Last updated on October 30th, 2017
As a native Floridian, I grew up watching local news and marvelling at how wrong they could be about the weather. Whenever I got caught in a tropical downpour on a day that was supposed to be clear or looked up from under my umbrella to see clear blue skies, I couldn’t help but wonder where these weathermen got their information.
And yet, I tuned in every morning to see their predictions…
Attempting to predict future marketing trends can sometimes feel like forecasting the weather – fickle, uncertain and occasionally way off the mark. But of course that doesn’t stop us from trying anyway.
As we come to the end of another year, a number of industry thought leaders like Neil Patel, Content Marketing Institute, Forbes and others have already released their bold predictions on what content marketers should expect in 2018.
While it’s much too early to tell for certain what 2018 holds for content marketing, it’s wise to keep a close eye on the following trends and start thinking about how your organization can prepare.
1. Original Content
Apple. Google. Facebook. These are a few of the major players planning to invest more into original content creation in the coming year. According to CMI, “What all this means we don’t know yet, but one thing is sure: Consistent, original, and addictive content is all the rage.”
For marketers like you, what this means is now the time to invest in high quality, original content and figure out how to monetize it.
2. Content Distribution
Yes, creating original content is more important than ever. But that’s just the first step. Distributing your content to the right people and stand out from the chatter all around you will make the difference between a marketing investment that succeeds or flops in 2018.
“There’s a lot of content out there, sure — but all that means is that the ways you distribute your content to the right people are even more important,” says Inc.
Social media will likely become a more important player in this regard – not just through shares and likes but as viable independent publishing platforms. LinkedIn has already made a move towards becoming a content distribution outlet with Pulse, and word on the street is Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat are following suit.
Live video streaming features, for example, now enabled on almost every major social media platform, are making native video publication possible.
3. Content Brand Acquisitions
In the content creation and distribution realm, the acquisition of major content brands will become even more prevalent.
In July, it was announced that WebMD was being acquired by Internet Brands. Similarly, Netflix purchased comic book publisher Millarworld in early August, and Arrow Electronics acquired a whopping 51 media properties from UBM and Hearst.
Look for this trend to continue in force in 2018.
4. Publications Becoming More Niche
Online publication have begun to shift from more broad topics to highly focused, niche content – likely in response to changing search engine algorithms. This can be seen as both a challenge and an opportunity for marketers seeking guest posting opportunities.
Niche publications attract a highly targeted audience which may provide an audience more interested in what you have to say. On the flipside, previous publications you’ve used in the past may not be relevant to your target audience anymore.
5. Self-Sustainable Content Marketing
A majority of B2B marketers say their content marketing efforts are paying off more than the year before. Content Marketing Institute predicts that some innovative companies will even be able to turn their marketing projects into a profit center, generating “enough revenue to outpace expenses” and making it a “self-sustaining entity.”
Even if this isn’t likely to happen in your organization soon, taking time this year to measure the costs and benefits of your content marketing efforts is an important first step towards achieving this goal.
6. Expanding Reach of Content
Content creation is no longer limited to marketing departments. The value of engaging your audience with compelling content can be applied across your entire company – from sales to HR to operations to customer service.
Leveraging content across various departments and throughout the buyer’s journey is expected to become much more prevalent in coming year.
7. Converging of Media
We’re seeing the lines between paid, owned and earned media are increasingly becoming blurred.
“Across the spectrum of digital, with the entire buyer’s journey in mind, the content shifts to take on the form of all three,” writes Neil Patel. “And they have to work seamlessly together to support your growth strategy.”
8. Shifting Content Marketing Budgets Worldwide
Unsurprisingly, marketers in the U.S. and around the world are planning to increase their content marketing budgets in 2018. In addition, improving proficiency at content marketing is the #1 goal for marketers in Asia Pacific according to this study.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that many brands still see content marketing as a part of advertising.
“For content marketing to truly work, it must be differentiated and consistently produced over a long time (like media companies do),” says CMI.
9. Personalized Content with Machine Learning
By 2018, businesses that have invested in across-the-board content personalization will outsell those that haven’t by 20 percent, Gartner predicts.
Companies like Google and Amazon have already paved the way to creating personalized user experiences through hyper specific customer profiles. Better precision analytics technology will help smaller organizations do the same.
The potential for artificial intelligence (AI) to play a key role in personalized content creation will also likely begin transforming the content marketing world in the coming year. For instance, the Associated Press and other big-name publishers are already using AI to publish high volumes of information quicker.
The rise in machine learning technologies may make it possible for companies to facilitate personalized conversations with their customers at scale.
“Machine learning technologies that enable marketers to tailor who sees a message are starting to decide what the content of conversations should be,” Alex De Simone, CEO of Avochato, told Forbes. “The shift from traditional content marketing to machine-mediated conversational marketing will change the way marketers operate, empowering them to deliver better content at scale.”
Don’t worry, the robot takeover of content marketing isn’t imminent just yet. But it is worth noting that some experts predict that half of all content will be created by machines in the next decade, and humans will only oversee and edit when necessary.
10. The Birth of IoT and Off-Screen Content
“Siri, how do you perform CPR?”
That’s an important question that requires a good answer. Optimizing your content to be the answer Siri chooses will increasingly play a factor in 2018.
The Internet of Things is ushering in a new age where digital content is being made available in real life. Devices like Siri and Amazon’s Alex means marketers must not only think about how their content performs on a screen, but also how to share their content with customers who interact with IoT technology.
A number of organizations are already adapting to this growing trend – namely the American Heart Association, Purina and Marketing School.
11. Branded Blog Publications
A growing number of companies are beginning to turn their blogs and other content resources into full-blown branded digital publications that are chock full of engaging content and boast high readership. The Content Strategist by Contently is one example of a brand that is leading the charge on this growing trend.
This change is great for audiences who are sick of seeing pointless company updates or award announcement blogs, and for content marketers it presents a great opportunity to connect to authoritative industry thought leaders.
12. Disjointed Content Strategies
As content marketing budgets grow and operations expand, there’s bound to be some overlap in projects and roles. This will inevitably lead to a rise in disjointed, inefficient content marketing strategies.
How can you prevent this from happening in your organization? Your content strategy leaders need to step up to lead the charge and make sure that everyone in the company is on the same page.
13. Virtual Reality Making Visual Content a Necessity
The excitement and buzz around virtual/augmented reality is nothing new; however, economic indicators point to an increase in adoption in 2018. In fact, VR/AR will generate $150 billion in revenue by 2020 according to Fortune Magazine.
Bringing marketing teams onboard with these advanced technologies is still woefully out-of-reach for many businesses – and understandably so.
Nevertheless, this trend can serve as a reminder to focus on creating engaging, interactive visual content like videos, infographics, online games, apps, etc. and help lay the foundation for future VR/AR projects.
14. Diversifying Content Roles
Simply having a team of writers who occasionally have good blog topic ideas just won’t cut it in 2018. (Come to think of it, did it really ever work before now?) Broader content strategies are proving to be more successful, meaning companies need a diverse and multi-talented team to oversee their content marketing efforts.
Likewise, processes must be implemented to consistently improve ideas, optimize for different audiences and adapt to new content mediums.
15. Greater Transparency
Dishonest, untrustworthy companies are falling by the wayside in the era of more progressive millennials who value businesses that are transparent, authentic and human.
Heavy brand advertising no longer has major role in content marketing like it did in years past, and disclosure will be an increasingly important factor in 2018. Influencer marketing and honest endorsements will become more important as a result.
Okay, Now Your Turn
These are some of the top trends we’ll be watching out for next year. But what about you?
What other content marketing trends do you predict for 2018?
Which of these trends are you planning to incorporate into your strategy in the coming year?
Drop us a comment below or via Facebook. Thanks for tuning in!