Today, a mind-boggling 4 billion people are using the internet, well over half the entire population of the Earth...and this number is growing every day!
There is more information available online than ever before and readers’ appetite for new content is insatiable.
What’s more: nothing stays fresh for long. There is always something new on the horizon.
Why? Because that’s the transient nature of how we access and consume internet content.
But hold up.
What does that mean for content marketing?
The ever-changing nature of the internet, and particularly of digital marketing, means that the future of content marketing promises to be a challenging one.
True: content marketing has always had to evolve rapidly, balancing information, education and entertainment
However, this need for evolution is only going to get more nuanced and complex as our appetite for information grows.
So what do we predict, for the future of content marketing? And how can you – as business leaders and marketers – prepare for it?
What does the future have in store?
It’s gonna – keep – getting personal
Things have been going this way for a while now, with brands tailoring their marketing and sales to a far greater degree, and content designed to be personalized as much as possible.
There’s no reason this trend will slow down. In fact, we may even see more of this, as audiences become more savvy, and software advances, AI and big data allow marketers to target potential clients more directly.
Everyone’s now a marketer
Whose role is it to do content marketing within your organization?
Once over, the distinction between departments was pretty huge. You worked in marketing, or you didn’t. The lines are more blurred in today’s businesses.
And as digital marketing becomes more sophisticated, and the need for niche content increases, every member of staff will potentially have a role in the marketing team.
Whether it’s ‘behind the scenes’ organic content – from employees adding a human face to a brand – or tech workers setting up AI responses, producing content will become an organisation-wide task.
It’s the end of the road for generic content
Another example of how times have changed; you can’t get away with producing any old content anymore.
Well, for starters, generic content does badly with Google and SEO. Plus, it turns off readers too.
Churning out generic content for the sake of it will only become less and less useful, as algorithms get more sophisticated, and audiences more discerning.
Instead, the mantra ‘less is more’ will begin to take over, and marketers will focus on fewer, but better – more targeted, strategic – posts.
New tech is everywhere
Innovation and new technology are adding new tools to the digital marketer’s arsenal every day.
What will we see more of?
Advances in artificial intelligence mean that remarkably coherent, relevant and personal content can be automated by artificial intelligence.
So does that mean the machine will take over?
No, not at all. Rest assured!
But machine learning can help add depth and reach to your content marketing plan.
Into the future, augmented or virtual reality, bots, and geolocation tools will give digital marketers unprecedented insights, and new abilities to reach people.
What simple strategies do you need to succeed?
Thankfully there a few things that digital folks can do right away to keep up with the ever-changing landscape of content marketing.
Always go for quality over quantity
This is probably the most important lesson.
Because of the vast amount of content available nowadays, chances are that most topics you want to write about will have been covered already by someone else.
Does that mean you shouldn’t bother?
No. What it does mean, though, is your content needs to be memorable.
Come at it from a new angle or take a new stance; do what you can to stand out in some way.
Boring, overdone, generic content just won’t cut it anymore, either with audiences, or with search engines and social platforms.
Producing high quality content gives you the ability to develop a loyal and organic following, rather than relying on clickbait.
What does quality content look like? Read all about it, right here.
You can look back, to move forward
Much of the time, new strategies for content marketing forget about the wealth of existing content you already have.
You may have a wealth of evergreen content, which keeps on being relevant and engaging to your readers. But you can also dust off older posts, and repost them, without having to go back to the drawing board.
This is called historical optimization – going back to old posts, updating them to ensure fresh relevance, and then tweaking them to increase traffic.
And it can be a great strategy.
Because existing posts may already have a high authority in SEO terms, it may simply take a few tweaks to titles, links, CTA and meta-descriptions, and you can bring it to light with a new publication date as fresh content!
Be smarter with your SEO
Let’s pause for a moment to consider some stats.
There are around 3.5 billion searches on Google a day (that’s nearly one search per internet-connected person on Earth!).
And Facebook has a similarly staggering 1.5 billion searches a day.
And into the future, visitors’ reliance on these search tools is only going to increase. As you might expect, digital marketers are therefore at the mercy of the algorithms.
Both Google and Facebook are so much more nuanced and complex these days in how they rank sites.
So what can you do?
For one, Google’s algorithm favors topic experts. So to succeed, you need to present yourself as an expert on one or two subjects in particular, and not just take a scattergun approach to the content you produce
How do you do this? The topic cluster structure is one savvy approach.
Create one pillar page, and link a number of other pages or posts back to it, via the same hyperlinked keyword.
The prominence and frequency of this keyword, backed up by great content on several other pages, will convince search engines of your expertise on this topic.
But remember, you still need to use relevant keywords for your target audience. So do your keyword research and review Google’s featured snippets and ‘people also ask’ widget.
Then, optimize your content with on-page SEO and imagery to maximize your exposure, and even try to get featured on other companies’ existing snippets.
It is also worth checking out the array of tools that can help you out in doing better, and smarter, SEO.
Don’t be afraid to try new things
To wrap it up, we think the future of content marketing will be guided by new forms of content, and emerging innovation and technology.
So a key part of any digital strategy has to take advantage of new tech and embrace industry evolution.
For example, if you haven’t already got on board with video content, do.
It is one of the fastest growing channels, and it is predicted to account for around 80% of all web traffic by the end of this year!
Video grabs a visitor’s attention faster than text, and is also meant to be more effective – a minute of video is worth 1.8 million words, according to James Quivey of Forrester Research) with viewers retaining more information from video than text
But even more exciting tech with content marketing potential is on the horizon.
Visual and voice search, chatbots, even augmented and virtual reality are all improving in leaps and bounds, and early adopters will reap the benefits.
Don’t be afraid to be experimental; dive into new channels and tech wherever you can.
The best thing about digital marketing is you can play around, track impact, and ditch strategies which don’t work for you.
Worrying about future content challenges?
Hopefully this article has helped you out.
Creating successful content will rely on learning the lessons of the past (and literally reusing past content!) and embracing the opportunities of the future.
Content marketing will continue to be challenging, and marketers wanting to get their slice of the pie will have to innovate.
But it is still a wonderful, powerful tool, and one that is worth taking time to optimize.
If you’ve got any questions, or want to chat about anything related to content marketing, drop us a line!
Our Scribly writers have a wealth of experience in content and copywriting; if there’s a challenge ahead, we’re ready to take it on!