As the hustle and bustle of the holiday season kicks into high gear, we begin to think about the year ahead. Like those annoyingly-organized early shoppers, some of you have probably finished planning for 2018, but for the rest of us, there’s still time to put the finishing touches on marketing budgets and content strategy. Consider the following content marketing trends as you plot out the new year:
- Content Marketing is a Given. When it comes to content marketing, it’s no longer a question of whether you should be doing it, but rather “how can we be more successful at it?” The latest research by CMI shows that 91% of B2B marketers are using content marketing (an 18% increase over last year), and 89% of the most successful B2B marketers are extremely or very committed to content marketing.
Perhaps more importantly, 63% of respondents rated their 2017 content marketing success either much more successful or somewhat more successful – which means we are getting better at using content to build audiences, generate leads and convert buyers.
What does this mean for you? If you haven’t already increased your content marketing efforts, now is a good time. Chances are, your competitors are already looking for ways to fine tune their efforts. In fact, 38% of respondents plan on increasing their content marketing budget in 2018, while 46% will maintain their 2017 budgets.
- Develop a Strategy. In the same CMI study, respondents who had a documented content marketing strategy reported higher levels of overall content marketing success compared with those who have only a verbal strategy, or no strategy at all. Unfortunately, only 37% of B2B marketers said they have a documented content marketing strategy.
That means there is room for improvement. By developing and documenting a strategy for 2018, you can join the ranks of the most successful content marketers. Starting with a strategy ensures that you’re reaching the right audience with the most valuable information at the optimal time in the buying process. For more compelling reasons to develop a content marketing strategy, check out “Why You Need a Content Strategy.” (Need help getting started? Read “How to Create a B2B Content Strategy.”)
- Make it Personal. As budgets increase and more content is created, competition intensifies. Some would say that content has already reached a level that makes it impossible for audiences to process.
One effective way to stand out from the crowd is to create personalized content. Technology has given us the ability to track customer behavior and gather information – and because customers know marketers have this data, they expect us to use it! In a world of information overload, generic content is too easy to ignore.
Take email for instance. Emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened (Campaign Monitor), while personalized email messages improve click-through rates by an average of 14% and conversions by 10% (Aberdeen).
The bottom line is that customers expect you to know who they are and what type of information they’re interested in. Which pieces of content did they interact with on your site? What type of problems/pain points are they having that you can solve? What questions can you answer? It’s your job to know.
- Optimize for Mobile. According to 2017 Stone Temple stats, more people are accessing your content on mobile devices (55.79%) than on desktops (44.21%), and this number is expected to grow.
With people searching for information on the go, it’s imperative that your content be optimized for mobile devices. You can start by simply viewing your content from a phone or tablet. Does it download quickly? Is it easy to read? Does navigating your site feel like a game of “Where’s Waldo?” Experts recommend doing a complete audit of how well you’re communicating with mobile users and fixing any frustrating problems.
- Shoot a video. Again, with competition increasing, marketers are looking for ways to differentiate their content. Using high-quality images is a good start. In fact, according to Forbes, “visual content has become so fundamental to the Internet that we have entire social platforms who’s common language is images, like Snapchat, Instagram, and Pinterest.” And, if you think these social platforms are just for B2C companies, think again – 94% of B2B content marketers use social media posts (CMI)!
So, the next logical step is video. Think YouTube, Snapchat, and Facebook Live, to name a few. According to WordStream, 87% of online marketers use video content, and more video content is uploaded in 30 days than the major U.S. televisions networks have created in 30 years!
Mark Zuckerberg has said, “I think video is a megatrend, almost as big as mobile.”
Of course, these are just some of the content marketing trends to watch out for in 2018. There is also a lot of buzz around user-generated content, which comes in the form of social shares, reviews and comments. Why? Because 85% of people say they trust content made by others more than they trust brands’ content. With that in mind, be sure to encourage your customers to generate and share brand-related content.
It may be impossible to predict the future, but keeping track of trends can help guide us in the right direction. If you’re done planning (and shopping), then feel free to sit back with a cup of hot cocoa and gloat. However, if you’re still scurrying about, we hope these content marketing trends will help you develop successful strategies for 2018. (As for the shopping, you’re on your own!)