The pace of marketing innovation is accelerating. Your first reaction may be to adopt a “wait and see” strategy or decide to ignore the trends and focus on what’s working for you now. Regardless of your strategy, we can both agree that marketing isn’t getting easier and competition isn’t going away.
One more thing, it’s likely that someone somewhere is capitalizing on your indecision.
You must act but what should you pay attention to? Where can you get the most return on your investment in time and money?
In this article, we’ll discuss nine content marketing trends that will shape strategies for the next 5 years. Each one has the power to reshape your marketing and your business.
Adopt These 9 Content Marketing Trends
It’s time to simplify the conversation. Don’t misunderstand me. Simplifying doesn’t mean, dumbing things down. I won’t insult your intelligence by taking complex topics and whitewashing them with clever soundbites.
But, I do want to remind you of the core factors that drive this decade’s marketing revolution. These are the elements that will guide success for the next 10 years. Yes, this is a bit lofty but what the hell is thought leadership for?
Think of these points as rocks in a fast flowing river. Use them as a safe place to rest and consider your next move.
For brevity’s sake, I will narrow my list down to the top 9
#1 Listening: We have the tools to quickly (even beautifully) poll our users and discover what they need. Online survey tools and social media will continue to strip the mystery from consumer demand. Top organizations will be listening organization.
#2 Design: In many areas, competitors have fought themselves to a stalemate. Think about mobile phones, all of them have very similar specs and all of them do their jobs quite well. But Apple is the most valuable company on the planet because it understands that design is a sustainable competitive advantage. Design works for small and mid-size businesses too.
#3 Data: I skipped as many statistics classes as I could in college. That was dumb. I’ve spent the last 5 years catching up. Your business oozes data. Your next customer, breakthrough product, and/or successful sales quarter is hidden in your data. Terms like Big Data, Conversion Optimization, and Analytics are critical to your business. They are the “vitals” you use to assess the health of your enterprise. Don’t let some carping pundit convince you that these are just buzzwords. They are the whole deal.
#4 Storytelling: Design is the giant killer from a look and feel perspective. Storytelling is the game changer since it effectively positions you in the mind of the customer. Your story needs to creatively and authentically give the reason why for your value proposition.
#5 Experimentation: I’ve taken a sabbatical from social media and content marketing circles to do a deep dive in the lean startup, and growth space. Some have dismissed these disciplines as fancy buzzwords. They are wrong. These disciplines meld Listening, Design, and Data into a functional methodology. It’s still the wild wild west in the growth hacking space, in particular, but that’s where the opportunity lies. You don’t want to wait until the pundits acknowledge a new channel or methodology because it will be too late. For now, spend some time on GrowthHackers.com to get acclimated.
It’s still the wild wild west in the growth hacking space, in particular, but that’s where the opportunity lies. You don’t want to wait until the pundits acknowledge a new channel or methodology because it will be too late. For now, spend some time on GrowthHackers.com to get acclimated.
#6 Mobile: If you are in a crowded area, glance around and see what people are doing. It’s likely they are thumbing a mobile device. A quick review of my emails reveals that most of my clients are using their iPhone as their primary email device. A glance at my client’s traffic shows that the trend line for mobile usage is climbing steadily up and to the right. Google endorsed the shift to mobile with their recent MobileGeddon update that favors mobile-ready sites. It’s time to get on board. The first step is to get your site mobile ready. Check it here.
Next, use your favorite mobile device to do a click through of your site. Look for layout issues, hidden content, and other gremlins conspiring to hurt your visitor’s experience. Make a list and get them fixed.
#7 Media Mindset: For the last decade, it’s been fine, even wise, to focus on one medium for your content. For me it was blogging. Others leveraged video and some audio via podcasts. For years, my favorite piece of advice was – focus on and master one platform. Let’s say that my position has “evolved.” Successful business marketers need to view themselves as a media producer first and service/product provider second.
This means that executive coaches are coaching content creators that happen to offer coaching services. I’m a growth strategist that happens to offer consulting and implementation. The baker is an after-dinner culinary specialist who happens to bake cakes and cookies.
This is the hardest shift to understand and internalize. It’s easier to understand if you start with the premise that your future customer isn’t familiar with what you do or why they need you. Your mission is to create a series of messages, experiences, and stories that educates them about their need and the best way to solve them. The actual purchase is the last step of a long media-focused journey.
#8 Systematic Speed: Speed works with storytelling and design to create sustainable competitive advantage. Speed keeps you ahead of the horde that ruins every successful marketing tactic. Your marketing operation needs to be able to observe, test, evaluate, and deploy in weeks (sometimes days) not months or years. Smart systems are the only way to maintain quality while sprinting.
Ask yourself: How long does it take to implement a new headline testing plugin on your WordPress site? My clients can do it within 3 business days (and even that is too slow in many niches). I’m not talking about bug fixes. I’m talking about the rollout of important features that demonstrably changes the experience of your buyer. How long? (Hint: You should never be satisfied)
#9 Influencer Power: Your top salesperson or brand ambassador probably doesn’t know your name. They don’t care. Their mission is to deliver the best commentary to their audience of YouTube viewers or iTunes listeners. One mention from these influencer celebrities can put you on the map and gain valuable credibility with your audience. Influencers can also be websites versus individuals. Product Hunt is a daily stop for SaaS, mobile App, and content creators. A homepage listing on Product Hunt can swell your user ranks overnight. The same goes for a trending article listing on GrowthHackers.com, Inbound.org or Redditt.Once you find your influencer’s look for opportunities to get on their radar screen with world-class information they can share.
One mention from these influencer celebrities can put you on the map and gain valuable credibility with your audience. Influencers can also be websites versus individuals. Product Hunt is a daily stop for SaaS, mobile App, and content creators. A homepage listing on Product Hunt can swell your user ranks overnight. The same goes for a trending article listing on GrowthHackers.com, Inbound.org or Redditt.Once you find your influencer’s look for opportunities to get on their radar screen with world-class information they can share.
Do This First
It’s easy to dismiss these 9 trends as good marketing or some other gross simplification. Regardless of the label, evaluate each trend and implement them in your business.They will not go away. But understanding and leveraging these trends now will position your business to fully leverage content marketing’s power.