Change always happens to the best of things, and in everything, really. Content marketing is no exception to this constant phenomenon.
Throughout 2018, it was apparent that the traditional method of marketing wasn’t going to be effective anymore. What was once unconventional is now the norm, and it still holds true for the year that is to come.
And because 2018 is all set to come to an end, it’s time to start considering strategies, tactics, and schemes that will help you weather through the next wave of target audiences that have risen — or will be rising — in 2019.
Content marketing, as a part of digital marketing as a whole, undergoes many changes. For that reason, it’s imperative that content marketers stay up to date, and active in formulating plans to effectively write content that would persuade your audience to engage.
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Review Your Current Strategy
Every effective content marketing scheme always begins with careful planning borne from an equally meticulous assessment.
According to a recent report by CMI, only 39% of B2B marketers have a documented content marketing strategy.
As with every beginning, it’s advisable to get the basics right. A good way to welcome the new year soon is to review your already existing strategies. And perhaps it’s also time to start evaluating the progress you’ve made in 2018.
In light of that, find the time to schedule a meeting with your team to discuss what worked and what didn’t, and to begin formulating plans for further improvement.
This way, you and the rest of your team can better understand and see if your plans are still relevant for the months to come. Even a brief and simple overview of your strategies will suffice.
Put Audience Opinion First
Again, in light of recent trends, placing weight on audience opinion doesn’t come as much of a surprise. In fact, it’s basically a no-brainer. But it would always be worth mentioning again and again.
Whether your target audience has changed over the past year or not, it’s still important to reassess your target market and reflect whatever changes you find on your content marketing strategy.
Spend some time to dive deeper into your researched data to understand your audience’s behavior once again, and whatever they need from your services.
It’s easy to presume that we, as marketers, know what we want, and what we think our audiences want. But most of the time, we find ourselves proven wrong. Because your target market can be just as unpredictable as the next digital marketing trend.
The best way to ensure your content marketing strategy’s effectivity for the next 365 days is to keep listening and prioritizing your audience’s needs.
Build audience trust
When you prioritize your audience’s needs — and build content around those needs — you’re doing it for specific purposes.
Simply speaking, you write and market your content because you want people to find, discuss it, consume it, share it, and elicit engagement with your target audience. Furthermore, you want the right people — your qualified audience — to find value in your content and keep their eyes out for it.
But above all, when you help someone by providing their needs, research indicates that you are subconsciously creating a bond.
96% of the most successful content marketers agree their audience views their organization as a credible and trusted resource (Content Marketing Institute).
“Every digital experience we create should not only reflect our focus on winning a moment of truth – where the customer is paying attention – but in deepening the trust gained (or regained) in every step that precedes or follows it.”
~ Robert Rose CMI Chief Strategy Advisor
Listen to customer or audience feedback
Marketing and sales teams need to a do a better job communicating with their target audience…
Oddly enough, research statistics report that only 3 out of 4 content marketers seek feedback from sales and use website analytics to research their audience. On the other hand, 65% make use of keyword research.
Now, to execute effective strategies marketers there is a need to create a customers’ ideal persona. And perhaps it’s well-worth noting that effective personas are based on research about real people. Therefore, nothing beats information that is directly taken from current customers.
Most, if not all, customers will be glad to tell service providers and businesses about their needs and preferences. Yes, analytical reports are important, and third-party sources can be helpful, but nothing will defeat the value of primary resources.
If your team isn’t speaking directly with customers, then find ways and coordinate with the customer support team. You can also take advantage of events that require you and your team to interact with your consumers in-person.
Personalize in everything
Throughout 2018, we often hear marketer speak about one-to-one marketing as the key to a customer’s attention. Personalization is the vessel that will deliver a delightful customer experience.
In fact, we’ve seen this in-action so many times in various service providers’ websites…
I can clearly remember the times I visited a landing page, entered my name and email address to get something, and the next time I visit, I’m greeted by name. Moreover, their content even finds their way into my social media feeds and Gmail inbox as well.
It started years ago, but even in 2019, many experts predict that the creation of highly personalized experiences will multiply.
- Monetate discovered that 94%, in a survey of 1,100 digital professionals, believed personalization was important to current as well as future success (Monetate).
- Personalized account-based marketing converts 4x higher than generic marketing (CrazyEgg).
- Personalized lead nurturing leads to a 20% increase in sales opportunities from leads (DemandGen Report).
- 92% of marketers said that interest in personalization had increased in their companies (Forrester).
- 53% of online shoppers believe in the value of personalization, & 57% of shoppers are willing to give away personal information for the benefit of personalization (Invesp).
High-quality Content Creation
As we all know, every search engine nowadays doesn’t take too kindly to poorly published content being paraded across SERPs — not that poorly produced content would rank anyway. But the point here is that search engines — like Google — consider the quality of content as a ranking factor.
Therefore, you have these elements to consider when drafting your strategies.
Focus on long-form content
The general preference for long-form content has become popular largely because of two things: it’s more informational, and the fact that search engines reward lengthier posts in results ranking.
Generally speaking, an article with over 2,000 words is considered long-form. And it’s no surprise why it’s more preferable.
Longer content — when written well — tends to be more detailed, and oftentimes, presents more educational information that readers can truly apply and learn from.
In fact, a recent analysis conducted by BuzzSumo shows that over 100 million articles revealed that long-form content tends to get more social media shares that short-form content.
Remember, however, that the point of long-form content is not to waste the readers’ time just talking around them in circles before you get to the point. But it’s made to provide thoughtful information that can be used as a quality resource.
And of course, aside from both readers and search engines favoring your content, writing these is a way of asserting your authority on the subject.
Blogs in 2018 were mainly saturated with a combination of text and multimedia — mainly images and videos.
Furthermore, many researchers have proven that videos will make up 69% of all consumer internet traffic. It’s even slated to be on-demand thrice as much by next year. And according to an Outbrain survey, 86% of marketers prefer videos.
If you haven’t invested in video content in 2018, there’s no better time than to start now. Many companies are allocating budgets for video creations. It’s important to note, however, that it doesn’t have to be grade-A productions.
Something as simple as raw clips can attract your audience, because it promotes honesty. And what’s more, vlogs are encouraged and so are live videos. It’s basically all the rage in social media platforms, even more so with the release of IGTV and the popularity of Instagram Stories.
Which content type will generate the best results for your business remains to be seen. It also depends on many factors — namely, the demographic you cater to, the preferences of your audience, the nature of your business, your company objectives, etc.
Long-form content is perfectly in, and it’s really in-style, but there’s also formatting to be considered.
Your audience in 2018 largely hated being astounded with a giant wall of words when reading. Most of them have even been known to click-away. And that preference will still carry on to 2019.
So when you create content for the next year, it’s necessary to break up text into bite-sized skimmable content. A paragraph made of 2 or 3 lines should be good.
But that doesn’t rule out short content completely, however. If that’s the case, then it’s important to supplement that with rich visual content — especially if you’re targeting the younger demographic.
Prioritize educating too
A thing to remember is that educational content will reign supreme.
According to CMI’s recent survey, 58% of respondents say they have used content marketing to nurture audience, subscribers, or leads. And this yielded successful results.
That is one of the main reasons why you create content, isn’t it? To educate and inform in exchange for audience engagement.
Mind the Search-engine Algorithms
Changes in SEO and search-engine algorithms are one of the main causes for concern among marketers. Most of the time, we’re all occupied with making sure that what we publish on the web is acceptable. Everybody wants to avoid getting penalized or they run the risk of losing much.
But then again, that’s why it’s so important to stay on top of trends and adapt accordingly — as quickly as possible.
In the meantime, there are measures you can take to make sure you’re not missing out on traffic that everybody wants.
Optimize for search engines
Optimizing for search engines will never get old. It remains, and will always be relevant in the foreseeable future.
Doing the right kind of optimization, however, is required — to avoid the complications, of course. Same as always, be cautious and don’t over-optimize. Do your keyword research, and use them naturally.
Optimize for search engines as much as you can, but not to the extent that you overdo it and end up keyword stuffing and being penalized by Google — or other search engines.
Search-engine optimize for voice-search
If you think people will still continue to acknowledge typing in the foreseeable future, then you’re quite mistaken. They still will use keyboards, of course. But know that your consumers are highly excited about their smart speakers.
Voice search popularity is more than just on the rise. According to reports from NPR and Edison Research, people are calling them “essential.”
This just goes to show how much our world is evolving, and how much people prefer to tell their smartphones things rather than type them in.
So as 2019 quickly approaches, now is the perfect time to include efforts to tailor content and marketing efforts to respond accordingly to this incredible demand for voice-search compatibility.
Keep search intent in mind
By technical definition, search intent has everything to do with why people conduct specific searches.
Several questions need to be answered, like: Why are they searching? Are they looking for a specific website? Are they searching because they want to have their questions answered? Or maybe they’re searching because they’re looking to buy something.
And over the years, we have seen how Google has sought to determine people’s search intent. For this reason, Google wants to rank pages that fit not only the search term, but the intent of a specific search query as well.
There are at least 4 distinct types you’ll have to take note of:
- Informational intent: People search for things on the internet because they’re looking for information. They have questions that need to be answered. And information can be about anything.
- Transactional intent: Lots of people purchase things on the internet, and they browse the web to find the best products.
- Navigational intent: People with this intent are after a specific website. When they look for Twitter, they’re usually on their way to Twitter.
- Commercial investigation intent: There are people who have the intention to buy things in the future. And most of them use the web to do research. Which moving company should handle my moving? What kitchen appliance should I get? They have intentions, but these people need more time to be convinced.
Improve Your Distribution
Creating awesome content isn’t good enough if you can’t show it to the right audience. And for this reason, content distribution is a key part of your content marketing strategy.
But like most things we discussed here, even the method of distribution is changing. And 2019 is slated to encourage marketers to spend more time finding the right tactics to effectively reach their target audience.
Check your data and discover which channels your audience frequents when it comes to content consumption.
You can start by answering these questions:
- What device does your audience use to consume your content?
- What’s the best time to contact your audience?
- Which messaging system works better in terms of content promotion?
- What’s the ideal frequency when promoting content?
- Which distribution channel performs best in terms of audience acquisition?
Keep using social media
Some may be swift to say that social media is a bandwagon that draws all manner of prospects and audiences in. And because it’s so famous, a few will question if social media is still an effective tool to reach the right people.
How will you help your content rise above the social media noise?
Well, social media marketing is there to stay, and it’s not going away anytime soon.
As of this year, according to Pew Research Center, Facebook is consistently dominating the social media realm. It goes without saying that it’s the most desirable platform for consumer engagement.
Of course, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter aren’t too far behind…
This just goes to show that regardless of who you’re aiming to reach, it’s almost a guarantee that they are using some form of social media.
So for content marketing 2019, take advantage of these platforms.
It may be jumping on the universal bandwagon, but you’ve ultimately got nothing to lose…
Reach your audiences through emails
Content and email marketing also go hand-in-hand…
So keep building that email distribution list…
The quality of your content is as important as the frequency with which you distribute it. This way, you can be sure your loyal supporters are more inclined to open, click, and engage with the content you send their way.
Simply speaking, it’s one of the best ways to market your content to the largest group of people who are interested in your products or services.
Don’t hold off notifying your email list every time you publish new content on your company blog.
Commonly, there are several ways to this:
- Sending newsletters that introduce the new blog post, and several primers of previous posts to show them what they might have missed.
- A newsletter with the full blog post included; with a link back to the original blog and a CTA that will encourage readers to share content with others.
- Automated emails from a subscription list for easier distribution.
Regardless of how you go about distributing content over email campaigns, the point is to get new content in front of your followers as quickly and as straightforward as possible.
Investing in paid distributions
As the entire industry of digital marketing and consumer behavior evolves, there are fewer and fewer free opportunities available for a lot of us.
While free methods of distribution deliver its fair share of results, there is nothing wrong with paying for visibility and impressions now and then. It’s the greater part of content distribution needed for the year to come.
This response is triggered largely from audiences wanting content to come to them. They simply rarely have the time to seek it out. As we become more technology-dependent, we — as a population — spend less and less time to go out of our way and find what we need online.
Concentrate on Your Best Performing Channel
The importance of maximizing visibility and reach by marketing across every channel at your disposal is vital. But it’s just as important to focus intently on your best performing channel.
And if you’ve worked hard on your content quality, you probably have more than one channel that’s performing really well at attracting customers.
Use these top-performing channels strategically. Do it at the right place at the right time with the right method. Various analytical tools will be of immense help in situations like these.
Just because all of your competitors are on Instagram, doesn’t mean you should instantly be on it — even if it doesn’t deliver the results you want.
So, don’t be afraid to market your content in a channel that is lesser known than the rest. If it’s where your target audience dwells and engages largely with you, then don’t leave it behind. Enhance it instead.
Transparency & Authenticity
This universal cry for authenticity rings loud and true.
At the end of a long hard day of marketing, understanding your business is what clients are after. In fact, the survey conducted by Global Consumer Insights revealed the importance of consumer trust in a brand during the decision-making process.
It’s highly likely at your target audiences evaluate authenticity before deciding to trust a brand with their needs.
This goes to show that every interaction you have, whether online or in-person, should contribute to the image of your overall brand — one that is uniquely yours and is clear about you are willing to offer to your consumers.
The Key Takeaway: It’s a Team Effort
On a final note, don’t go about thinking you’re all set to accomplish your new content marketing strategies all by yourself. It takes a team — even if it consists solely of two or three members.
Given the fact that content marketing is so much more than writing a good post, it’s safe to say that content marketing is a collaborative approach targeted towards the target audience and building relationships with partners.
It takes more than a handful of skilled writers. Everybody’s cooperation is needed if things are going to work, and if it’s going to come out at top quality.
Remember that your content isn’t going to market itself. It takes crafty schemes to ready your content for the new wave of digital marketing all set to hit us in the new year.
Al Gomez is a digital marketing consultant. He is the President of Dlinkers, he specializes in SEO, PPC & Web Development since 2008. Al has over 10 years’ client Digital Marketing experience and has helped businesses such as Dr. Berg, Patexia, Panel Wall Art, the Ritz Carlton and countless others use the web to drive online visibility and generate leads. He has even started, developed and managed an e-commerce website — Unlideals.com.