Like prospectors panning for gold in a stream, digital marketers spend countless hours trying to decipher the “next big thing” in content marketing, sparking a “gold rush” of competitors trying to elbow their way into the crowded fray.
Truth is, none of the experts know exactly what the future holds. And, if they did, they would have long since traded their laptop in for a crystal ball.
What is possible is to make some educated guesses on the future of content marketing based on what’s come before.
We’ve Been Content Marketing Forever
Since humanity first learned to talk, we’ve been telling stories. Brands have been telling their own tales for hundreds of years. All that’s changed in the time since is how those stories have been told. From Gutenberg’s printing press, to the invention of radio and television, our medium for spreading narratives has evolved over time, slowly becoming more sophisticated. That change reached light speed with the advent of the Internet.
Brands quickly learned how to leverage the medium for content marketing. Food giant, Kraft, made the decision to move wholesale to content marketing around 2012. Their head of marketing at the time remarked shortly after on the impact this switch had on their business:
“At Kraft, we see four-times more return on investment (over traditional ads) since focusing on Content Marketing and 1.1 billion ad impressions every year.”
Julie Fleischer, Director of Data, Content and Media for Kraft.
With social media adding even more avenues for marketers to get the word out, it can be tough to know where to devote your efforts. We’ve taken an educated guess at four of the directions content marketing is set to take in the coming years.
According to IT giant Cisco Systems, video will account for 80% of all internet traffic by 2019. Video content isn’t just convenient and efficient for the consumer, it’s also versatile and extremely shareable. Unfortunately for those of us who make a living writing, attention spans have never been shorter. Video offers a short and snappy alternative that usually gets straight to the point. Video content doesn’t hold the same barriers to entry as a blog post. Nor does it require the same writing skills. Instagram is at the forefront of this growing trend, with seven out of ten hashtags on the platform belonging to brands, Instagram Stories, and Instagram Live all delivering unique video opportunities.
Ever had a product recommended to you by a friend? Chances are you acted on their suggestion and made the purchase. Influencer marketing is this concept writ large, and it’s one of the fastest growing ways for brands to spread their message. Don’t confuse influencers with celebrities. Influencers can be anywhere and anyone. In fact, there are even some animal influencers. What makes these individuals important is their large following, with some commanding six figure sums to lend their considerable support to a product. Unsure if it would work for you? 92% of marketers polled in 2017 found influencer marketing to be effective.
Hey Siri – how important are voice assistants going to be for content marketing in future? Well, it turns out the likes of Siri and Amazon’s Alexa are going to play an ever-growing role in future content plans. Plenty of savvy organizations are already making use of their potential, delivering content to a broader audience that doesn’t want to be tied to a screen. Take the example of the American Heart Association. Through a partnership with Amazon, the warning signs of stroke and heart attack can be delivered through Alexa, as well as instructions for delivering life-saving CPR.
Swedish flat-pack furniture giant IKEA made a big splash in 2017 when they launched their Place app. This revolutionary piece of technology allows customers to virtually place furniture in their home to assess the fit, all using the power of augmented reality. This blossoming technology has massive potential for content marketers. You won’t just be limited to talking about how great your product is. Instead, you can show it off on-screen. This technology has also been adopted by the likes of Home Depot, as well as the Shopify online retail platform.
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