Content marketing has become a staple of many digital marketing strategies. The approach includes creating content that’s valuable and relevant and publishing it across various platforms. An effective content strategy aims to reach a specific audience to build trust by providing useful information instead of directly promoting products and services.
Building relationships with customers has long been an effective strategy for improving brand awareness and encouraging repeat customers. However, in the past, it was done on a smaller scale, carried out in different ways, and the types of content were limited. Today, modern technologies and methods, such as social media, are changing content marketing.
A content strategy from 10 years ago looks quite different from the ones used by successful businesses today. It’s a fast-paced world, and there’s no doubt that industry trends will shape and change content marketing strategies moving forward.
Looking ahead is the best way to keep a competitive advantage. With that in mind, we look at content marketing trends in 2023 and beyond. What will change and how can you adapt? Let’s find out.
Table of Contents
How Content Marketing Began
Content marketing is a rapidly changing field. However, it’s useful to look to its beginnings to understand how it started, its value, and how that shapes the content strategy you use today. What is content strategy? If you asked marketing professionals this in the 90s, they might think you were speaking a different language. Nevertheless, they were content marketers; they just didn’t know it yet.
The term was new, and the practice was in its early stages. The majority of content creation was offline, including white papers, pamphlets, and brochures.
Print advertising, direct mail, and trade exhibitions were the main channels for B2B and B2C communications. However, the intent is one that still remains today: providing value to target audiences as the focus.
By the 2000s, the internet was changing everything in many spheres of business, including content marketing. It took some time for a content strategy to go from being an innovation to becoming the norm. The focus on informing and educating continued, and the content quality was a priority.
The means of publishing materials and the ideas for how to use content effectively were still developing through the 2000s and the 2010s. To understand the evolution of content distribution and business goals from then to now, let’s explore some examples of content marketing strategy from that period.
A content marketing strategy from the 2000s relied heavily on written materials. They were the ideal format for including helpful information, and they were easy to distribute with the tools of the time. Web pages were the main asset in terms of owned media, and text with some images was the go-to format.
The focus wasn’t only on inbound marketing. Companies used other content formats to reach potential customers. Articles on relevant trade publication sites, white papers, email newsletters, and e-books to engage their target audience through content marketing. This helpful content allowed businesses to educate and engage with detailed information.
Brand Awareness and Trust
One aspect of the approach that isn’t affected by content marketing trends is the aim to build brand awareness and trust. The ways that companies have gone about the practice have changed over time and vary based on the industry. However, providing value in order to engage is always at the core of any content strategy.
Establishing trust through providing reliable information was apparent from the early stages of content marketing. It was achieved by producing high-quality content that delivered value and focused on the target audience. Crucially, it mentioned a brand without overly promoting a product or service. Industry professionals soon saw results and came to appreciate how valuable a content strategy is as a tool.
The Growth of Content Marketing
It was in the late 2000s and 2010s that content marketing hit a growth spurt and transformed. The internet was gaining a new structure, and new technologies were opening up possibilities. At the same time, content marketers were exploring new possibilities for creating content and publishing it.
It follows, then, that at that time, the way a business created its content strategy changed dramatically, too. A mix of in-house and external experts was used to deliver the strategy. The more of the marketing budget went towards this approach alongside advertising and PR, the ability to identify and target an audience was carried out.
Let’s explore some examples of content marketing strategies of the time based on the developments that they embraced.
Advances in technology transformed our lives, including how we behave and how marketers reach us. The internet, smartphones, apps, connectivity and high-speed connections are just some of the factors that have dramatically shaped the modern content marketing strategy.
Content marketing efforts adapted to the new ways of being visible, reaching customers and meeting their expectations. Not only did the costs and timescales change, compared to print media, but the size of the prospective audience and the level of targeting also underwent a massive shift. Read on to explore the content marketing trends that got successful businesses to where they are today.
Previously, the main concern was appealing to an audience. In the last few years, a new factor was introduced due to the growth of search engines like Google.
Content marketers now have to create content for people and for search engines. Search engine optimization means using various approaches, including keywords and metadata, to tell Google how relevant and useful your content is.
SEO became an important part of every content strategy. The internet has become a crowded space, and creating educational content wasn’t enough. Appearing high up in the search results became essential to get noticed, and the way to do it was by ticking Google’s boxes.
Companies like Google regularly update their rules and procedures for ranking content. Digital marketing strategies need to keep up with the industry trends to keep their position in the rankings and grow their organic traffic.
Social media usage began in the early 2000s. Platforms such as Myspace, Facebook, Reddit, and YouTube gave people new ways to interact online. It took some time for them to develop and spread. As they did, they caught the attention of content marketing professionals.
This new method of distributing information and creating a brand identity became an essential part of every content strategy. Having an online presence meant not only having a website but also using one or more profiles on social media platforms.
It’s a critical point in the evolution of content marketing as social media channels, such as Facebook, embraced the potential of using the platforms for marketing. To help content marketers, they provide insights. Not only do they act as success metrics, but they also help digital marketers tailor their social media content to their target audience and find the best ways to reach them.
Understanding the Buyer’s Journey
As we established earlier, a content marketing strategy revolves around reaching a target audience with engaging content. Content is one of the essential elements in that equation. The second and equally crucial part is understanding and reaching current and potential customers.
As marketing techniques and technologies have developed, content marketers have gained the tools to find out more about audiences, what they need, where they go for information, and what impresses, helps, and excites them. The evolution of our understanding of those three areas has shaped what compelling content marketing looks like today.
For content to be valuable, it needs to meet the needs of the audience. Effective content marketing should recognize and address pain points. It also needs to help people reach their goals and make their lives easier. It can’t achieve any of that unless content creation begins with audience research.
A company needs to know who will buy its products or services in order to know who to communicate with when it comes to potential customers. It starts with knowing who the target audience is in terms of demographics. On top of that, a content strategy should include audience research that addresses the different searches that will come up during the buying process.
Tools have extended beyond surveys. Marketers can now look at how long people spend on web pages, which elements received more engagement, and where visitors came from before they reached a company’s website. All of this data influences what types of content are created and what it says.
A successful content strategy doesn’t rely on buyers getting all their information from one place. The evolution of content marketing has included expansion to several platforms. Marketing now relies on advertising, organic traffic to websites, social media posts, affiliate marketing, and paid media. There are several ways for your target audience to introduce your brand.
Since the number of potential platforms has expanded, content marketers must find out where their audience gets its information. The next step is to create content that fits with the platform and meets the customer’s needs.
Digital marketing teams respond to audience behavior and content marketing trends in different ways. One is by diversifying platforms and formats, such as prioritizing short form video for social media.
Engaging and Resonating
The way that content marketing has developed has also been affected by our improved understanding of what resonates with audiences.
Social media is one current source that many content marketers use to understand what encourages audiences to engage and what doesn’t. It means that hot topics, as well as long-term issues, can be addressed during content production.
Today a content strategy is more precisely tailored to what is valuable to an audience. Social media posts, articles, white papers, and blogs can engage and resonate by highlighting and addressing issues. In turn, it’s helped businesses see its potential, which has led to its growth.
Content Marketing in 2023
In the past few years, content marketing trends have shown how flexible your content strategy needs to be. The pace of the evolution of content marketing is faster than ever. To keep producing relevant content, a marketing strategy needs to look to what will be popular in the future instead of relying on what worked before.
New technologies will change our capabilities and will also affect the behavior of existing customers. An effective content marketing strategy needs to adapt. That includes harnessing new software and technologies, embracing new platforms, doing more with less, and adjusting to meet more specific goals.
To show you what that looks like, we’re exploring some content marketing examples of how successful companies are adapting their approach in 2023.
Greater Focus on ROI
Many companies are experiencing or expecting budget cuts. The need to do more with less will affect marketing. It means that many content marketers will be focusing their efforts on their content and campaigns that deliver ROI.
A key part of any content strategy won’t just be the expected ROI but the ways it can be demonstrated to the people in charge of the purse strings. Metrics that reveal which content works best and on which platform will help teams target their audiences with quality content over quantity production.
Instead of quantity production, in 2023, content marketing will revolve around adapting the same content for different channels. As part of a content marketing strategy, teams will use emerging tools. Those tools will help them turn one piece of content into something that can be used in multiple ways.
Content marketers will create pieces that can be used on several social media channels, a blog, a white paper, and as an infographic.
You can expect your content strategy to focus on using tools that allow you to reach your audience in multiple locations. It’s likely that automation will play a greater role in multi-channel distribution to keep creators focused on quality.
User-generated content isn’t new to content marketing. However, in terms of content marketing trends, we can expect more companies to rely on it in 2023. It comes with some costs, but is an excellent way to do more with less.
It also helps you focus your content strategy on several parts of the sales funnel at once. The approach attracts new audiences that you might not otherwise reach while also building relationships with your existing audience.
Another advantage of user-generated content is that you can’t help but stay on trend. If you’re sharing what your users are already creating, then you’ll be speaking their language in a content format that resonates.
Video content continues to attract the attention of content marketers in 2023. It’s a form of content marketing that allows brands to show their personality and get a message across quickly.
As of April 2023, YouTube has 2.527 billion global users, which shows that the platform holds a lot of potential for reaching your target audience. Adding more video content to your content strategy is a move successful companies are already making this year.
Detailed Answers to Big Questions
Content marketing continues to be about competing to be seen in a crowded online space. Your content strategy will need to adapt by finding the best way to answer your audience’s needs.
Looking at your content marketing strategy and how it delivers value to your customers is instrumental in 2023. Video content is one way to rank well. However, that should be combined with using a long form article to provide detailed answers to big questions.
Small issues with simple answers can be read straight from the search pages. However, you’re more likely to get visitors who appreciate you when you tackle the bigger issues with more detailed information.
The Future of Content Marketing
We know where content marketing will go in the next year, but what about the foreseeable future? For a content marketing strategy to keep delivering, it needs to move with the times as they arrive, not three months later. Many of the content marketing examples we’ve already discussed will continue to serve you. However, it’s crucial to be aware that your content strategy will need to adjust and adapt several times in the next few years.
With that in mind, we take a look at the content marketing trends that are appearing on the horizon. Additionally, we provide some tips on how content marketers can anticipate and adapt.
Target Market and Behavior Change
Content marketing always has to change and adapt, that’s not just because of advances in technology. The target market for products and services shifts as new generations emerge into the workplace and increase their buying power.
Your content strategy needs to identify who could use your product or service, what they want to know, and where they go to get answers. While one group might have relied more on blogs, another will use YouTube videos and the next will rely on social media.
According to Statista, 38.4% of active TikTok users are aged 18 to 24 and 32.5% are aged 25-34. It makes sense to include it in your content marketing strategy if you need to appeal to those demographics now or in the future.
Content marketing has developed SEO around people typing their searches. The popularity of voice assistants and smart speakers is changing that.
Your content strategy now needs to be optimized for people using voice search. Using natural language that takes into consideration how people speak is one critical aspect. Another is to focus on long-tail keywords to cover more eventualities and allow the voice assistant to understand what you’re providing.
It’s the elephant in the room for many professions and industries. While there might be some interventions to better regulate the introduction of AI, now’s the time to explore how it can improve your content strategy.
It’s up to individual businesses to find out how AI tools can work for them. It has its limits and its uses. Testing those to streamline your processes without losing your authenticity and credibility will be a balance that you’ll need to find.
You don’t have to embrace all of the content marketing trends all at once, but it’s best to be educated on the ways AI could benefit your brand and customers.
Content marketing is based on the current structure of the internet. Many tech professionals see that changing in the near future to become Web3. How it will work is still a work in progress, which makes it challenging for your content strategy.
Some points to explore include decentralization and immersive technologies. Augmented reality, virtual reality, the metaverse, and NFTs could become more mainstream, giving you new ways to reach and interact with your audience.
SEO Topic Clusters
Content marketing is about keeping up with Google algorithms to stay relevant in the search rankings. A specific answer to one question won’t be enough to get your recognition from Google in the months and years to come.
Content marketers will need to focus on SEO topic clusters in their content strategy. It means using several keywords around the topic you’re writing about to demonstrate your expertise in that area.
It won’t just be the written word that helps. Mixed media, including original photos, audio, infographics and video content, will make information more accessible to customers and Google.
More Interactions and Experiences
With so many digital advances, we’ll be at risk of content marketing no longer connecting with our audiences. One way to avoid that is to use digital tools to shape a content strategy that allows for more interactions.
Creating communities and producing content that promotes a sense of belonging is one avenue. Another is interactive content with animations, quizzes or live shopping experiences. Increasing loyalty and gaining first-party data will be two additional benefits of these approaches.
A cost-effective way of embracing this trend is turning your best-performing existing content into something interactive.
Human Voices and Creators
A focus on people-first content marketing will mean that being relatable, showing empathy and delivering true value will be a priority. Not only will it help your reach audiences by meeting Google’s requirements, but it’ll improve engagement once customers find you.
According to a survey by Deloitte, 89% of high-growth brands agree that they need to look to creativity to find success in their content marketers and their content strategy. The human element of using creative text, images and videos is one of the most relatable and engaging tools we have.
Changing Consumer Expectations
One of the biggest challenges that content marketers face is keeping up with consumer expectations. Due to many of the content marketing trends we’ve already mentioned, expectations are changing rapidly. It’s hard for your content marketing strategy to adapt as quickly.
Marketing departments, job roles, and companies are slowly evolving to create a structure that prioritizes content creation. One of the best ways to adapt is to put in place the roles, equipment, and talent that can bring creativity and a fluid way of working.
That could include finding visual media experts and outsourcing copywriting. Another change might be to bring in new tools to automate some processes to allow you to focus on the creative side of the work.
Evolve with Content Marketing
Listening to your audience and finding new ways to help them is one of the best ways to evolve your approach to content marketing. The first step is staying aware of new technologies and trends. Next, you can select the tools that allow you to provide more value to your target audience.
The more you engage, build communities, and aim to deliver accessible content, the more you’ll learn about your audience’s pain points. You’ll find out what can help them and how to meet them where they’re at to provide insight, educate, and stay relevant to their needs.