2018 Trends in Content Marketing to Help You Attract and Engage Prospects

hand writing in chalk think global

2018 is just around the bend, and content marketing has changed a whole lot in the past few years. While it was once a small component of larger digital marketing campaigns and strategies, big brands have started to realize that content can be a marketing end unto itself.

Most marketers are betting big on content. 60% of marketers publish a piece of content daily. Why?  Because people spend on average six hours a day consuming content online. Note that this statistic includes people using two screens at once, so we often consume content on two different devices for hours on end.

Content takes on myriad forms: Tweets and Facebook posts and blogs and white papers and Youtube videos and podcasts and Instagram stories and Pinterest pics along with online magazine and news articles that remind us of days when we held our content in our hands.

All of these facts and options point to one conclusion: content consumption produces a high demand for quality content.  As a result, marketers are putting more and more effort into satisfying that demand.

But how should you align your content priorities in order to reach prospects in 2018? Look to the following trends for answers on how to develop a winning strategy in the coming year ahead.

Companies are Leaning Heavily on Premium Original Content

man watching streaming series on a laptop computer, lying on the bed

Curation used to be the buzzword when it came to content creation.  If the goal was to have content, the quickest path was to curate existing content from other sources.

However, the quality and quantity of original content has quickly become a competitive differentiator for big companies. You can see how this fact affects the business world by considering the staggering amount huge brands are investing in creating or purchasing premium original content.

Apple, for instance, just set aside $1 billion for original programming. The shows produced from this budget will likely end up on their streaming Apple TV platform. By creating premium, high-quality content, Apple not only drives subscribers to its service but builds out its brand.

Others like Johnson & Johnson have been able to convert lead-generating and brand-strengthening content into a viable business model. J&J’s babycenter.com gets so much engagement that revenue generated from the site makes it actually profitable.

While small and mid-sized business owners may not have the deep pockets of these corporate giants, they do have an opportunity to produce their own original content that will engage their smaller, perhaps more local, audiences. And if the giants are investing millions in content creation then you can bet that it is having a positive impact on their revenue.

As the Content Marketing Institute writes: “All senior marketing executives are curious about the creation and flow of content, especially since nearly every company is creating more content this year than last.”

With this in mind, know that high-quality content creation is quickly becoming essential in digital marketing for businesses of all sizes.

Mobile Optimization Should Be Viewed as the Standard

No ifs, ands or buts about it: your content should always be optimized for mobile. In fact, you may want to consider a mobile-first strategy when designing content.

Nearly 70% of media consumption now occurs on mobile, according to Comscore. That means your audience is 2.3 times as likely to be viewing your content on a mobile device as opposed to desktop.

Smartphones have made it possible to always be consuming content wherever we are.  Cheap data has withdrawn the cost limits that once curtailed our consumption of videos and downloads.  

Google coined the term “Micro Moments” to categorize the dozens of small moments during the day in which we turn to our phones to research how to fix a clogged drain, find a new dinner recipe, watch a how-to video on treating an oven burn.  We now know that information to answer all of our burning questions, to help with all of our problems, to entertain us in any free moment, resides right through our phones.

In response, you should ensure your content strategy and design embraces a mobile-centered viewpoint.

For example, all of your blog content layouts should use a responsive design that looks good in a vertically scrolling format. You should also ensure that your photos look big and bold on small mobile screens.  Be concise in your writing and use bullet points to highlight the most important details — we may consume a lot of content, but we do it quickly and rely heavily on skimming. And use video whenever possible because it holds attention longer and has a lasting impact on the viewer.

Remember when creating content, think first about how it will be viewed on a mobile device.

Video Marketing (And Live Video) Gets Even Bigger

Optimize for your Mobile Website Visitors

We’ve already talked a lot about how important video marketing is for helping you succeed.

Just to recap a few statistics: 45% of people spend more than an hour a week, on average, watching videos just on Facebook and Youtube. People collectively watch over 10 million videos on Snapchat in a single day.

And when they watch a video, viewers claim to remember 95% of what they watched, compared to just 10% of what they read.

Those stats indicate that huge audiences are hungry for video content. And that businesses able to get their attention through eye-catching videos and a steady stream of must-watches stand a better chance at bringing prospects into their marketing funnel.

But do you need to blow your entire budget on video production?  Absolutely not.

One area where video has completely taken off with small business owners is live video. Most small businesses don’t have the time or budget to start producing slick video assets. Yet, they do have access to smartphones and tripods.

A small business owner (or their marketing head) can quickly devise an HD recording setup on their desk and begin live streaming. People generally have lower expectations of live streaming because they are more engaged and feel more closely connected to their hosts.

news conference world live tv hands of journalists microphones interview concept

In fact, viewers are willing to spend eight times longer watching live video compared to pre-recorded content. Business owners who host Q&As, live news updates, demonstrations, trainings or other types of content can attract captive audiences.

Best of all, audiences develop a stronger affinity for your brand. “Live streaming is a powerful content marketing tactic because of transparency,” observes Curata. “People love brands that are real; brands that talk, act and look like them.”

And, or course, every Live Stream then becomes a video blog for your site.  Remember, that Google owns YouTube and favors websites with video in their search rankings so video content will improve your SEO as well.

“Native Advertising” Now Means High-Value Content

In an era of Ad-Blocking and general marketing oversaturation, the consumer is wary of being sold anything.  High-quality, engaging content offers the consumer value without trying to sell anything.  

For instance, on the one hand, a promoted Facebook post that looks like any other post from a friend can generate engagement if the content is interesting. But on the other hand, one that looks like an obnoxious banner ad won’t get clicks — and it may not even run.

However, by creating content that answers consumer questions, solves consumer problems, or discusses issues the consumer cares about, the business owner establishes trust and authority with the consumer.  The irony, you see, is that while the consumer doesn’t want to be sold anything, he or she is constantly looking to buy something.  

Which business they buy a product or service from often depends on which business they have a relationship with.  And in the world of content marketing, that comes down to which business has provided them with value already.

Over time, native advertising has given companies an opportunity to flex their creative muscle. They are essentially being given a platform for standing alongside other popular content. Small business owners that think about their content from a native ad perspective can often find greater levels of engagement and lead nurturing.

“Stricter advertising policies from tech giants like Facebook, combined with increasingly savvy consumers who won’t respond to noticeable, poor-quality ads will force native advertising to completely disassociate itself from terms like click bait and wormhole,” content strategist Megan James told Entrepreneur. “Intelligent native advertising will be one of the largest distribution methods for high-end content that drives conversions.”

Putting the 2018 Content Marketing Trends to Good Use for Your Business

web site analytics charts on screen of pc. seo search engine optimization programming business up trend statistics infographics diagram in flat design style

If your goal is to engage and convert more prospects in 2018, content marketing can easily become your golden ticket.

By creating more live videos, using mobile as your standard and thinking about content from an audience perspective, you can boost the quality and appeal of your content like never before.

As a result, 2018 just might be the year you engage more prospects than ever through great content!