A five-year time frame is an eternity in digital marketing. In 2012, content marketing was uncharted territory for many businesses. They were investing heavily in social media, but the idea of a holistic content marketing plan was relatively new.
Fast-forward to 2017, and nearly 90 percent of B2B marketers use content marketing as a foundational piece of their marketing strategy, according to the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), the go-to source for all things related to the art and science of content marketing. CMI also found that most B2B marketers now use at least 13 content marketing tactics, from blog articles and landing pages to short-form video, white papers and more.
The proliferation of content over the past five years begs the question, What will content marketing look like in another five years? Here are a few possibilities.
A 180 to brevity
Currently, blog writing is trending toward longer reads of 1,500 words or more, largely for search engine optimization. A bigger piece has more keywords organically and improves topic relevance, which Google uses to separate keyword-stuffed articles from meaningful, well-written content.
Long-form content will always have its place in search engine optimization and among highly engaged readers. The reality, however, is that the human attention span is literally shorter than that of goldfish. We’re at eight seconds; they’re at nine. Since Google updates its algorithms constantly, it seems to be a safe bet that quality short-form content will rise to the top of search results eventually.
Content marketing, for all intents and purposes, is synonymous with branded content. We look to our favorite brands to produce content that speaks to us, and the ones who “get” content marketing know how to deliver time and time again. The brand value of content will never go away, but we’re also seeing executives aim for for thought leadership on LinkedIn and online publications such as Forbes, Bloomberg and Entrepreneur.
Small to midsize business owners are increasingly seeking ghostwritten content – material that someone writes for another person. I wouldn’t be surprised to see executives from big brands start to seek bylines on a regular basis, too. Thought leadership content is the ultimate soft sell, because it puts a face to the business that produces the content, and speaks more about challenges and solutions than products and services.
With just about every business investing in content, the need for unimposing and easy-to-manage data is becoming apparent. While many marketers might suggest that data is the future of content marketing, I’m going to lean the other way and say we need less data. My prediction is that data-driven marketing will peak in the next few years, and then come back down to Earth. Analytics and content management platforms will become so overwhelming that marketers will eventually find their own comfort zones with just a handful of metrics that matter to them.
Social media is a perfect example of the type of shift I’ve described. When social first burst onto the scene, businesses were scrambling to jump on every single platform in existence. Now, most marketers hone their strategies on only a few social media platforms they have deemed to be the most effective.
“Five years from now” always makes for an interesting discussion. What do you think content marketing will look like in 2022? Tell us in the comments below.