With each monthly update we’ll add several new content marketing trends and examples to the top of the list, while letting older updates gradually fall off the list as they fade from interest.
Your success as a freelance creative or as a content marketer depends in many ways on your ability to stay informed about the most current content marketing trends and examples. Of course, your greatest challenge might be the lack of time you have to devote to keeping up on the news.
To stay up to date, you need look no further than this curated monthly update to learn about the news and topics that will be most valuable for you. A quick glance at our roundup once a month will give you a solid foundation to keep you in the know for the coming days and weeks ahead, without getting lost in the noise.Who's doing what and why.... and decide for yourself if it's good. | #ContentMarketing | #Marketing | #Advertising Click To Tweet
Recent content marketing trends and examples:
1. How rapid market-testing helped one company succeed with its product release.
CEO of Tenlo, Kip Botirius, recently shared an article that detailed how his company utilized a strategy called rapid market-testing to drive success with a recent product release. According to Botirius, his company was tasked with marketing a game called Battle Toss. Rather than launch the game in one fell swoop, the company utilized the rapid market-testing tactic.
This process began with building up a social media presence for three weeks, during which it gathered customer feedback and identified those who have a particular affinity for the product. Next, it hosted an event where it invited people to play the game while being filmed.
The company’s in-person and on-film observations helped it understand what to include on the game’s website and YouTube channel. As the company continued to gather information, the data informed a Google paid search campaign. Botirius explains what this testing yielded in more depth in the article. (11/19/19)
2. A new tool has made tracking pixels obsolete for The New York Times.
The New York Times has developed its own tool, known as TAFI (Twitter and Facebook Interface), that has allowed the company to more accurately predict which articles it should share on Twitter and Facebook to receive the best engagement. In a nutshell, the tool measures the articles on the Times’ own website to see which articles are getting the most natural engagement from audiences.
The company then shares on its social channels, using ad spend to raise the visibility of the posts that its tool says are most likely to be successful. As a result of the tool, the company has removed tracking pixels from most of its pages. (12/4/19)The New York Times has developed its own tool, known as TAFI (Twitter and Facebook Interface) that has allowed the company to more accurately predict which articles it should share on Twitter and Facebook to receive the best engagement. #socialmedia… Click To Tweet
3. Chatbots saved companies an average of $300,000 last year.
If your executive leadership hasn’t wanted to bite on the price tag of developing chatbots just yet, the report that companies who utilize chatbots saved an average of $300,000 last year may be enough information for you to close the deal. Marketing Land details that nearly 75 percent of online consumers expect to engage with some sort of chatbot.
Rather than simply being a marketing tool, chatbots have grown into tools that also help drive sales. In fact, forecasts predict chatbots will drive more than $100 billion in sales by 2023. (11/20/19)
4. How South Dakota is using a controversial campaign slogan to its advantage.
South Dakota’s state Department of Social Services us using a controversial campaign slogan to raise awareness of a real problem. The state has released a new website (onmeth.com) and a bevy of digital and social ads that communicate the dual-interpreted slogan “Meth. We’re on it.” Despite a swift critique from individuals across social platforms, South Dakota is owning the campaign and its associated critiques.
In a recent tweet, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem simply responded to the critics: “Hey Twitter, the whole point of this ad campaign is to raise awareness. So I think that’s working…” (11/20/19)
5. Trend report: Top B2B marketers use non-owned channels to drive success.
Virtually all marketers use their own email, web and social channels to promote their business and products, but the top B2B marketers are also increasing their use of non-owned channels to expand their reach, according to the newly released 2020 B2B Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends report.
Examples of non-owned channels that B2B marketers are using to share their messages include media and influencer relations; guest posts or articles in other publications; and speaking engagements. The data shows that 46 percent of top performers are actively involved in influencer and media relations. Similarly, 63 percent of this group publishes content in third-party publications and 70 percent participate in speaking engagements and events.
The report also found that 91 percent of top performers have used paid media in the last year—with 75 percent saying they have utilized paid social media ads.
6. The Economist is attempting to make YouTube followers paid subscribers.
Earlier this fall, the Economist started publishing YouTube videos to its channel that were specifically designed to increase interaction and spike watch-time on the platform. The videos, which often share a behind-the-scenes look at the news being covered, have employed YouTube’s tools to help drive traffic back to the Economist’s website — which allows users to engage with more content related to what was discussed in the video.
Because of this increase in YouTube views due to more engaging content and the subsequent driving of YouTube viewers to its website, the company is making efforts to gain more paid subscribers.
TheEconomist is also looking at ROI. Thus far in 2019, marketing costs have risen by 14 percent for the company — but subscriber numbers have increased by only one percent.How the Economist is attempting to turn its one million YouTube followers into paid subscribers. #contentmarketing #contentradar Click To Tweet
7. Content marketing trends to remember when creating effective stories and story ads…
We’ll spare you from the endless data points about stories. Suffice it to say, stories continue to be huge. More than one billion stories are shared daily between Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. A recent MarketingProfs article details trends you should know to successfully utilize stories.
Some of these trends include:
- Limit stickers: Too many stickers create extra noise and make sending a clear message more difficult.
- Emphasize the CTA: Encourage users to “swipe up” to view the product page or other website you want them to visit.
- Test and learn: Don’t give up on stories if they aren’t yet delivering the results you want. Half of story users say a story has led them to visit a web page to buy a product seen in a story.
- Stay vertical: More than 80 percent of people on video-focused sites use their phones in portrait mode. Make sure your stories follow this trend.
8. Honda uses ‘Engine Room’ content hub to shift focus to storytelling.
Honda has, ahem, shifted gears in its content marketing practices to now focus more of its efforts on creating content that specializes in telling unique stories — rather than short, splashy bursts of information as the company has done in the past. At the Festival of Marketing conference, Honda digital content and social media section manager Nick Bennett shared that the company decided 16 months ago it wanted to focus on a content hub where it could share all of its storytelling content.
The result of this effort is a hub known as “Honda Engine Room.” Within this hub, Honda owners and would-be Honda owners have the opportunity to consume and share more than 140 pieces of storytelling content. Bennett said that because it is becoming increasingly difficult to utilize organic social media, the concept of utilizing a combination of paid, owned and earned channels is more important than ever before.
9. You really need to develop a conversational marketing strategy.
More than 4 in 5 customers say the service you provide is as important as the product you sell. If your customer service does not extend in effective ways into digital spheres, you might be risking the success of your business. In order to provide customers with the experience they desire, you must have a robust conversational marketing strategy in place.
In a comparison of person-to-person contact and chatbot contact, researchers found that the expectations of personal and digital solutions are nearly identical. For example, 44 percent of survey respondents say that they expect a response within five seconds when corresponding with a human. Similarly, 42 percent say they expect a response within five seconds when dealing with a chatbot. Likewise, in a comparison of 2018 responses to 2019 responses, people expect quicker response times in online live chats and chatbots in 2019.
10. Observations from Mozilla’s 18-month departure from Facebook, Instagram.
Following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Mozilla executives decided their commitment to user privacy was more important than their ability to target Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp users. Therefore, the company ceased using Facebook-owned platforms in its marketing efforts. Although this may seem like it would seriously hamper Mozilla’s marketing efforts, the company claims otherwise.
Instead of utilizing Facebook properties for advertising, Mozilla is using Google-owned properties. Likewise, the company has utilized non-digital marketing efforts to promote its services. For example, it has a traveling display that combines elements of an art exhibit with a pop-up store to show users what happens with their data online. For its content marketing efforts, Mozilla has developed a series of podcasts, known as IRL, that tell stories of internet privacy and consumption.Observations from Mozilla's 18-month departure from Facebook, Instagram. #advertising #socialmedia #contentmarketing. Click To Tweet
11. See YouTube’s 10 best 6-second ads in the past 12 months.
Creating a memorable video is hard. Creating a memorable video in 6 seconds is insanely hard. However, it can be done — and it can be done well. In fact, not only does YouTube want you to know it can be done — it wants you to see examples of the best 6-second bumper ads so you can be successful too.
The company developed a creative rating test to determine the top videos, then used an algorithm that counted total views and engagement.
Based on these criteria, here are the top 10 YouTube 6-second bumper ads in the last year:See @YouTube's 10 best 6-second ads in the past 12 months. #videomarketing #contentmarketing Click To Tweet
12. Like it or not, Facebook likes Instagram’s plan to hide likes.
It looks like Instagram’s test of removing public-facing likes is gaining traction with Facebook as well. Facebook confirmed it is experimenting with likes to app researcher Jane Manchun Wong in early September. Currently, Facebook’s experiment consists of hiding likes to those who come across others’ content, however, users can continue to see the like count for their own Facebook posts.
Facebook hasn’t said much about this test — but it doesn’t need to. The impact will be obvious. If you have been reliant on Facebook likes anywhere in your marketing strategy as a “showcase” of the popularity of your content, you may need to rethink your social media strategy to ensure that each piece of content is engaging on its own without relying on empty likes. (9/3/19)
13. See what’s trending with email marketing in fall 2019.
The following items are included among some of the findings:
- The three most effective words to use in an email subject line are “e-book,” “PDF,” and “newsletter.”
- Double opt-in emails are resulting in higher open rates and shares, while decreasing the risk of security threats.
- Email marketers who send newsletters weekly have a higher clickthrough rate than those who send more often.
- Auto-responder emails that include something like a “welcome” or a “thank you” along with a link for meaningful content have nearly a 90 percent open rate. (9/11/19)
14. Six modern tactics to advertise to today’s attention-deficient audiences.
Thanks to technology, the average human attention span is about 8 seconds. This means that if you aren’t quickly grabbing a user’s interest with your content, they will rarely make it to your call-to-action. Visiture Chief Marketing Officer Ronald Dod shared in an article for Marketing Land six strategies for advertising to an audience that is predisposed to not pay attention.
- Clarity is king. Keep things simple and create an anchor point toward which users gravitate. For example, show a problem your product solves or focus on a new feature.
- Know the platforms. Tailor the ad content for the platforms on which it will be published. The more you do things the way a platform owner recommends, the more likely your ad content will stick.
- Keep video in its place. Video can be an effective tool for ads, but consider the length and the depth of the videos and your audience’s desire to consume.
- Split up your content. Keep things bite-sized rather than super-sized.
- Personalize. Send targeted ads that are likely to be highly relevant to your audience.
- Leave an impression. Visual aids and interactive elements can help. (8/12/19)
15. Financial Times using newsletter polls to increase retention.
In an effort to encourage its readers to interact more with its email newsletters, Financial Times has started to insert polls into its First FT newsletter. Early results indicate that these polls are helping increase subscriber retention.
Financial Times has run more than two dozen polls in its email newsletter — which has more than 100,000 subscribers — since March.
During that time, the company has seen the polls drive the highest click-through rate to its articles. For now, the publisher is mostly focusing on “yes” or “no” polls, though it expects to branch out into developing broader poll questions soon. (8/12/19)
16. Chase sees surprising results from marketing copywriting machines.
Three years ago, Chase began testing a pilot program with Persado, a company that uses artificial intelligence to draft marketing copy. Thanks to the results of this pilot program, Chase announced in late July that it has signed a five-year deal with Persado to expand its services in more of the company’s marketing efforts.
According to Chase, the copy written by Persado consistently led to more clicks from users than the marketing copy written by humans. In some instances, the AI-written copy received twice as many clicks as its human-written counterpart. Is this an inevitable content marketing trends that shows no signs of stopping? Perhaps. (7/30/19)
17. Facial recognition advertising brings opportunities, concerns.
A new facial recognition tool being tested in Walgreens stores may have a great impact on all digital marketers in the upcoming years. The tool is a cooler door that includes cameras, sensors and digital screens for the purpose of developing smart displays to target individual customers who approach the cooler.
The cameras are able to determine a shopper’s gender and age range as well as how long a shopper stands in front of the door. The technology can also pair this data with external information — like what the temperature outside is — and determine what kinds of ads to serve to shoppers to promote specific items found inside the cooler doors.
Some have expressed concerns with this sort of facial recognition technology. Critics question how accurate the recommendations will be, fear the perpetuation of overstimulation, and wonder if customers will develop banner blindness similar to online ads. On the other hand, this technology clearly has limitless possibilities for marketers. (7/18/19)
18. Instagram expands effort to remove public like counts.
How does your brand measure success on social media? Do you take “likes” into account? A trend to remove public “like” counts is gaining steam and may change how people — and brands — view “success” on social media.
In May, Instagram first tested removing the public like counts from some posts in Canada. In a recent tweet, the company announced it was expanding the test to hide public like counts for some users in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan, and New Zealand.
Instagram said the test would not affect measurement tools for businesses, but time will tell if not having a public display of “likes” will cause more — or fewer — likes on-brand Instagram posts. (7/17/19)
19. Virtual Instagram influencers raise ethical questions about what is “real” in advertising.
Anyone who scrolls through Instagram with any regularity already knows that some things just look a little too good to be true. Perfect shots on the beach, cozy evenings at home and scenic shots in the outdoors are not only common — but expected.
Despite the expectation that Instagram portrays an enhanced reality, some solace can be found in knowing the posts are still based in reality. However, the current (and growing) trend of utilizing virtual Instagram influencers to promote products and initiatives calls this into question as well.
Perhaps most prominent among these virtual influencers is Lil Miquela, who has promoted everything from Calvin Klein to Black Lives Matter to its 1.6 million Instagram followers. The use of these influencers presents difficult conversations about body image authenticity, and brand responsibility. (6/3/19)
20. Gatorade’s newest AR experiment is an extension of its “video everywhere” strategy.
Gatorade has not shied away from utilizing new technologies — including augmented reality — in its marketing efforts. The company’s latest augmented reality venture — a Snapchat lens — focuses on allowing users to use their rear-facing camera to become part of a world where the sole focus is a soccer ball.
Gatorade representative Jill Abbott says this new venture is simply a part of Gatorade’s “video everywhere” strategy — which calls for the brand to think less about premium, online and linear videos and instead consider how its videos can be wherever its athlete audience is. (6/17/19)
21. Facebook YouTube-ifies its video delivery algorithm.
Forget (almost) everything you know about what makes a good video on Facebook because the social behemoth has announced that it is flipping the script on how it prioritizes delivering videos to users.
Going forward, if you want to increase the likelihood that the videos your brand creates are delivered to users on Facebook, focus on the following three items:
- Loyalty and intent: Facebook will make videos more prominent in news feeds when users seek them out and return to them over time.
- Viewing duration: Users should stay with your videos for at least one minute. Even better, Facebook will do more to prioritize your video if it is at least three minutes long.
- Originality: Focus less on repurposing videos and instead focus on creating something specific for Facebook if you want your videos to rank.
22. Chatbot surveys on Wi-Fi sign-in pages may be the newest marketing tactic.
As location-based marketing continues to be a major opportunity for small, medium-sized and large businesses, new tactics will continue to arise. One of the newest opportunities was introduced to U.S. businesses in May when the Japanese artificial intelligence company Bespoke announced the introduction of ChatConnect in the United States.
ChatConnect allows organizations that offer Wi-Fi to its patrons to also ask the same patrons survey questions as part of the sign-in process. So, in theory, if your organization wants to get quick feedback about their experience from customers or potential customers who are on-site, ChatConnect — or other similar tools — can facilitate this. (5/7/19)
23. NFL marketing teams add excitement to yearly schedule release.
Aside from a few fans who live and die by their favorite team’s every move, until recently the release of the upcoming season’s schedules typically hasn’t warranted more than a quick review by those who want to make sure they get tickets for a rivalry game or find out when their favorite player comes to town.
However, in recent years, NFL teams have started to embrace schedule release day as an opportunity to showcase their creativity and — supposedly — help more people be excited about purchasing tickets and gear, and otherwise supporting the team.
One of the best schedule releases this year came from the Carolina Panthers, whose schedule incorporates throwbacks to classic video games like Sonic the Hedgehog, NBA Jam and Mortal Kombat, among others. The Panthers’ video tweet that includes its schedule has been viewed more than two million times.
Though your marketing budget may not be NFL-sized, you still can think through new and creative ways to communicate consistent updates and messages for your organization that might be “mundane.” (4/17/19)
24. Betabrand uses ‘Adception’ to turn commenters into buyers.
Betabrand — a women’s and men’s clothing seller — has developed a strategy that allows social media comments on ads to become one of its top methods for engaging potential buyers. In a process that social media coordinator Emilia Hildreth calls “adception,” the company closely watches the Facebook comments that get the most likes and replies on the company’s Facebook ads and then capitalizes on them.
When company social media representatives notice a user comment has garnered a lot of likes or comments, the company quickly creates a plan to get involved in the conversation by publishing witty, entertaining and useful information relevant to the conversation. These brand comments are intended to drive to the website all those who are following the conversation, with the ultimate goal of completing a sale.
Betabrand spends millions of dollars on its social media ads and engagement each year, but even much smaller businesses can follow this same principle to engage potential customers. Learn more about how transparency on social media can be good for your business. (3/20/19)
25. Moderation matters more and more.
In recent weeks, news about unchecked predatory comments on videos featuring young children has caused concern among parents, viewers, content creators and advertisers. In short, everybody is concerned — and for good reason.
After a vlogger detailed how a few bad actors were using YouTube as a sort of “soft-core pedophilia ring,” advertisers were quick to jump off YouTube until the video giant made changes. Among others, a couple of the big advertisers who pulled ads from YouTube include Walt Disney Co. and Nestle SA.
YouTube has been quick to attempt to resolve the issue. In a recent blog post, the company detailed that it has disabled comments on most videos featuring children. Some creators will continue to be able to keep comments enabled if they prove to YouTube they can effectively moderate the comments on their videos.
In the blog post, YouTube said the following:
“No form of content that endangers minors is acceptable on YouTube, which is why we have terminated certain channels that attempt to endanger children in any way. We will continue to take action when creators violate our policies in ways that blatantly harm the broader user and creator community.” (2/28/19)
More notable content marketing trends:
26. Google has announced that it is making serving up podcasts in search results an important part of its search functionality. Users who now search for a topic and the term “podcast” will find playable podcast episodes directly in results.
27. A Facebook tool known as “Off-Facebook Activity” allows Facebook users to determine how much of their information they want to share with potential advertisers, making it virtually impossible for Facebook or Instagram to target ads at audiences based on their web browsing data.
28. Taco Bell pushed the trend of sponsoring Instagram Stories into new territory. The company sponsored House of Highlights’ Thursday Instagram Stories.
29. Marketers now can target Spotify users based on their streamed podcasts. Included among podcast categories on Spotify are Business & Technology, Comedy, and Lifestyle and Health.
30. An email design trend report released in early 2019 outlined intelligent design, AMP in emails and live social feeds as being some of the top email trends expected for this year — along with five other trends that have not all been as visible in 2019 as we might have been led to believe earlier this year.
31. Adidas uses influencers and Airdrop in marketing experiment. Actor Donald Glover used AirDrop to send a photo of Adidas shoes to random concert-goers. Those who accepted the photo were given the opportunity to receive a free pair of shoes — if they agreed to wear them all weekend and attend Glover’s show.
32. Bleacher Report has seen an increase in app downloads thanks to its Instagram story presence. Instagram has made it easier for users to share Bleacher Report content on their own stories. Included in these stories is a link to download the Bleacher Report app.
33. AI calls for appointment-based businesses may be the future. Thanks to the AI-powered Google Duplex, a user of the service can direct Google to make a reservation or set an appointment through a phone call that sounds remarkably similar to a human voice.
34. Google introduces new era of augmented reality search results. The search giant has already partnered with groups like NASA, New Balance, Samsung, Target, Visible Body, Volvo and Wayfair to develop AR content that will be presented in a user’s search experience. (5/7/19)
35. Walmart and Google take voice-shopping mainstream. Google Assistant users can now add groceries to their digital Walmart carts simply through using their voice. Though Walmart isn’t the first to offer this service, its status as a major retailer could lend credence to more brands following suit. Learn more about content marketing with smart speakers. (4/2/19)
36. Controversial photo-editing practice presents ethical dilemma in real estate marketing. Online real estate listings are increasingly including edited photos that make grass look greener, carpets look newer and rooms look bigger. Companies are offering their services to enhance listing photos for a minimal cost. (3/5/19)
See more monthly roundups to keep up on content marketing trends and examples: