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A Planner’s POV: Content Marketing in 2018

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With the new fiscal year comes new marketing budgets.

Content marketing is likely to be one of your big line items, but what’s shaping content marketing at the moment and where should you be focusing your spend?

  • ‘Content Marketing is the only marketing left’ – @SethGodin

  • ‘Content is the reason search began in the first place.’ – @LeeOdden

  • ‘Content isn’t king, it’s the kingdom.’ – @LeeOdden

  • ‘Content Marketing is like a first date. If all you do is talk about yourself, there won’t be a second date.’ – @DavidBeebe

If these stellar quotes are anything to go by, content marketing remains a focus, but is certainly not new. But what can we do in 2018 that we might previously have overlooked ? What’s new? What’s growing? What needs to change?

Here are my top three things to keep an eye on.

 The Usual
(Personalised Content)

I know, I know –  this might not be new or innovative, but you shouldn’t underestimate how important personalisation is to delivering first-class customer experiences.

Think about this. You arrive at a landing page and fill out a form to receive the latest report on cloud computing from a brand you’re not that familiar with. The content is valuable, so you begin to look at this brand in a different light and return to them for more insight. The next time you visit the site, you’re greeted by name, and offered more content around cloud computing straight away.

This is the digital version of a new bartender greeting you by name and offering you ‘the usual’ as you walk into the pub.

It’s personal. It’s genuine. It’s going above and beyond other pubs that you’ve been in. This sets the pub (or brand if we want to get back on topic) apart from the rest.

We know this is nothing new. But I predict that in 2018, we’ll see more B2B marketers push towards this level of personalisation. After all, the research is irrefutable:

Hey, Google [or Alexa or Siri]…
(Content built for natural language search)

Gartner says we are moving towards a time where over a quarter of our internet searches will be done without a screen. The reason: new audio-centric technologies, or ‘voice search’ to you and me.

This isn’t that surprising as Google has already said that as much as 20% of mobile search queries are done through speech, while sales of the Home device and Amazon’s Echo are skyrocketing.

The movement is very clear. Over the next few years, we will be saying ‘Hey, Google/ Alexa/Siri,” more and more.

But what does this mean for our content?

Obviously, the way we type, is (usually) different to the way we talk, so we need to make sure we modify our content going forward to facilitate natural language search.

While keywords are awesome and certainly needed, we also need to look at answering questions the way a person would naturally ask.

For example, instead of writing an article titled Best business collaboration tools, write one called What are the best collaboration tools for small businesses?”

This will help you appear in all those voice searches.

In a nutshell:

  • Try to write full-sentence questions and answers in your blogs.
  • Use specific phrases in your titles and headers.
  • Target longer, naturally-phrased keywords.

Video! Video, video, video!
(Video’s more important than ever)

We all know that video is taking over. There’s no denying it. And it will continue to rise in years to come.

For brand marketers, video is by far the most preferred type of content. An Outbrain survey said that 86% of marketers prefer video.

But, that’s not all. How we view videos has also changed. Only a few years ago, the idea of ‘vertical’ video was considered ridiculous. But now, over a quarter of all mobile viewing is vertical. Thanks, Snapchat.

The trend is clear as day: if you aren’t investing in videos, you are monstrously missing out.

How do we take advantage of video then?

Well, firstly, let’s start by assigning a larger share of our content-marketing budget to video.

But, what I want to stress is: it doesn’t have to be production-grade video. Something short and simple like your CMO sharing their insight, filmed on a smartphone (maybe vertically), is a great place to start. Build a little series off that and you’re well on your way.

…and don’t forget to take advantage of video formats where you have a built-in audience. Instagram, Facebook Live & Periscope through Twitter are great and will significantly ease any video distribution issues.

…and that was a planner’s point of view, thanks for reading.

Mark Brighton

About the author

Planning-team wizard, loving content marketing, customer experience, personalisation and all things creative. Mild jaffa cake addiction.

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