Content marketing is a fast-paced industry with trends and changes often dictated by outside forces. Let’s say Google decides to change their algorithm and suddenly, certain types of content rank higher than others. So content marketers need to adapt to this and focus their attention on what will now work. While there are dramatic shifts on the horizon, it is important to know both what the trends are for the coming year and what tools can help you manage them – without neglecting your evergreen stuff.
Before we start looking at trends and tools, there’s the eternal question – is content marketing still important? According to Agency Inc and any number of SEO Experts, the answer is a resounding ‘yes’. 89% of B2B marketers and 86% of B2C marketers report that content marketing is key to increasing leads and driving their brand forward. Creating content that is relevant, valuable and then working to distribute it to the right people is at the core of what marketers need to do.
One of the most important tools in the marketer’s toolbox remains scheduling tools. These allow you to plan ahead, create content in batches and look at the big picture of what you are posting across your different channels. There are lots of them, some specialising in social media or specific sites while others offering a broader, editorial calendar style approach. For simple social media scheduling, tools like Buffer, Hootsuite and Post Planner are easy to use and cost-effective. Post Planner and SmarterQueue both have facilities to save RSS feeds to help with curated content while tools such as Edgar and CoSchedule have evergreen content features that allow you to repeatedly share the same content a number of times. This works on the principle that your audience never sees everything you post so posting it more than once is a good idea.
Video has been a big deal for content marketers for the last year or two and shows no sign of slowing into next year. In fact, nearly half of marketers plan to use video as part of their content marketing efforts, according to HubSpot, with YouTube remaining a top option. Some 46% of them also plan to add Facebook video to their content creation calendar. The key with video is that while quality is key, you don’t need to attempt to make a short Hollywood blockbuster to create useful video content. A good smartphone with a sturdy tripod, some recent lighting and sometimes a nice microphone can create a simple and quality recording studio for your content. You can also use tools like Lumen5 to create image-based text videos if your clients are a little camera shy. Or tools such as Magisto that uses artificial intelligence to help edit the video to make marketing content in the shortest time.
Hardly a day goes by without some marketing guru or SEO expert remind us that social media is great but is rented land – and the landlord can pull the lease at any time. This means there is only one marketing avenue that is wholly yours – your email list. Cultivating and working on that email list is another huge part of content marketing into the New Year. There are tons of great tools to help with email. The core of it is getting the right email subscriber software to manage your subscribers, your opt-in freebies, pop-ups and other content. Examples include MailChimp, MailerLite, ConvertKit and Drip, all of which have different plans and facilities, depending on what your business needs.
As marketers, it is easy to forget that not every piece of content is designed to sell. With social media, for example, many marketers are realising that traffic isn’t always easy to get but you can build a following of interested people who will see your content and respond to it. The key to this is creating a good selection of content and remembering that not all content needs to sell. Creating that useful and interesting content can be hard work but there are ways to do it. For example, something as simple as quote graphics can generate surprising amounts of interest and tools such as Canva or PicMonkey is easier to use than Photoshop. Skitch is an app from the Evernote team and is perfect to annotate screenshots to make how-to articles and eBooks more visual.
Marketing is a hands-on job but there are ever more elements that you can automate. I’ve mentioned scheduling tools and email subscription tools, all of which have an element of automation to them. There are also tools to help automate marketing efforts to ensure that you spend only the time you need to on each task. HubSpot is an example of an integrated inbound marketing system. Here you can create personalised landing pages, web pages, emails and more for your customers while keeping track of their journey with the company. Infusionsoft is another integrated sales and marketing platform that includes CRM, automation, e-commerce and even payment solutions. These tools show there is a lot you can ‘set and forget’ without making marketing seem too robotic.
Finally, the only way to see what works remain through the use of analytics and this is a trend that is growing next year as more people want more data about their marketing efforts. Google Analytics remains the top free tool but there are lots of paid versions that can offer more detailed information when this is needed. With the Search Console tool, also being a handy free tool to assess data. MOZ lets you manage social media, SEO campaigns and more from a single dashboard and includes their famous ‘domain authority’ information. SEMRush is another that lets you track keywords and both paid and organic campaigns. Also, remember that many sites offer their own analytics to help measure your efforts. Twitter and Facebook both have good analytics and business accounts on Instagram can access information. Pinterest has analytics too, although a little limited.
These are a selection of trends and evergreen topics in the marketing world and some of the tools that can help you with them. Using the right tools not only helps you make informed decisions and get into the latest trends but measure what works and minimalize the time it takes to do it.