The Future of Content Marketing

What is content marketing in 2020?

Planning, creating, and distributing valuable and relevant content helps to engage and build a relationship with your target audiences. It’s your priority to know who your customer is - their challenges, behaviours and needs. Through content marketing, you can cultivate a positive customer experience by guiding them through every step of their consumer journey. 

That said, today’s customers have access to 5.39 billion pages of content from sources globally, and in order to make your message stand out, you need to deeply understand your customer, providing the right products, at the right time, across the right channels. Businesses are on a quest to provide the most relevant and engaging solutions for an audience who often seek on-demand, nuanced answers. 

The challenges of content marketing

As a content marketer, it’s great to familiarise yourself with the landscape and anticipate any hurdles that may come your way. Here are three (3) of the most common challenges facing content marketers today:  

1. Measuring success

The advancement of data acquisition and analytical tools including data management platforms (DMPs) and web analytics platforms (such as Google Analytics) have paved the way for marketers to track the commercial and communications metrics of their customer behaviours. From customer lifetime value (LTV) to customer acquisition cost (CAC), it’s important to connect your marketing success metrics to the stage your customers are at within their journey, and ensure these metrics align with your content strategy. 

2. Competing for attention

The competition for your audience’s attention is fierce. With over 3.5 billion daily searches on Google alone and a 10% year-on-year growth, ranking well is a content marketer’s greatest challenge. Learn from your competition and strive to be different - this could mean identifying and creating content which your competitors have yet to address. Additionally, you could highlight an underrated product feature to showcase, or leverage an in-house subject matter expert to interview. The key point is to create content aimed at engaging people, not at engaging search engines. 

3. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is evolving

SEO and content marketing are intertwined. While content marketing refers to the creation of valuable and relevant content, SEO is the framework to make it succeed. In October 2019, Google released a new algorithm update called BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers). It’s the tech giant’s new approach to understanding human language through natural language processing (NLP). Through this algorithm change, Google can better interpret search queries and match them with more relevant results. This means Google’s algorithms are designed to support content for humans, so when you’re creating content, even if the goal itself is SEO improvement, it’s vital to publish language aimed at your target audience rather than a set of computational rules. 

Engaging with organisations has dramatically changed. This in turn influences the types of content marketing created, from voice search to live videos. Part of understanding your audience is knowing the mediums they proactively engage with. Are there particular segments of your audience who would rather listen than read? Are you targeting a certain customer type who you’ve found learns better via video? Is your customer interested in short- or long-form content when interacting with your brand (or by product)?

By diving into the details, marketers can empathise with their audience and gain an understanding of the why. Here are 6 future content marketing trends to investigate and unpack in order to create brand salience and receptivity amongst your key audiences. 

Instead of typing, people can search by speaking. This means they can use natural language to find answers - the queries are longer and more conversational, and often in question form. For example, you might type in “Best CRM software” on Google, but you’re more likely to say, “Hey Google, what’s the best CRM software?” to your Google Assistant. Thanks to BERT, Google’s improved understanding of semantics means it can better interpret long-tail search queries.

Voice search has grown rapidly in recent years. During the first quarter of 2019, 42% of the global population had performed a voice search. Accordingly, marketers need to start understanding the questions their customers will ask, considering their intent, and most importantly, creating content that answers those longer form questions. 

2. Personalised content

Personalisation is at the core of a great customer experience. Creating personalised content helps to establish trust and improves short- and long-term ROI across the entire customer journey, particularly in brand building and lead generation. A customer who searches for “best working from home platforms” doesn’t intend to read a post on “How to Work from Home (...with Kids!)”. They’re searching for software which facilitates and eases remote working.
How marketers have taken steps to improve personalisation across their touchpoints in the span of a year.

By serving personalised content that appears when and where it’s needed, you can support your customer at every stage. And as a business, you can leverage intent to drive content creation. 

There are four main types of user or search intent:

  • Informational - the searcher is looking for information; they want to be educated. (e.g., “how to create a blog”, “Jacinda Ardern”, “pasta cooking time”)
  • Navigational - the searcher is looking for a specific website and they type this directly on the address bar or search for the website on Google. (e.g., “”, or typing in “Salesforce Australia” on the search bar)
  • Commercial/Investigative - The searcher is scanning the market for a specific product or service. (e.g., “best dog food”, “Salesforce review”, “best Japanese restaurants”)
  • Transactional - the searcher is considering a purchase. In most cases, they are ready to buy or take action. (e.g., “buy iPhone XR”, “dining chairs for sale”)

3. Video and live-stream content

When creating an integrated content marketing strategy, remember that written content is not a silver bullet. Not everyone learns or comprehends content via reading - in fact, many are visual and aural learners. It’s noted that viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch a video, compared to 10% when reading text. This can come in various forms: explainers, interviews, demo videos, and live videos.

Videos keep audiences engaged longer, which creates an opportunity to educate, connect, and drive leads. Livestream content entered the digital world in 2015 and is now becoming an important component of video marketing. Through live streaming, you can get up-close and personal with your viewers and engage with them in real-time; they make brands feel more authentic to the audience.

4. Podcasts

For the audio-oriented audience, incorporating a podcast into your content marketing strategy can increase engagement. Podcasts provide a convenient way for listeners to tune in when they want, where they want. In 2018, 80% of respondents in the ABC Podcast Research cited that the reason they listened to podcasts was the ability to choose the content that they’re interested in. 

Podcasts bring marketing to a more personal, deeper level. This form of content works well with busy audiences who prefer to multi-task, like listening on the commute to work or whilst exercising or cooking. Podcasts are easily accessible forms of content - both long and short form, whereas written content often requires time and focussed attention.

5. Mobile-first content marketing

There’s a common denominator across voice search, podcasts, and videos: they’re conducted largely on mobile devices. Mobile is so important to the future of engagement that Google Search is seeking to roll out mobile-first indexing for the entire web (commencing September 2020). This means that crawlers will use the mobile version of a site’s content (instead of the desktop version) for ranking and indexing purposes. 

To stay relevant and compete within this new landscape, marketers must plan and create mobile-first and ready content. Further ensuring that Google will render and best present that content on mobile thus helping create an optimal user experience. 

6. Crisis communication plans

More a ‘need’ than a ‘trend’, it is crucial for content marketers to have a proactive crisis communication plan in case of emergencies. The COVID-19 pandemic took the world by surprise and has catalysed forced and rapid digitisation. Deploying a crisis communication plan allows an organisation to demonstrate that it cares in a time of dire need. It’s important to select the right channels to convey a consistent message and curate the content queue, if there are communications which need to pause or shift.

A successful content marketing strategy stems from a well understood audience. When you make personalisation and mobile-readiness a priority, you make your customer a priority.

Find more insights about the future of content creation and the entire marketing landscape in our Sixth State of Marketing Report.


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