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2019 Looking Forward

We say this every year, but the year ahead is proving to be the most exciting yet for content marketing. Revenue for the industry continues to grow, projected at an all-time high of $313 billion for 2019, and estimates of $412 billion by 2021. A full third of content marketers increased their spend this year relative to 2018. With the largest investment yet, and more channels to distribute than ever before, and marketers big and small are recognizing the value of building brand equity and loyalty among their consumers. To prepare your content marketing strategy, we’ve provided our analysis on the biggest trends to come for 2019. We live in an incredibly fast-paced world, so expect an entirely different landscape than 2018.

Live Video

Consumers are savvier than ever, they can tell an ad from ten miles away. Intimate, personalized experiences have not only become important, but absolutely crucial for brands to stand out among their competitors. Consumers want brands to acknowledge that they are human beings, not numbers. They want their brand interactions to reflect this. Live video provides a way to tap into this personal connection.

Through streaming on instagram, facebook, or periscope, brands can promote an image that isn’t often seen. While traditional ads are meticulously designed, live video is unpolished, unscripted, and unpredictable. Viewers see the wo/man behind the mask, rather than corporate robot with a brand bible at their fingers. With Q&As, live events, contests, and product demos, brands can truly, deeply engage with their customers.

2018 was the year people were dipping their toes into the water with live video, but in 2019 there’s a huge opportunity to best use it to your advantage. Live video is a great tool to build brand loyalty and authentic trust with customers.

Voice Search

With the holidays just behind us, thousands have just received a shiny new Amazon Echo or Google Home, increasing the prevalence and potential for innovative content marketers to cater towards new markets. Content marketers need to think about the strongest ways to position their content, so they can be easily discovered via voice search.

Brands know full well the importance of optimizing search engine results as they pertain to positioning their content. In 2019, it will be even more crucial to consider consumer behavior for how your branded content will appear when someone prefaces it with, “Hey, Siri…” And for what it’s worth, we’re betting that the newest addition to a corporates marketing team in 2019 is the “Voice Marketer”.

Chatbots/AI

Consumers want speed, convenience, and attention. This is often something humans can’t do, or don’t do exceptionally well. Properly trained chatbots, however, can facilitate transactions or queries quickly, intelligently, and all while gathering useful data.

Not only can this be a huge cost-saving implementation, it can be a huge boon to a customer’s interactions with your brand. By making their lives easier, and introducing a human when needed, their positive experiences and associations with your brand only increase.

There is also an enormous opportunity to utilize AI to implement more personalized campaigns and communications with consumers. Analyzing individual behavior, and matching people to personas leads to more curated, personal experiences for your valued customers.

Peer-to-peer Marketing

People spend more time now reading reviews and comparing products. They want to be absolutely positive that they aren’t wasting money buying faulty or inferior goods. Who better to turn to than other consumers? Influencers, especially micro-influencers that you trust and follow can be huge indicators to individuals that a product is worth buying. If they vouch for it, it must be good.

This community of thought-leaders are also building your content for you, and sharing it to an audience that might be unfamiliar with your brand. Ultimately, people trust other people over corporations, and having a steady stream of testimonials and rave reviews proves value and worthiness.

Content Planning Strategy

As much as you’d like it to be true, throwing up piecemeal articles and videos does not constitute a content marketing strategy. A strategy involves more than just making content, it requires analysis, planning, curation, and thoughtfulness.

Calendars are not strategies. A truly effective strategy aligns a brand and its audience around a common mission and voice, carrying through specific messaging and aiming to increase return on investment and individual conversions. Flip forward to page X to see more detail on your content planning strategy.

Authenticity

Above all, 2018 taught us that authenticity is key for brands to earn trust, loyalty and equity from customers. Customers are more willing to purchase from brands that are purpose-driven, more likely to consumer content that is focused on human stories, and more than happy to buy products from companies that make them feel good. This is especially true as people overall are becoming less trusting of big data, tech and advertising.

Showing customers an authentic brand story, or content that rings true will continue to prove successful for companies looking to connect with their audience. People are wary of what companies they affiliate with, and they can spot a fake in an instant. Keep that in mind as you create content, and make sure it stays relevant to your audience, without deviating from being true to your mission.

Transparency is a huge factor in this as well, as stripping away obfuscation and being up-front with an audience lets them see vulnerability, honesty and humanity. It helps prove that your actions align with your words.

As we journey further into the new year, these trends carry with them some underlying themes. Keep in mind the importance of developing an informed strategy, utilizing new and varied distribution channels, and staying true to your brand. Most importantly, treat your audiences like the intelligent, tech-savvy people they are. Every time there is potential for an interaction, make genuine, and make it count.