It’s 2020 already! Are you ready to seize the new decade by the horns?
I sure am! We’re just a few short weeks into the year, and it’s already shaping up to be an exciting one in the world of writing.
If you’ve been paying attention to what’s happening in content marketing, then you’re already a step ahead of the curve.
Several ideas and innovations are maturing, bringing us more possibilities when it comes to writing and distributing our most magnetic content.
Wondering what the future of content marketing looks like? Check it out. I’ve rounded up my best predictions for the 2020 trends in content marketing.
This year is already roaring along at full speed, so we’d better get started!
The 5 Biggest Content Marketing Trends for 2020 You Must Embrace
1. “Good” Is Not Enough! Readers E-A-T Only the Best Content
- Topic-Focused Content Builds Authority
- Results-Focused Copy Builds Relevance
- Customer-Focused Marketing Builds Trust
2. Pictures Become Worth 1 Million Words – If They’re Living
- Visual Media Is Becoming Interactive
3. An Emphasis on Lasting Relationships
4. Brand Authenticity Approaches New Dimensions
- Authenticity, Storytelling, and Story Creation
- Conversational Marketing
5. We Cannot Ignore the New Ways to Search
The 5 Biggest Content Marketing Trends for 2020 You Must Embrace
While 2019 was all about refining what worked, the energy of 2020 signals that it’s all about seizing the day – or year. We’ve practiced, honed, experimented…
Now it’s time to put all that newfound knowledge to work to build those dreams as you’ve never built before.
Without further ado, here are the five content marketing trends for 2020 you must absolutely watch.
1. “Good” Is Not Enough! Readers E-A-T Only the BEST Content
The phrase “content is king” has been floating around the internet now for almost a quarter of a century. (Thanks, Bill.)
It’s a deceptively simple statement. Yet, 24 years later, we’re still discovering exactly what it means.
2020 may be the year that we (collectively) finally get it.
An emphasis on good content has existed for a while now, largely spurred on by Google’s constant (and often revolutionary) updates to its search engine algorithms. Last decade, we saw several seismic updates that completely altered the nature of search.
Google has a knack for doing that.
However, the last several core updates such as Google BERT and the January Core Update have been relatively unique. Not only have they continued to tailor their algorithms to the human element, but they’ve now begun sending a pretty clear message to the content creation (and SEO) community with every update:
Google really, really, REALLY wants you to stop overanalyzing the SEO situation every time it updates its algorithms.
Why? Because in 2020 SEO has ONE main rule:
Focus on delivering the best possible content to your readers.
Oh look, another deceptively simple statement.
In 2020, content and search engine ranking are fusing. It’s no longer going to be about either optimizing for people or optimizing for search engines. By crafting exceptional content, you’re now doing both.
If there’s anything you take away, it’s these three points for content trends in 2020. (Which are so important, we made an image for you.)
1. Topic-Focused Content Builds Authority
To establish authority in the search engines, you’ll need to prove to Google that you know something about a topic. That doesn’t mean posting one or two articles on the subject and calling it good. The average content pillar has been 2,000 and 10,000 words with 6-8 sub-topics (or pages) linked.
2. Results-Focused Copy Builds Relevance
Craft content with a purpose. People use search engines to find answers to problems, but only 21% of searches lead to more than one result getting clicked. If your copy isn’t laser-focused on achieving a specific result (like solving the problem that person searched for), you won’t make it to the top of the list.
3. Customer-Focused Marketing Builds Trust
In 2020, the primary means you’ll build trust with your readers is by delivering helpful, useful content. Such content indicates a willingness to be helpful, to give without expectation of monetary returns. Turns out it works. According to research by Conductor, customers are up to 131% more likely to purchase from brands that provide early-stage, educational content.
Take a moment to absorb these three points. They’re what underlie the rest of the content marketing trends for 2020.
BTW – Google is setting a high bar for what is considered quality content. And unsurprisingly, Content Marketing Institute found that 84% of brands outsource their content creation to pros. If you’re concerned about quality, this is the route to take.
2. Visuals Become Worth 1 Million Words – If They’re Live
Remember the first infographic ever made? (Probably not – it was published in 1821.) It rocked everyone’s world.
Today, infographics and visuals remain incredibly powerful. We’re going to keep seeing them – but they’re getting a refresh. How?
Visual Media Is Becoming Interactive
Infographics are neat, but unless they’re designed and optimized for social media sharing (like Pinterest, Instagram, or Facebook), they’re surprisingly limited. They can pique our interest for a few minutes or flash across our social media feed… but they can’t do much else.
In contrast, live video content is an experience. When something is real-time, we’re primed to think it’s unique. Plus, the real-time nature of the media amplifies the exclusivity and sense of connection with the brand.
Don’t believe me? Check out these stats.
- 80% of individuals would choose to watch a live video from a brand over reading an article
- 87% of people will choose to watch a live video if it means more behind-the-scenes or exclusive looks at a brand.
- 56% of individuals want “breaking news” live content over other forms.
- 67% of live video viewers go on to purchase tickets or seats to similar events.
Live video content is also unique because it blends user experience with one of the ultimate tools of content marketing: storytelling.
It gives brands a chance to apply classic storytelling techniques – in a way that includes the viewer.
Now, you aren’t just telling your story to your customers. You’re involving them in the creation of your story.
How’s that for being customer-focused?
Which brings us to our next major content marketing trend for 2020…
3. An Emphasis on Lasting Relationships
Make no mistake, your readers are smart. If you’re just out to make a quick buck, they’ll spot you coming from a mile away and vanish.
In 2020, they’re getting even smarter.
Possibly it’s because we’re now totally empowered with the ability to find information quickly, easily, and on-demand.
Some 60% of all searches are done on a mobile device – doubling from just 5 years ago.
This trend of instant consumption on the go is a mixed blessing. On one hand, it means readers will gravitate towards quick, bite-sized nuggets of information that won’t disrupt their life.
On the other hand, it means readers are also exposing themselves much more frequently to our content marketing efforts.
It’s that second feature on which we should focus. Our challenge isn’t finding and selling to customers (they’re already looking for us constantly). It’s keeping them.
This year, the prevailing trends will force us to really dive deep into what it means to build relationships and rapport with our readership.
According to the folks at the CMI, almost everyone (79%) is successful at educating their audiences and building credibility or trust (75%).
Fewer people manage to successfully meet goals associated with generating sales (53%) or building loyalty with existing customers (63%).
In other words, they’re putting out quality, helpful content but they’re failing to support their readers in further interactions with their brands. Their copy isn’t results-focused.
According to CMI, there’s a growing disparity between what successful content marketers are focusing on and what everyone else is doing. Successful content marketers nurture long-term relationships with specifics, while everyone else focuses on general (but still important!) goals:
What Successful Content Marketers Focus On…
- Responding to specific audience needs
- Using metrics and KPIs to track content performance
- Crafting content according to customer journey stages
What Everyone Else Is Focusing On…
- Creating sales funnels/lead generation
- Producing high-quality content
- Building authority organically (vs. using paid distribution channels)
Remember: all relationships thrive with a healthy balance between giving and taking.
And – according to Sprout Social – some 70% of customers indicate that they feel closer to a brand after reading helpful, useful branded content.
When readers know you and like you, they’ll buy from you. Nurture that to create long-term relationships where you both thrive.
4. Brand Authenticity Approaches New Dimensions
Brand authenticity has been a really big deal for a while. It was a content marketing trend for 2019, and it remains a major trend in 2020 as well.
I’ve hinted a little so far at what brand authenticity for the new decade looks like, but let’s dive in much more deeply.
Authenticity, Storytelling, and Story Creation
In 2020, expect authenticity and interactivity to blend. Brands are increasingly opening the door for more engagement from their customers with their content to include them in the storytelling process.
We’re already seeing this in the case of live video content as I mentioned before. However, there are a few other examples of where it’s also happening:
- Augmented reality. It hasn’t taken over the consumer world by storm, but it’s definitely here.
- User-generated content. According to Convince and Convert, 85% of consumers think that brand-related content generated by other consumers is more influential than the content the brand itself puts out. Who are those users generating content related to your brand? They are your most avid fans.
- Dynamic personalized content. What better way to include your reader in your story than to put them right in it with content tailored directly for them? We’ve mastered personalization. Now enter dynamic personalized content. It’s a form of hyper-personalization that ensures the content presented is both relevant to each specific reader, and fresh each time.
What are the components of authenticity for 2020?
- A real story: Create a genuine, relatable story.
- The human element: Show off the human side. Give your readers a behind-the-scenes look.
- Interactivity: Recast your brand as a conversation. Invite your readers to participate.
Conversational marketing is a new marketing philosophy that spun out of the discussions around interactive content and the way social media has changed customer service. In conversational marketing, a brand crafts its experience through – you guessed it – conversations.
What do these conversations look like? That depends on your brand. Among the most common conversational marketing tools that leverage content include:
- Email marketing: But not just any cold email spammed out to a list of thousands. Conversational email marketing actively seeks reader responses.
- Chatbots: Only recently recognized as a potential marketing tool, the content in chatbots can prove just as valuable as the content on your pages or in your blog.
- Messaging apps: It’s a non-obvious solution to keeping in touch with your users. Nonetheless, some 79% of customers indicate they’ll use them if it means faster access to the answers they seek.
All of these tactics are already deployed by savvy content marketers. However, as these tactics have coalesced under a single term, it’s worth watching this year to see what ingenious ideas people implement around conversations and customer engagement.
5. We Cannot Ignore the New Ways to Search
Last but not least, we return to the state of search.
Not how machines are searching, but this time humans.
Over the past year, Google’s core updates have emphasized the increasingly diverse ways that users are now searching for content. In particular, voice search has made significant gains in popularity.
According to research by Adobe, some 48% of general web searches are done using voice assistants.
This is a direct result of the popularity of using mobile devices to find information. The study reveals that users overwhelmingly report voice search as easy to use and faster than fumbling with an onscreen keyboard.
Last year, voice search was an innovative curiosity. This year, it’s a new digital reality.
Content marketers can’t ignore it.
Are you ready?
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There are so many ways to plan, create, and distribute content to build an engaged readership. I’ve covered five of what I suspect will be the prevailing content marketing trends for 2020.
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Search engine optimization is going to look waaaay different in 2018.
We’re forging into the future, and that means search has to change to keep up with technology and user habits/needs.
But what do “they” (the Big G) want? And, where is technology going – and how does that tie in to the search algorithm?
For starters, more people want to ask their virtual, voice-enabled home assistants questions – and get good answers. In addition, more people want to use the internet on their smartphone versus a desktop.
Just look at the market share for mobile vs. desktop five years ago, and then compare it to today.
In 2013, mobile was barely making a blip:
But look at where those numbers fell in 2017:
Mobile is now edging out desktop, and it’s not stopping anytime soon.
That means big things for SEO.
So, what’s going to (really) happen?
Let’s dive into the biggest SEO trends for this year.
We’ll conjure up a good idea of what it all means for your online presence.
5 Impactful Content & SEO Trends to Watch for in 2018
1. Mobile-First Indexing Is Happening
In 2016, mobile surpassed desktop browsing as the most popular method.
More and more people are turning to mobile for their browsing needs, whether they’re on-the-go or at home.
Plus, 80% of people who use the internet also own smartphones.
Google is working to accommodate this shift and will soon roll out their mobile-first index.
This means that the search engine will prioritize mobile content in its rankings.
“Soon” is a relative term, however. According to a Search Engine Land report, right now that means sometime in 2018, but it could get pushed back.
Google has also promised not to spring the roll-out of mobile-first on unsuspecting site owners. Instead, they have pledged to be “proactive” about talking to webmasters as it happens. Gary Illyes even told people not to “freak out” at the SMX Advanced conference in June 2017.
Bottom line: If you’re sitting pretty with a website that has a responsive design, you have no worries. If you still only have a desktop-friendly site, now is the time to make some upgrades.
Here’s what that looks like across devices, via W3Schools:
2. Context Will Matter More Than Ever for Content
If your content isn’t contextually relevant to the topic you’re writing about, forget it.
Forget about ranking, let alone ranking well in 2018.
As Google gets smarter, repeating keywords in your content matters less and less for SEO.
Google is no longer a toddler in terms of tech. It’s now a wise-ass teenager who knows way more than you think.
Hence, SEO for content going forward is all about context. It’s about relevance. It’s about diving deep into a topic and leading your readers far beneath the surface information.
According to experts who contributed to SEMrush’s #semrushchat, content may be THE most important ranking factor today.
Not just any content, though – “relevant, well-structured content”:
Of course, this is nothing new.
However, you can expect to see this continue to grow in importance in the months ahead.
The need for high-quality content for outstanding SEO is going nowhere.
3. Voice Search Optimization Will (Continue to Be) a Big Deal
Voice search technology is getting better all the time.
And, as it gets better and easier to use, more people are flocking to nab their own virtual assistants like Alexa on Amazon devices, Siri on Apple devices, or Cortana on Microsoft devices.
According to a recent study from eMarketer, the number of Americans using voice search jumped up by 128.9% from 2016 to 2017.
By 2019, 39.3 million millennials are expected to adopt this technology and use voice search, according to the same study.
It’s easy to see why voice search optimization will continue to grow in importance for SEO. It’s gotta keep up with the lightning-fast speed at which users are glomming onto voice-enabled technology.
4. Sites Will Be Jostling for Spots in Featured Snippets
According to The Next Web, snippets are the new #1 position on Google.
These snippets appear at the top of search results and give searchers instant answers.
For instance, what if I need to know how far away the moon is from earth? Observe:
Before I can even scroll to the number one search result from NASA, Google hands me the answer in the featured snippet.
Needless to say, it’s prime real estate. Sites that manage to get featured don’t even have to rank #1 to be on top.
Instead, Google pulls text from your content to provide the answer and links to your page – above the number one search result.
Plus, voice search results are mainly pulled from featured snippets. If you can get your content featured here, you could really go places.
Because voice search is getting bigger, expect featured snippet spots to get pretty competitive, too.
5. Lazy Guest-Blogging = Not Cool with Google
If you’re guest-blogging with no other intention than link-building, you’re doing it wrong – and Google will punish you.
Google recently pointed out that this behavior is basically in violation of their guidelines. Specifically, it falls under the shady link schemes umbrella.
Search Engine Land has speculated that this announcement signals a warning for webmasters. They say it’s likely that an algorithm update may be coming that targets “manipulative guest posting.”
To avoid a hit on your rankings in 2018, review guest blogging mistakes to avoid and make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons: to provide value to users, and to help you grow your list with quality leads.
The Main 2018 SEO Trend? Search Engines Are Getting Smarter
I think you’ll see one overarching trend for 2018 and SEO: Search is getting smarter, better, and more intuitive.
Of course, we can never stay static for long. We can’t get too comfortable. If we don’t change along with the changing times, we’ll get left behind.
Look forward to these trends this year, and be prepared. Your rankings and site visibility will be better off, and, quite frankly, you’ll sleep better at night.
And if you need great SEO writers, remember, your friendly team at EW is always here for you. Contact us today to talk about your content needs.
Are you up-to-date on all the latest content marketing trends? In this week’s #ContentWritingChat, we shared all the hottest tips and trends you need to know for a successful content marketing strategy.
Does that sound like just what your brand needs right now? Keep reading for the recap of our latest chat! It’s filled with some amazing advice that you’ll want to implement ASAP!
#ContentWritingChat Recap: Content Marketing Trends for 2017 with Dennis Shiao
Our guest host this week was Dennis Shiao. Dennis handles content marketing at DNN Software. He shared some great tips with us throughout the chat, which you won’t want to miss! Let’s dive into the recap for everything you need to know on content marketing trends for 2017.
Q1: Why is it important to keep an eye on content marketing trends? How can it impact us as creators?
Not feeling convinced that you should be keeping up with the latest when it comes to content marketing trends? These tweets will show you why it’s important for all content creators:
Keeping an eye on the trends will help you plan your strategy. As Dennis mentioned, sometimes you ride the trend and sometimes you go the other way. When you understand the current content marketing trends, it can even give you ideas on how to start a new one.
His general advice is not to follow just just follow them. Dennis feels there’s value in being different, so make sure you embrace that.
Julia knows that knowing the latest trends is essential for content creators. You want to stay updated on the platforms, tools, and SEO to better serve your clients.
Content marketing is something that is constantly evolving and you need to keep up to appeal to your audience.
Being aware of trends also helps keep your content fresh and relevant.
As Lexie said, knowing the trends shows your clients that you stay on top of all the latest information. It’s going to help them see that you really know your stuff!
Maureen brought up a great point about testing. When you monitor and try out new trends, you can test to see how it works for you. You’ll know what’s the right fit for your brand and your audience.
As Ray said, part of reflecting and planning your future growth is looking at the past and present when it comes to content marketing. It’s important to reflect to see where things have been, where they’re going, and how you can adapt.
Q2: What have been the top content marketing trends to implement into your strategy so far this year?
Have there been any game-changing trends you implemented into your strategy this year? Our chat participants shared a few that were essential for them to incorporate:
For Dennis, he knows that high-quality content is a clear winner. He’s been focusing on publishing less, but striving to produce even better content.
The team at Netvantage is doing the same. Quality always beats quantity when it comes to the content you’re producing.
When you’re creating content, you also need to deliver what your audience wants. Bill is committed to focusing on his existing customers and learning what they need, instead of guessing on what he should be creating.
Kristen knows that recycling content is a big trend that is really paying off these days. It helps you make the most of what you’ve published in the past. She also said testing new content formats, such as podcasts, is also beneficial.
Even Dennis knows podcasting is a trend that’s still on the rise! Although he hasn’t started one of his own yet, he does listen to a lot.
For Shelly, it’s all about making sure the content she produces leads back to her bigger business objectives.
People are certainly getting more visual with their content this year, which is something that won’t be going away any time soon. Whether it’s graphics or video content, people are loving great visuals.
Interactive content is certainly a great way to engage your audience and get them to take action.
Q3: Many marketers have stepped up content production. What are your tips for managing the content planning and creation process?
With more people taking their content seriously, it can sometimes get tricky managing the content planning and creation process. If you need some help in this area, check out this advice:
Dennis knows the importance of having clear processes and software to help teams, both big and small. He also mentioned how crucial it is to have a great plan in place. It’s definitely going to help you stay on track in the long run.
Julia also recognizes the importance of great team members, as she’s managing a remote team that’s all across the world. When you have an amazing team behind you, you can really see major growth when it comes to your content.
Maureen suggests having a calendar coordinator or a content manager to help bring everything together. Having someone dedicated to this role will help everyone stay on track and meet deadlines.
However, you aren’t doomed if you don’t have a team behind you. As Brittany mentioned, there are plenty of experts out there that can provide information that’ll help you out.
Kristen encourages you to map your content back to your goals. She suggests planning quarterly goals and/or themes to guide your content.
And editorial calendar is certainly helpful when it comes to the planning process. You need to determine how often you want to publish and what topics you’ll be focusing on.
Megan is also a big fan of having an editorial calendar in place.
As Lori mentioned, it’s great to have a plan, but you also need to be flexible. Be open to making last minute changes to create content for the topics that are relevant in the moment.
Natasha outlined some key steps that are essential to success! It all goes back to listening to your audience and understanding their needs.
For Bryn, repurposing content is a must. It’s going to help you make the most of the older content you’ve already published. All you have to do is find ways to make it fresh again. She teams up with other departments to make this happen.
Q4: What should a content marketer do when they just aren’t seeing the results they hoped for?
If you aren’t seeing the results you hoped for, it’s important that you don’t just give up and quit. You need to figure out how to fix the situation. Here’s some great advice for you:
First, Dennis said you need to resist the urge to give up. As he pointed out, content marketing is a long-term endeavor. You have to hang in there and keep moving forward, despite any failures you may encounter. He suggests taking some time to reflect because you’ll return feeling refreshed and with new ideas.
Dennis also said to consider your distribution efforts. Could that be where you’re going wrong? You can’t just expect people to find your content. You have to be proactive about spreading the word. He also recommends talking to your readers, customers, and industry experts to receive feedback on the work you’ve done.
Lexie also agrees that seeking feedback is a good idea. It’s going to help you deliver the content your audience truly wants.
Varun’s advice is to stop, analyze, and restart. You can take inspiration from your niche and other industries, plus take feedback from your audience into consideration.
Lex said you need to ask yourself if you’re monitoring the right goals with the best metrics. You also need to know why those are your goals so you know that you’re working towards.
It’s also a smart idea to look at what IS working for you so you can focus on those platforms/formats/etc.
Going back to the advice Dennis shared, Danielle also recommends focusing on distribution. Find new ways to spread the word about your content so more people will check it out.
For Kristen, she’s found sharing her content via email has always been effective.
No matter what, you have to keep plugging away. You’ll see results in time if you don’t give up.
And finally, don’ forget to be patient!
Q5: How have you seen content marketing change in the past few years?
Wondering how the content marketing world has changed in recent times? Take a look at these responses from the chat:
As Dennis pointed out, there’s all kinds of content floating around these days. It’s not just about blogging because others are turning to live video, podcasting, and so many other formats.
The expectations of your readers have also never been higher. You have to make sure you’re delivering something that’s worth their time.
There’s no denying that we have to work harder to get our content noticed these days.
To stand out, Debi suggests focusing on expertise, authority, and trustworthiness in the content you publish.
Video continues to grow in popularity as the years go on. It’s something that won’t be going anywhere, whether it’s on Instagram, Facebook, or YouTube.
Max also agrees that video has taken off in recent years, especially on social media. You want to have a winning strategy for creating and promoting the video content you produce.
Content creators are expected to do so much these days. They have to be skilled not just with writing, but also with SEO, marketing, social media, and video among other things.
For Ray, he’s seen more small businesses take content marketing seriously. He says it’s made it easier to educate them on it.
Q6: Where do you see content marketing going in the next year or two?
Do you have any predictions on the future of content marketing? Here’s what some of our chat participants had to say:
Dennis sees content moving to non-traditional platforms, such as smart watches. As he mentioned, your content needs to appear when and where your audience needs it.
Kristen predicts advanced personalization that provides a customer-centric approach will be the future of content marketing trends.
Bill predicts that people are going to focus more on their owned channels and use others to drive traffic back to their home base.
Lexie definitely sees video continuing to skyrocket. She thinks live videos that include customers or brand advocates will be the big thing.
As for Jeff, he predicts artificial intelligence will be used to deliver the right content to the exact target audience.
Virtual reality could also play a huge role in content marketing, as more companies are adopting it.
Julia sees even more brands appreciated the growth that content marketing can bring.
Q7: What are your favorite tools for managing your content marketing strategy?
Are you looking for some good tools to manage your content marketing strategy? Check these out:
Dennis relies on Google Analytics and Excel to manage his content marketing strategy. He also likes to get on the phone and chat with customers. It’s a great way to learn more about them.
Evernote is a fantastic tool for storing content ideas and keeping them organized.
Like me, Brittany is also an Evernote fan. She also likes to use Excel for creating an editorial calendar.
Julia relies on SEMrush for ranking and SEO tracking, Mangools for keyword discovery, and BuzzSumo for finding hot topics.
From Google Docs to Evernote and others, Ray has a plethora of tools he likes to use for content marketing. They’re all worth checking out!
BuzzSumo is a go-to for Shelly.
Keiana likes to use Google Analytics and Hootsuite.
For email marketing, Max sticks to MailChimp for sending content to his subscribers. He also likes that their analytics are easy to understand.
Jenn’s list of tools includes: Google Analytics, Moz, Asana, and Curata.
Q8: Do you have any top resources for learning the latest in content marketing trends?
If you want to learn more about the hottest content marketing trends, where should you go? Check out these amazing resources:
Dennis likes to read posts from Content Marketing Institute, Contently, and Orbiteers. He even mentioned Express Writers!
Social Media Today, Social Media Examiner, and the Jeff Bullas blog are all great sources.
Lexie is spot-on with this answer! We can learn so much from the Twitter chats we join.
For Jenn, she’s learned a lot from our own #ContentWritingChat and Content Marketing Institute’s #CMWorld.
As Zachary said, it’s not just about sharing your answers. You can also take in the responses people share and learn from them.
Cristy likes to use Digg to find new blogs and publications to check out.
Another great way to find new resources is to search Feedly or podcasts for information on content marketing.
Ready to join the fun? Follow @ExpWriters and @writingchat on Twitter and join #ContentWritingChat every Tuesday at 10 AM Central!