Cameron Wells | Top content marketing trends
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FOR 2018
“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.” Content Marketing Institute

And it isn’t just a fad. 89% of B2B marketers and 86% of B2C marketers claim they are using content marketing to increase leads and drive their brand forward.

Content marketing has gone from being the ‘shiny new toy ‘ in marketing to one which is taken as seriously as SEO, DM, eDM and social media. Its rise to fame means that it now takes priority consideration in marketing budget allocation and resource.

But just like these other more entrenched marketing disciplines, content marketing is constantly changing. Recent trends such as brands becoming publishers and the emergence of video have become the norm for most content programmes.

So, what does 2018 have in store for content marketing? How can you stay ahead of your competition in a crowded market? Here’s a glimpse of what to expect…

1. Video set to stay

Whether it’s 500, 2000 or more words, don’t make the mistake of undermining the value by simply adding to the volume.

Remember your audience is time poor and message rich, so they need to absorb your salient points as succinctly as possible. Everything you produce should be more engaging, not just longer than what your competitors are currently producing. Give them a reason to connect with you, share your content, and come back for more.

2. Don’t rely on social, diversify into direct

Facebook’s recent decline in organic reach means that social media is on the decline as a method to distribute some forms of content. Whenever you use a third-party platform to distribute your content, you will be at the mercy of them changing their rules or their audience changing their preferences.

Instead, work to build direct connections and develop relationships with your audience through email, membership organisations or in-person events which work particularly well for niche products and services.

3. Hyper-personalisation of content

Brands are no longer producing just one post or video, but thousands of content pieces for a single campaign. They recognise that ‘one size doesn’t fit all’ and are responding accordingly by hyper-personalising content for their many micro segments. This in-depth knowledge of your target audience; their ever-evolving likes, dislikes and interests, their nuances, their idiosyncrasies is key to micro content creation.

Which begs the question, is one-to-one content just round the corner?

4. Use of influencers is on the rise

Marketeers are always looking for more authentic and intriguing ways to market their products than just traditional brand or direct response advertising. While luxury brands, fashion and cosmetics have been using influencers for many years, 2018 will see all brands from tech to financial services partnering with individuals who have amassed significant followings on social media.

Many brands which are new to influencer marketing or which are targeting niche segments are not seeking the big name ‘key opinion leaders’ with millions of followers, but instead are targeting ‘micro-influencers’ with just thousands of followers.

5. Localisation of content

The balance between global and local content production is shifting with the growing realisation that simply translating content pieces does not work. Content originating at the European HQ doesn’t resonate in South-East Asia. A direct mail campaign that performs perfectly in France could bomb in the UK. You could even go as far as saying content created in Manchester may not even resonate with our neighbours in Liverpool.

Whatever trend you embrace, remember the zeitgeist for 2018 is subtle content. Overtly branded content is out. Whether you’re creating a video or a blog to support a new product launch or creating a social scene through your brand influencers, don’t over-expose your brand. Content aimed at selling (even gently) will give way to content as a vehicle to grab and keep the attention of consumers.
Don’t just talk about your brand, create content people want to read, watch or listen to.

In 2018, stop asking how your content marketing can drive sales. Ask what your content can do for your audience.