Is content king? While it’s recently become a concept one might think is new, content – whether a tag line, logo, podcast or video – has always been a key way to communicate the value of your product. And, if you’ve heard from me before, you know that value is not the product or service you sell; it’s the impact, result, solution or transformation expected by the buyer.
Yet, content has an even bigger role; not only do you want it to convey desired benefits, you want it to motivate your desired audience to respond in two ways:
- Respond with an emotional connection
- Respond with an action to learn or get more
And with technology changing and adding platforms faster than a speeding bullet (poor Superman couldn’t even keep up!) how do you do it in a way that’s relevant for you and your desired audience?
Let’s break it down with 10 content marketing trends for 2023 so you can follow a path that makes sense for you.
1. Short-form video
In today’s media environment, video remains on top. Nearly 20 hours of video content is consumed by viewers every week. But video isn’t a new trend —marketers already know how important it is, especially when you want to convey that there’s a human behind the website or to give prospects a taste of what it would be like to work with you.
Video is the top channel for B2B marketing and the hot trend is short-form video. You’ll see them in TikTok, Instagram Reels, and YouTube Shorts. Why? Well, you can attribute it to our dwindling attention spans. So much, in fact, that short-form video accounts for 80% of all mobile data traffic. Wow!
Short-form video is great news for you: You can produce more in less time and viewers are more likely to engage with a brief video that gets straight to the point.
What’s ‘brief’? Keep your video content under 10 minutes. And even 10 minutes is still pretty long, so take a lesson from from TikTok – keep your videos under a minute. You can always film a longer video and chop it into short snippets to save time. This is a challenge for me; I do love to talk however, my first video is just 1.20 minutes; see it here.
2. Empathy and human-focused content
Once upon a time, consumers wanted businesses to come across as professional and formal. Remember all the TV ads with spokesmen (face it – it was usually men) in suits or white doctor jackets? That won’t work anymore. Following the isolation imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers don’t want to feel barriers between themselves and the brands they want to like. And, when doing business on a website, people still want to know there’s a human behind the screen.
Avoid producing totally business-focused or detached material; notice that my own remarks here are peppered with humor. Your content needs to be filled with emotionally-laden words that connect with your customers. Lean into authentic relatability, emotions, and empathy. That’s the key to building real connections with your followers.
This isn’t just about creating feel-good content. Nearly 95% of consumers are more loyal to brands that appear transparent and genuine — and 75% would pay more to support brands they perceive in that way. If you want to garner real support with your customers, being human (as Captain Kirk defined Spock at the end) is a priority.
This also means you should stop using hard sales pitches and salesy language. Focus on being of service and not hunting for a transaction. Speak to your customers human to human; as my friend Trish Carr of Women’s Prosperity Network always says, “it’s just a conversation”. If this is hard or you want a fast path, partner with an influencer or brand ambassador, one who is consistent with your own brand, to really drive this home.
Perhaps one of the original way content has proven powerful is through story-telling; for every point you want to emphasize, a good, emotionally-driven story will drive home your point and create strong engagement.
3. Strategic Search Engine Optimization
SEO has been important since the dawn of Google. But you can’t just toss a bunch of keywords in a blog post or optimize tags and call it SEO. Search engines are getting smarter, and you have to adjust your SEO plans to keep up.
First, write for people before you write for search engines. It sounds counterintuitive, but search engines have figured out what users want: comprehensive, up to date and relevant content will keep a visitor on your site longer and Google will reward you by helping them find your site more easily.
Instead of creating a keyword-laden attempt at ranking for a query, you need to become the authority on a topic. Strive to be the best resource on whatever topic you’re discussing. Instead of looking solely at your URL ranking, focus on your click-through rates and engagement metrics (frequency, duration of visit, # of pages seen). That’s what search engines care about in 2023.
Loyalty and trustworthiness – two key components marketers want to nurture – can definitely be driven by strong quality content and will also keep Google happy. What a match!
4. Content-powered revenue
Content isn’t just a branding tool or a means to bring shoppers into your funnel; it can deliver sales. Information marketers have used content as a way to drive revenue. Again, not a new concept but one that seems to have been rediscovered.
Whether you’re charging membership fees to access your content, you host a fee-based, private training group, sell reference products, or more, you can generate revenue from your high-quality content. You’ll want to set and track performance KPIs for content marketing efforts and treat them as seriously as you would dollars spent on ads.
5. Value-driven content made for customers
And, on the topic of content: Stop creating content that no one consumes. Content should meet the needs of the customer, add value to their experience, and convey your own authority in your profession. Brands are creating so much content today that users just don’t have time for subpar stuff. They will only interact with your content if they think it’s actually helpful. Google feels the same way: it assesses your content when deciding if and where your site goes in a search request. Look at this blog’s title; you know exactly what it’s about and how it’s valuable for you.
This will work for you if you really know your audience. This allows you to tailor content directly to their sought results. Of course, you can’t do that without data so track your audience’s needs via a smart CRM or data solution. That way patterns of desire or gaps will emerge.
6. User experience matters
It’s not that user experience never mattered. It’s just that consumers have higher expectations today than ever before. You can have the best content in the world — but if you give users a poor experience, it just won’t perform well. And your partner – Google – feels the same way.
This means you have to prioritize the user experience in terms of:
- Page speed
- Mobile performance
- Cohesive style and voice
- Image placement
- Image quality
- Button click speed and accuracy
- Working links
7. High-quality researched content
Since ‘fake news’ because a catchphrase, people are far more skeptical about misinformation. It isn’t enough to just make a statement — users want to see your bold statements and insights backed by data. They crave high-quality, well-researched content. And, once again, Google will give you gold stars for this, too. Infographics add another element of style and professionalism that will grab visitors’ attention. Sometimes, depicting the same content in multiple ways drives home a point for those who are visual learners rather than readers.
It’s great to put in the time and fully research your topic yet, having your own research team will make your material stand out even more. Plus, other sites will want to reference it if they have a related area of expertise or product line. They will link to your research as a source. Those credible backlinks add mega credibility to you and can give you a serious boost in SEO impact.
In fact, 48% of marketers say research reports produced the best results of any of their 2021 content marketing efforts.
8. Leverage data, AI, automation, and the metaverse
This is one of the biggest — and most daunting — content trends of 2023. While the broad neighborhood of your content likely won’t change year over year, the technology available to create that content is evolving at a rapid pace.
Technology allows you to collect an immense amount of data, which can help you personalize content to a scary individualized degree, producing more results.
Artificial intelligence (AI) can create content or supplement your existing content, allowing brands to generate more material in less time. AI isn’t good enough to write all of your original content, but it can certainly help generate more content in less time.
And be aware: Google sniffs out and spits out content it deems AI generated – very bad for search result placement or even inclusion.
Automation is a smart way to streamline certain aspects of content production, too. Simple setups like Zapier can push content and tasks around in your project management software, automatically generate video captions, and more. (let’s take a breath here; it’s a lot of stuff to take in, isn’t it?)
While it’s still early, plenty of other emerging tech can enhance your content. VR anyone?
Tech and consumer expectations might change, but 2023 will still be a banner year for content marketing. It’s your opportunity to expand focus on bringing human connection to the digital experience.
9. Podcasts remain dominant
This sector is still growing every year. In fact, US consumers listened to 15 billion hours of podcasts in 2021! And they don’t just listen; 60% of listeners report searching for a product after hearing about it on a podcast.
Like other content marketing trends, it’s important to approach podcasts as a way to deliver value to your customers. Having a guest whose information is wanted as well as entertaining (when possible: you want to focus on a speaker’s value; their light delivery will be a bonus). Your goal is to engage listeners quickly so they stick around.
While podcasts are still dominant, live chat rooms like Twitter Spaces, Clubhouse, and Discord allow listeners to enjoy or even participate in a live version of a podcast, just like a semi-scripted conversation where the unexpected can easily happen.
10. Consistency matters (this is not new as it has always been a key marketing element; learn more here)
Consumers lost a lot of trust in brands and institutions during the pandemic. Consistency is one of the ways you can build trust, both in the predictability of your content’s release and its subject matter.
Your brand should post at least a handful of times per month. That should be enough to guarantee the quality of the content while also staying top of mind with potential customers. It doesn’t all have to be through the same platform. As an example: a monthly newsletter, monthly blog and weekly live or recorded message on the platform that makes sense for you is an effective strategy. Just avoid overwhelming your audience with too much content. Striking a balance that builds trust doesn’t mean being a pest.
Content marketing stats; thanks to Adobe for these:
77% of B2B marketers say they changed their content strategy after the pandemic.
70% of brands changed their audience targeting and messaging after the pandemic.
68% of online experiences start with a search query.
46% of businesses want to spend more on content.
79% of brands use content to generate leads.
70% of consumers bought a product after seeing a video about it on YouTube (that includes me!).
84% of organizations follow a content strategy.
53% of mobile users will leave if your website loads in more than three seconds.
63% of B2B marketers use content to boost customer loyalty.
79% of B2B consumers care about content trustworthiness.
86% of marketers drive traffic to their website with video content.
Even if tech and consumer expectations change, 2023 will be a banner year for content marketing, especially when you focus on bringing human connection to the digital experience.
All these content marketing trends share one thing — an emphasis on customer experience and that’s always been the key to success in marketing. Want help with yours? You know how to find me ~