9 Content Marketing Trends to Know for 2022
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It’s time to explore the technology trending in digital marketing like AI, mobile optimization, and voice search and how it affects our roles as marketing leaders, social media strategists, and content creators. Those of us who work in the marketing world should prepare to welcome the trending focus on owned media, the shift away from paid and traditional media, and content’s role as the backbone of any company’s assets. So sit back, grab your coffee or tea, and let’s dive into some content marketing trends!
Automation and Artificial Intelligence
As 2022 progresses, content marketers will begin using artificial intelligence (AI) to better connect with and understand people. We will see the incorporation of AI in anything from data collection and marketing strategy measurement to audience segmentation and content ideation.
AI is already known to improve sales numbers, increase customer retention, and assist in product launches. We’ve all seen chatbots and digital assistants, but soon, we can expect to see bots facilitate in-depth, responsive conversations between consumer and brand. And, we aren’t far from seeing AI use algorithms to develop personalized websites for each visitor based on what they searched for before arriving, how often they’ve visited the website, and what they have previously clicked on. The functionality of AI in content marketing is endless, and you could miss out on its benefits if you don’t hop on the bandwagon soon!
Did you know that roughly 90% of people with internet access use a mobile device to get online? If you haven’t already optimized for mobile, you need to start now. Making sure your website operates without error on any mobile device should be on the top of your list. Then you can begin to think about optimizing your social media and website content. For example, you should design all blog content, images, videos, links, and buttons to transition seamlessly to a mobile interface. Use the correct sizing dimensions for photos and always publish videos in a vertical orientation.
Social Media Storefronts
Social media shopping first became popular in China, and when the COVID-19 pandemic caused the closures of most brick and mortar stores, it caught on in the United States. Over 50% of Gen Z and Millennials prefer to find products on social media than on traditional search engines.
As marketers, we can incorporate social shopping into our social media marketing strategies. Have you found some great user-generated content? Or maybe have a stockpile of photos from brand ambassadors? Repost those photos tagging the product listing to show your audience how your item fits into the lives of real people. Social commerce has the advantage of keeping consumers on the platform, effectively eliminating a step in the purchasing process. This key feature brings more convenience to online shopping, facilitates impulse buying, and increases your conversion rates.
Audio Content and Voice Search
As it turns out, podcasts are not a fad. Experts say there will be around 100 million podcast listeners in the U.S. by 2040. That’s a significant amount of people who could be out there listening to your podcast right now. However, you shouldn’t produce a podcast just for the sake of having another owned asset under your brand umbrella. Like the rest of your content, your podcast should be addressing your target audience’s pain points, providing entertainment, amplifying diverse industry voices, or ideally, all three.
The recent emergence of voice-controlled smart speakers like Alexa, EchoDot, Google Home, and more is changing the way people search online. Last year, 30% of all web searches were screenless, and at least six out of every ten people ages 25-49 use their voice-enabled devices daily. This ripple in web browsing data will impact the way digital marketers write web copy and alter our SEO practices.
To ensure your content ranks for voice search, you should begin publishing more practical content. Voice search queries require quick, direct answers to conversationally phrased questions. Using conversational keywords and tone, getting back to the roots of useful, educational, and emotional content, and implementing schema markups can help you achieve this. Optimizing the FAQ section of your website with concise answers to your audiences’ most common questions is a perfect place to start!
It’s important to remember the prerequisite to every marketing campaign: research. Dig into the existing data about your customer persona’s usage and behaviors regarding voice-enabled devices.
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Shortly, long-form written content will need to become more immersive to hold the attention of its readers. We can do this by really thinking through what our audiences need to keep them engaged. A few examples of immersive storytelling are:
- Creating an experience for the viewer as they read and scroll through your content using captivating images, videos, and anecdotes that help move the story forward
- Showcasing how real people incorporate your product or services into their lives through testimonials, reviews, and user-generated content, or by featuring an actual customer in a promotional video
- Allowing viewers to experience the same piece of content in multiple ways, i.e., embedding an audio version of a blog somewhere on the page
- Providing tangible ways to implement the information or solutions we present
You should always conduct detailed reporting and information gathering before and after you execute new content marketing strategies. Play around with some of these ideas and discover which tactic resonates most with your viewers.
Of course, when talking about interactive content, you can’t skip over augmented reality. We’ve all used a filter on Snapchat or Instagram. It might not immediately click, but that’s augmented reality software at work. Augmented reality provides a new and unique customer experience that you couldn’t previously get from e-commerce. Examples of use range from EyeBuyDirect’s webcam feature that gives potential customers a chance to try on a pair of frames to IKEA’s mobile app component that places a virtual version of their furniture into your home.
The possibilities of augmented reality in our marketing efforts are growing, and social media queries relating to augmented reality have increased considerably over the last five years. Its popularity amongst brands and consumers is proof enough that this digital marketing trend isn’t going away.
Videos hold the advantage of providing a visual you can’t get from a static image. Plus, they showcase your brand’s personality and bring in twice the engagement of photo and text-based social media posts.
Many social media algorithms already favor video-based posts, and the network leaders are increasingly pushing for video content. TikTok is arguably one of today’s most popular social networks, Instagram announced that they were “no longer a photo-sharing app,” and while the focus on video may feel forced, social media data shows that video content can’t be beaten.
Nearly 90% of social media users want to see more videos from brands, so at the very least, you might want to start testing the waters. If you’ve never produced videos for social media before, it could be daunting, so take it slow. Try repurposing old content like blogs and other resources into easily digestible videos. You can drag it out into an engaging Youtube series or a set of Reels, TikToks, or Shorts. Once you have a feel for what your audience prefers, you can plan to regularly incorporate video-based content into your brand’s social media strategy!
Content That Resonates
Has content become a numbers game that is hurting our audience? I recently attended a webinar about the future of content marketing, where the speakers asked this question. It’s an important question to consider, and I hope it makes you think.
It’s safe to say the content pool is increasingly becoming cluttered with numbers-focused content as if brands and marketing professionals have flipped the switch to constant acquisition mode. Jay Acunzo, former marketer and current author, podcaster, and speaker, teaches the importance of resonant content — or content that helps brands connect more deeply with their audiences. He, and other experienced professionals, see a shift away from the numbers game and into memorable content that gains the trust and loyalty of our audiences and holds their attention over time.
We will see a change from standalone pieces of content to original series where a brand can decide to own one idea and cement their ownership over time. Staple marketing institutions like HubSpot have long been utilizing the impact that series hold. If you’ve ever participated in one of their content marketing courses, you know that HubSpot supports using the topic cluster model. Similarly to content clusters, you can use a long-tail keyword or phrase to create original series of videos, articles, podcasts, etc., to become the go-to resource for the idea your brand wants to hold authority on and gain your audience’s trust.
Targeting and Segmentation
Cluttered social media and digital advertising will make content distribution more challenging than ever. As we advance, digital marketers need to get very specific about the audience they are trying to reach. Poorly thought-out targeting and segmentation could cause a surge in our advertising and marketing budgets. Here are three steps you can take to cut through the clutter:
- Do extensive research on your target audience and customer personas
- Create various pieces of relevant content based on the needs of each audience segment you create
- Automate email marketing to ensure specific fragments of your customers are receiving quality content relevant to their stage in the buyer journey
User-generated content is a vital marketing tool if your target audience sits somewhere in the Gen Z to Millennial age range. User-generated content includes influencer marketing, ambassador programs, customer reviews, and more. This organic content showcases relatable, empathetic stories from real people that help to humanize your brand. Learning how to take advantage of user-generated content is key.
You can encourage the creation of user-generated content using a hashtag campaign. Let your brand’s social media followers know that they could be featured on your profile when they post a photo, tag the brand account, and use the hashtag. American Eagle and Lush are two perfect examples of how to incorporate user-generated content into your marketing efforts.
One of the most powerful phenomenons out there that you should be using to your advantage is social proof. Anecdotes from real people that explain their personal experience using your company’s products or services play a prominent role in the consideration stage of the buyer journey. Customer reviews and photos (with permission) can be repurposed and used in social media posts or included at the bottom of email blasts.
Today, about 61% of consumers trust influencer recommendations. Influencers have proven their effectiveness time and time again. You don’t need to work with an influencer full-time to reap the rewards, either. Test some strategies using one-time collaborations and see how your consumers respond.
As you decide which of these content marketing trends are appropriate for your brand and marketing team, remember that you will experience lots of trial and error. Incorporating any combination of these trends into your digital marketing strategy will prepare you for the future of content marketing!