B2B Content Marketing in 2019: Are You Sophisticated?
Content marketing has been part of the B2B arsenal for years now, so we’d be way late to the party to call it a trend. However, there are elements within content marketing that are evolving and changing, creating some trends for 2019 that fall under the content marketing umbrella. Since it’s that time of year when everyone tends to look backward and forward, let’s try to figure out where content marketing might be headed next year.
The majority of B2B organizations utilize content marketing in some form or another. However, research from Marketing Profs and Content Marketing Institute (CMI) reveals that less than half of them – only 42 percent – consider their content marketing “mature or sophisticated.”
That figure sounds low, but perhaps isn’t surprising when you think about how advanced the technology of targeted content marketing has become. And it’s only getting more technical as machine learning and AI get more involved. It’s worth noting, however, that only 34 percent of respondents called their content marketing sophisticated or mature in prior year’s survey. That indicates that more firms are looking to improve their level of sophistication and technical adoption for their content marketing campaigns. What might that look like in 2019?
Quality of quantity
One problem with the internet is that it has become a content beast that must be fed. Too often that has led us to create fluff, filler and drivel – content for the very sake of creating content. However, thanks to advances in search algorithms, among other things, there’s a shift that’s moving businesses to seek quality content over just any content. This will put an emphasis on truly educational subject matter – the kind of information and expertise that helps brands elevate themselves to thought leadership in their industries.
As buyers also become more sophisticated and able to quickly identify empty content, subject matter that shows a true expertise and high-level thinking will put brands ahead of the competition.
Driving new vehicles
Content marketing is more than just text, of course, and as digital text becomes de rigueur, progressive businesses are test driving the potential of other vehicles.
Video has been a trend for what seems like a few years now, but many industry experts still expect an increased use of video – both long form and short. This could include small promotional videos to product demonstrations to webinars. Live streaming had a moment when Facebook Live debuted and as companies learn to become more comfortable with it, live events could eclipse the webinar for content delivery.
Beyond video, podcasts have earned favor in recent years and offer businesses another opportunity to share their expertise.
Virtual reality and other interactive content are still bleeding edge, and it’s hard to see their use proliferate to the point they become trends in the next calendar year. A few early adopters will continue experimenting with them, but the VR trend is probably still on pace for the next decade.
Influencer marketing is still maturing in the B2B realm, and that will likely continue in 2019. But traditional vehicles for influencers, namely Twitter, are starting to lose favor. Other social media platforms, including Instagram, will likely see a larger uptake in business use as companies aim to find their buyers on a more personal level.
Let’s face it, when it comes to content marketing, SEO is a gorilla in the room. In fact, polled content marketers said changes in search algorithms were their primary concern for 2018. It’s unsurprising. So much of the success of content marketing relies on how well you can get your content in front of the people who want or need it, and search does that.
One of the major trends in search has to do with the way people use it. Longer, more conversational queries are replacing basic Boolean searches. And, with Google’s headers and featured snippet information, people are able to skim and choose (or eliminate) content they want to view with greater ease.
This has given rise to another trend in content marketing: topic clusters. In brief, a topic cluster is a collection of interlinked web pages, usually built around the “pillar page.” This pillar page covers a fairly broad topic, but links out to multiple related, more narrowly focused pages. Rather than having multiple landing pages competing against one another for keywords, your pillar page addresses many searches for the particular topic. Companies looking to boost their search rankings will likely look to the topic cluster model to organize their blogs and webpages.
Content marketing, like all marketing, is a fluid environment, shifting shape on technical advancements, algorithm changes and attitude changes. Successful B2B marketers don’t necessarily chase trends, but stay aware of them and identify where they might benefit their own companies and products.
This has by no means been a comprehensive list of content marketing trends, but should give marketers a basis for things to keep an eye on in the coming year as they aim to reach the level of maturity that has alluded so many businesses to this point. Perhaps 2019 is the year your business joins the ranks of the sophisticated.
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