By Ritika Puri
It’s hard to imagine that 10 short years ago, digital marketers relied on blackhat SEO and spammy advertising tricks to capture their audience’s attention. Consumers caught on and revolted by installing pop-up blockers and pulling business away from shady brands.
This landscape gave rise to a new rule for reaching customers online: quality wins, always.
Now, the demand for high-quality content is booming more than ever. Content crafters, brand journalists and creatives are in high demand, with low supply. Empathy is every brand’s competitive edge.
The bottom line is that consumers have won.
At the same time, the competition for audience attention is fierce. As brands recognize the value of content, they’re investing in more—much more. There is so much awesome content that buyers don’t have time to read.
It’s this context that will give rise to content marketing 2.0, which will be driven by engagement rather than vanity metrics and noise. Here are 3 trends that will unfold.
Personalization will drive content strategy
When it comes to measuring and tracking buyer journeys, marketers are in their infancy. While almost every CMO recognizes the importance of targeted, relevant experiences, few organizations have the mechanisms or human-power to implement personalized campaigns.
Eventually, this dynamic will change. Companies will have the resources necessary to deliver quality, 1:1 experiences. What we’ll see, as a result, is more content—except that content will be targeted to very specific audience subsets.
As the personalization market matures, so will our benchmarks for measuring content ROI. We’ll care less about virality and reaching the right eyeballs than our capacity to reach the right eyeballs.
Again, buyers win. Marketers will eliminate noise and reach audiences 1:1.
Native will win
The harsh reality is that marketers, in many ways, have ruined advertising. We’ve spent decades delivering low quality messages and irrelevant brand experiences. Consumers have had enough, and that’s a good thing.
Native is the one channel that brings empathy to advertising. Rather than bombarding audiences with sales pitches, you’re delivering new knowledge, delight and educational resources that are tangential to your brand.
Native inspires brand-to-audience connections that stem from value rather than sales quotas and impulses to generate new business. It’s the connective tissue between all of our marketing efforts, from display to search, and social. Through high-quality articles and videos, we’ll engage our audiences for the long haul.
Programmatic will become the new norm
The content marketplace is one that will be driven by a combination of quality and scale. As marketers look for more opportunities to reach audiences in a personalized way, the human eye is going to become obsolete.
We’re going to start relying on programmatic capabilities, automation, and predictive analytics to reach our target audiences, in the moment. Especially as we tackle upper funnel campaign objectives, precision is going to be key.
We’ll delegate the manual work to algorithms so that we can focus on what we do best as humans: learning, empathizing and crafting the right messaging for our audiences.
The bottom line is that content marketing isn’t a fad—it’s an approach to relationship building that withstands the test of time. What’s even more important to understand is that the cusp of this ‘new’ content marketing landscape is right in front of you, right now. Balance strategy with technology and empathy by taking small and simple steps forward.
Ritika Puri is the co-founder of Storyhackers, a San Francisco based content marketing and data storytelling company that works with a dozen ad tech clients. In past lives, she led analytics, partnerships, and marketing teams.
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