This is Part I of a two-part series about content marketing’s evolution.
Marketing has been changing fast, but just how fast? Over the past several years, marketers and researchers have been predicting what the content marketing landscape will look like in 2020. Coca-Cola created waves in the marketing industry in 2011 with the release of its Content 2020 vision, a radical departure from the traditional advertising model. Back then, some projections may have seemed futuristic. Unlikely, even.
Now that we’re less than a year away from 2020, we compiled a list of some of those predictions to see which ones are close to the reality of marketing today and in the near future.
Even if you have already adopted some of these strategies, revisit them. It’s possible you have room to improve your content performance by recharging some efforts and integrating a few new initiatives.
2020 Prediction: “Massively curated content experiences.”
In 2015, author and marketing veteran Sujan Patel, had this to say in an Inc.com article: “By 2020, content marketing will likely involve bringing together multiple types of content in multiple formats to tell a story that’s specific to the highly-targeted audience being pursued. By providing a variety of formats and content, companies will be able to give the potential customer not just information, but an experience that’s full of meaning in order to draw them to purchase.”
Marketing Reality: Marketers are now creating, curating and distributing highly personalized, relevant content with precision, winning over customers.
In making this prediction five years ago, Patel referenced what we now describe as “Content Shock” — the sharing of 27 million new pieces of content daily. And here we are today. With 95 million photos and videos shared daily on Instagram and 17 new WordPress blogs published every second, we’re way past the point of a mere 27 million shares..
Successful marketers are using this period of Content Shock as an opportunity to connect with their targeted audiences. They’re breaking through the “noise” by creating content experiences based on an understanding of what their customers really want to hear, read and digest.
And, how do marketers establish that type of connection with their targeted audiences? Martech, which leads us to the next prediction on the list.
2020 Prediction: Marketers’ biggest bottleneck will be their ability to develop enough content to fill multiple channels.
Gartner, observing the multitude of channels in which customers engage with content, recently predicted that marketing teams will have a difficult time keeping up with the content production needed to fill them.
This is a departure from the perception of a flood of online content as being problematic.
“Personalization will become standard for brand engagements, but lack of scalable content creation processes will become the limiting factor for success,” Gartner said in its 2018 Content Marketing and Management Primer.
Marketing Reality: Today, marketers are already feeling the pain of creating enough quality content to fill channels as part of a 24/7 experience.
Creating enough quality content at scale is further complicated by the need to identify the right messaging, timing and mix of channels that are ideal for their targeted audiences. The process can be even more demanding for B2B marketers who have a longer sales cycle and, therefore, a more complex buyer journey.
Without the right insights, marketing teams realize they could churn out massive quantities of quality content but fail to connect with their ideal customers.
Recent innovations in martech tools are helping marketers more effectively take on those challenges — at scale. It answers the dilemma of the bottleneck by streamlining the overall content marketing process.
For example, a content intelligence solution, which is driven by artificial intelligence, gives marketers the ability to be more efficient in creating quality content. It works by taking an analytical view of an organization’s content activity, identifying how well the content is performing and why. Next, it provides actionable insights on how to improve the performance of content in numerous areas, including target audience, persona, messaging themes, consumption type and channel.
As a result, marketing teams are able to spend more time creating content that’s relevant to their audience … content that makes a connection with the right audiences at the right time on the right channel with the right messaging.
With more developments in martech forecasted for the near future, marketers can expect to see even more solutions to streamline processes and improve customer experiences through content.
2020 Prediction: By 2020, artificial intelligence (AI) technologies will be virtually pervasive in almost every new software product and service.
This is another prediction that’s courtesy of research analysts at Gartner, who issued a report in 2017 about the emergence of AI-driven tools. It also predicted that AI will be a top five investment priority for more than 30 percent of CIOs.
That forecast also came with a warning from Jim Hare, Gartner’s vice president of research. “AI offers exciting possibilities, but unfortunately, most vendors are focused on the goal of simply building and marketing an AI-based product rather than first identifying needs, potential uses and the business value to customers.”
Marketing Reality: AI-driven software tools only recently have emerged in marketing, long after they had been introduced to handle repetitive tasks throughout other departments, including HR and customer service.
However, marketing departments are catching up, using artificial intelligence to rapidly transform the way they execute content strategy, promotion and customer engagement. They’re able to save time and money with more effective campaigns that streamline their processes.
AI-driven marketing solutions that are currently being adopted by companies include the following:
PPC campaigns: Machine-learning algorithms enable advertisers to leverage results by analyzing ways to optimize their pay-per-click-campaigns, from layouts and copywriting to targeting.
Customer service chatbots: Customers want a 24-hour experience from your brand, whether they’re trying to get answers at 2 p.m. or 2 a.m. Customer chatbots, using artificial intelligence to communicate naturally, are on call to handle basic customer inquiries. This means you can ensure customers have some type of meaningful connection with your brand, even during your company’s off-hours.
Content intelligence: As mentioned earlier, this AI-driven solution is giving marketing teams the insights to create and distribute highly relevant content. It analyzes a company’s content activity to determine where it can be improved in specific areas, including content themes, persona development, channels and media types. It also provides competitive framing, helping marketers understand how best to compete against other brands.
Customer re-engagement: With machine-learning algorithms to guide them, companies are able to receive indicators that signal customers are dis-engaging with their brand — before it’s too late. These AI-powered tools use customer data to build predictive models to determine when there is a potential for churn. As part of a strategy to reduce churn, content intelligence tools can be integrated into a solution to identify the type of messaging and incentives to re-engage customers.
Personalized website experiences: Through data insights gathered from machine learning, companies also are creating a personalized experience for every visitor to their websites. Based on customer interactions, a site can be designed to automatically send incentives to encourage them to move further along their buyer journey. It also helps marketers create a better brand impression through personalized customer interactions.
With continued technological advances, marketers can expect more changes in the way they complete their tasks. While many of the predictions for 2020 are already underway, artificial intelligence and other technologies will continue to meet the increasingly complex demands in marketing.
Read Part II of this blog next week for more 2020 predictions about marketing and whether we’re already seeing them become reality.
And, if you’re ready to explore how artificial intelligence can improve your content performance today, contact us about our Vennli solution. We’ll give you a personal demo of how it can work for your company.