2018 is just around the bend, and content marketing has changed a whole lot in the past few years. While it was once a small component of larger digital marketing campaigns and strategies, big brands have started to realize that content can be a marketing end unto itself.
As a result, most marketers are betting big on content. 60% of marketers publish a piece of content daily. In 2015, content marketing had its sixth consecutive year of double-digit growth in spending.
People also spend around six hours a day consuming content online, on average. Note that this statistic includes people using two screens at once, so we often consume content on two different devices for hours on end.
All of these facts point to one thing: the demand for content marketing is there, and marketers are putting more and more effort into satisfying it.
How should you align your content priorities in order to reach prospects in 2018? Look to the following trends for answers on how to develop a winning strategy in the coming year ahead.
Companies Leaning in Heavily on Premium Original Content
The quality and quantity of original content have quickly become a competitive differentiator for big companies. You can see how this fact affects the business world by considering the staggering amount huge brands are investing in creating or purchasing premium original content.
Apple, for instance, just set aside $1 billion for original programming. The shows produced from this budget will likely end up on their streaming Apple TV platform. By curating premium, high-quality content, Apple not only drives subscribers to its service but builds out its brand.
Others like Johnson & Johnson have been able to convert lead-generating and brand-strengthening content into a viable business model. J&J’s babycenter.com gets so much engagement that revenue generated from the site makes it actually profitable.
This first trend may not be too relevant for small business owners without deep pockets, but it helps set perspective. While you may not be keen to spend millions on a dedicated content site launch, you can know that your efforts to create quality content are considered a smart move.
As the Content Marketing Institute writes: “All senior marketing executives are curious about the creation and flow of content, especially since nearly every company is creating more content this year than last.”
With this in mind, know that high-quality content creation is quickly becoming table stakes in digital marketing for businesses of all sizes.
Mobile Optimization Should Be Viewed as the Standard
No ifs, ands or buts about it: your content should always be optimized for mobile. In fact, you may want to consider a mobile-first strategy when designing content.
Nearly 70% of media consumption now occurs on mobile, according to Comscore. That means your audience is 2.3 times as likely to be viewing your content on a mobile device as opposed to desktop.
In response, you should ensure your content strategy and design embraces a mobile-centered viewpoint.
For example, all of your blog content layouts should use a responsive design that looks good in a vertically scrolling format. You should also ensure that your photos look big and bold on small mobile screens.
Knowing that the person who views your next article or video is likely to be using a mobile device will, therefore, influence the choices you make and how you approach content in general.
Video Marketing (And Live Video) Gets Even Bigger
We’ve already talked a lot about how important video marketing is for helping you succeed.
Just to recap a few statistics: 45% people spend more than an hour a week, on average, watching videos just on Facebook and Youtube. People collectively watch over 10 million videos on Snapchat in a single day.
Those stats indicate that huge audiences are out there, hungry for video content. Businesses able to get their attention through eye-catching videos and a steady stream of must-watches stand a better chance at bringing prospects into their marketing funnel.
One area where video has completely taken off with small business owners is live video. Most small businesses don’t have the time or budget to start producing slick video assets. Yet, they do have access to smartphones and tripods.
A small business owner (or their marketing head) can quickly devise an HD recording setup on their desk and begin live streaming. People generally have lower expectations of live streaming because they are more engaged and feel more closely connected to their hosts.
In fact, viewers are willing to spend eight times longer watching live video compared to pre-recorded content. Business owners who host Q&As, live news updates, demonstrations or other types of content can attract captive audiences.
Best of all, they develop a stronger affinity for your brand. “Live streaming is a powerful content marketing tactic because of transparency,” observes Curata. “People love brands that are real; brands that talk, act and look like them.”
Native Advertising Becomes a More Consistent Source of High-Quality Content
In an era of Ad-Blocking and general marketing oversaturation, high-quality native advertisements have helped guide content strategy towards more engaging formats.
Native ads force businesses to understand their audience and what they expect when they consume media on a certain venue. For instance, a promoted Facebook post that looks like any other post from a friend can generate engagement. One that looks like an obnoxious banner ad won’t get clicks — and it may not even run.
Over time, native advertising has given companies an opportunity to flex their creative muscle. They are essentially being given a platform for standing alongside other popular content. Like amateur night at the Apollo, the last thing they want to do is embarrass themselves and get the hook.
Small business owners that think about their content from a native ad perspective can often find greater levels of engagement and lead nurturing.
“Stricter advertising policies from tech giants like Facebook, combined with increasingly savvy consumers who won’t respond to noticeable, poor-quality ads will force native advertising to completely disassociate itself from terms like clickbait and wormhole,” content strategist Megan James told Entrepreneur. “Intelligent native advertising will be one of the largest distribution methods for high-end content that drives conversions.”
Putting the 2018 Content Marketing Trends to Good Use for Your Business
If your goal is to engage and convert more prospects in 2018, content marketing can easily become your golden ticket.
By creating more live videos, using mobile as your standard and thinking about content from an audience perspective, you can boost the quality and appeal of your content like never before.
As a result, 2018 just might be the year you engage more prospects than ever through great content!