Nothing stays still in the world of marketing for long and content is no exception. For years now, businesses have been told that high-quality, long-form, content is the best way to rank on search engines and convert visitors into customers. But the truth is that new content formats may be more effective than your standard blog post. Could chatbots and AI change everything?
Below, we’ve put together five content marketing trends for 2018 that you cannot afford to miss.
It’s only been a couple of years since the first modern chatbot hit the world, but the technology has exploded in popularity and is now one of the most powerful content marketing tools in the industry. Messaging apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp overtook social media in the number of users in back in 2015, and savvy marketers should know to always follow their users.
Chatbots allow you to create a personalized user experience, and deliver your content to users as and when they want to consume it. Whether you’re thinking about a fun and humorous bot, or you’re planning on bot with functionality, a la the Domino’s’ pizza-ordering bot, allowing users to consume content through this format can create memorable and engaging brand experiences.
For publishers looking to monetize their content, native advertising and brand-sponsorship are becoming increasingly popular. Businesses pay for their products and services to be mentioned, or they might even sponsor a research project for an interesting new article or exposé.
But with consumers becoming increasingly advertiser-savvy, brands are seeing more success in keeping their sponsored material transparent and open. Disclosing your affiliation to a brand in an article is not only a legal requirement in some jurisdictions, but it builds trust and credibility.
Whether you’re working with influencers on promoting your products or you’re accepting paid-for content on your own website, remember transparency is key.
Readers of your content will likely feel short-changed if they get to the bottom of an article, only to see that it is sponsored, so clear up any confusion at the top of your piece and label it in the appropriate manner, similar to the way Forbes handles content through its BrandVoice platform.
Think back to Christmas. If you didn’t have an Amazon Alexa or Google Home sitting under your tree, then you’ll no doubt know somebody else who did. The invasion of smart home hubs has created an incredible opportunity for content marketers, and 2018 is the year we will exploit it.
Today, consumers interact with artificial intelligence on the daily, and virtual assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Assistant and Apple’s Siri are taking over from traditional search. In fact, ComScore predicts that by 2020, 50% of all searches will be done with our voices, meaning that traditional content marketing and SEO just won’t cut it.
If you want to be part of the voice search and AI revolution, then you need to write content that answers questions fast. Consumers using voice search typically require very specific answers, rather than additional context or information.
So, formatting your content in the most appropriate manner, with a simple answer at the top before delving into more detail for SEO and for users, makes the most sense. For example, voice users may require the answer to ‘how many calories are in a McDonald’s hamburger?’, but your article can be long-form and include more detailed information, like where McDonald’s burgers can be purchased, and their history at McDonald’s.
Adding Schema.org markup is also essential if you want AI to be able to crawl your content, while including reviews on your website can increase the competitiveness of your business and make it more likely to be recommended during voice search. You can encourage reviews by emailing customers after they purchase, or offering a discount coupon for their next order.
Influencer marketing is most commonly associated with health and beauty brands, but it can be applied to practically any industry. Getting influencers to feature, review or experiment with your products is much more authentic and sincere than traditional advertising, and it puts your brand in front of potential leads. If you’re investing in more content in 2018, let it be influencer content.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a multinational business with millions to spend or you’re a one-man-band with no budget: influencer marketing can still be employed by your business.
Rather than targeting celebrities or influencers with millions of followers, use ‘micro-influencers’ or trusted figures within your niche – those who may not have as many followers, but have an active and engaged audience that could be potential customers.
Creating content with influencers can be one of the most effective methods, allowing you to put the spotlight on your products and services and piggyback off of the audience of an influencer.
Let’s face it. Brands big and small are creating a lot of content. Most of it is good, some of it is excellent, and the rest falls by the wayside and doesn’t deliver results or value to your users.
In 2018, we expect businesses to create less content and to focus more on their return on investment. Of course, content marketing requires consistency and regularity, but you can still find success with content without having to write something new for your website once a week.
In the rush to keep your blog and social media channels up to date, it’s easy to get lost and create content that doesn’t serve a purpose or offer value to your audience.
Taking a step back and re-evaluating your strategy can be one of the best ways to get more out of your content and fill in the gaps. If you keep going at your content strategy without looking at your analytics and making changes to adapt to the evolving climate, you’ll struggle to keep up.
Content takes time and patience to master, and just as you get to grips with one strategy, another comes along and takes over. The key to finding success with your content is to be ready to evolve and make changes to meet changing consumer demands. Make 2018 the year you invest in chatbots, smart home-tailored content and more influencer marketing. Good luck!
About The Author
Max Greene is the Managing Director of Muffin Marketing, a marketing agency specializing in content marketing, social media marketing, and search engine optimization.