Content marketing: what does the future hold?

In an ever-changing digital landscape, it can be hard to be certain what the future of content marketing will look like. However, there are some emerging and established trends that aren’t going anywhere, so getting your content ducks in a row now will stand your business in good stead over the long term.

The blog is back

Naysayers had almost written off long-form written articles in favour of shorter, snappier content, but there’s evidence to show that SMEs who publish their own blog content generate 126% more lead growth than their non-blogging counterparts.

Hosting high-quality, long-form content on your website helps with your search engine rankings, but it isn’t all about SEO.

Omar Kattan, Managing Director and CSO at Sandstorm Digital FZE gives his advice on rankwatch.com: “SEO has and always will be an important part of content marketing. Having said that, the future of SEO will rely less on technical signals and more on authority and social signals both of which require brands to produce more relevant, useful, entertaining and inspiring content.”

Google suggests asking yourself questions such as:

  • Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?
  • Are the topics driven by genuine interests of readers of the site?
  • Would you trust the information presented in this article?

Interactive content

With so many brands vying for our attention online, quizzes, polls, games and infographics are all ‘snackable’ content that pulls us in. The benefits of interactive content compared to static content can include higher levels of engagement, more conversions, and greater effectiveness throughout the sales cycle.

Gamification and interactivity is nothing new, but we can expect more and more marketers to put their efforts into quizzes, games and natty infographics in order to capture (and hold) the attention of consumers. There is a trend towards more optimism and playfulness in marketing, and even in the B2B world we’re seeing a move towards a more humorous and human approach, and sometimes just offering something fun is the answer.

Remember that you can (and should) repurpose your long-form content, such as blogs and whitepapers, to generate bitesize snippets that will draw in your audience on your social media channels.

 

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A post shared by Young Enterprise (@young.enterprise)


UK charity Young Enterprise recently posted short audio quotes from their Enterprising Mindsets podcast on their social media channels inviting followers to comment and join the conversation.

Live streaming

A neat segue from interactive content is the increasingly popular interactive format, live streamed video and audio. As a more immediate, conversational format than other content, live streaming increased by a staggering 99% in 2020.

Social media platforms make it easy for brands to live stream discussions that will interest their audience. Check out our very own live streamed events on our LinkedIn page if you’re looking for inspiration. In this world of micro-celebrities, influencers, YouTubers and Twitch streamers, consumers expect an interactive, authentic and immediate connection.

Custom content thanks to AI

In case you’re wondering, the words that you’re reading were written by an actual human, however artificial intelligence and Machine Generated Content (MCG) is helping businesses to create a targeted, more personalised experience for their audiences.

AI-generated content using software such as OpenAI’s GPT-3 uses text prompts to build a phrase or sentence, such as summarising customer survey data, generating chat bot answers, and even creating narratives for characters in video games. GPT-3 has even been used by The Guardian to ‘write’ an article to prove that humans have nothing to fear from AI. Although potentially what humans have to fear is not the AI itself, but the human biases of the developers who create it. Jerome Pesenti, the head of the Facebook AI lab, claims that GPT-3 is “unsafe”, pointing out sexistracist and other biased and negative language generated by the system.

Thankfully for those of us in the writing business we won’t be completely replaced by robots just yet, however AI insights such as content analysis, optimisation and A/B testing can benefit businesses in almost every industry. In fact, a 2020 McKinsey Global Survey suggests that earnings attributed to AI could be as much as 20%.

Analytics tools (AKA listening to your customers)

So you’re confident that you’re an expert in your subject, but do you know what your audience is looking for? Analytics tools, including those built into social media platforms such as Instagram and LinkedIn, have been around for a long time but the way we use them and the insights they can give businesses will only become more and more valuable.

The bottom line is – use them! Don’t ever assume you know what your customers want to know or where they’re getting it from – do your research and find out what your customers want from your brand. Listen to them, empathise with them and understand how you can help each other.

Keep being yourself

Building any form of long-term, meaningful relationship relies on you being truthful, authentic and purposeful, and your brand is no exception. The more your audience feels like they know your brand, they can trust you to deliver on your promises and you’re aligned with their own values, the more loyal they’re likely to be.

Our recent blog post looked at how podcasting can be a good way to convey a first-hand, authentic experience of topics that are important to you and your audience. Whichever formats you include in your content mix, always check you’re being consistent with your messaging and tone of voice.

If you don’t have content resource in-house or you’re looking to boost your team’s capability, we can help you deliver an exciting and effective content strategy to future-proof your business. Give us a call on 01483 746650 or email hello@somethingbig.co.uk.

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