By now, seasoned marketers understand that a strong content marketing strategy isn't just a handy feature but an essential component in achieving their brand's greater vision. In a short time span, content has moved from a marketing novelty to a marketing need. For pros who already have the best practices in place, 2019 planning is all about exploration and experimentation with new trends and tactics. This January, see how you can shake up your strategy and use innovative content to tackle specific challenges, whether that's raising visibility or building a more authentic social presence.
Not sure where to start? Begin by narrowing down which of these content marketing trends will best serve your goals.
Ah, video. It was a major player in 2016, then in 2017, and again in 2018. It looks like the video push will continue to transform the way we communicate with our audiences in 2019 as well. So what's new with video this spin around the sun? Today, it's all about customizable features and multimedia components as brands prep their video campaigns for a mobile-only future.
Image attribution: Lucrezia Carnelos
We Are Social's Global Digital report found that as of January 2018, half of Internet users in the United States spend time viewing video online every single day. If you aren't already producing video content, now's the time to pursue both prerecorded and live videos. Since videos typically require a greater investment of time and resources, consider collaborating with influencers or brand enthusiasts. Adopt different venues for where your video content resides. Think: IGTV, YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat, and more.
Refresh old video content to include at least one call to action. If you've produced a lot of videos in the past, you should consider updating this content to keep up with modern production standards and changes in your own brand imagery by rerecording your old videos. Updates could even be as simple as adding new end-screen content that directs viewers to another recent asset.
Make closed captioning your friend. Not only is it more inclusive of the deaf and hard-of-hearing community, but it also performs better overall. An Instapage experiment shows captioned videos performing 16 percent better than those without supplemental text. View time increased by five percent and reactions to the videos were 17 percent higher than those without captions. Hello, text!
If visibility is the driver in your 2019 content strategy, make a commitment to producing more videos in the upcoming year. New to video completely? Test out different channels until you find one that's best for you.
Does your brand exist mainly on one social platform? Don't stray with your video efforts. Find a way to exist on the platform that serves you best. Take risks with live video, and follow best practices with anything prerecorded.
If greater visibility and mobile engagement is something you're aiming for in 2019, start investing in a cutting-edge video content strategy.
According to Oracle, 80 percent of marketing professionals already use or plan to use chatbots by 2020. These bots have proven to be resourceful tools for creating a streamlined customer experience and acquiring data on a brand's audience at the same time.
When they were first implemented, bots were used as communication tools or information machines. Now, brands are beginning to see that chabot content can be personalized to the user, and at a speed much quicker than the average human. Better yet, there's no one specific way to use a chatbot, so brands can test their content approaches until they find what works best for them.
While any industry can reap the benefits of chatbots, retail is currently dominating the space, and will likely continue to do so in 2019. Want a few examples of brands with successful chatbot campaigns? In the 2017 holiday season, Lego began offering personalized gift suggestions to its audience. Sephora's chatbot helps customers pick makeup shades that match their skin tone and then helps them schedule an in-store appointment.
Image attribution: John Jackson
Today, after buying a baby teething mitt on Zulily (shh, it's a Christmas present-don't tell my infant!), I was presented with the opportunity to connect via their Facebook Messenger bot, which would alert me of order updates, give me personal recommendations, and allow me to connect to a customer service representative.
If you want to improve your customer experience and gather more meaningful audience insights, consider how chatbot technology could evolve your current brand conversations.
3. User-Generated Content
Does your audience perceive your brand to be genuine? In a recent study, Stackla found that 86 percent of consumers say that authenticity determines which brands they will support. Now compare that to the 60 percent who weigh social media posts from friends and family as having an impact on their purchasing decisions, and the 52 percent of people who report posting on social media about products they buy at least one time a month.
In fact, just a moment ago, the first post in my Facebook feed was a product recommendation from a happy customer. Better yet, the business responded to the post, making them more likable to other people in the customer's network. I'll admit, I even clicked through to learn more about the business and their products after seeing the picture and reading my friend's happy review.
Image attribution: Pricilla Du Preez
The fact is: people trust people. As hard as you may try to show your values and present a genuine brand story to your audience, the people who follow you may care about the opinions of their peers more-so allow that to lead your next content campaign.
One of the most dynamic content marketing trends of 2019 will be user-generated content, and brands have multiple options for how they can harness the power of audience testimonials and experience. Think: video, blog posts, and social media.
If gaining a larger audience is your goal for 2019, then embrace others' voices by making user-generated content a front-runner in your strategy.
4. Shoppable Content
Shoppable content has become a huge trend throughout the retail industry for how it skillfully integrates brand storytelling directly into the buying process, enabling audiences to purchase products right from social media sites, third-party apps, or interactive brand videos. With advances in VR and AR technology and more seamless integration functions on platforms like Instagram and Pinterest, shoppable experiences are innovating e-commerce spaces and combining content and product marketing like never before.
According to research by BigCommerce and Square, shoppable social media experiences are even starting to overtake traditional online retail hubs. The study reports that 40 percent of US business owners made a sale through social media in 2018, compared to only 34 percent who sold on their direct websites. In 2019, it's likely that social commerce features will become more prevalent as a way for brands to simultaneously raise awareness, drive transactions, and offer immersive customer experiences.
If you want to create more content to drive conversions, build shoppable content experiences into your brand's social media presence.
Do you have even more content marketing ideas you want to try out for 2019 ? Share your thoughts with us below or @Skyword on Twitter.
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Featured image attribution: Pim Chu