As 2018 comes to an end, it’s time to take a look back at the trends that gained momentum in the content marketing world. While some trends quietly fizzled out, content marketers found greater success with the trends that kept the needs and wants of the content consumer at heart.
Although it may seem tempting to focus solely on what search engine crawlers want to see when it comes to content, it’s important to remember that crawlers are programmed with the user’s best interests in mind so they work to identify a formula that delivers the highest value for users. Thus, search engine crawlers and the users form a symbiotic relationship in the internet ecosystem that focuses on enhancing user experience.
That is why the hottest trends in 2018 were the ones that put the user at the forefront and focused on delivering the highest value rather than focusing on the technical aspects of SEO in content marketing. Businesses that learned to think about the user experience first were the ones that hit the digital marketing jackpot in higher retention and conversion rates.
Let’s take a look a the hottest content trends from 2018 to learn which ones are most likely to dip into the new year.
The Hottest Content Marketing Trends of 2018
The following list of content marketing trends helped several companies boost their marketing gains in 2018. Check off the ones you have used and keep the ones you have not in your content marketing arsenal for 2019.
1. Super-niche marketing
Finding the niche within the niche and writing specific content for what this particular group wants has been one of the biggest trends in content marketing this year. Although this trend drives back to the marketing strategy of a company, it is important that the content team is thinking about how to target specific users through the content they produce.
This might include looking for semantically-related keywords in the group of keywords a content team has been given, or honing in on the specific needs and wants of a buyer persona. All in all, you should be putting yourself in the shoes of your niche consumer, drilling down to the age and desires of what they want so that you can generate content specialized and oriented to them.
2. Influencer marketing, small niche micro-influencers
Speaking of niches, we have to give it up to Amazon for kickstarting one of the strongest trends in content marketing through the creation of the Amazon influencer program, a program that finds micro-influencers to promote Amazon products to different niches. Micro-influencers are popular Instagram stars with followers ranging in the thousands instead of the millions, hence the part of the term “micro”.
Don’t be fooled by the term, however. These kinds of influencers show us just how important niche marketing is – although they don’t have the highest numbers of followers, they hold the highest rates of engagement on their profiles, making them the hottest influencers to use to promote a product. Being such a large company, it comes as no surprise that Amazon might have difficulties speaking directly to their niche markets, which is why this program has been so successful.
3. Videos and live videos
If the importance of incorporating video into your content marketing strategy hasn’t been ingrained into your brain yet, then we hope this drives it home for you. With over half of online users watching videos every day, video has been one of the top marketing trends of 2018 and is only expected to grow in the years to come.
People stay more engaged when consuming content in the form of videos and are more inclined to share videos than any other type of content. Live videos have also been utilized more in 2018 by different brands to help them connect more to their users. The brands that close the gap in communication between an organization and its consumers through the use of videos are the ones that have had large success in their marketing efforts.
4. Opening up content to new markets through new languages
Another content marketing trend we saw this year was getting content into another language to open up a business to an entirely new market.
Companies have noticed the growth in international markets for their products, especially the ones that are easily sold with low barriers online. Opening up to these kinds of markets seems far-fetched, but can actually be done pretty easily through content marketing.
What many companies have done is translate the content they already have in a new language, keeping them from reinventing the wheel and simply re-purposing their content instead. The best part is that you can open up to an entirely new market without having to create a new budget from scratch for a marketing strategy. You can start with the content you currently have and see where that takes your business.
5. Personalized content experiences
A personalized content experience is a trend that will only get more intuitive and common with the greater implementation of AI technology in marketing. People want to be talked to personally and appreciate seeing and hearing their name when they are in contact with your business.
Including a user’s name in an email drip or speaking directly to someone in a chat box can go a long way in increasing the effectiveness of your sales funnel. If you have not started using this trend in your automated efforts, think about ways you can make someone’s experience with your company through content a little more special.
6. Bite-sized content (snackable content)
The question of “how long should my content be?” is a debate that continues to ensue among content marketers, even in 2018. New results and old statistics conflict with each other on what the optimal length a blog post should be. Although content marketers have had huge success with longer 3,000+ word authoritative articles, trends show that throwing in a healthy mix of snackable content that can be read quickly can help a company capture and maintain the attention of younger audiences craving faster answers to their questions.
That is why creating easily digestible, bite-sized content has become a content marketing trend in 2018. Although we don’t recommend you completely get rid of your longer form posts, you should consider what your younger audiences are looking for when coming up with the length of your articles.
7. Transparency in everything
When thinking about user experience, transparency should be one of the first things that come to mind, putting transparency in content on the list for top marketing trends in 2018. People like to know what they are getting themselves into with any decision they make – the fewer barriers you create in getting all of the information a person needs to make a decision, the faster your conversion rates will rise.
Businesses that show prices everywhere and are very clear with everything that comes along with a service or product are the ones that will thrive.
8. Values-driven content
Nike showed it to us with their daring move to choose Colin Kaepernick as a Nike ambassador in 2018. While there was some obvious backlash to the marketing stunt, Nike reaped in the benefits of the bold move with soaring online sales and a stronger support from their younger audiences.
Content that speaks to the social injustices and environmental problems in the world are the ones that draw the largest support and word-of-mouth marketing from the growing and influential millennial and gen-x audiences. Companies are infusing their brands with common political topics discussed among these generations, finding a place and reverence in millions of conversations all over the United States. This is a marketing trend we don’t expect to see disappear in the years to come and has proven to be profitable for countless brands.
9. Power of the podcast
Creating a conversation is the most natural way for people to be influenced to buy what you are offering. If you can harness the attention of your audience in a setting people feel comfortable discussing topics and news, you have found a very special way of promoting your brand. Not only do podcasts offer a massive amount of value to content consumers without anything in return, but they are also extremely effective in showcasing the mission and values of your brand to your audience.
People choose to buy from businesses that are aligned in some way with their own values, so having a platform where you can re-establish your brand constantly and speak about the things your audiences care about can drive strong loyalty to your brand that you can’t get with any other kind of content. Keep this content trend in mind if you have not already utilized the power of the podcast in your content marketing efforts.
10. Basket of different kinds of content
There are blogs that point to white papers, press releases that can easily be connected to e-books, infographics that highlight information in one-pagers, and the list goes on. Repurposing content in different forms, and connecting different kinds of content to each other will create a more exciting user experience for your content consumers. Thinking about how your users engage with your company through the content you produce is important for the success of your content marketing efforts.
In 2018, successful marketers made sure to create a diverse set of content that enhanced the user’s experience on a website.
If you haven’t thought about ways you can add different kinds of content or how you can tie your content together, make sure you sit down with your digital marketing team to create a memorable and unique content experience for users.
Content Marketing Trends in 2018, and Beyond
We have reviewed content trends that have flourished and survived the constantly changing digital marketing environment of 2018. If you found some trends in this list that you haven’t utilized yet, it's not too late to start incorporating them into your marketing plan. Try not to get too caught up in fads, however, and make sure you are choosing the right tactics that work for your audience. Concentrate on the needs and wants of your buyer personas and you will find success with the marketing plan you create. You also want to check and make sure you aren’t making common content marketing mistakes during the execution of your content strategy.
If you have no idea whether or not you should be using these trends, head back to the drawing board to build a content marketing strategy that works for your business and discuss the most important kinds of content your audience would want. Keep Slope’s blog on your radar if you want to learn about the content marketing trends that will dominate in 2019. From the use of more interactive content to the implementation of virtual reality content, next year has a lot in store for marketing gurus ready to take on the dynamic marketing playing field.