Content marketing is a rapidly evolving arena, with new tools and distribution channels popping up regularly. As marketers, it’s our job to figure out what those channels are, who they’re reaching, and how we can best get our message out. Staying on top of digital marketing trends is par for the course.
Now that we're well into the new year, it’s a perfect time to evaluate trends and figure out what the world of content marketing looks like in 2020. What platforms are people using? How are they consuming information? What do buyers expect from an ad, and how are they okay with being marketed to? These are all questions we need to examine.
Here, we'll cover 10 new trends in content marketing you should keep an eye on.
1. Results-Focused Content
This kind of content is focused on getting your prospective clients some kind of result right off the bat. Maybe that’s a downloadable template or a simple plan for increasing traffic to their blog. It can even be an interactive experience.
Marketer Chris Von Wilpert’s interactive list posts on Content Mavericks provide excellent examples of results-focused content. He gives his visitors several options for increasing their marketing effectiveness, and users can click on one of them to show a list of actionable tips. Choices include “increase website traffic” and “grow an email list.”
This type of interactive content provides value to your user base and lets you know what users want. The items readers click on the most tell you what content areas you should be bolstering, especially if your niche is providing expert information in a specific field.
Put this trend to use by:
- Providing users with free worksheets or tutorials
- Using it to identify list posts getting traffic on your blog
- Allowing users to filter posts when searching for content
This gives readers content that's easier to consume and gets results faster on your site than with the competition.
2. Video and Streaming
You've heard it before, and it's true: video is big. It's been one of the most consistent trends in content for the past few years, and it's only going to get bigger.
Research from Smart Insights estimates that people will watch an average of 100 minutes of video a day by 2021. People are unlikely to scrub through a video the way they’d skim an article or blog post, and the movement and sound of videos make them more attention-grabbing than a static image.
According to Statista, when it comes to marketing content, video is second only to blog posts in popularity. Nowadays, users expect to see video from the brands they follow. In fact, 80% of users surveyed by Livestream would rather watch a live video than read a blog post.
Luckily, advances in technology have made it easier to get a point-and-shoot digital camera, smartphone, or cheap DSLR and create your own video. Almost every free social media platform provides some way to stream or use videos.
- Influencers on Instagram routinely go live or add behind-the-scenes videos to their stories so followers feel like they’re part of the experience.
- News outlets and brands can go live on Facebook.
- Solo entrepreneurs can use live video to hold free webinars to bring in new clients.
- Free online tools like Fastreel make it easy to edit your videos without having to download and learn expensive software.
3. User Intent-Driven Content
User intent-driven content involves creating something that answers a user’s search query. Google's search engine algorithm points people to information that best answers their searches, so if you determine the most-searched terms for a given subject or niche and optimize your content accordingly, you'll show up at the top of the pile.
There are four basic types of search queries:
- Informational queries used for general information, e.g. “Why is the sky blue?” They’ll usually return thousands of results, any one of which could provide relevant information.
- Navigational queries used to find a specific site, like typing in “Twitter” instead of “twitter.com”
- Investigational queries used to learn more about a product, like “best laptops 2020” or “Macbook Air reviews.”
- Transactional queries focused on an action, like “make dinner reservations” or “buy a plane ticket to Spain.”
Consider the type of query a user is likely to make and create content to match. If someone is looking for information that would typically be found on a blog page like “marketing trends,” a knowledge-rich blog post on the subject will rank higher than a product page with the same information because people aren't looking for product pages during those searches.
Use these tips to check search term rankings and queries:
- Open an incognito window on your browser and Google the term to see what posts rank highest for a given query.
- Add the command "&filter=0" to the end of a URL search string to see what other pages Google turns up in its rankings.
- Use Google Trends to find popular keywords and determine the kinds of queries users are asking.
4. Voice Search and Smart Devices
Over the years, voice assistants have snuck into our lives and become household staples. Google Voice Assistant and Alexa are so ubiquitous they’ve become memes. Even your iPhone from three years back has Siri.
Over half of the US population uses voice search in their daily lives with voice-based shopping revenue growing from two billion in 2019 to over 20 billion at the end of 2022. It makes sense to get in on that market. And if you optimize your content for voice search before your competitors do, it’s you customers will find first.
To optimize your content for voice search:
- Understand people conduct voice searches differently than they do text searches.
- Keep in mind people will likely speak the entire question instead of using shorter phrases and keywords.
- Include more specific keywords in your content.
- Investigate voice queries your audience conducts for products related to yours.
- Optimize your content to be platform-agnostic—make sure it displays well anywhere, including mobile.
Optimizing your content with these points in mind will move you closer to the front of the line, no matter how you’re delivering your content.
5. Conversational Marketing
Marketing has always been about customer relationships. Today’s technology gives marketers and business owners the chance to develop one-on-one relationships with the people who use their product or service. You can directly learn about what your customers want, how you can make your business better, and how to improve your product or service to better fit their needs.
Social media and software like chatbots let you have more personal conversations with people. According to a 2019 report by Drift, 39% of people said they had a good experience with online chat, and 16% said they had a good experience even if it was just an automated chatbot.
Conversations with your customer base:
- Help you quickly learn more about them
- Give customers quick solutions to their problems
- Keep people engaged with you
Invest in chatbots and/or people to staff an online chat function. Let your customers know real people, or at the very least chatbots that can connect them with real people, are there to help. If you use chatbots, make sure they have extensive “scripts” written in your brand’s voice to help customers. Also make sure your chatbots have data at their disposal to find the right information.
And speaking of personal…
6. Personalized Content
People today expect a highly personalized shopping experience. Personalized messages improve the customer’s experience and improve business performance. Businesses that make an effort to personalize ads see, on average, a 19% increase in sales.
Dynamic content delivery tools will help get the content you create to the right audiences.
- Determine what versions of an email newsletter go to particular segments of your audience.
- Decide when segments of your audience receive a certain kind of ad.
- Trace where a customer is in a sales funnel and tailor the content they receive accordingly—a customer that’s just learning about your product should see something completely different from someone who’s already bought the product.
Podcasts are a hugely popular form of both entertainment and education.
Podcast listenership has almost tripled in the last ten years, and there are more podcasts coming out seemingly every day. Podcast audiences are also very engaged with what they’re listening to and more likely to complete episodes of their favorite shows. That means more airtime for your message.
And podcast ads work: Forbes reported that podcast ad revenue in 2018 was $600 million.
While there are an immense amount of podcasts on the market today, only a few brands have gotten on the audio bandwagon. If you can find a way to make audio work in your industry, you’ll want to give podcasts a shot.
Mattress company Casper provides a great example of capitalizing on this trend. You wouldn't expect a mattress company to have a podcast, but Casper used the platform to create content around something it specializes in: sleep.
The company wrangled guests like Wyatt Cenac and Bobby Moynihan to raise brand awareness, generate interest from potential customers, and create something entertaining that users connect back to their brand.
8. Augmented Reality (AR) Visuals
Whether on Snapchat, Instagram, or TikTok, users love adding AR filters to their videos. They can be funny, like the ones that give you puppy dog ears or cartoonish wide eyes. They can also be shareable quizzes, like the “which ___ are you?” filter that lets you know what Disney princess you are.
Since Snapchat lets you make your own filters and lenses, brands can get in on this trend too. Taco Bell launched a Snapchat filter that changed people’s heads into giant taco shells, and it yielded ridiculously high results. At 224 million views, it was the most viewed campaign in Snapchat’s history.
Think about how your brand can get in front of viewers on these platforms. If you can come up with an AR filter that’s funny and shareable, it'll spread like wildfire.
9. User-Generated Content
A prevalent form of content marketing already, user-generated content is a great way to spread word of your brand in 2020. Inviting users to share their experience with your brand lets them feel involved, raises brand awareness, and gives you a chance to see how people are using your product.
Most people will share their favorite brands on Instagram or Twitter, especially if they can use a catchy hashtag.
- Create a community around your brand
- Give people a chance to be featured on the corporate account, creating an incentive to share
- Increases your brand’s social media presence and broadens your audience
According to AdWeek, user-generated content can even be more effective than brand content. In fact, 85% of customers said they found user-generated content to be more influential than brand content.
10. Authority-Building Content
Not only does the latest iteration of Google’s search algorithm look at how authoritative a single page is, but it also judges a page within the context of the entire website. The more authoritative a website is, the higher it will rank in search. It's possible for two separate pages about the same topic to rank differently depending on what larger website they're part of.
Google wants to point users to the pages that will provide the most value and relevant information to answer a query or search. That means brands focused on building authoritative and credible content stand to do very well in 2020.
- How-to guides
- White papers
Afterward, build smaller, more focused pieces of content to link back to these longer posts.
<div class="tip">Looking for even more trends to capitalize on in the marketing world? Check out this infographic on content marketing trends by Growfusely.</div>
No matter what strategy you choose for your next marketing campaign, content is king. After determining your niche, explore new content areas like podcasts as a challenge.
These top content marketing trends will help you build deeper, longer-lasting relationships with your customers and make sure you get in front of as many new ones as possible. Effective use of these strategies will make 2020 one of your best years yet.
This article was written by Compose.ly writer John Bogna.