6 emerging trends for content marketers to embrace

Which big innovations should content-first companies invest time and effort in over the next 12 months?

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If there’s one thing that’s always true about our world, it’s that it never stays still. At Seven, we’re constantly looking ahead to identify the emerging trends – from platform and tech developments to the latest in consumer research and behavioural truths – so that we can transfer this knowledge to our clients.
 
Here are the six big trends we’re focusing on as planning kicks off for 2019.
 
1. ‘Search optimisation’ starts to mean something new
The growth in new delivery formats like chatbots and voice assistants highlights the bigger consumer truth of our growing preference for lend-a-hand technology that exists ‘to serve’ in the background.
 
This means that how we ‘search’ is already rapidly diversifying from traditionally typed-in enquiries to include vocal, visual and scanned searches. Very soon, ‘SEO-optimised’ will mean content that’s discoverable across all channels and all formats, with a bigger focus on natural language.
 
2. Reaching audiences will require smarter, blended tactics
For a few sweet years, social was the easy way to reach our audiences. But the brutal impact of algorithm changes means we need to get smarter if we want branded content to actually get seen.
 
This means we have to start putting in more effort, creating blended outreach strategies that include a combination of:
 
(a) more varied paid distribution tactics
(b) a constant eye on new-style SEO
(c) quality content (and it’s ok if that means doing less of it)
(d) brand trust.
 
3. Now that everyone’s a content creator, standards are rising
Facebook is ‘willing to spend as much as $1 billion’ on original content in 2018, and in 2017, Netflix spent $6 billion on original content, while Amazon laid out $4.5 billion, according to WSJ.
 
Curating other people’s content is no longer enough – the big potential for content monetisation lies in creation. The effect? The standards for branded content are higher than ever as audience expectations rise and rise, regardless of who the creator is. A clear creative position and identity will become essential.
 
This will be furthered by the increasing separation of ‘friends and family content’ and ‘entertainment/branded content/news’ by social algorithms. 
 
4. Native mobile software and apps will deliver a super-personalised CX
As our phones’ functionality becomes increasingly sophisticated, discovery of content will be more likely to come from our phones’ integrated software, as opposed to third-party apps or websites.
 
After all, no technology knows our habits and preferences better than our phones – meaning there is huge untapped potential for a hyper-personalised CX in our pockets. The challenge for brands is to make sure they have a content presence within these native apps.
 
5. Personalisation 2.0 – for the user’s benefit
Personalisation is starting to become more genuinely user-centric, rather than brand-centric, as companies begin to harness its potential to vastly improve the CX, rather than just to market messages. Personalisation will also start to be based on our wider digital behaviour, not just what we’ve clicked on, allowing for more sophisticated optimisation and retargeting of content/advertising across devices.
 
As per Econsultancy’s 2018 Digital Trends report: “The top strategic priority for organisations in 2018 is content and experience management. Almost half (45%) of companies surveyed rank this as one of their three most important priority areas for the year ahead, with a fifth (20%) stating that this is their primary focus.”
 
6. Audiences will seek out ways to escape their echo chamber
As we become hyper-aware of falling victim to our own confirmation bias – surrounding ourselves with just news and content that matches our existing views of the world – demand will increase for more varied news sources, as long as they’re 100% trustworthy. Buzzfeed’s Outside Your Bubble, launched in 2017, was one of the first tools to enable this in a fun way.
 
We can also expect people to start intentionally engaging more with content that opposes their views simply to gain a sense of balance. Smart brands will make this easier, not harder, for them to achieve.