Fergus Stoddart
This is a post by Fergus Stoddart

As we near the end of 2018 – a year that’s been full of Insta Stories, Trump Tweets, the curiosity that was iHob and everything Meghan Markle – it’s time to look forward. What content marketing trends should we expect in 2019 and what will stay the same?

Content marketing is an ever-evolving business. Last year, Technavio estimated the content marketing industry will be worth over $400 billion by 2021. Major brands are spending more coin on their content channels than ever before, with a third of content-marketers having increased their spending this year, according to recent figures.

This year, brands need a way to be heard above the digi-racket. That’s where content marketing comes in: a strategic, data-based approach that works to attract and retain a an audience.

Ultimately, staying ahead of the content marketing game is paramount to your business’ bottom line. So here’s what to expect in 2019:

1. The customer will matter even more  

We’ve always used a customer loyalty loop at the end of the funnel and that’s because word-of-mouth is gold when it comes to finding new business. But personalising this content will become more important in 2019. Modern consumers have a craving – if not an expectation – to be spoken with, rather than sold to. They want their relationship with a brand to begin well before and end well after a purchase. It’s no longer enough to make the sale – you have to nurture your relationship with your customer and figure out how you can add value to their lives. Producing unique content specific to your unique audience can help here.

As the data streams become more and more connected, customer journeys will become more personal. Brands will have the opportunity to create an equally intimate relationship with their customer.

Spotify’s ‘Made for [insert your name here]’ playlists provides a clear example. Using consumer data and listening history, the digital music service suggests tracks based on your specific music preferences. Entertaining and convenient, sure; but, more importantly, it make you feel understood by the brand.

2. Unique distribution will be a thing

Have we reached peak-Facebook yet? With more than 2.27 billion active users, Facebook is crowded and standing out is hard. That’s not to say you shouldn’t use it – it’s still a great way to cast your net wide and find new audience. But, in 2019, finding the unique space your customers hangout should be an important part of your content strategy. This means, you need to know your customer. What’s their passion? What’s their avenue for learning? Think about featuring in websites they love or industry-specific email newsletters, spotify ads, Podcasts, or featured ads on apps (such as food delivery), etc. And believe it or not, print hasn’t died yet! Just this year, Roy Morgan uncovered that 1 in 3 Australians (or 35.6 percent) still read print newspapers. Cross-platform publications such as magazines are also growing, with over 15 million Australians still reading them, whether online or in hard copy. Find your audience where they already are – that way, they’ll know you understand their needs.   

3. Voice control is on the up
Voice control has been around for a while, but it’s only recently, as technology has improved, that it has started to be embraced. Alexa, Siri and Google voice search are being used more every day. What does this mean for content marketers? Ensuring your content is optimised for voice search is going to become vital. Unlike website search, only a few (sometimes one) results are supplied in voice search, and being that one on top could be the difference if you want your business to be found.

4. IGTV will gain popularity
This year it was hard to look past the popularity if Insta Stories – they were embraced by users worldwide and marketers took note. As user interaction continues to grow in this channel –  such as adding polls and questions – stories will remain popular. Yet IGTV, which also launched in 2018, will start to grow. Launched as a direct competitor to YouTube, IGTV allows long-form video content to be shared easily in a mobile-friendly (vertical) format. We already know that Millenials and the generation after them (Gen Z), use YouTube for just about everything – from how-to advice to discovering new brands to just plain, old entertainment. So, with IGTV the chance to create useful, well-produced video is on offer. In 2019, it’s time to give it a try.

5. Get personal and real
The buzz word for the last five years when creating content has been “authentic”. And yes, authenticity still matters. But somewhere along the line, many marketers confused authenticity for buying UGC from micro-influencers. In 2019, this kind of content isn’t going to cut the mustard. Rather, it’s time to think differently. Partnering with influencers is still important, but as a collaboration that shows you’re working together because you’re aligned in an authentic way. YouTubers who are killing it amongst Gen Z, for instance, can help introduce your brand to a whole new audience if your brand values are aligned.

As a business, too, it’s time to get personal. The concept of ‘The Social CEO’ is gaining popularity as customers want to hear directly from the head of the company they’re giving their hard-earned money to. Just be sure to keep it genuine, not stuffy. Then, look further afield. Can your customer service rep answer FAQs? If you’re a food business, can your chefs give advice on how to prepare it? Or, if you’re a fashion business, your designers on how to style it? Perhaps your office manager can give updates on exciting projects in the pipeline. Start using your internal resources to talk to your audience regularly to create a genuine relationship with your customers.