The future of content marketing is a topic on the mind of every content marketing agency and freelance content marketer. So what does the industry have in store for us this year? How can I keep up with the latest content marketing trends? What can I do to beat my competition and reach my target audience?
The content marketing industry has already undergone numerous changes. We’ve seen new content formats arise, we’ve seen social media platforms gain popularity, and we’ve watched as search engines unleashed new, smarter algorithms.
What do you need to know about content marketing in 2023 and beyond to ensure you stay on top of your game and deliver the best possible results to the businesses you work with?
Long-Form Content Will Continue To Rank
A content marketing trend we’ve been seeing for a while will remain at the forefront of the industry in the future as well: quality over quantity.
Writing in-depth content that provides real value and assistance to readers is probably the most crucial element of a well-rounded content marketing strategy. We’re talking about content written from an informational and helpful standpoint rather than a sales one.
Gone are the days of producing dozens of short articles every day. After Google’s helpful content update, it has become quite clear that evergreen content written for a specific audience will rank much better than pieces whose sole purpose is to serve as a vessel for a large number of keywords.
How do you fit high-quality content into your content strategy?
First, you analyze your customer’s interests and the pain points they are looking to solve. Then, you create blog posts and articles that provide the answers they need.
Let’s look at an example to determine what quality content looks like. Going’s guide on how to find cheap flights in 2023 checks all the important boxes:
- While it targets one specific long-tail keyword (how to find cheap flights), it includes many other relevant keywords and keyword strings that both help it rank and make it more informative.
- It takes into account the short attention span of modern audiences and is broken up into numerous headings.
- The headings themselves stand out significantly on the page, making the article easy to skim.
- There are plenty of helpful photos in the post, showing the reader exactly what they need to do.
- It answers reader questions.
- It contains plenty of relevant and useful internal links.
- It is written in a clear, casual, and easy-to-understand voice.
This type of post will always help you reach your content marketing goals faster, even though it will take longer to produce than an 800-word SEO-focused piece.
Short-Form Content Works Best In Video Format
But what about short-form content? With the average attention span of potential customers at just 8.25 seconds, isn’t there room for a content type that will not require extreme effort and focus?
If you want to produce something short and sweet, the form of content you’re looking for is video. And not just any kind — think video specifically aimed at social media platforms.
Google, which incidentally owns YouTube, has started ranking relevant Shorts in search results. While some topics will be better aligned with written content (i.e., complex, evergreen topics that require you to provide lots of information), short video content is great for giving brief answers or tackling brief questions.
LYFE Marketing, which offers social media marketing services, makes the best of YouTube Shorts and gives lots of bite-sized information that is incredibly useful to their audience. Their most popular clip has 90k views, but they consistently see thousands of eyes on their content.
As the Instagram algorithm also favors Reels, content marketing teams must refocus on producing snackable content that generations addicted to scrolling can consume quickly and effortlessly. Note that this is also a great opportunity to share user-generated content!
Interactive Content Will Gain More Traction
Digital technologies today allow customers and consumers to interact with brands in unprecedented ways. There are interactive TV shows, not to mention VR and AR marketing strategies, that allow businesses to reach key audiences and keep them entertained and engaged for longer.
In the digital marketing world, the simplest (i.e., most affordable and least complex to create) way to boost engagement is to create interactive pieces of content.
Here’s why you should be creating interactive content:
- Given its very nature, interactive content sees higher engagement rates than static pieces.
- If you gate the content, it increases and improves the data you collect about your audience.
- It creates loyal audiences as people get more invested in your brand and product.
- It is more shareable and lets you go viral.
- It boosts time on the page and reduces bounce rate, improving rankings.
The types of interactive content you can create are varied and provide plenty of room for creativity. Here’s a nice example of a quiz that helps you choose the right dog breed. For starters, it’s super helpful. But on top of that, the quiz nails the data-collection element of interactive content while also remaining extremely user-friendly.
When you gate your content, you run the risk of alienating certain customers who refuse to share their personal information with you. Others will just want to know the results and give you their email without a fuss.
This website offers both the opportunity to get the results and to sign up for their email list. If you are a dog lover, chances are you will do the latter.
The main goal is to offer a valuable, personalized experience. Take a look at this clever anagram-solving tool. It provides great value, and the experience is completely personalized, as it helps solve the anagram you’re struggling with. It’s 100% interactive and a high-quality traffic-driving tool at the same time.
Video Content Remains Popular With All Audiences
To understand why video is such an important part of the future of content marketing and why you need it as a part of your content marketing strategy, let’s take a look at Wyzowl’s report on the state of this branch of the industry.
Video marketing can help you:
- Increase consumer’s understanding of your product or service
- Grow brand awareness
- Increase website traffic
- Generate qualified leads
- Increase conversion rates
What does the future hold for this type of content? It will certainly continue to thrive in short form across social media. Moreover, it should be used to educate and entertain your customers on your website as well.
Explainer videos are a great option to consider, as are how-tos, industry insights, Q&A style videos, video podcasts, etc.
Take a look at Slack’s video marketing strategy for inspiration. They cover all of their bases very well with how-to videos and tips on growing your business with their solution. Additionally, they take the time to introduce their team members and make you, the consumer, feel more like a part of the family.
Don’t forget to include video content in your opt-in email campaigns as well, as this remains a form of marketing that has a great ROI and is supremely effective in helping you drive quality traffic.
E-E-A-T Starts To Take Over
What was once E-A-T (Expertise-Authoritativeness-Trustworthiness) has become increasingly important, especially after the latest search engine algorithm updates we’ve seen recently. Google has added another E to the mix to represent Experience and is now looking for authors to demonstrate it in order to rank well.
This is especially important for all YMYL (your money or your life) businesses, i.e., those who work in the health and finance sectors, in the broadest sense of the terms.
One thing content creators and content teams should be doing in 2023 and beyond is focusing on the biographies of their authors and contributors. Anonymous articles are no longer going to be nearly as rankable or as authoritative ones.
This is especially true for lengthy articles that need to be backed by either an expert writer or an industry expert. Even if you can’t get one to author the piece, at least ask them to review it and add their seal of approval.
Take a look at this guide on medical alert systems. While written by a content writer, it has been reviewed by an RN with 15 years of experience in senior care. This instantly elevates the post’s E-A-T score and makes it stand out.
Ahrefs does something very similar. They have proven the expertise and experience of their Head of Content, Joshua, with his detailed biography.
When you read his posts, you find plenty of hands-on examples demonstrating his knowledge and understanding of Ahrefs and the overall SEO landscape.
Content Will Become Even More Customer-Centric
In order to stand out and truly grab the attention and devotion of your customers, you will need to create content that focuses increasingly on them and their needs and structure it so people want to read it.
Boosting customer experience will require you to take stock of the customer journey stage a lead is in and create articles, videos, or visual content that matches their needs.
Online audiences are spoiled for choice, and they are very well aware of the fact that they can find whatever they need somewhere else. You may just be their first, but not last, port of call.
By using search engine optimization tactics to match search intent, writing quality copy, and aligning every aspect of your digital marketing strategy, you can reach a wider audience and convert them over time.
This means you need to find the right balance between features- and benefits-oriented writing and delve very deep into the real needs of your target audience. Analyze the data you have collected in your Search Console and Analytics and employ the strategies that have worked in your best-performing content across the board.
Mobile-First Is No Longer An Option
Mobile and desktop usage are currently neck and neck. Google, however, uses the mobile version of the website when ranking it, so it is no longer optional to have a mobile-friendly website. It is now an absolute necessity.
Mobile commerce is on the rise, and shoppers will often browse a brand’s store from a mobile device, even if they end up converting on a desktop. If you offer a lousy mobile experience, you will effectively be killing your chances of growth.
How do you optimize for mobile first?
- Ensure ease of navigation
- Consider thumb placement when designing CTAs
- Eliminate pop-ups
- Ensure fast loading times
- Test on real devices, not just in an isolated environment
Don’t just aim to make your website responsive: create a separate experience for mobile and desktop users. Don’t alter the content of your pages too much, but do carefully consider the formatting and informational hierarchy. Ensure images are high quality but that they don’t take up too much mobile data. Don’t allow them to take up more space than they need to.
What About AI?
If you’ve come this far, you are probably wondering why we haven’t yet talked about machine-generated content. Isn’t that what the future of content marketing is most likely to be about?
If you ask AI itself, you will learn that it does not expect to replace human writers in the foreseeable future. True, it is able to generate staggeringly well-written articles in a matter of seconds. But this does not make it a better writer than a human, only a faster one.
As a writer myself (and I hope you excuse this foray into the personal), I can’t help but tremble at the prospect of being replaced by a machine. What I’ve discovered at the moment, though, is that most online outlets, blogs, and businesses are demanding that any content submitted to them be written by a human.
Still, there’s no denying that AI is here to stay and can greatly help writers.
- It can do some of your research, saving you valuable time.
- It can find the right keywords in a matter of seconds.
- It can help you find the specific questions that your target audiences are asking.
But there is still plenty of critical, analytical, and creative thinking involved in writing. AI does not have a human voice yet, and there are plenty of tools created specifically for uncovering AI-written articles. And while AI content tools are getting better and better the more we use them, we are still a long way away from replacing human writers completely.
On the other hand, Google has stated that as long as you don’t use AI tools to manipulate its algorithm, you can publish it on your blog. They do, however, still prioritize value over everything else. So if you’re satisfied with the quality of your bot’s writing, you can use it for content creation.
As it stands, the stance you take on AI-generated content depends on your own personal motives and moral compass.
There is no way to guarantee or predict content marketing success. The landscape of content marketing will keep changing as digital trends come and go.
Your goal should thus not be to try and cheat the system. Instead, keep an eye on the latest developments and aim to include what is relevant for your brand in your ongoing strategies.