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What worked before might not work now. Keeping up with the times is crucial in order to stand out and get better results moving forward.

This is a year of adaptation and agility like no other when it comes to your marketing strategizing.

In this article, we’ll look at the ways you can best prepare for some of the current and predicted content marketing trends and how you can better align with your overall business growth plan. This checklist will ensure that you will not only stay ahead of the trends but you’ll be able to adapt your content marketing efforts to answer them. Although not all of these may be feasible at this exact moment, it’s important to be aware of these trends as you look towards the future.

Ways to Prepare for Content Marketing Trends

Micro-Trends: Stay Agile This year is unlike any other.

What applied at the start of the year, the past few months, and what is to come is in a state of never-ending fluctuation. It’s proven to be a year that is constantly changing, both in business and in the ever-changing predictions of the trends to come (and those that leave just as quickly). Make sure you (and your team) remain agile, both proactive and reactive to changes in the content marketing game.

It’s fantastic to have a strategy and a plan to go to market. However, what’s better, is how you adapt your route when new opportunities arise, and how efficiently you are able to do so. Set up plans that are adaptable and develop a culture that allows for change, both with your strategy and in your team’s mindset.

Constant Change: Work With All-Rounders

Building off the first preparation point; focus on hiring talent that’s as adaptable and agile as your content marketing strategy. Or if you are generally satisfied with your current employees, create a space for professional development to help train your existing employees in additional areas. If you are in the process of hiring or re-hiring, look for people with skill sets that fall across different content areas, people that can serve as omni-marketers (meaning across multiple channels) on your team.

This mix will give your own strategy fresh perspectives, as well as allowing you to hit those content marketing goals you’ve set, no matter how tight you are on human resources.

Visuals First: Focus on Core Skills

Visual design and design thinking in general remain at the center of marketing strategizing. Even with the constant change in marketing trends to come, there will still be a specific skill set to be on the lookout for. Expect to see more video content—it’s been at a constant growth through the last few years and is predicted to rise even more. Consider where this fits in with your plan, and if one of your employees has video experience look to use them to your advantage as your in-house videographer.

We’ll also see a great need for talent within AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality), as well as illustration. If you’ve got this talent on board, or have the potential to train a current team member on the skill, then you’re set to be creating content that’s engaging and sought out now and into the future.

Championing Content: Build a Structured Content Library

If you want to stay on top of your game, you will need to stay organized. There is nothing worse than remembering an image or video you know you have, and then not being able to locate it. Don’t rely on your or anyone else’s memory when it comes to finding the content you’re looking for. Instead look to build a content library.

Content has been king for a long time and looking towards the future there’s no stopping it. Accordingly, content is set to be king, queen, and the whole royal flush. Prepare for it. Organize and structure your content library well, use image tags, color codes, and develop a search structure that’s not only intuitive but that also has a documented process. Make sure your content library is accessible and can be used by anyone and everyone on your team.

Personal Goals: Plan for Campaigns and Key Dates

There has also been a rise in focusing on ‘personal goals.’ People are increasingly asking themselves more and more what their purpose is and challenging why they are here. They are looking at brands to lead the way and set an example. It’s essential that, as a brand, you identify with your mission and vision and make purposeful strides towards those ideals.

How? Identify dates that are important to your brand or product and make sure they’re in your yearly plan. It’s all well and good being agile, but there will be certain campaigns and initiatives that you’ll need to focus on, regardless of current trends.

Identify what your key dates are for your team and make sure you give you and your team enough lead-time to conceive of and create a fantastic campaign to hit your targets.

That being said, do not give yourself too much lead time for a campaign. For example, don’t look to plan a Christmas campaign in Spring, or a summer campaign during winter. With such a large time gap by the time it actually comes around, there’s a high chance your initial idea will no longer be relevant or the tactics you were planning on using will feel dated. Perhaps there will be a better way to go to market, and you’ll have wasted your time planning so many months ahead.

Data Science: Read Your Data

Yes there will undoubtedly always be new trends. Yet, just because you’re hitting these trends doesn’t necessarily mean your content marketing efforts are automatically going to be a success. Focus on being data-minded and brush up on how to read your data. There are more tools and resources than ever before to understand markets, so make sure you’re using them wisely. Every piece of data should not only inform your content marketing plan but your overall growth plan(opens in a new tab) too. Look to build this knowledge in order to help your business to reach larger goals.

Analyze KPIs, response rates, and general statistics from within your own audience and adapt your marketing strategies accordingly. Once you’ve identified your own customer trends you’ll be able to apply your learnings to content marketing strategies with larger, global trends in mind.

Micro-Communities: Cater to Them

Previously we saw a huge push for authentic communities and consumers looked for more authentic brands to help form them. As this trend continues to level up, we’re seeing a need for more micro-communities. These communities are smaller collectives within a larger group.

Consumers are now looking to forge genuine, online relationships with people who not only have the same interests as they do but someone they can identify with on a higher level as well.

By identifying and appealing to these micro-communities you’re not only honing in on customer acquisition but customer retention(opens in a new tab) as well. Customers assess the brands they choose to come back to more and more, and if you’re no longer appealing to them, then be prepared for an increase in customer churn rate.

Identify what and who your micro-communities are and cater to them. Make sure you’re answering your unique consumer needs with tailored content they’ll appreciate. Unsure of what they need? Ask them!

Voice Search: Knuckle Down on SEO

With voice-assisted aids like Alexa and Siri becoming more prominent in the home, SEO will also continue to change. You’ll need to make sure you’re applying your SEO efforts thoroughly(opens in a new tab).

People will no longer be scrolling as much, so you can’t count on those Google brand search impressions as heavily for awareness, and curious click-throughs for non-branded search terms will drop too.

Make sure you optimize and up-cycle old content as well as create new content that is searchable for the present and beyond. Voice-assistants will continue to grow smarter moving forward but they’ll still just be presenting one find to their searcher, make sure you’re ranking and the information presented is yours.

Conversational Marketing: Get Personal

If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to flesh out a Brand Book and TOV Guidelines. We’re set to see a rise in conversational marketing and marketing automation efforts. In order for your brand to come across as authentically as possible among these new strategies, you’ll need to make sure that you’re consistent with your brand personality.
A great test when building your brand’s personality is the 100 question hot-seat. Turn your brand into a person and ask them 100 questions. Your brand/character should be able to answer those 100 questions. Everything from: What do you have for breakfast? Through to, what do you think about climate change? Make sure you are as familiar with the persona you create as you are.

When it comes to trialing new forms of communication, you’ll want to refer back to these resources and ensure you’re always staying true to the brand.

Stay Ready for What’s to Come: Tool Up

New trends, new platforms, and new strategies will often mean new tools. Ensure that you’re moving forward as prepared as you need to be as well as with the tools that will set you up for success. You’ll need reporting tools that help you grow and organize your efforts as well as tools that will help you with your marketing automatio(opens in a new tab)n, so you can focus on larger strategies.

You’ll also need to start looking into tools that can help you stay on-trend. With demand for engagement and gamification in sales’ strategies, look for online quiz makers, social media planners, and find a WordPress development partner that’s right for your needs. You might even want to consider a full website overhaul(opens in a new tab) making it more user-friendly for your site visitors and your team.

At the same time, perhaps it’s time to upgrade or cut tools or features that you haven’t been using and are no longer relevant(opens in a new tab). Use this as a time for a bit of reflection and cleaning and get rid of those tools that haven’t adapted to change.

Wrapping Things Up

This year and the next will certainly put your marketing efforts to the test. Consumer needs are more prominent than ever and it’s up to brands to answer them. This checklist should help you to prepare as best as possible for the year ahead and the trends it will bring. To wrap everything up, here is a bitesize list:

  • Create an agile team
  • Hire all-rounders
  • Focus on new video formats and illustration talent
  • Structure your content library
  • Plan for key dates and campaigns
  • Be data-minded
  • Identify micro-communities
  • Write for voice search
  • Define your Brand Book & TOV Guidelines
  • Reassess the tools you need

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