In the lead up to our annual Pearl Awards on Friday, December 7, we asked ten leading content marketing experts to share their vision for the year ahead. Here the practitioners reveal the trends that they think will be shaping our practice in 2019.
Digital Marketing Analyst and Content Director at Altimeter
Content marketing is going to be content strategy and not marketing anymore. For the longest time, marketers have had control of brand-focused content that was entertaining but not really driving the business. We’re now seeing that people are using content to directly affect the business, content that helps directly drive the sale, content that directly makes a purchase happen. So, product-focused/business-focused content doesn’t sound as sexy, but we’re definitely seeing companies start to shift their investment from awareness content to product-focused content.
Creative Director at Journey Group
Accelerated by the fragmentation of audiences and attention over the past decade, I predict the U.S. market will see a resurgence in brand patronage of limited series formats. Six episodes. Ten issues. A four-part exposé. What’s working for Amazon and Netflix in the film and television space will work even better for branded content. This may feel like a return to form for long-time custom publishers but will leverage micro-targeting and a new class of content delivery technologies.
Chief Marketing Officer and Co-Founder, Orbit Media Studios
Longer, more detailed articles will win in 2019. I predict greater results for greater length, even more than in the past. Look at the correlation between long content and success. According to our annual survey of 1000 bloggers, only 8% of bloggers publish 2000+ word articles. But more than half of those who do report strong results.
As more bloggers discover the effectiveness of detailed articles, more of us are writing big pieces. So, get ready to scroll in the new year!
Email newsletters will re-emerge as an important nurturing vehicle.
"Hold up," you're thinking. "EMAIL? Is this 1999 or 2019? Isn't this the age of AI and Facebook Live and video?"
Here's why I believe in the power of email newsletters even more strongly today, as we head into 2019:
An email newsletter is the only place where individuals—not algorithms—are in control. So, what if marketing leaned into that inherently personal space?
Most companies today use their email newsletter as a distribution strategy. What if we focused not on the news but on the letter?
In January I relaunched my personal newsletter as a way to talk directly to my audience. It’s taught me a lot about what works and what doesn’t in content and in marketing. Because I think the best email newsletters are also a kind of proxy for the best marketing in 2019, period.
Vice President, iostudio
Clients have caught on to the importance of data-driven decision-making. And, thanks to the continuous enhancements in tools such as Google’s Data Studio and Tableau, the bar has been raised in clients’ expectations for data delivery. Agencies will have to further invest in staff to deliver easy-to-understand, more accessible and user-friendly data dashboards and reporting optimized for clients’ smartphones and daily habits.
Creative Director, Co-Founder, Velocity Partners
Next year will be about fewer but better content pieces; real AI in place of slideware; peak Google; voice interfaces; and big, bold ideas (remember those?).
Content will be increasingly automated next year. Primarily via AI, content that addresses all types of issues will be generated by machines. This includes marketing, of course, such as highly personalized and contextual messaging, but moves beyond that sphere into media (automated news reporting); business intelligence, customer care, legal and a host of other use cases. The trend also goes beyond just text. Already technologies are automating images and even video. We won't see a mainstreaming of this in 2019, but the technologies are certainly close to being ready for prime time!
I see three primary trends in 2019:
The first is the continued meteoric rise of Artificial Intelligence within the technology stack. There will be a distinct need for marketers—and content practitioners specifically—to begin to understand where AI actually fits in the business.
The second will be the need for scale of content operations. Businesses will finally take content seriously enough to build a strategic operation around it.
The continued rise of the importance of content marketing and first party data in the new era of GDPR and other privacy laws and regulations that are coming online elsewhere in the world.
All in all—content (and specifically building audiences) continues to be an extraordinarily important part of the new marketer's mix.
Keynote Speaker, Author of They Ask, You Answer
Sales teams everywhere are going to start to leverage personalized video within their email communications—from prospecting emails, to answering basic questions, to sending out videos so as to better explain proposals. With the proliferation of free tools like GoVideo by Vidyard, Soapbox by Wistia, and others, even non-techies will soon fall in love with the efficacy and efficiency of personalized video in email.
Content and media strategist at GLC
I love the way virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are changing the way brands engage audiences. Particularly with AR, there is promise that brands can bridge traditional (print) and evolving forms of media to immerse audiences in the practice of storytelling to market their products and services.