Crystal Ball UpScribed 2020 Content Marketing Projections

The Definitive List of 2020 Content Marketing Predictions and Other Goodies

According to My Twitter Friends and Google

**Please note: This was written prior to the social distancing guidelines and changes caused by COVID-19. With the rise in videoconferencing and Zoom-style conversational content, businesses have had to make changes to their content marketing approaches. At Search Influence, we’re constantly finding the best ways to promote your business, even in times of crisis, including our posts 4 Campaign Strategy Changes During COVID-19, Business Continuity Messaging During COVID-19: What You Need to Do Right Now, and our webinar with The Idea Village, Digital Marketing in the Time of COVID-19, on June 9.

I read and reviewed a bunch of other people’s opinions on what’s going to be important this year in content marketing. In the following, I list all the resources I looked at along with their main points. I will also give you some thoughts on all that content and point out some recurring themes.

This post includes:

  • A big list of resources and recommendations from my Twitter friends
  • The best of the first few pages from Google 
  • Some of my own opinions and interpretations

If you want to be a smarter content marketer in 2020 and beyond, you’ll surely enjoy this comprehensive review of the best the internet has to offer. 

Let’s jump in!

As I started diving back into UpScribed, I wondered what’s changed in the content marketing landscape. Given it’s early in 2020, I knew there would be a TON of predictions, prognostication, and paranoia about the next big thing in content. And, of course, with Google’s perpetual algorithm hamster wheel and the latest spam controls on the socials, it’s really important to know what’s playing in Palo Alto (really, Menlo Park and Mountain View, but they lacked the alliterative allusion).

With that in mind, I polled Twitter and got some interesting responses, and then I decided to see what Google thought, as well.

Oh, and here’s a hint. Some of the articles furthest down the page were also further from the top of Google, in case you’re prioritizing your time.

Some of the recurring themes were the following:

Video

There is a ton to unpack here, from new platforms like TikTok to new formats on the old platforms like Facebook and Instagram Live.

Users love video. Digital marketers have been saying “this is the year of video” for about five years. But this time, I think it really is the year of video. 

Anecdotally, from Search Influence’s perspective, we are seeing Video Advertising having huge returns. The new platforms like TikTok—and Live video on more traditional social media—are developing a new vocabulary of video storytelling.

And if you just can’t believe it without statistics, HubSpot says 54% of consumers want more branded video.

Conversational Content

Conversational content is customized, personalized, and answers questions.

We’ve apparently gotten over the creepiness of personalization, and users are now expecting personalized content.

Smart speakers aren’t so smart today. They’re getting smarter, and their adoption is growing like crazy. But, when questions need answering and users don’t want to type, being in position zero is a big winner.

Another opportunity highlighted is using cookies and context to match the right ad, right user, and right time and place. An example from the Entrepreneur Magazine article is that of using weather as a trigger for different ad creative. This is something Search Influence has been doing for years in our work with tourism where the weather outside can have a big impact on where you spend your dollars.

And, finally, a topic of much debate: ChatBots. Today, ChatBots kind of suck. Multiple contributors below suggest that, like Smart Speakers and voice-search, the bots aren’t smart enough yet.

And while this may be a bit of a stretch, I would put AR in this category—a user posting your Snapchat filter is clearly more engaged. In fact, they’re explicitly personalizing your brand.

Quality Content

Yeah, yeah. Make good content, get Google’s love.

But really, in the following there are some good points, both SEO and content marketing focused about the value of providing… well, value.

In other words: make less, but make it better so that it resonates, and leverage all that creativity in as many platforms through adaptive reuse as possible.

As the SEO community moves its thinking to “authority building” over “link building,” the quality of one’s content becomes much more important. Mentions and citations, particularly in social media, are a reflection of the actual notable-ness of a piece of content.

That said, quality is in the eye of the beholder. Content that resonates is way more valuable than technical, rule-following accuracy.

Quality of content becomes that much more important in technical fields like those occupied by many B2B and industrial businesses.

And, while we may not be there yet, Mike King is on the right track with his position that ‘“SEO Content” is not a thing.

Podcasts

For a sense of scale, Econsultancy reports that 1 in 8 people in the UK listen to podcasts weekly, up 24% from 2018. Their article goes on to some great examples of retail brands like Ebay and McDonalds creating compelling niche content.

Whether educational, entertaining, or both, Podcasts are replacing radio and music listening for a growing segment of the population.

In addition to organic PR opportunities, advertising on podcasts is growing considerably.

There is even an emerging industry blurring the lines between editorial and advertising on Podcasts, such as Podbooker, a paid service to get you placed on niche podcasts.

Influencers and Authority

Interestingly, many of the above tactics present new opportunities to ply the very old trade of securing tacit endorsement from influencers. In many industries today, for instance, podcasts and their hosts are becoming the authority.

In the world of endurance sports—and by extension, a performance mindset—one must get on the Rich Roll podcast.

Similarly, in the world of online marketing, one must get on the Duct Tape Marketing podcast—I’m hopeful the same is soon true of The Business of Digital with Mat Siltala and Dave Rohrer.

We know well the role of instagram influencers in lifestyle brands, but what about TikTok, YouTube, and other video platforms with niche audiences? You can bet if there’s an audience there, influence will be for sale.

UGC (User-Generated Content)

Authenticity matters. And in today’s review economy, no voice is trusted more than the anonymous online review.

We’ve talked for years about the bizarre fact that most people trust online reviews more than actual word-of-mouth from people they know.

Smart marketers are even engaging existing online fans to co-create content. For example, I was recently approached by the Ochsner Fitness Center, where I swim, to contribute to a customer spotlight, which they then posted to Instagram and Facebook.

With the catalog-everything, selfie culture, opportunities for brands to leverage user-generated content, and those users’ networks are greater than ever.

In addition, here are a couple items from the SEO catalog on content that are pretty important if Google is a place customers find you:

Suggestions From Some of My Twitter (and IRL) Friends

My Twitter friends and teammates had some great suggestions for content marketing in 2020:

5 Content Marketing Trends You Need to Know for 2020

This article from Entrepreneur, contributed by the Search Influence content team, covers how to incorporate new technology in content marketing, among other trends, such as the following.

  • Video and live-streaming
    • YouTube, TikTok, and Twitch provide video for varied audiences 
    • HubSpot says 54% of consumers want more branded video
    • Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn support native video
    • Facebook and Instagram Live enable instant gratification.
  • Optimizing content for voice search
    • Canalys reports the global voice search devices market grew 187 % in Q2, 2018, shipping 16.8 million units
    • Focus on anticipating questions your audience might ask
    • Create long-tail content to answer conversational questions
  • AR-powered visuals
    • With augmented reality (AR) filters and lenses users can give themselves a puppy dog nose or flower crown 
    • Brands are joining the party—Taco Bell’s branded Snapchat lens viewed 224 million times
  • Conversational marketing
    • One-on-one conversations with customers humanize your brand and are an opportunity to learn more to hone your messaging 
    • Can take many forms:
      • Email, live support, customer success, messenger marketing, chatbots and more
      • AI will continue to make conversations more lifelike
  • Dynamic content delivery
    • Instapage reports 54% anticipate a discount within a day of sharing their information with a retail brand
    • Dynamic, or Adaptive content, changes depending on user-specific characteristics, both personal and contextual—e.g. weather-based ads
    • Dynamic content supports moving users through the buyer’s journey

What do you think about the Entrepreneur (@Entrepreneur) predictions?

8 Content Trends for 2020

Given the scale of clients Convince & Converts supports, I find Megan Leap’s point of view very interesting. And as far as I’m concerned, anybody writing on Jay Baer’s site is probably pretty smart. This article covers several useful suggestions, such as:

  • User-generated content
    • Consumers find UGC more influential than brand content
    • UGC posts were the most engaging type of post on Instagram for tourism marketers
    • Determine what inspires your audience to share content and engage them
  • Continued rise of video
    • People prefer video to all other forms of content when learning about products and services
    • 50% of shoppers say video helped them decide which brand or product to buy
    • DIY-style video may be just the content you need
  • Voice-activated content
    • Voice strategy is no longer optional: 
      • Smart speaker adoption grew 38.9% in the last year, and
      • 26.2% of U.S. adults have access to a smart speaker
    • Today, voice is mostly answering questions – in the future, more data driven
  • B2C behaviors continue to impact B2B expectations
    • 61% of all B2B transactions start online 
    • 51% of customers turn to social media to do initial research
    • Social media to chatbots to augmented reality will be even more critical in B2B, considering the complexity of the purchase decision
  • Continued proliferation of messaging apps
    • Billions of monthly users
    • Gateway to “dark social”
  • Augmented reality
    • By 2022, 44% of population will have access to mobile AR
  • No more random acts of content
    • Create less, more effective content
    • Deliver over time for more touches
  • Customer journey mapping
    • 73% of B2B companies say they mapped digital customer journeys

Be sure to let Megan Leap (@MeganLeap) and the Convince & Convert (@convince) team know what you think. I’m not sure where this one came from, but I’m always a fan of Jay and the Convince & Convert expertise.

7 B2B Marketing Trends to Embrace in 2020 

Thanks to my Search Influence teammate Emily Breaux (@emjoyxox) for finding this resource from SearchEngineJournal® (@sejournal).

The author of this Search Engine Journal article, Alexander Kesler, suggests we need to be careful not to continue employing last year’s thinking as we approach 2020. Citing the adage that “generals are always fighting the last war,” he admonishes us to look to what’s coming. 

  • Superior Websites
    • Yes, templates allow anyone to create a good looking website but, Alexander asserts customers are getting wise. And, he suggests, a site will better represent your brand AND convert better. 
  • Higher Quality Content
    • We know this to be true from work with UpScribed and Search Influence. B2B Content requires actual expertise. The clients and their customers are often technical experts and will spot filler a mile away. 
  • Video Content
    • Users are getting more comfortable with video. It allows you to do demos and much more explanatory story telling than with text. And, streaming allows for more engagement with current and prospective customers. 
  • Personalized Communications
    • Personalization can enhance stickiness and with every business coming online, can be a brand differentiator. 
  • Consolidating Martech
    • The author contends that with the proliferation of MarTech platforms the segment is ripe for consolidation. This is good for marketers because it will reduce complexity and training burden. 
  • Chatbots Are Multiplying
    • Help customers with common issues.
    • Offer them information about your business.
    • Redirect them to a representative if further help is needed.
  • Email Marketing Is Still Going Strong
    • E-mail is holding steady
    • A/B test and segment your list for maximum impact

5 Content Marketing Trends to Follow in 2020

In this video, Ross Hudgens, head of Siege Media, talks about the direction they’re headed in 2020 based on their experiences in 2019.

  • Aim to be Memorable, not Linkable
    • Getting links is not the same as being memorable
    • Content which resonates with visitors is more likely to be Google future-proof
  • 100% SEO-Driven Content Isn’t a Good Thing
    • A real brand isn’t going to have all SEO focused content
    • Aim for a mix of “keyword” focused content and real-company stuff (RCS)
  • Pushing Towards Passive Links as a Focus
    • If you can build a pleasurable site experience and rank for topics which passively acquire links, that’s what Google wants
    • More cost effective
    • Creates a more sustainable link profile
  • Sitewide Changes Over One-Time Assets
    • 2x improvements to site infrastructure are more achievable and maintainable than aiming for 10x
    • For instance a better blog design can pay big dividends
    • Incremental improvements may be better than one-time, big, link-able assets
  • Links Can’t Hold Up Bad Content Anymore
    • With a greater focus on content quality and signals, lots of links can’t prop up mediocre content anymore

Be sure to let Ross and his team at Siege Media (@siegemedia) know what you think about his predictions.

Thanks to Search Influence teammate Mathew Pashby (@makeitpashby) suggested another article by SearchEngineJournal® (@sejournal).

Thanks to Matt Siltala (@Matt_Siltala) for finding “Authentic videos. Explainer, Q&A type stuff and making them work across all networks including, (dare I say) Tiktok and learning how to connect with audience no matter the platform.”

And thanks to an intro from @DanLeibson for a couple of great explainer videos from John-Henry Scherck on some more tactical approaches to content marketing and content marketing management, including “5 Content Marketing Trends to Follow in 2020.”

Content Articles Found on Google

Thanks to Google, I got to review the following:

Back to the Future? 90 Content Marketing Predictions for 2020

Wow! This is a really deep post. It is almost entirely responses from Content Marketing World speakers and award winners. Literally 90 predictions. They are, thankfully, categorized:

  • Content creation
    • Customized and Conversational
      • Chatbots and Voice
      • Talk like a person, not a brand
      • Niche
    • Marketers as Brand Journalists
    • UGC
    • Content Reuse
    • Quality Content
    • Focus
      • Get rid of channels that aren’t working
  • Distribution and promotion
    • Paid Promotion
    • Multimedia
    • Video
    • Influencers
      • Micro
      • Authentically engaged
    • Facebook / Instagram Stories as Ads
    • Podcast Advertising
    • Multiple distribution channels
    • Direct to Consumer (D2C)
  • Performance and measurement
    • Analytics
      • ROI over Vanity Metrics
      • Funnel-based 
    • Content Gap Analysis
  • Process and teams
    • Automated editing
    • Amplify Quality
    • Content Reuse
  • Strategy
    • “Orchestra, not Instruments” Heike Young 📓 (@YoungHeike) 
    • Journey Mindset
    • Molding Creative to Channel
    • More Human
      • Audience Focused
    • Answer questions / Solve problems
    • Storytelling
      • Users become either Creators and Producers
    • Quality over Quantity
    • Think about sales
    • Relevance, i.e. BERT, EAT
  • Tools and technologies
    • AMP for Email
    • Smart Assistants
    • AI / Machine Learning
    • LinkedIn
  • Everything in between
    • Customer Journey
    • Ethical Marketing
    • Trust
    • Co-creation with employees, customers and influencers
    • Creativity counts

What do you think about the Content Marketing Institute (@CMIContent) predictions?

What 2020 Might Bring for Content Marketing

This article from Econsultancy confirms much of what we’ve been saying 2020 will bring to content marketing, from user-generated and reactive content, to short-form vertical video and podcasts.

  • Activism
    • Brands taking stands may win customers
    • Consumers expect some level of social responsibility 
  • User-Generated Content
    • 79% of consumers find UGC highly impactful on their decision to purchase
    • Conversion rates improved when UGC was visible on their websites
  • Short-form, vertical video
    • Driven by Instagram and other socials
    • TikTok is blasting into this market with Gen Z at the lead and a focus on creativity
  • Reactive content
  • Podcasts
    • 1 in 8 people in the UK listen to podcasts weekly, up 24% from 2018
    • Retail brands like Ebay and McDonald’s are creating compelling niche content—the McDonald’s Podcast entry was a tongue-in-cheek “investigation” of how they had run out of Szechuan Sauce. 
  • Interactivity and gamification
    • Long attention spans are not a thing online
    • Branded games allow deeper engagement and access to users social networks
  • Employee advocacy
    • If you have a great brand, your employees will want to talk about it
    • Authenticity counts, though—Amazon’s attempts at prompted employee advocacy came off as though the employees were “forced to read a note at gunpoint.”
  • Memes
    • Easy to deploy
    • Must match brand voice
    • Very engaging

If you have a great brand, people will want to talk about it, so let them do so on their time with social posts that are easy to deploy, engaging, and—most importantly—match your brand’s voice.Let Econsultancy (@Econsultancy) know what you think about their predictions.

Top 2020 B2B Content Marketing Trends & Predictions

TopRank marketing and their leader Lee Odden have been mainstays of the digital marketing world for more than a decade. With a greater business focus in B2B, this set of predictions shows that focus but is applicable universally.

  • The Evolution of Experiential Content
    • Marketers might not be able to fix bad customer support but they can enhance loyalty through experience.
    • “Satisfactory is a rating. Loyalty is an emotion. So, you need to figure out a way to create a lasting emotional bond.” – Shep Hyken
  • Trust 2.0 
    • Align yourself with credible, influential voices.
    • Consider Google’s Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness score and prove that you’re the authority
  • The Continued Rise of Video
    • Believe it or not, video is not just for top-of-funnel marketing anymore
    • 71% of respondents to CMI/MarketingProfs survey used video in the last year
  • Collaborative Content Ups the Personalization Ante
    • Integrate User Generated Content into your brand storytelling; leverage influencers to let your customers hear from people like themselves
    • “If you have a truly differentiated customer experience, something that creates conversations, your employees will naturally echo that and amplify it and connect the dots for potential customers. They will be part of the marketing arsenal.” –Jay Baer riffing on his thesis from Talk Triggers:
  • Email Newsletters Make a Comeback
  • Data-Informed Content should be:
    • Clean: Free from errors 
    • Complete: Not missing critical parts 
    • Comprehensive: Answers the questions asked of it 
    • Chosen: Does not contain irrelevant information
    • Credible: Collected with as little bias as possible from reliable sources 
    • Calculable: Usable by both people and machines 

The Future Is Interactive Content: Five Predictions

This set of predictions comes from Dmitry Shapiro, a digital veteran from Martech Advisor, now focused on mobile. Though you can sense his professional bent in the following five predictions there are some interesting concepts here among some recurring themes.

  1. Social Media Posts Will Look Dramatically Different
    • If you look like everyone else in the channel you will be ignored.
  2. “Remixed” Interactive Content Will Become Widespread and Rule Engagement
    • Consumers are tuning out more static, traditional ad and content types
    • Creation of content is really expensive
    • New tools and techniques are enabling repurposing and mashups
  3. 5g Will Lead Mobile to Dominate, Marketers Will Leverage Branded Games
    • Dmitry makes games. Games are the future… Just kidding
    • Really though, the argument is that with 5G experiences can be much more immersive with minimal lag.
  4. Customers Will Overtake “Influencers” for Brand Promotion
    • Activating advocates is the new influence
    • Remember, “If you are not paying for it, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold.”
  5. Data Analytics Will Shift From Near-Term to Long-Term
    • Shapiro argues that instead of looking at individual post or channel metrics, we will soon look at the way those metrics affect our business.
    • “Leverage ephemeral content to drive deeper engagements with permanent content.”

Preferences Emerge Along Generational Fault Lines

This article wasn’t 2020-specific but was updated in 2020 and featured some interesting data insights from HubSpot. Some stuff you already knew, include that younger customers are mobile first and that people commonly scroll through their phone before sleeping, after waking, and even in the bathroom.

HubSpot also mentioned the following data and options to how we might respond:

  • Facebook is Now a Major Content Channel
    • Consumers use Google to Search for content, but Facebook to Browse content, so “the type of ‘enticing’ content that needs to be developed for channels such as Facebook is very different from that for Google. It needs to be worth viewing to capture the attention of someone scrolling.”
  • Ready or Not, Video is Here
    • Few brands do video well, but consumers pay more attention to them and people want more of it.
  • When It Comes to Content, Age Matters. A Lot
    • Video, social media, and social photos win the under 45 set, while email, research, and news appeal to 45 and over. The takeaway is you probably need some of each in varying quantities depending on your audience demographics.
  • Invest In a Mix of Channels and Content 
    • With a marketplace that is multi-generational and includes various demographics, we can’t afford to leave a channel behind if our customers might be there.
  • Take Demographics Into Consideration When Staffing Content Teams
    • We’d all love to believe we can be the ultimate chameleon, but without demographic diversity we can’t know if our message or the medium will resonate universally.

Eight 2020 Content Marketing Predictions

Look, if your brand is “Content 10X” and you don’t have a predictions post, something is very wrong. Amy Woods is the author/podcaster of this piece and focuses on content repurposing… which is awesome. If you do content, Amy and Content 10X are both worth a follow. Some of the new ideas in this one worth a read include:

  1. More focus on video content–particularly on YouTube
    • We’re more likely to engage with video content overall as more of our entertainment moves to digital video
  2. LinkedIn will be the platform for live video
    • I didn’t even know LInkedIn had a live video platform 🙂
  3. More IGTV
    • IGTV is a great opportunity to repurpose other video content and Instagram is making it easier to post IGTV into the feed
  4. Video to podcast repurposing 
    • As more of us move to Podcasts for information and entertainment, this is a great tactic if you have video assets
  5. Podcasting will continue to grow and grow
    • Yep. It’s not easy, but if you have a potential audience it makes sense to make the investment.
  6. New approaches to paid advertising
    • Amy suggests that, with more people using IG stories, there is a natural move for advertising there. I think that with the growth of smart display and video advertising, ads will get much more dynamic and show up in lots of places.
  7. More tailoring of content for voice search and zero-click Google search results
    • As we know, the zero-click search is a real issue with more than half of searches yielding no click, but some have suggested that winning the zero-click is a good lead-in to voice search as the platforms want to deliver the right answer the first time.
  8. TikTok will inspire more creativity (in snackable formats)
    • TikTok appears to be what the internet was meant for: the equivalent of short funny cat videos all day, every day. Seriously though, @GaryVee says it’s coming, and in a world where snackable wins, this may be a platform to watch.

B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends

This infographic from Social Media Today has a lot of interesting stats. The highlights:

  • Successful B2B marketers have a documented Content Marketing Strategy
  • Analytics, email, and social publishing are the most popular technologies among content marketing practices
  • More than half of B2B marketers are outsourcing some element of their activity
  • Less than half of content is crafted with the customer journey in mind
  • Half of B2B content is being created for top-of-the-funnel
  • Social media and blogs are the leading content types being created.

Definitely go check it out. It’s DEEP with data and worth a quick scan.

2020 Predictions: Content Marketing

I’m not sure what Bluetext is great at, but they do a pretty OK job of Category stuffing. You’ve got to check out the header of this post. It’s like 2002 SEO. There are some key takeaways; however, including: 

  • Data-Driven Content
    • They have a different take on this. The idea is that by studying your prior content you can find opportunities for engagement. Kind of like a very localized Demand Media
  • Smart Device-Centric Content
    • Voice-search is a thing. 48% of consumers are using voice for “general web searches.”
  • Conversational Marketing is King
    • Not just bots, I’m glad to say. Bluetext also talks about human-to-human. And, they rightly point out that bots will get better as AI improves.
  • 2020: The Year of the Snippet
    • Hells yeah! Zero click searches FTW (Google’s win, BTW).
  • The Popularity of Podcasts

Eight More Content Marketing Predictions

This is actually a link to a “This Old Marketing” podcast from Joe Pulizzie and Robert Rose—

the brains behind The Content Marketing Institute and much, much more. 

  • More content on more platforms isn’t working. We should kill off platforms we’re not focused on, and instead, focus on a smaller number of platforms where we’re great.
  • Funding useful, educational inspirational content as part of a purpose driven marketing approach, such as a free online school sponsored by big brands.
  • 2020 will see the resurgence of print media led by enterprise brands. I’m amazed that more brands haven’t taken advantage of lack of competition for the physical mailbox, and Joe likens this to the comeback of vinyl. In all seriousness, my 17 year old has a decent collection, so maybe he’s onto something
  • Ad Tech takes a crippling hit in 2020 as politics and the consumer hurt programmatic and AI driven advertising. Joe suggests Google and Facebook are swallowing up everything.

There was much more and this is well worth a listen. These guys are godfathers of the content marketing industry and have a really broad view.

The Best Content Marketing Predictions

EMPIST lists what they consider to be “The Best Content Marketing Predictions for 2020”. That’s a pretty bold claim, but some predictions include:

  • Video and Live-Streaming remains alive and well as proven by YouTube and TikTok
  • The rise of Conversational Content, including Facebook Messenger Marketing, chatbots, and email automation
  • The popularity of AR-Powered design, such as Snapchat and Instagram 
  • Podcast engagement is at an all-time high

A few other interesting reads to keep you buried in content about content: 

Whew! That was a doozy, but we made it, and now you’re ready to tackle all the content marketing concerns of 2020. Congratulations! Now that you know all the 2020 trends, you can make sure you get the best results from your digital marketing with professional help from a team of experts ready to work with you. Start a conversation today to learn how we can optimize your potential.

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