The CMA 2019 Content Marketing Trends

December 18th, 2018

We are just over a month into 2019 where so much has happened already. We asked our members to help us in predicting the next 11 months. So here’s what our experts predict the rest of 2019 will look like…

1. Data-driven content

Many CMA members are already using data to power their content creation and distribution processes. Several of our experts predict that brands and agencies will use data even more widely next year to ensure that the content they produce is ever more accurately targeted.

Cameron Sharpe, Head of Insight, Progressive Content
“One of the biggest pitfalls for B2B content published online is the interruption of unexpected audiences – providing inconsistent and unreliable engagement numbers for clients who are looking for micro-insights from a smaller, finite user base.

Agencies and clients are frequently reluctant to confront this reality – preferring instead to focus on audience volume and eventual growth over time. Yet, with analytics technologies offering increasing accountability around audience breakdown, 2019 could be the year where the subject of content wastage becomes impossible to ignore.”

Emily Clayfield, Senior Content Marketing Consultant at Builtvisible
“With an increasing array of trends and exciting formats set to emerge in 2019, our hope is that brands will not lose sight of the meaning behind their content marketing. We encourage brands to have a laser focus on audience-specific competitive landscapes to find the most lucrative gaps and opportunities for their content. This approach may not always mean they get to produce big budget campaigns using sexy new tech, but it does mean they reach their valuable audiences by serving them content exactly when, where and how they want it. Equally, if the research shows that the opportunity is there, brands can better justify the need to try the latest trend!

With more and more focus on ROI for content, we also predict an increase in demand for content performance measurement and analysis. With that, we hope that 2019 brings a renewed desire from brands not only to measure the performance of their content but also to actively feed learnings back into the process. Here’s to a year of better content for all!”

Peter Cowley, CEO, Spirit Media
“Companies are starting to demand different content variants to be delivered to different target audiences. Content Marketing (technology as well as human) developments allow different variants of content to be pieced together to create ‘bespoke’ content for specific target audiences/regions etc. Some of this becomes data-driven creative and it is becoming automated.”

Olga Smirnova, Product Marketing Manager, SEMrush Content Product
“I think that the research-driven approach in content marketing is the foundation for all the following trends in 2019, such as personalisation, interactive content and video. Companies are moving towards quality content over quantity because they recognize there is lots of good content, of all types and formats, that unfortunately doesn’t work. As a reaction, brands will prefer to invest more resources in preliminary research and insights finding, and create less content, but tailored to their audience’s preferences. The main focus will be on audience research, the experience that content provides to them and data that helps to develop an effective content strategy.”

2. Content personalisation and interactivity

Content marketers have talked about personalisation for many years now. The difference is that in 2019 they will have the tools to personalise content efficiently, inexpensively and effectively.

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Clare Jonik, MD, Future Fusion
“It is truly engaging for someone to receive relevant and tailored marketing communications. If you are reading something online and it is specifically relevant to you and there is interactivity on the page, that will be very successful.”

Saj Nazir, Head of Integrated Delivery, WM Content, Wavemaker
“The personalisation of content offers a huge opportunity to engage with customers. By connecting with your target audience and your individual customers simultaneously, will ensure your content is always relevant to everyone who receives it. Creating dialogue and giving your customers a chance to engage further with your brand and enabling them to be a part of the content creation process builds trust.  Social platforms and software advancements now allow brands to create content that can easily be personalised while allowing for UGC and a higher rate of customer engagement.”

Shaun Hill, Content Director at iProspect UK
“In 2019 brands that cut through the noise and react to topical events that will most resonate with audiences. For example, Lidl uses reactive content to build the brand, this allows Lidl to stay relevant and be front of mind. It’s important to note that high production value is important, but being topical at the right time is going to see brands continually build their reputation online and into the future.”

3. Automation

Another area where technology is sure to impact on content marketing is via increased use of automation for both content creation and distribution. There are now many Artificial Intelligence-based startups in the UK developing tools for marketers which will take some of the heavy lifting out of short-form content – especially if created for social media. By the end of 2019 consumers will be reading content unaware it wasn’t written by humans.

Clare Jonik, MD, Future Fusion
“We will see a dramatic increase in content marketing automation. The companies that will succeed with this will not use the ‘set it and forget it’ approach though as it can damage the brand and does nothing for them being thought-leaders in the industry. If a company uses automation to create ideas based on scanning the market for top trends and similar posts, it can then be tailored and personalised manually.

A.I software is becoming an increasing part of the marketers’ toolkit. These systems are incredibly good at identifying opportunities for delivering specific content at specific points in campaigns. Fortunately for Content Marketing specialists, they cannot yet write said content in the same way a professional CM specialist can.

I think this will lead to an ever-increasing focus upon quality and timing of content. CM agencies will need to be very agile to respond.”

4. Changes in the type of content

Brands and agencies will look again at the type of content they create in 2019. The challenges are immense. So much content is constantly created that only the best work now stands out from the crowd.

Giulia Lanucci, Brand Strategist, Know Thy Brand
“I personally believe that the most exciting changes will happen in the typology of content created. With the sheer volume of content pieces produced and shared every day, businesses will have to come up with something truly spectacular to stand out from the crowd. Interactive content has been there for a while but as more platforms are becoming available to create this type of content we might see more of it both in terms of quantity and creativity.

The content marketing landscape has changed so dramatically over the past few years that I can only look forward to discovering what 2019 will bring!”

Lotta Heikkeri, Content Director at the Spoon Helsinki
“Brands have to be more than just a product. They must have the courage to move away from a marketing tone of voice, to shift focus from yourself to the outside world. In short, they must explain complex topics in a simple, entertaining way. This is especially true for B2B brands with complex offers and long sales cycles.

Companies have an excellent opportunity to make sense of the world; to tie their offer to the bigger picture.”

5. Brand activism/social innovation

In an era of controversial and divisive political movements brands have already started nailing their colours to the mast. Brand activism is likely to be even more widespread in 2019 as companies hitch themselves to the causes that most resonate with their target audiences.

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Simon Baker, MD, TCO London
“The biggest trend for next year will be that brands are moving their focus from brand purpose to brand activism – and their content will need to tell deeper stories to reflect this.”

Stuart Stubbs, Founder, Navigate Video
“Without a doubt, 2019 will be the year where brands will stop paying lip service to content marketing and begin putting their values at the core of their communications strategy. As research shows, more and more younger audiences are basing their interactions with brands on whether they agree with and support the company’s ethics. It’s up to brands, as a result, to find the best ways to authentically communicate these values.

Brands will, therefore, be shifting their focus on giving audiences a better insight into who they are, what they believe in and what they stand for. By communicating what they care about through a content marketing strategy with video at its heart, brands will be able to adapt to the more socially-conscious audience.”

6. Trust and transparency

The last twelve months have been very difficult for some social media platforms as they have lurched from one PR disaster after another. For brands 2019 is a year in which they will need to focus on core values, such as trust and transparency, to help them engineer authentic and meaningful conversations with their audiences.

Rebecca Alderson, Content Projects Specialist for Redactive
“This year, Facebook lost face through the Cambridge Analytica scandal, MyFitnessPal was one of many who failed to protect their customer data in a security breach, and the BeLeave campaign was accused of collusion. In a climate of “fake news” and mistrust, the key to content marketing for 2019, and in fact the only way forward in continuing to trade effectively, is establishing a direct and transparent form of communication, using content as a means to build trust with your target audience.

Remaining passive is no longer an option. There are several key ways to establish trust via content channels, focussing on opening up a transparent dialogue. 1. Create a two-way conversation via surveys and polls that invite your audience to have their say. This also gives you invaluable market insight and access to data that can be used to leverage marketing plans or adjust sales strategies; 2. Take a stand on politics and be reactive to the news – offer an opinion. Make it clear you are able to adapt to potential market changes, and, if applicable, utilise this to assert a moral standing; 3. Collaborate with institutions and professional bodies to remove the appearance of a sales motive, and in doing so, benefit from their authoritative voice. Professional bodies also have direct communication channels to your potential customer base.”  

7. Growth of video

The ‘pivot to video’ hasn’t finished yet, and new forms of video such as Immersive video and VR are likely to have a significant impact on 2019.

Mats Michael Olsen, Video Production Manager at Spoon Oslo
“Videos are predicted to account for 82% of global internet traffic by 2021 (source). New emerging video formats will have an impact on how brands connect with their audiences.

Immersive or 360° video and Virtual Reality (VR) have potential. VR headsets could become a household item over the next couple of years, and that could change the game.       

At this point we are making so many versions of the same video, can we expect responsive video in the future? Are we ready for long format vertical video? Will we flip our living room TV? Will cinema become vertical? Only time will tell.”    

Adam Neale, Managing Director, Bold Content
“2019 will be the year of bold and daring strategies for the use of video, especially in businesses use of documentaries. Businesses have become familiar with the documentary format, having used its techniques to tell case study stories, customer testimonials, explainer videos and the like. However, the corporate documentary format is becoming familiar and audiences are used to seeing the standard talking head shot, cut with B-roll.”

“In order to grab attention brands, need to try something different. It could be as simple as the use of creative editing techniques or adding a layer of animation or it could go as far as subverting the genre conventions. The potential for positive PR, winning awards, film festival entries, should not be underestimated. The uplift in positive brand sentiment from a great short documentary film can be a powerful marketing tool.”

8. Centrality of voice

Whether it be podcasts or skills for smart speakers, voice content moved to the centre stage in 2018. Managing the development and distribution of that content will pose significant problems for brands in 2019, but also create exciting new opportunities.

“Next year, will see the continued adoption of voice assistants, and the marketplace for Skills will continue to expand. However, in 2019 people will begin to realise that voice assistants aren’t just a wave that needs riding for a year or two to keep up with trends.

Voice is about bringing all channels together and making the process to purchase easier for the consumers. Businesses need to be able to respond with content that is relevant and personalised to the consumer and marketers will start to realise that creating skills for the sake of it is just a waste of everyone’s time and money.

People need to invest the time and resources into it just like any other services offered at the moment. The conversation has to be cross-channel as voice is not a replacement for screens, it’s a useful addition.”

9. Ongoing shift to mobile

The move from desktop to mobile isn’t ceasing anytime soon…

Shaun Hill, Content Director at iProspect UK
“With Google adopting a mobile-first approach in its most recent update, a real focus on both device and technology needs to be considered in any stage of content creation. Your website needs to be optimised for mobile and site load speed. How the content is displayed will be vital ranking factors for Google as we move towards a more mobile consuming world. In terms of devices, technology will continue to evolve next year and those who are able to generate content with technology in mind for their relevant vertical will win. We’ve seen in the travel industry that drone technology has made travel content inspirational. Additionally, brands like ASOS have used video on its product pages to demonstrate how an item will look, this undoubtedly helps it to stand out against competitors.”

10. E-commerce/content marketing

We will see more and more brands selling directly to consumers via social media in 2019.

Peter Cowley, CEO, Spirit Media
“E-commerce as part of social media will become an integral part of content marketing plans…..we are just seeing the green shoots of this in 2018 from retail and gambling companies.”

11. Rebirth of Print

One of the most interesting phenomena in content marketing in recent years has been the way that digital companies have chosen to experiment with print. We will be releasing a free industry report on the rebirth of print in Jan 2019, which will explore this. 

Releasing January 2019

Darren Sital-Singh, Partner, FDR
“Many digital businesses (Facebook, Google, AirBnB, Net-a-Porter, Loaf, Dollar Shave Club) have launched printed publications because they recognise that the medium can reach and engage with their target audience in a different mindset which is more receptive to storytelling on a deeper level. The digital space is a crowded one so the opportunity to reach your audience intimately still remains an attractive one.”

Alan Dykes, Head of Digital Marketing, Dialogue
“Digital channels can be an assault on the senses, sometimes leading to low engagement and content snacking, with little impact. It can be so hard to gain and just so much harder to retain people’s attention for any length of time with 1000s of other possibilities knocking on their eyeballs.”

“Print is something you can relax with, and when you’ve picked it up it doesn’t try to distract you from the reason you engaged with it in the first place. Print is more me-time versus the persistent, attention demanding, often pestering rigours of many digital channels.”

On the 23rd of January 2019, we The CMA will be running the first of many Content Breakfasts throughout 2019. This Content Breakfast will focus on the year ahead, in which our speakers will share their tips and tricks for the making the most out of your content marketing whilst reflecting on what was learnt in 2018. To keep up to date with all of our events and receive our weekly thought leadership newsletter please sign up below.

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