Content Marketers, Beware of 2020 Trend Overload


As one who works primarily with content, I’ve been reading a lot lately about what to expect for my industry in 2020.

First, this is not a ‘Top Content Marketing Trends for 2020’ article. There are loads of those available. (In fact, I recommend this oneOpens a new window from marketing analysis and advisory firm Convince & Convert, an excellent, straightforward overview of their top content marketing predictions for the next 12 months. Or thisOpens a new window , from the Content Marketing Institute, based on nearly 100 industry-expert opinions on the topic.)

But if you read half the articles I have, I wouldn’t blame you for breaking into a sweat over the future. There are, uh, many content marketing trends to prepare for. Ever-growing demand for more personalization. Augmented reality. Optimizing content for voice search. Creating video content. Podcasts. The list feels endless.

Bottom line: Producing expert, trustworthy content simply won’t cut it any more. Your content has to be top quality — and not only in terms of the expertise, authority and trust of the information.Opens a new window  It must be best-in-class at grabbing consumer focus.

In fact, many of the most important content marketing rules touted in recent years no longer even apply.Opens a new window For instance, many experts believe that white papers, webinars and other standard tutorials and educational content aren’t enough in this evolving age of content. Rather, with countless players in ‘the content game,’ the quality of your content is just as vital as its inherent ability to capture audience attention.

With most businesses now producing original digital content to help establish expertise, boost lead generation and support sales, how can you ensure that your marketing material will stand out against the noise hammering online audiences?

Content is useless if it isn’t engaging

Almost every content-related prediction I’ve seen for 2020 hews to a single element: engagement. Simple? Not quite: The concept of engagement is becoming increasingly broad and hard to define. Not so hard in social media, with specific KPIs such as shares, likes and comments that measure content appeal.

Would it were that simple in the wider world of content, Concrete metrics like traffic, clickthrough rates, impressions and backlinks offer insights, yet they’re increasingly too narrow.

Look at the major trends predicted by marketing experts and you might get my point:

Most, if not all, assessments of upcoming content trends dissect the most effective types of content and formats. For example, I’ve seen video and live-streaming, AR-powered content and voice-activated content formats thrown around a lot. Each of these follows audience consumption patterns in order to engage individuals through the content formats and types of media they consume most.

The personal touch

Some of the major trends identified relate to what I call “the personal touch.” Don’t mistake this for “personalization.” It goes deeper, starting with a brand’s approach to its content strategy — and encompasses the need for customized marketing material that targets consumer preferences and behaviors.

There’s user-generated content, arguably the top 2020 marketing prediction. UGC shifts the focus of a company’s content from the corporate brand to real people, giving it authenticity and making audiences feel closer to the story.

Meanwhile, the content experience is also commonly heralded as essential to marketing campaigns. As Tereza Litsa explains, “content experience is a growing term that refers to the role that sits between content marketing and UXOpens a new window . It’s about reviewing how you can improve your content, your website and even your strategy to ensure that your readers are spending more time on your posts.”

These drive to the same point: improving your engagement. Syed Balkhi aptly explains the connection between the personal touch and engagement in EntrepreneurOpens a new window : “When you can have one-on-one, personal conversations with your audience, you not only create a more human buying experience, but you can learn a lot about your audience, which will help you create more relevant content and marketing messages in the future.”

Don’t get overwhelmed

It makes sense that engagement is now the name of the game considering that it is one of the few tangible ways we can gauge the effectiveness of content-based campaigns. Moreover, as I wrote in OctoberOpens a new window , “when measuring campaign success, marketers have realized that consumer engagement is arguably the metric that has the single biggest impact on ROI.”

Understandably, though, it’s challenging to concoct the best strategy for your brand. My advice: Don’t get bogged down in the dozens of trends you’ll read about. Instead, figure out which are key for your industry, your company and — most important of all — your audience.

In short, ask these two questions, in succession: What does you audience value most? What will engage your clients and prospects?” The answers should serve as the guideposts for whatever you do next.

Here’s wishing you a great decade.