Your success as a freelancer 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.
Top recent content marketing trends:
1. 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
2. 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)
3. Facebook’s ‘Off-Facebook Activity’ tool will have major impact on your ads.
After Mark Zuckerberg first officially teased a new tool earlier this year that would allow Facebook users to have more control of their data, the social behemoth has now officially rolled out the tool in South Korea, Spain and Ireland.
The tool, known as “Off-Facebook Activity,” allows Facebook users to determine how much of their information they want to share with potential advertisers. In essence, those who utilize this new tool make it nearly impossible for Facebook, Messenger or Instagram to target ads at audiences based on their web browsing data.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. Podcasts may soon be a major consideration in your SEO strategy.
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 the search results, alongside the images, articles and videos one would expect.
Additionally, Google Podcasts Product Manager Zack Reneau-Wedeen said in a blog post that soon users won’t even need to search for the term “podcasts,” as serving up relevant, playable podcasts will become a regular function in Google’s search results.
(8/8/19)Google has announced that it is making serving up podcasts in search results an important part of its search functionality. #SEM #SEO #ContentMarketing Click To Tweet
7. 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. 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.
9. 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)
10. Google tiptoes back into the world of social networking.
Based on the debacle that was Google+, you may not expect Google to jump too quickly into the world of social media — and the company isn’t. Instead, it is testing a new sort of social network that ties people of like interests together and subsequently facilitate real-world connections. The app, known as Shoelace, is currently only available in New York City. App users can show interest in types of activities and the app then recommends daily activities they can join in.
The marketing implications are clear: Marketers may have the potential to develop events to include on the app or sponsor ads on the app to rein in potential customers. However, currently there is no indication of when the app will be opened up to marketers — or if/when it will make it out of New York City. (7/12/19)
11. 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)
12. Marketers now can target Spotify users based on their streamed podcasts.
With roughly one-third of the U.S. population listening to a podcast at least once a month and 1 in 5 Americans listening to podcasts weekly, it is safe to say that podcasting is continuing to make a dent in U.S. consumers’ digital consumption habits. Spotify recently announced it is giving advertisers new options to reach podcast listeners by allowing them to target Spotify Free users with ads based on the category or categories of podcast streams they consume. Included among podcast categories on Spotify are Business & Technology, Comedy, and Lifestyle and Health. Samsung is among the early adopters of these ads — using them to promote their Galaxy Buds. (6/17/19)
13. 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)
14. 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)
15. 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.
16. 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 Japanese artificial intelligence company Bespoke announce the introduction of ChatConnect in the United States.
ChatConnect allows organizations who 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)
17. Facebook’s impending “Clear History” tool to cause social marketers to rethink targeting.
Ever since the Cambridge Analytica fiasco of 2018, Facebook has been touting improvements —including a more private, personal experience for users. One huge development that will cause marketers to seriously consider their advertising and targeting tactics is the “Clear History” tool —which Facebook warned marketers is coming very soon.
Once the tool is rolled out, users who choose to disconnect their off-Facebook activity from their user profiles will no longer be able to have their off-Facebook data made available for ad targeting. In a blog post, Facebook told advertisers that “businesses should keep [not being able to utilize off-Facebook data] in mind when developing strategies for these kinds of campaigns in the second half of the year and beyond.” (5/14/19)
18. Taco Bell pushes trend of sponsoring Instagram Stories into new territory.
Though you are likely actively considering the most effective content to publish to your organization’s own Instagram Story, you may want to take a cue from Taco Bell and House of Highlights and also consider other ways to effectively utilize Instagram Stories through partnerships.
As of a few weeks ago — and continuing for several weeks into the summer — Taco Bell will be sponsoring House of Highlights Instagram Stories on Thursday nights. These stories will continue to feature content the House of Highlights audience already engages with, as well as additional Taco Bell-branded contests and other interactive elements. Although other large brands — like Nike, Yahoo, and Pizza Hut — have sponsored individual stories for House of Highlights, Taco Bell is the first to agree to do it on a consistent basis. (4/25/19)
19. NL 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)
20. Adidas combines iOS AirDrop, celebrity influencer in experiential marketing tactic.
We’ve told you before about iOS Airdrop marketing efforts that have been designed to delight and surprise consumers within a close proximity. Adidas has become the newest brand to employ AirDrop marketing in an effort to market its products.
Adidas partnered with actor/rapper Donald Glover at Coachella to release the shoes that the company and the artist created together. As part of the promotion of the new shoes, Glover used AirDrop to send a photo of the 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 the shoes all weekend and attend Glover’s show. (4/15/19)
21. 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)
22. Are you using any of 2019’s top email design trends?
EmailMonks has developed a list of the top eight email design trends for 2019. These top trends relate to animation, gamification, typography, dynamic content, and more. A few of these trends include:
- Intelligent design—This includes surveys and other engaging elements embedded in the body of emails. This makes it easier for people to access and engage with emails.
- AMP in emails—Google AMP (Accelerate Mobile Pages) emails allow marketers to change the content of an email in real-time.
- Live social feeds—If you want to point people to your social channels from an email, including live social feeds is one way to do it. These emails dynamically pull in your brand’s most current social posts.
23. 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)
24. Demand for responsive display ads triggers more features.
Ever since Google made responsive display ads its default ad type last year, the company has been working on ways to help content marketers better utilize these ads. Google announced in a recent blog post three new features to assist marketers in their use of responsive display ads, including:
Video Assets: Advertisers can choose existing content from their YouTube pages to use in these ads.
Combinations report: The combinations report allows marketers to better understand how different combinations of creative content perform.
Expanded ad strength scorecard: This scorecard details what you need to do to make your responsive ad even more effective.
More notable trends
25. 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.
26. 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.
27. Google hopes Maps finds its way to profitability. Earlier this year, Google made some significant adjustments that could turn Maps into another major ad platform for the search behemoth.
28. 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)
29. 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)
30. 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)
31. Vertical video is changing content marketing. Data shows that mobile phone users hold their devices vertical 94 percent of the time—meaning that creating content that forces users to hold their phones horizontally probably isn’t a good strategy. Because of this, vertical video marketing is on the rise. (3/1/2019)
32. Marketers are focusing on stories. Use of stories on social media has increased by 987 percent since 2016. Experts suggest this rise occurred because stories allows for greater engagement, visibility and insights. (2/28/19)