Content marketing isn’t for the faint of heart. Even when things are going well, you need to continually be aware of new tools, tactics, and strategies. Unfortunately, things don’t always go well. In fact, sometimes things are downright scary. This year has presented plenty of scary moments for content marketers. So, turn down the lights, turn up your favorite spooky music, and read on as we discuss the five scariest things to happen to content marketers in 2018.

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#1 scariest news item in content marketing: Facebook's freaky newsfeed apocalypse.

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1. Facebook’s freaky newsfeed apocalypse

For marketers, perhaps there was nothing scarier than the drastic drop in reach and engagement on Facebook this year. Because so many of us had placed many of our “content eggs” in the proverbial Facebook basket, when reach on the channel really started to dip, marketers were left to determine if they wanted to (1) spend more for their content to be seen, or (2) de-emphasize Facebook marketing efforts and focus more on publishing to channels with a better ROI.

Not only have marketers needed to seriously question how they use Facebook, but Facebook users themselves have seemed to begin to grow tired of the platform. Earlier this year, Facebook announced that use of the platform was down 50 million hours per day. Though some (including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg) would argue that this is a positive step for humanity, it nevertheless has decreased  the potential for marketers to reach audiences on Facebook.


#2 scariest news item in content marketing: Distressing data privacy laws.

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2. Distressing data privacy laws

It’s not that marketers never thought about data privacy before 2018, but this year data privacy became a much larger concern for markets around the globe due to legal and ethical implications. The driving force behind the enhanced attention paid to data privacy was the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Though the regulation was officially approved in 2016, organizations had until May 2018 to become compliant.

Following the precedent set in the European Union, states in the USA also created legislation to cause organizations to be more deliberate and forthright in communicating how customer data is used and when data breaches occur. But perhaps the scariest thing about GDPR and associated laws is the potential penalty for not complying. Businesses in the EU could be required to pay as much as 20 million Euro for being out of compliance. Marketers might be distressed about inadvertently violating the regulation.


#3 scariest news item in content marketing: Snapchat's suspicious redesign.

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3. Snapchat’s suspicious redesign

No list of the scariest things to happen to content marketers would be complete without some news about Snapchat. After all, how could you create a list without the platform that already has a ghost in its logo? But aside from the ghost, any marketer who had high hopes for messaging through Snapchat was given a huge scare in February when the channel rolled out a redesign that was pretty much universally hated by everyone — users, influencers, and marketers. More than 1.2 million people signed a petition to ask Snapchat to revert back to its former design.

By May, Snapchat had started to roll out a redesign of the redesign to incorporate some of the functionalities and features that users and marketers loved most. But by that time, though, the damage had been done. Snapchat has seen a drop in usage throughout the course of 2018 that can be traced back to the cursed redesign that happened during the fateful February of 2018.


#4 scariest news item in content marketing: Email's ominous open rate.

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4. Email’s ominous open rate

In March, Yes Marketing released an extensive analysis of more than 30 billion emails that shed light on some deep, dark secrets among email marketers. Perhaps most foreboding was this prickly piece of information: 20 percent of brand email recipients have not even opened an email from that brand in the last year. That’s right: 1 in 5 people didn’t open a single email from you even once in the last 12 months.

But that’s not all. In addition to a large portion of recipients never opening emails, email marketers are also learning that fewer people are signing up to receive emails. The study showed that in 2017 there was a drop in the percentage of new email subscribers throughout the year. The first quarter started at a 6.1 percent increase of new subscribers and continually dropped throughout the year to 5.1 percent in quarter two, 4.3 percent in quarter three, and finally 3.5 percent in the fourth quarter.


#5 scariest news item in content marketing: Attack of the ad blockers.

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5. Attack of the ad blockers

Any marketer who is relying on banner ads, display ads, pop-ups, and other types of digital ads surely had trouble sleeping at night in 2018 thanks to the increased and improved ability for users to be able to block advertisements. For example, Google improved its “Mute This Ad” tool, allowing users to mute ads inside apps and web pages across multiple devices.

Likewise, Google Chrome released its much-anticipated (or feared) ad blocker that began blocking annoying and intrusive ads. Any marketer who relied on ads that played at full volume, ads with difficult-to-find “X” buttons, or flashing display ads found these advertisements were banished to Google’s ad purgatory — never to be seen again.