Anyone who works in marketing communications knows the importance of content marketing. It helps build trust, foster loyalty, and sell products and services.
Over the last few years, we have seen the channels and tools marketers use evolve significantly. Perhaps most importantly, marketers are now harnessing the power of technology to create content that better aligns with user habits, preferences, and needs.
But what is coming down the line? What does 2020, and indeed the next decade, have in store for us? And how can marketers evolve their strategies to keep up with the changes that are coming?
Dynamic content will win big
Any marketer will tell you that delivering engaging, useful, and personalised content is the secret to success. But this year, as we move into the world of dynamic content, we will see personalisation go one step further.
The most common example of dynamic content is a personalised greeting on a mass email. But we can, and should, be using dynamic content in lots of other ways. From tailored web experiences (think about those Amazon recommendation side bars that guide you to relevant purchases), to enhanced landing pages, and increased form effectiveness, dynamic content is not just tailored to the user demographically, but also to what they care about in that specific moment.
The key to effective dynamic content is relevance - and that comes from the smart use of data. Using content governance solutions like Acrolinx, companies can collect demographic and consumer information (at the most basic level), along with content performance metrics that tell marketers which materials are of interest to specific leads or customers, and when. Information is power when it comes to content strategies, and tech helps deliver this in spades.
The future is artificial
Lots of brands are already using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to create better, more accurate content, faster and at scale. A great example is Heliograf, the bot used by the Washington Post to write thousands of articles on diverse topics. It increases efficiency, speeds up content production, writes in multiple languages, and analyses data to make sure content is optimised for search and conversion.
However, while lots of the media rhetoric is about machines replacing humans, the demise of great content producers has been exaggerated. The future of artificial intelligence will be to enrich what content creators are already achieving.
For example, AI can help streamline the delivery of content - avoiding the human scattergun approach - and improving the chances of getting to the right people at the right time. It can also harness data to write social media updates, figure out what image to use, what hashtags to include, and when to publish for the best results. And, crucially, it can help to predict what the most successful content will be based on previous consumption, and what we know about our customers.
Video content to amplify our messages
Given the meteoric rise of video sharing platforms like YouTube, short form video (life gifs), virtual reality (VR), and augmented reality (AR), it is perhaps no surprise that video content and visual storytelling will continue to rise in the year ahead. As consumer habits and preferences trend toward image-heavy content, it is do or die for marketers when it comes to using video materials.
It is widely accepted that a social media generation, with its shorter attention span and need for immediate gratification, turns to video because it helps explain concepts much more quickly. But do not use video for the sake of it. Just like any other form of content, you need to be sure that it is right for your audiences based on what you know about them. Video should serve a purpose and be part of a wider marketing mix.
And do not forget the importance of brand consistency. Video can seem like a departure from other types of marketing, but it is important that viewers watching your videos – while they might be surprised by the content – know who is actually speaking to them. Before you use video, consider whether the content reflects your brand personality. Some of the most memorable marketing gaffes happened when serious companies try to be light-hearted, or when companies known for “fluffy” products or services are overly serious. Video lends itself to more emotional content - so watch out for ideas that are at odds with your brand.- -
There is definitely plenty to be positive about as we embark on the year and decade ahead - using new technologies, techniques, and integrated strategies to connect with and educate your leads and customers. And for those of us who work in tech, it will be a renewed chance to see our digital acumen paying off and helping the brands we work for deliver compelling, engaging, and impactful materials.
Christopher Willis, CMO, Acrolinx