The first part dealt with trends such as pillar content, format diversity and personalization. Here are five more content marketing trends:
More strategy, less tactics
The hype about content marketing is slowly ebbing, as it has become an integral part of corporate communications, but the much-needed consolidation phase is following close behind. After initial hesitation, many marketers finally had to get on track very quickly in order not to lose out. However, they hardly had time to set up a complex content marketing strategy based on long-term goals. This often resulted in short-term tactics, which at best achieved short-term goals.
Gradually, however, the realization is gaining ground that content marketing cannot achieve long-term goals such as positioning the brand, customer loyalty or building a community without an underlying strategy. Purely quantitative KPIs from performance marketing such as lead generation or reach are gradually being replaced by qualitative values such as brand reputation, returning visitors or interaction rate, which also reflect long-term objectives.
Never before have companies had so much customer data at their disposal. In the future they will receive even more data, because the number of points of contact between brands and consumers will continue to rise due to the Internet of Things alone. Customer data is also created in content marketing itself, but it is still too rarely used. The huge amount of data can actually be implemented to derive a great deal of information, which can then be translated into concrete marketing measures. To do this, the big data must be structured, analyzed and sorted using algorithms. The result is information that can be used sensibly for marketing (smart data).
The Marriott hotel chain, for example, is relying on cooperation with Apple and Salesforce to collect interactive data and evaluate it intelligently. Marriott’s goal is to get to know its customers better with every visit in order to offer them what they want.
The personalization of dynamic content is the best-known example of using smart data meaningfully. But actually this is only the second step, because with smart data you can not only publish the right content at the right time, but also find out which topics are important for your customers. Smart data thus supports a fundamental function of content marketing: addressing customer interests.
Content marketing’s coming of age also includes closer integration with other corporate communication activities. Thought leadership is one exciting area that is currently undergoing extensive change. Opinion leadership as a branding strategy has existed for a very long time, as a humorous report in “The New Yorker” in 1961 shows. Even then, by the way, there was talk of advertising fatigue among consumers.
With the rise of influencer marketing, thought leadership has become popular again, because both concepts have a lot in common. They both focus on topics and seek to exert influence with regard to these topics. Influencers have recently been viewed in a more sober light and, as a result, more and more companies are trying to position their own experts and often use their own content platforms to do so.
Good examples include Peter Vullinghs, CEO Philips Germany, Jo Kaeser of Siemens and Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche. Daimler will soon have to face the challenge of transferring the positioning of its current CEO, Zetsche to his successor, Ola Källenius.
In the ongoing battle for talent and skilled workers, companies are increasingly focusing on long-term concepts. Employer branding is thus becoming a more direct goal of content marketing. In contrast to thought leadership, the focus is not on expert knowledge, but on presenting the company as an attractive employer. Employees often talk about their day-to-day work from their own perspective or are asked about it in interviews. This serves to communicate not only personal stories that convey closeness to the company, but also the values and culture of the employer itself.
Examples: The Future Makers show their working environments at Siemens. The Instagram account of Hootsuite‘s social media management platform regularly provides a “look behind the scenes” under the Hashtag #HootsuiteLife.
When Telekom CEO Timotheus Höttges asked in his DMEXCO keynote: “What the hell is going on in our society?” some of Telekom’s PR and marketing employees may have experienced a bit of discomfort. External observers also asked themselves whether a CEO and thus an entire company is allowed to position itself so politically and critically?
This question is understandable above all because we are simply not used to large companies openly demonstrating a concrete attitude. That seems to be changing now, however, and could become quite a trend for content marketing. In addition to Telekom, Siemens boss Joe Kaeser recently also took a critical stance toward the AfD in a tweet. The fact that attitude can also increase sales is shown in the USA by the sporting goods manufacturer Nike with its advertising campaign with the controversial football player, Colin Kaepernick.
Meike Leopold recently launched a blog series on the subject of attitudes in corporate communications. As a communications consultant, she raises the question of whether, “companies and their employees are still able to stay out of important political and social discourses at all in today’s world”.
Conclusion: take your own path despite all the trends
Is it absolutely necessary to deal with every trend and implement it? Of course not, but you can still be inspired by them. It is always good to be familiar with current trends and developments. But it’s even better if you derive your own concepts and strategies from them, which then also fit your own company and the overall communication strategy. Ultimately, only one’s own path is authentic and leads to the defined goals.