Content marketing done well becomes the basis for all other marketing and advertising functions within an organization. It’s the key to forming relationships with customers in an increasingly distracted world.
The content your customers consume tells you a lot about what they want. The relationships you build deliver valuable data and insights that shape your overall messaging and, even beyond marketing, influence your product development and business strategy.
Communications mediums and technologies are rapidly evolving. Entire industries, like retail, are changing before our eyes. To get a handle on this turbulent environment, we gathered content marketing tips from 10 experts. Read on for the content marketing trends driving 2020 and beyond.
1. Focus on Employee Created Content
One of the often-overlooked content marketing strategies for high-quality content is empowering your own employees to create it. On his blog, Ted Rubin states employee created content is one of the most valuable forms of content, one that can increase employee engagement, “create a sense of common purpose, scale content marketing and profoundly affect search results.”
Rubin’s content marketing tip points out that employee created content generates 8 times more engagement than content shared by the company and extends brand messaging by more than 500%.
“Employee Created Content (#ECC) and Community Created Content (#CCC) is so valuable and overlooked by almost every brand. First ECC and CCC leverages the personal influence of the content creators, thereby delivering substantially higher engagement rates than corporate branded content.
“For larger organizations, such as franchise and retailers, ECC helps to localize and personalize content in a way that isn’t possible with geo-targeted advertising alone.
“Finally, since ECC using common brand assets is all customized and shared by the different users, its impact on search-based algorithms is profound. Deployed at scale, crowd marketing can significantly augment corporate digital media efforts and it allows the organization to empower its employee base in this effort, as well.”
2. Use Intent Data
Our next content marketing trend to watch? It’s all about intent. Intent data shows which accounts and leads are actively conducting research online, which helps predict which accounts are ready to buy. David Crane suggests on CMSWire that applying intent data to content marketing improves results. He says at every stage of the buyer’s journey (awareness, exploring solutions, considering specific products and deciding on renewal or churn), intent data can be used to create more effective content.
“Once you understand your prospects’ most pressing concerns, you can select the content that speaks best to those challenges, providing insight about what’s causing their pain points and the initial steps they can take to improve their situation. Of course, you may find that you don’t have the content you need. Identifying such content gaps is just as important as identifying the concerns.”
3. Rethink Controversy
With the coronavirus pandemic and a national election looming, 2020 may be a time to steer away from polarizing content marketing strategies. On “Forbes,” John Hall says now is not the time to risk alienating audiences, even if argumentative content may have been a hit for your business in the past. Controversy is a content marketing trend to avoid, and we may see a swing in the other direction soon enough.
“You may feel strongly about certain controversial topics, but limit your chances of alienating readers. People are more on edge these days, and things you’ve seemingly presented in an informative manner could be taken the wrong way.
“You can take a stance if something is really important to your company, but make sure you weigh the downfall before sending messages that could get you in trouble. Think through your mission as a company to determine what’s worth taking a stance on – remember that these messages affect your entire branding, so they need to be aligned. Individual voices can really impact a company’s image, so also make sure you issue clear guidelines across the company.”
4. Prioritize Quality Over Everything
Jonathan Crowl, Content Marketer, @jonathancrowl
On Skyword, Jonathan Crowl reminds content marketers that the top 70-80% of total organic traffic is typically driven by the top 10% of content. Content marketers should examine the highest-performing content to:
- Update it with fresh takes and keep the content juice flowing
- Use it to identify trends and strategies to apply to all content
- Apply the same quality markers from top-performing content to new content
“As Google’s search algorithm has improved its ability to assess content quality over time, marketers have had to adapt their strategies to focus on delivering content that provides value to audiences. While SEO remains an important consideration in modern marketing, quality content isn’t achieved through keyword stuffing or chasing trending topics.
“There are several hallmarks of quality content, but the one that’s always found in today’s best content is an audience-centric approach. Top-performing content marketing programs prioritize content that connects with audiences and drives engagement. Additionally, quality content must have a distinct brand tone and point of view.
“Achieving greater quality requires due diligence. You’ll need to put quality assurance controls in place to ensure your content meets high editorial standards and isn’t being produced just to hit a monthly quota.”
5. Convey Empathy
George Nguyen, Editor at Search Engine Land, @geochingu
Another content marketing trend — way to make content stand out during these uncertain times in 2020 — is to add a caring tone to content to make it seem like your business is really there for consumers. George Nguyen says on Search Engine Land that given the circumstances marketing takes place in today, the appropriate tone is important.
“Tone is an important component of messaging, which brings brands closer to their goals – these objectives are one and the same. The difference nowadays is that audiences are likely to be more sensitive to tone given the global pandemic, its economic fallout and movements for racial equality.
“Directly engaging with customers allows them to tell your organization what their concerns and priorities are, enabling you to better support them. Businesses can use their social channels, SMS, live website chat or other methods to get in touch with their audiences and find out how they’re affected by COVID-19 or other disruptions to their daily lives. In addition to assisting your customers this way, you can also use this opportunity to source more content marketing ideas, as well.”
6. Create a Strong Partnership with Sales
Elizabeth Knights-Ward, Group Marketing Manager, Content Marketing at LinkedIn, @LizzyRoseKnight
In a LinkedIn content marketing report, Elizabeth Knights-Ward says marketing and sales collaboration is vital during times of change. Aligning sales and content marketing strategies improves the ability to meet customer needs, positively impacts the customer experience and enables critical business growth.
“Sales and marketing alignment is more critical than ever – at a time where marketers need clear direction about where to focus resources, the sales org can act as a north star.
“Sales is not just a channel to distribute content to or handover a long list of leads – they are the pulse of the customer, hear their questions and challenges and know first-hand where the most support or guidance is needed.
“Couple a strong partnership with your content performance data, and you’ll have a solid way to sense check where to pivot your content marketing strategy.”
7. Integrate Long-Form & Personalized Video into Content Strategy
Osama Khabab predicts on “Forbes” that more businesses will capitalize on longer video content to build trust with audiences. This includes content featuring key opinion leaders of organizations and behind-the-scenes videos.
Another content marketing trend to watch with video is personalization. You can use social listening to discover the needs of your audience and create both long-form and personalized videos.
“Platforms like Vidyard and Data Creative allow you to make personalized videos. You can target individuals, groups or even companies.
“If you’re making a personalized video, it would make sense to send it only to your intended recipients via email. You can use your regular email marketing tools to track how your campaign performs.”
8. Artificial Intelligence Optimizes Content Marketing Efforts
Jacqueline Dooley, Content Marketer, @jackie510
Evolutions in artificial intelligence will continue to impact content marketing trends, especially in the B2B sphere. Jacqueline Dooley says on ClickZ that predictive analytics can help B2B marketers with campaign strategy.
“Predictive analytics uses historical data, machine learning and statistical algorithms to predict future outcomes. There are many different applications and solutions that employ predictive analytics for marketers, but it’s particularly useful for campaign planning and optimization.
“Marketo, Adobe’s marketing automation platform, is an example of how predictive analytics can help marketers save time and reduce errors. It crawls a user’s website and identifies assets that can be used in marketing campaigns such as videos, e-books and case studies.
“The system predicts the most relevant content to show to individual website visitors and provides AI-powered suggestions, which optimizes existing content and identifies the best performing content.”
9. Content Becomes More Interactive
To cut through content marketing noise, Dmitry Shapiro predicts on MarTech Advisor that content marketing efforts will become more interactive. Increased access to cost-effective tools will transform more content into interactive marketing.
“Today, 81% of marketers say interactive content is better than static, and 80% of consumers acknowledge their experience with a brand is as important as it is with its products or services.
“In 2019, we saw the rise of video with consumers watching more content and reading less, but in 2020, consumers will be playing more and watching less. Consumers love branded games, or ‘playables,’ so much that data recently collected from Facebook and TikTok revealed remarkable increases to conversions and clickthrough rates when comparing playable ads against video ads.
“In 2020, marketers must make sure they find ways to increase engagement with consumers over an extended period of time, or else another brand will steal away their audiences’ attention. It’s clear that playable content will be a critical asset to successful marketing campaigns.”
10. As Automated Content Develops, Editorial Leaders Must Take Charge
Content marketing automation is on the horizon, and that requires strong editorial leaders to effectively use those tools for their organization while still producing high-quality content. Cameron Conaway writes on “Forbes” that editorial leaders must evolve along with automation technology to be effective.
“As new technologies enthrall the media and capture the public’s attention, the humble art and science of collaboration will increase in importance, especially for editorial leaders working in cross-functional capacities (as most do).
“At its core, great collaboration is about the fundamental human qualities many of us would do well to spend a lifetime working to master: the ability to listen, communicate clearly, ask great questions and develop the wide-ranging skills it takes to consistently leverage the collective genius of teams. The best editorial leaders I’ve worked with have excelled in this regard, and I believe the rise of content marketing automation will make this more critical and more exciting.”
What’s Your View on the Content Marketing Trends of 2020?
If you’re an industry professional, what are your thoughts on how content marketing trends will evolve in 2020? What content marketing tips will become more popular? We’d love to know.
And if you’re looking for a way to supercharge your content marketing strategy in 2020 and beyond, we’re here to help you make it happen.