customers don’t feel they get the same authenticity from brands that they get from their peers. With the growth of influencer marketing and endorsements, it’s more important than ever to build relationships with the cautious customer and work on disclosure and transparency.
Strategy documentation is needed
Content strategy is much more than coming up with story ideas and building an editorial calendar. First, it starts with examining organizational needs. Next, you need to identify what assets you can repurpose or let go. Then you have to understand your audience personas and the content they crave, which will help you figure how to differentiate yourself from the competition. Most importantly, you need a plan for getting that content to people through the right channels at the right time.
In 2015, only 32% of marketers had a documented content marketing strategy. The following year, this grew to 37%.
It’s great to have a concept of where you want to go, but that’s not always enough to succeed. Have you heard about the study of Dr.Gail Matthews about how goal achievement was influenced by writing those goals? It revealed that “participants who wrote down their goals and sent weekly updates to a friend had a much higher success rate than those who kept their goals to themselves.”
Those participants who documented, reviewed, and shared their goals were 33% more successful in achieving their goals.
The trend toward better documentation of content strategies is one you should be following, and you should adjust your approach to adopt this practice if you want to positively influence growth.
It’s time to diversify
When you use a third-party platform to distribute your content, you will be at the mercy of that third-party changing their rules. That’s why you should never rely too heavily on any third-party like social media platforms to distribute your content, but build direct connections with your audience through email, membership sites or in-person events. The last two will only be successful for specific niches, but email campaigns can work for nearly every brand. No matter what tools you use, building upon and growing your email list is key. Figure out who your audience is, know where to target these potential consumers, provide them value and get them to act.
Invest in original content that doesn’t sell
Nowadays, consistent, original, and addictive content is all the rage. You need breakthrough content because simply getting people to click on your content isn’t enough. You need to capture their attention and wow them. You need to teach them something. In 2018, the content team will need to grow and include people who have talent in:
– Video production and editing
– Graphic design, illustration, and editing
– Audio editing and production skills
– Content optimization across multiple formats
– Content distribution and promotion
– Strategy development, execution, and campaign management
– Communications and branding
– Advertising and media buying
– Analytics, metrics, and reporting
Better quality content videos may do a better job attracting, engaging, and retaining your customers. That’s why companies must invest in finding and hiring individuals who can generate a consistent stream of content for every social platform and keep that audience engaged through every channel. These people need to be tech-savvy and highly organized, and they must know how to communicate beyond acronyms.
In 2018, content marketing is about creating useful, interesting content people actually want to engage with. Stop talking about your brand, and start creating content people want to read, watch or listen to. This is exactly what the big brands like Apple and PepsiCo are doing. If your main competitor isn’t betting big on original content, it will be soon. The window for building a trusted and loyal audience is happening right now!
Live video is taking over
Next year, the content marketing landscape is changing to focus more on video and less on branded content. If you have been holding off on doing video, now is the time. Video was expected to be huge in 2017, and that trend is not slowing down.
A recent HubSpot survey found that 48 percent and 46 percent of marketers surveyed planned to add videos on YouTube and Facebook, respectively, to their content distribution channels in 2018.
Why? Facebook video has an average of 135% more organic reach than images. The engagement goes through the roof for live video as well. According to Facebook, users spent 3x more time watching live videos than a video that’s no longer live. They also comment more than 10x more during live videos.
If that’s not enough to convince you that you need to adopt live video for 2018, maybe this will help change your mind. Livestream surveyed customers and discovered that:
– 80% of respondents said they would rather tune into a live video than read a blog post,
– 82% of respondents were more interested in watching live video from a brand than reading social media posts.
While approximately 60% of marketers are investing in video right now, only about 14% have committed to using live video.
You have a great opportunity to take advantage of live video before some of your competitors do. You no longer need an expensive camera or high-tech editing software for that. All you need is a smartphone, a phone tripod and a social media account to leverage live video. Start working with live video now to capture the attention and engagement of your audience and appear way more authentic to your audience that is looking for the real human connection behind the brand today!
Distribution is everything
If you want to cut through the noise to get the attention of even a small percentage of those 3.773 billion active social media users, you need to adopt strategic distribution. Smart brands are going to make more investments in content distribution to more effectively develop multi-channel and social distribution plans.
There may very well be new ways to get your content in front of current and prospective customers. Yes, there’s still just way too much content out there, but don’t let that stop you from producing content because all that other content out there doesn’t matter. Create and distribute great content smart and work to boost its engagement!
You can no longer afford to put off content marketing until next year. In fact, 2018 is the best time to invest in content marketing. Go hard or go home!
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