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The Future of Content Marketing in 2018

The Future of Content Marketing

In 2017 and first third of 2018, we saw the content marketing landscape evolve rapidly. The types of content changed as brands invested more in longer, higher quality articles, well-produced videos and infographics, and even podcasts. The mindsets of marketers also shifted. Marketers proved that they are no longer throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks; budgets must be justified, strategies must include a longer-term vision, and ROI needs to be proven across all content channels. Most of these trends will continue to materialize and mature, but below, we offer a few predictions about what the future holds - both in 2018 and beyond.

When we imagine great content marketing, we think of great storytelling. With this definition in mind, brands have employed content to captivate consumers and create positive brand sentiment and awareness. But top marketers will realize that content is more than a top-of-funnel marketing initiative that only serves to build an audience. Content will be an omnipresent force that will connect every experience in the customer journey. Compelling stories will be necessary for more than just article and video campaigns. They will be necessary for case studies, sales decks, podcasts, mobile apps, and more, and will work to solidify a brand’s image and ethos.

In building this brand narrative, many B2C companies will begin to take stronger and bolder stances on important topics, especially social issues. This will be reflected in their content across all channels, but especially social media, and will come in response to a growing volume of research indicating that consumers prefer brands who take stands on social and political issues. (Source)

All the while, the relationship between content marketing and revenue will grow stronger and the pressure for marketers to prove ROI will be more intense. In other words, content marketing will become the standard by which marketers can impress their peers, and more importantly, keep their jobs. To do this, marketers must have accurate, independent measurement tools that can standardize the measurement of different types of content across different channels. In addition, those who can most efficiently integrate these measurement tools across their marketing stackwill see how their content marketing efforts compare, dollar for dollar, against the rest of their marketing efforts.

As attribution becomes more intelligent, so will the creation of content, which was described as a major challenge for 47% of marketers in 2017. Specifically, Gartner predicts that by 2019 “20% of business content will be authored by machines.” Google notably invested $800,000 in an initiative to leverage Press Association to generate news stories through AI and platforms such as Quill and Wordsmith already offer AI-generated content production tools. However, many of the creative aspects and ideation related to content marketing are still a long way off from being fully automated. Expect humans to continue to do most of heavy lifting for the rest of 2018 but keep an eye out for how AI will change the content creation landscape in the coming years.

Beyond 2018, content marketing will see rapid improvements in customization. Websites, content hubs, and blogs will use contextual knowledge and data on consumers to create customized user experiences. Audiences will continue to be segmented and fragmented in order to create a more seamless experience across devices, formats, and locations. While the lines between marketing and sales are already being muddied, in a few years, content marketing will be more akin to “content selling” and content that does not have the ability to drive sales will be scrapped.

While content marketing will continue to evolve at an exponential pace and in unpredictable directions, marketers must ensure that their content marketing programs are structured and built to adapt to changes in technology and audience preferences, and leaders must work to be certain that their organizations are ready to meet future needs.