content marketing predictions

It’s less than two months to Christmas, can you believe it?

As we edge towards the end of 2017, I feel it’s an opportune moment to gaze past the festivities and focus on what the next year may hold for us. I’m joining many to offer up my future predictions, honing in on the wonderful world of content marketing.

If I was asked to recap this year (so far), mobile, native advertising and influencer marketing are the three key trends that stand out. But, let’s not dwell on the past and present; it’s time to look ahead – here are my predictions:

Content moves off-screen

At a time when mobile’s share of digital ad spend has rocketed from 35% to 43% in just a year (so says IAB and PwC’s latest report), you’d be forgiven for thinking I was crazy for suggesting that content will move off screen in 2018. But there’s method to my madness, and it’s all to do with the likes of the Internet of Things and AI.

Take Siri, Apple’s smart-talking virtual assistant who (can I say ‘who’?) has essentially created a new form of call-and-respond content which many consumers already interact with on a daily basis. Add that to Gartner’s prediction of voice-search increasing brands’ digital commerce revenue by 30% by 2021, and there’s a clear need for marketers to plan content in a whole new context.

Here’s a good example: Vistaprint has launched a Flash Briefing Skill for Amazon’s Alexa, where it shares snippets of marketing advice for small businesses every day. It’s useful for consumers and a clever tactic from the company, which is establishing its authority and bolstering brand trust among its audience.

Next year, it will become increasingly important for brands to identify new, innovative solutions to devise campaigns that draw on ‘smart tech’ and create personalised, interactive experiences for their audiences.

Influencers keep influencing

Not a future trend as such, as influencer marketing really gained its footing this year. But in 2018, I foresee more and more brands reaching out to bloggers, social media personalities and suchlike to improve trust with their audiences.

However, I sense a shift. While social media celebs with followers in their high thousands will still be crucial to influencer success, I think 2018 will be more about brands finding ways to transform their current customers into brand advocates. The ‘how’ of this may involve anything from sharing value-added content, to personalising marketing and crafting a solid social presence. But ultimately, successful strategies will be rooted in the same concept: grasping consumers’ core needs and providing unique solutions to suit.

Transparency a top priority

Trust is tough to build but so easy to break, much to brands’ dismay. And even though native ads and sponsored influencer content can work wonders for a brand, they also breed distrust if they’re not handled in the right way. Consumers are becoming increasingly sceptical of branded content and so, the need for honesty and transparency is ever-more important.

The trick? Disclose, disclose, disclose. If you’re pairing up with an influencer and paying them for their services, your audience needs to know about it. The same goes for publishers you work with to share your native ads. If you’re open about your strategy and can assure your audience that your messages are honest, this will give you a leg up in building long-lasting trust.

Content reigns supreme

Few digital marketing tactics exist without the backing of content. From blogs and emails to videos, e-books and landing pages, the success of these each initiative boils down to creating quality content that resonates with your audience.

Content is the top dog; the king, the queen, the mother of all marketing, and will be what propels your strategy into 2018. Content is what inspires trust and loyalty, and encourages brand advocates – but to succeed, it needs to be exciting, original and meaningful at every stage of the customer journey.

Future-proof and fine-tune your 2018 content marketing strategy by partnering with the pros here at M2 Bespoke.