10 Content Marketing Trends Everyone Is Talking About

Every year seems to bring a new set of marketing trends, those “can’t miss” opportunities that scream out for attention. If we were to hop on every trends, we’d certainly grow dizzy from exhaustion. Nevertheless, there are some trends that we’d be foolish not to recognize.

As we begin the last chapter of 2017, many companies are still working through the creation of a bona fide content marketing strategy. If that’s you, here are some hints: Native advertising continues to be the gateway drug to success, and mobile continues to be the flavor of every month.

That said, Smart Insights reports that content marketing is THE single most important technique for driving incremental sales in 2017. In an industry that’s all about experimentation, some key trends stand out.

Here are 10 content marketing trends that everyone is talking about.

1. Brands Will Continue to Invest in Original Content

Recently, it became public knowledge that tech giant Apple is planning to invest of $1 billion in original content. Though some gossip states that Apple is making this move to take on Netflix, we believe there’s more on Apple’s mind than video streaming. As competition in this space heats up, brands need to stay relevant. Valuable, original programming can help companies grow an audience and keep current customers satisfied.

Google is also purchasing original content from media companies and brands to fill in content gaps, while Facebook is investing huge amounts of capital on original video. Not to be outline, online shopping giant Amazon will perhaps be the largest investor of all. Though the consequences remain to be seen, one thing is for sure: content marketing is taking the spotlight.

2. Transparency Will Reign King (or Queen)

Consumers are becoming increasingly desensitized. We want — and often expect — companies to be transparent, authentic, and dedicated to giving back. After all is said and done, however, many consumers are reporting frustration with brand advertising, environmental claims, charitable contributions, and corporate support for various causes. Though such efforts have been successful for some brands, this type of promotion is increasingly being perceived as desperate or dishonest.

Moving forward, brands need to focus on transparency and disclosure to close this gap as much as possible. Enter: Influencer Marketing.

Yet, working with influencers can be sticky. The Federal Trade Commission continues to take measures to protect consumers from companies who aren’t transparent enough, including work with influencers. Take what happened with Machinima. In 2015, the FTC slapped Machinima, a YouTube gaming network, with a warning for not disclosing paid endorsements to YouTube influencers.

And this is far from the only instance. A quick Google search shows that a lack of disclosure and transparency have caused trouble for many brands. To build (and maintain) the trust of your audience, the next phase of influencer marketing and branded content needs to ensure that every piece of content created is transparent.

3. Content Marketing Budgets Will Continue to Increase

Across the globe, companies are spending huge amounts of money on content marketing. What serves as great news for content marketers also presents challenges for businesses with a limited staff. This is propelling the likelihood that companies turn to freelance writers and others who can produce content for a price.

4. Content Marketing Duties Continue to Overlap

Often, it’s difficult to determine exactly who is in charge of content within a company. Roles and duties shift within marketing departments and even in other areas of the business. PR and communications may have separate content creators, social media managers, and other writers that are not integrated with the official content team, leaving no one really in charge. Such disarray can lead to a very disjointed content strategy.

5. Internet of Things Will Take Content Off-Screen

Customers are no longer limited to the screen in the way that they view content. Although different content formats have long been available, the IoT has made it so content is interwoven into our lives in brand new ways. Consider how we current interact with technology, such as Apple’s Siri. When users speak, Siri responds with call-and-response content wherever and whenever they need it. Alexa, Amazon’s voice service, is becoming a digital doorway to content as well.

Many organizations already use Alexa to share content with their audience beyond a laptop, tablet, or cell phone screen. For example, the American Heart Association uses Alexa to provide details about performing CPR, including step-by-step information on how to perform the process in an emergency situation. This content is further embellished with information about warning signs of a stroke and heart attack.

With IoT, most content is becoming digital. Beacon-based proximity marketing, sensors, device pairing, and other features usher in the opportunity for marketers to invest in endless types of content interaction. This type of highly targeted content can help you reach your audience at the right place and at the right time.

6. Pre-Recorded Video is So… Yesterday

It isn’t exactly time to write the obituary for pre-recorded video, yet it is being overshadowed by live video. According to Buffer, 80 percent of marketing respondents to a 2016 survey want to create more video content, with 42 percent specifying live video as their preference.

While live video really exploded in 2017, we predict that it’ll become even more mainstream in 2018. According to Facebook, users spend three times more time watching live videos than videos that are pre-recorded. More, they comment 10 times as often during live videos. A Livestream survey confirmed this, with 80 percent of respondents indicating a preference for live video over reading a blog post. This presents modern-day marketing specialists with a unique chance to hop on the live video bandwagon before competitors do.

7. Blurred Lines

If you look at how content has changed over the past decade, you’ll notice that it has evolved outside of its original “container” of owned media. As social media expands, as well as the ways we interact with and engage audiences, the lines between owned, earned, and paid begin to blur so that they’re almost indiscernible from one another. Content can no longer be confined to these silos.

With the entire buyer’s journey in mind, the content shifts to take on the form of all three approaches. This underscores the importance of each form working seamlessly together to support a company’s growth strategy. That means you must adjust your internal and external teams to handle content development, deployment, and promotion.

8. Strategic Documentation

Ask a marketing specialist about the effectiveness of content marketing, and chances are he or she will be able to pinpoint what makes the cogs turn effectively. That’s because companies are becoming laser-focused on developing thoughtful content marketing strategies.

In 2015, only 32 percent of marketers had a documented content marketing strategy. The following year, this grew to 37 percent. This year, however, the number has ballooned to well over 40 percent. Our prediction for 2018, then, is that developing an effective, efficient strategy will be a job expectation.

To remain competitive in the upcoming year, what strategies will you include? You may want to consider more targeted content, expanded content, more efficient content creation, or other elements that will help you foster greater growth.

9. Interactive Visual Content

We all know that live video is engaging and responsive, yet there’s another type of visual content that allows you to craft an entirely different experience for your audience.

Virtual reality.

VR offers new opportunities for content marketing, as well as customer engagement. Shopify, for instance, has taken this to heart and developed a VR app that allows online shoppers to customize clothing from the comfort of home.

International Data Corporation reports that, based on sales and forecast models, revenue for augmented reality will grow from just over $5 billion in 2016 to more than $160 billion by 2020. Revenue forecasts from Digi-Capital are equally optimistic, reporting an estimated growth to $108 billion by 2021.

While the prospect of virtual reality may seem daunting, it will likely be worthwhile for anyone willing to give it a go. Forbes Global shows that up to 30 percent of consumer-facing brands will experiment with virtual reality marketing by the end of this year.

Keep in mind that it isn’t solely for consumer advertising and marketing, however. Consider what the Golden State Warriors did when they wanted to recruit Kevin Durant to the team roster. Using content marketing in VR, they immersed him in the “Warrior’s Experience,” thereby placing him courtside at Oracle Arena as well as in the thick of talks with coach Steve Kerr in the locker room.

10. Distribution, Distribution, Distribution

While most marketers recognize how instrumental content is for companies now, what still remains uncertain is the means of which content is distributed. And though there are countless other blogs, newsletters, and email campaigns out there, the sure way you’ll have your message heard above the rest is through optimum content distribution.

If you want the attention of the 2.789 billion active social media users, you need to adopt a strategic distribution plan. Smart brands are going to make investments in not only acquiring content, but in distributing it strategically through multi-channel approaches as 2018 unrolls.

Think out of the box for profitable rewards.

Digital Marketing Degree at UofM Dearborn

I am currently enrolled as a student at the University of Michigan Dearborn College of Business. My majors are Digital Marketing and Information Technology Management. I think the weight of this duel degree will carry a special edge upon entering the business world. UofM Dearborn was one of the very first schools to offer this specialized degree in Digital Marketing. It is important to understand how this degree is different than a normal Marketing degree and the ramifications it will have for the business world.

Why is this degree so important? The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that the market research analysts and marketing specialists increase in number is at 32% expectancy during 2012-2022, surpassing the national average of merely 11% for other professions. This is clear evidence that not only will jobs in this field be available, but businesses will be actively seeking out candidates to fill these positions. Commonly, a business faces a dilemma when looking to hire digital marketers. They must either hire a person skilled in regular marketing that must be trained extensively or they must hire in a seasoned digital marketing veteran that requires a much higher salary. Businesses instead will now be looking to fill this void with students that have this pertinent degree.

More and more businesses are moving their marketing campaigns to focus heavily on their online platforms. The perks of marketing this way are more extensive than merely reaching a wider audience than other marketing means. Online marketing allows for real time analytics to be transferred back to the people running the campaign. This allows the business to alter and change their campaign as they see fit. Also, in this day and age information is king. Digital marketing allows for companies to collect their own information and data free of charge.

Here at the University of Michigan Dearborn, we have classes that focus mainly on digital marketing and are supplemented with traditional marketing courses. These classes range from learning how to rank a webpage on the first page of Google to processing and transposing data analytics in a meaningful way. The core classes required for the digital marketing major are as follows:

  • Digital Consumer Search and Marketing
  • Communications Strategy and New Media
  • Digital Analytics and Content
  • Marketing and Research
  • E-tailing and Retailing

From here a student must also choose two of the following classes:

  • Managing Electronic Commerce Systems
  • Understanding Consumers
  • Marketing Management
  • Global Marketing and Consumer Culture
  • Database Systems 1
  • Advanced Computer Applications

All of these requirements are in addition to the normal classes needed for a Bachelor’s in Business Administration.

The uses of this degree are endless. A person with this degree is equipped to handle social media pages, website management, content management, digital analytics, etc. With everything going digital these days, it only make sense that marketing will continue down this path too.

What Is Digital Marketing?

When we use the word “Digital Marketing”, we are actually referring to online marketing efforts from a brand.

Therefore, if you are asking what is Digital Marketing (DM), here is your answer:

This is a practice in Business through which advertising messages are delivered through online channels such as websites, mobile apps, search engines, social media and emails. It helps a brand generate interest in their products among their consumers.

Though DM started gaining popularity in the year 2000. In the last couple of years it has revolutionised marketing communication.

In a real sense:

It is brand messaging (Advertisements) delivered through electronic channels such as Television, Radio, Internet etc. Electronic channels generate, store and transmit data in the series of the number 0 or 1.

Therefore,

It can happen both Online and Offline.

If the above is true, then

It existed ever since Guglielmo Marconi sent first wireless signals in 1896.

Isn’t that crazy!

However, the simple definition of DM does not say enough about the practice of digital marketing in today’s world.

This meaning is useless as technology is just the enabler of digital marketing. So let us understand what exactly digital marketing is?

What is Digital Marketing in Today’s Context?

In today’s context:

It is a set of interactive marketing promotion activities which are done online. These activities help an individual or organization reach its target audience and achieve its business & financial objectives.

Therefore when we say digital marketing, we are essentially referring to Online Digital Marketing.

The other form of DM is offline digital marketing, which happens on other electronic devices such as Radio or Television.

I know you are not here to read about radio or TV, so I will spare you (though I have invested millions of dollars on Offline marketing during my career).

Going forward in this article when I say “DM”, I am actually referring to “Online Digital marketing”, as that is what you intend to read here, right?

  1. It is a set of marketing activities and not just one activity.
  2. It is Interactive and not just one way. It enables two-way communication and is much more engaging compared to the other marketing methods. Interactivity is what distinguishes it from advertising on Television, which is also electronic but not interactive.
  3. It happens online. What it essentially means is that the activity is carried out on the Internet or telecom networks. Though it happens online, it can empower both the virtual or offline world. An example of DM in the virtual or online world is email marketing or social media marketing or search engine marketing. In the colloquial sense when we say digital marketing we refer to virtual or online marketing only. An example of this in the offline world is the use of tablets to showcase product offerings at a retail store.
  4. It helps an individual or organization. It is useful not only for large companies but also for individuals as well, unlike TV or newspaper advertising. One can take advantage of digital advertising on small budgets as well.
  5. It helps reach and engage the target audience. It is focused, and one can use multiple targeting methods to reach their audience.
  6. It helps achieve business and financial objectives. It is measurable & ROI driven. It helps achieve business & financial goals.

I hope this helps. Let me know if you need any further info!