What Are the Biggest Content Marketing Trends for 2018?

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By Joe Lazauskas

What big content marketing trends do you see for next year? -Jake, New York

As I sat down to write a navel-gazing trends piece for the fifth straight year, I couldn’t help but think of this cartoon by The Marketoonist for two reasons.

1. This cartoon is way too real. I own that outfit. I’ve had that exact conversation at six different conferences this year. I don’t want to come off as self-centered, but I’m pretty sure The Marketoonist is using me as a muse.

2. This cartoon illustrates why the content strategy echo chamber is so problematic. As I wrote in August, this silo-ing of “content marketing” as a special, separate activity within organizations has caused massive growing pains for the industry. Preaching to the converted is a waste of our time.

So as we talk about the big trends that’ll transform content marketing in 2018, let’s look outside the echo chamber.

1. The content operations shake-up

The hardest part of content marketing isn’t starting a blog or crafting a clever social media graphic. It’s figuring out how to use content in a way that makes every interaction with your customers more effective—while simultaneously overcoming bureaucratic headaches.

Inside large organizations, pulling that off requires an incredible amount of internal coordination and buy-in. You need to assess the content needs of every department and figure out how to build a content machine that’ll pump out the high-quality assets they need. Then you need to figure out how to deliver all that content to the people you want to reach.

This means asking big questions like:

  • How do we create a system that lets stakeholders make requests and avoid email chains from hell?
  • How do we locate all outdated or low-quality content and get it out of circulation?
  • How do we surface relevant content to the right people?
  • What key KPIs should we track to measure success and justify this significant investment?
  • Who the heck is in charge?

I have conversations with marketers every week about tackling these challenges. The good news is these conversations now include more marketing leaders, who are taking content seriously. I advise them to focus on three big areas.

Content Strategy

Content strategy is much more than coming up with a bunch of story ideas and populating an editorial calendar. It starts with examining organizational needs. (What business goals do you hope to impact through content, and which are most important?) If you’re a brand-driven organization, for instance, your content goals will level up to brand marketing objectives, and the brand marketing team will likely make final decisions about what to produce.

Next, you need to conduct a content audit to identify what assets you can repurpose and what needs to go. Then you have to put in the time understanding your audience personas and the content they crave, which will help you figure how to differentiate yourself from the competition.

Most importantly, you need a plan of attack for getting that content to people through the right channels at the right time. That plan should contain a proper framework …read more

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