We may have seen some fundamental shifts in the marketing world this year, but some things never change. Going into 2018, content generation will continue to be a fundamental part of any successful B2B marketing strategy.
Nearly 65% of B2B marketers surveyed say their content marketing programs are more successful than last year’s. So how will next year play out?
We bet that you’ll be seeing plenty of these seven trends in 2018.
- Quality Over Quantity
- Short-Form Content (But Not Too Short)
- Repurposed Content
- Value Alignment & The Golden Circle
- Emotional Storytelling
- Creative Storytelling Medium
- Deeper B2B Content
Long gone are the days when overwhelming your audience with massive amounts of content enhanced your brand reputation or consumer appeal. Actually, come to think of it, we’re not sure that was ever an effective content strategy.
Regardless, HubSpot and Moz teamed up to test whether a high-frequency publication schedule was more or less effective in terms of traffic, engagement, subscription, community feedback, and whether quantity effected quality and vice versa.
They found that doubling their publication schedule had no effect on unique page views, subscriptions, or community feedback, but that their half-cadence schedule actually performed better on average. In fact, they saw drastically reduced engagement with the double-frequency schedule.
The verdict: quantity is out, quality is in. Keep your content focused on buyer pain points, and don’t beat around the bush. If you bury your high-performing pieces in a sea of daily, hourly, or by-the-minute blogs, you won’t be doing your audience—or your business—any favors.
You’ve probably heard that humans now have a shorter attention span than the average goldfish. Well, it turns out that’s not exactly true.
What is true is that the number of content options has increased dramatically over the last decade. More content means more options, and more options mean more opportunities for your reader to click away from your site without finishing reading/watching the content you provided.
Take one of the largest content outlets on the planet. In 2016, the New York Times published about 230 pieces of content daily—a 35% increase from 2010. Even the big fish (pardon the pun) are fighting against themselves for the attention of their readers.
When you’re developing your content, don’t underestimate your reader. Make sure you get to the point early, but don’t worry too much about “ideal word count.” As long as you maintain stellar storytelling skills your brand—and your readers—will thank you.
You may have a steady stream of thought leadership flowing out of the writer’s room, but you don’t want to give your audience reader’s fatigue.
We’ll let you in on a little secret: there’s a simple way to drastically amplify the quality, quantity, and variety of your content.
First, put together a content audit to determine exactly what your business has published thus far, and voilà—you have just about everything you need to exponentially increase your content output!
That’s right—music to any copywriter’s ears. You already have the content that you need. Make sure to update any timely data or content to keep it relevant, but the core content is still there.
Take a published blog post and put together a webinar around the same topic. Pull data from an eBook and design a set of infographics. Redesign a set of key trends or insights as a slideshow.
Repurposing content in different forms is more than an effective way to redistribute previously published pieces in a new and engaging way. It also contributes to your SEO ranking by showing search engines that you’re well-versed in a given topic.
There are three things to remember when you’re developing content—the why, how, and what of your business, and how your content serves those missions. Simon Sinek, bestselling author and INBOUND 2014 keynote speaker, explains the “Golden Circle” through his Start With Why philosophy.
To summarize, Sinek believes that the most successful companies consider first the core belief of the business (why it exists), the ways your business fulfills its core belief (how it supports its belief), and what ways the company goes about doing so (what it does specifically).
Similar to your business, the core piece of your content should always be why.
Start from the inside of the circle and work your way out. Why are you creating this piece of content? How are you going to achieve that in the piece? What will that piece of finished content look like?
If you’re correctly targeting your audience’s values and creating content that reflects those values, you won’t need to worry about value alignment—your company’s mission should parallel those of your client.
Who doesn’t love a good romance? Who doesn’t break out in goosebumps over an inspirational video? What brand hasn’t benefitted from emotional storytelling?
Consider some of the 2017 Content Marketing Awards winners.
This year’s big winner took home both Project of the Year and Best Content Marketing Program. Frontline Education implemented a B2B content marketing program to drive company growth—and it paid off in spades.
K-12 education software for administrators and school officials may not be the flashiest product, but they incorporated emotional elements that engaged their audience and worked to increase their partnering organizations.
According to President and CEO Tim Clifford, the campaign’s success can be attributed to “a comprehensive resource library” establishing Frontline Education as an industry thought leader and adding “enormous value” to their clients.
While their resource library is impressive, we would argue that their “About” page captures the core value of their content marketing program: “We act with integrity, we love helping our customers, we're passionate about supporting education—and we hope these values come out in every interaction with us.”
The “Make Tech Her Story” CompTIA campaign won Best Branded Content Campaign. The non-profit IT trade association implemented a multi-faceted content campaign specifically designed to inspire tech industry leaders, educators, parents, and young women and girls to make the industry more gender inclusive.
The success metrics show exactly how effective the award-winning campaign is: 129 media placements, 16,466 campaign video views, 638 eBook downloads, 5,396 unique website visitors…we could keep going.
The bottom line here is that these success stories establish a human connection.
People react to personal value. It’s important to create content that showcases your business in a way that resonates with your audience, proving that you can fulfill their emotional (and professional) desires.
Two important statistics to consider:
- Consumers engage with 11.4 pieces of content prior to making a purchase.
- B2B purchasers are nearly 50% more likely to buy a product or service when they see personal value (i.e. opportunity for career advancement or confidence and pride in their choice).
Use emotionally engaging content to show you understand (and appeal to) your buyer’s values, and show how your expertise can provide them personal value.
Every day brings a new media platform, a new technology, or a new marketing tool, and with it, a new opportunity to get creative with your content.
So what’re you waiting for?
Let’s repurpose the famous Matthew Arnold adage:
“Have something to say, and say it as clearly as possible. That is the only secret of style.” —Matthew Arnold
“Have something to say, and say it as creatively as possible. That is the only secret of brand storytelling.”—Hudson Fusion
We’re not suggesting you should throw clarity to the wind, but as you begin planning your content marketing strategy for 2018, consider going above and beyond your text-heavy blog. Utilize the different technologies available to you will create a more interactive, engaging experience for your readers.
For instance, the rise of AR technologies has enabled buyers to experience virtually anything virtually. As the technology becomes more widespread and more affordable, there will undoubtedly be a rise in experiential brand content.
Before we launch into our final 2018 content strategy trend, we would like to take a moment to remember those we lost in 2017.
RIP CLICK BAIT
The easiest way to extend your audience reach and encourage conversions is by creating honest, authentic content designed to inform your buyers in a way that’s beneficial to them—the first step of conversion is conversation.
Create approachable content that not only promises, but delivers.
For example, if you’re putting together an article titled, say, “Top 7 Content Marketing Trends For 2018,” you better deliver 7 high-quality, actionable trends that inform your marketing strategy and allow you to act on it.
Luckily, we practice what we preach. We can help make your content marketing strategy part of your New Year’s Resolution.