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4 Most Impactful Content Marketing Trends for 2018 (and Beyond)

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Digital marketing keeps growing while traditional marketing is becoming less and less effective. The trick to making your business stand out is creating value-filled content.

This type of content marketing strategy is being used by the world’s leading brands like P&G, Microsoft, Salesforce, and many others. In fact, a recent study showed that 86% of businesses are using content marketing.

Why? Because it works!

Content marketing is an extremely effective strategy for reaching both established customers and new prospects. Value-packed content that addresses your targets’ needs and questions is proven to:

  • Attract more buyers
  • Establish and build trust in your brand
  • Drive traffic through organic search
  • Have a higher ROI than traditional marketing activities
  • Build relationships with prospects
  • Bring people back to your website again

Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional advertising, while being three times more effective for generating leads. It levels the playing field whether you’re a small business scraping by or an enterprise with a massive budget. 

But like any industry, it’s always changing. You have to adapt to changes and keep up with improvements. In 2018 - and moving forward - there are four major content marketing trends you need to pay attention to.

4 Most Impactful Content Marketing Trends for 2018 (and Beyond)

1. Content will shift, become shorter and more specific.

Long-form content isn’t disappearing, but it’s going to shift throughout 2018 in two ways:

Length

The average length of a blog post has been rising steadily for years, and for good reason. Marketers started writing longer and more informational pieces (over 1,500 words), because it’s a great strategy for ranking higher in search results.

Organic search is king, but 26% of referral traffic comes from social media, and those users are looking for something quicker and snappier. Marketing is always chasing engagement, so you’ll see content get a little shorter and more to-the-point to accommodate them.

Niche Topics

There’s more content being created than ever before. Millions of pieces of content are published every minute, which means to stand out from the crowd you need to either:

Data Never Sleeps Domo

PC: Domo

With thousands of marketers fighting for clicks, 2018 will see a rise in super niche content. For example, a personal trainer might write about “Top Cardio Fitness Routines for Adults Over 60 Years Old” instead of “Cardio Fitness.”

How To Use This Trend

Start by researching what other brands in your industry are writing about, and find the gaps. What questions do your target customers have that others aren’t answering? Once you’ve got some ideas for your content, you can add them to your content calendar.

Think about the purpose of each piece of content you create. Do you only need 800 words to accomplish that, or closer to 3,000? Would it be better as a video?

If your goal is to answer a specific customer question, be concise. You’ll also do well if you explore other content types, making sure the information is as easily digestible as possible, and that there’s always a clear next step for viewers.

2. Keywords are out, natural language is in.

The biggest shift we saw in 2017 was the move to voice search, and experts are predicting it to keep growing through 2018 and beyond.

Voice-activated home assistants like Amazon Echo and Google Home have exploded onto the market. 44 million of them have been sold as of January, 2018. comScore thinks 50% of searches will be voice searches by 2020.

If people are asking questions verbally to Google, then content needs to reflect how people speak. People don’t want to listen to a keyword-stuffed paragraph, and devices won’t share your content if it doesn’t match the search.

You need to write naturally so that your content can be found during voice searches, and so listeners can enjoy what you’ve written.

You can see this in action already in Google search results. When you search a question, Google will present the answer for you at the top of the search results page called a featured snippet. The same concept applies to voice search.

Google Featured Snippet Example

How To Use This Trend

The biggest difference between voice and typed search is that users ask full questions by voice rather than typing a few keywords. People search using “natural language," and your content needs to reflect this to be found.

Focus on answering questions in your content rather than stuffing in keywords. For example, instead of writing headlines like “best new ios travel apps”, you’d write “What are the best new travel apps for iPhone?”

Here are a few more tips:

  • Use long and specific phrases for titles, subtitles, and headings
  • Write with complete questions and sentences in your articles
  • Remember natural language when brainstorming long-tail keywords - keep in mind the conversational nature of voice search
  • Make sure that your website is mobile-friendly, as the majority of voice searches come from mobile devices

By following these tips you’ll help Google find the right answers for its Knowledge Graph. This will increase the chances of your content appearing at the top of search results, and of being chosen during voice searches.

3. Real-time content is constantly growing.

Since social media marketing's beginning, marketers have focused on evergreen content that can be recirculated to increase customer engagement.

Nowadays, social media focuses on real-time content - like news or video live-streams - that has a short shelf life.

A good example is Snapchat. It’s famous for being able to create content that disappears after 24 hours, and users love it. Instagram took the same concept to create their Stories feature, which has done wonders for their engagement rates.

As brands keep fighting for attention, you'll see real-time content continue to play a bigger role in content marketing.

How to Use This Trend

As Gary Vaynerchuk and others say, go where the attention is. Real-time content is all about creating content where your targets are to gain and keep their attention.

Gary Vee Attention is the Most Valuable Asset

PC: GaryVaynerchuk

If people are focused on one topic, or in one place, be active there. Create and share content there constantly. If their attention moves to different topics or a different platform, move with them.

4. Content will get richer and richer.

Rich media is content that forces the user to interact with it. Online quizzes, videos, and podcasts are good examples - they force viewers to click to start the content or get more out of it.

“Read more” buttons on blogs, polls on Twitter and Instagram, and image carousels are other good examples.

Marketing is always trying to improve engagement, so rich media is going to begin playing a larger and larger role in content. It’s also becoming easier to create, which means even businesses with small budgets can - and will - start to take advantage.

How to Use This Trend

The simplest way is just to do it. You can take videos on your smartphone and upload them to Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, your blog, and other places. You don’t need fancy equipment, and you can live-stream on all those platforms if you want to skip the editing process.

Podcasts are easy. Anchor will let you record a podcast by talking on your phone like you would when someone calls. You can also take any audio file and upload it to SoundCloud.

Major social media platforms also encourage you to use rich content when posting (because it earns more engagement), so they have those features ready for you to use. Major content management systems like Wordpress and Wix also have things like image carousels and polls as built in options.

How do I start?

The content marketing landscape is always changing, so you need to be trying something new every few months or so. To start, pick one of the four trends given here, take the tips, and run with it. Once you’ve tried one for awhile and are comfortable with it, move on to the next.

Related: 10 Ways for Small Businesses to Get More New Customers