We’re excited about the future of content marketing—and hope you are, too. MSP‑C directors weigh in on what they’re seeing and looking forward to in 2020 and beyond.
- The Revitalization of Print
- Data as the North Star
- No More Measurement Without Meaning
- Making Websites Accessible
- Quality is Queen
- Focus, People
- Thinking Like a Customer
- Breaking the Barriers to Interactive Content
- Your Competitors Aren’t Who You Think They Are
- Keeping it Real, for Real
Check out the short summary video below followed by the full list of 2020 content marketing trends.
1. The Revitalization of Print
I believe brands will refamiliarize themselves with the value of print. Over the past decade or so, many B2B and B2C brands have moved away from magazines to focus exclusively on highly targeted digital content marketing. But recently, we’ve seen a shift.
Smart brands, like REI and California Closets (not to mention our own clients, from Delta Air Lines to Thrivent), have invested marketing resources in owned print media. These companies recognize that while search-optimized, measurable digital content is table stakes for any effective content marketing strategy, print is a powerful brand-building tool.
A high-quality magazine, packed with gorgeous photography, custom illustration and great writing, offers a superior top-of-funnel experience for consumers. This year, we’ll continue to see companies choosing to showcase their brand values on coffee tables as well as screens.
—Molly Bennett, Senior Content Director
2. Data as the North Star
This will be the year that marketers embrace data-driven content. In the previous decade, many talked about it, but very few actually adjusted or created content based on how similar topics perform. In recent months, client requests for content performance metrics reviews and ongoing content marketing dashboards have been on the upswing as marketers strive to work smarter and do more with less.
This year, as chief marketing officers and marketing directors put the reader first, data-driven content will truly take hold. What do readers want to know more about? Conversely, what aren’t they interested in? In 2020, these two questions will be key in driving decisions about where marketers spend time and money on content development.
—Evelyn Hoover, Senior Content Director
3. No More Measurement Without Meaning
When Avinash Kaushik, the great and sage master of analytics, threw down three measurement resolutions for 2020, my team and I perked up and stood at attention.
Avinash has made a career of demystifying data and fighting against meaninglessness with a can-do approach.
For 2020, he recommends we provide context for metrics, stop making common mistakes, and always learn and adapt on the fly. All great, but what we love most is the command for context. Don’t accept percentage lifts, rates, impressions, conversions, completions or ANYTHING ELSE without a benchmark.
If someone says, “The open rate was 24%,” she’d better also follow with an industry standard or a date-range comparison. As marketers, we strive for continuous improvement. Numbers without context don’t get us there.
—Kate Rogers, Vice President, Digital Strategy
4. Making Websites Accessible
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life. On Sept. 15, 2010, the Department of Justice (DOJ) revised the ADA to include enforceable standards called the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design.
So, why might this be a trend to talk about in 2020? It’s because ADA website accessibility lawsuits have grown year over year for the past three years; UseableNet says there was one filed every hour in 2019. By all accounts, 2020 will be the most active year thus far for website accessibility litigation.
What does this mean to anyone who owns a website? It’s not just about avoiding lawsuits; it’s about making your site accessible to anyone who wants to access your content.
Here’s how to make website more accessible:
- Read about the ADA law and understand it.
- Find a tool to help you detect current issues with your website and do your best to fix them.
- Research and develop best practices and guidelines for accessibility when producing future content.
- Create a website accessibility statement to link to in your footer and follow WCAG standards.
- Keep updating metadata, keep training and keep up to date. Striving for website accessibility is an ongoing process. No site can be 100% accessible at all times, but it should always be top of mind.
—Anthony Englund, Digital Strategy Manager
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5. Quality is Queen
B2C content marketers are not only competing against other brands’ content; they’re also vying for readers alongside traditional consumer publishers.
Our readers are engaging with Delta Sky but also Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure and those publications’ social media output. They’re looking at TripAdvisor and AFAR. They might also be reading The New York Times’ travel section.
It all means that in 2020, publishers and content marketers will need to work harder for the same number of eyeballs and/or advertisers. This trend is true for both travel publications and every other category.
Whether you’re publishing a magazine, running a website, building an Instagram following or doing all these things, the best way to grow readership—and advertising profits in turn—is quality storytelling and design that readers cannot get elsewhere.
Competition for consumers’ attention is getting fiercer every day. Now, let’s see what happens with the predicted growth of AI-generated content!
—Sarah Elbert, Senior Content Director and Editor in Chief, Delta Sky
6. Focus, People
I’m leaning (unapologetically) into all of the “2020 vision” clichés. In hindsight, there are a number of things we could have done better in 2019, from day-to-day processes to big picture strategy and prioritization.
My vision for this year is to do fewer things in bigger, better ways. Based on what we heard from myriad speakers at Content Marketing World this past September, this is a common refrain of content creators. This is our year, people!
In 2020, we will focus. Specifically, I’ll be asking questions like:
- How do we promote that piece of content two or three more times?
- How do we take our best evergreen (say, brunch recipes) ideas and make them work for specific instances (say, Easter) instead of creating brand new content?
- Can that video be sliced to be shared in snippets?
- Conversely, can we string together what we have in our library to make a supercut around a topic?
Please allow me one more cliché: By keeping our eyes on the prize, I think it’s totally possible.
—Kayla Knudson, Content Director
7. Thinking Like a Customer
In the content marketing industry, creating audience-first content is nothing new. The best in our business blend consumer insights and trends, client business considerations and a journalistic sensibility to recognize a good story and share it in a meaningful way.
In 2020, I’m happy to see that many of our clients are implementing customer-centric language and actions in their marketing plans. Some of our clients have even incorporated a customer-first approach into their everyday work culture. THAT IS HUGE!
Getting in the customer mindset will make your content more relevant and personal to your audience. Even if you don’t have a regular content marketing program in place, you still have an audience. Before you update your website for SEO’s sake or push “go” on promoting your new product, take a minute to get to know your audience inside and out.
Think about what your customer is thinking about. What questions do you think they have? What everyday problem are you solving? Putting their needs and wants first will go far to establish the true value that you offer.
—Amanda Welshons, Associate Content Director
8. Breaking the Barriers to Interactive Content
This year is prime time for digital publishers to swing into interactive content. A proliferation of tools is helping to break down the technological barriers. Want to embed a slick quiz? There’s an app for that. How about shaking up your page designs? Your CMS may have components for that.
It’s simpler (if not exactly cheaper) than ever to start experimenting with new on-screen experiences. It is an investment: most third-party tools come with a fee, but consider this in comparison to the costs and time involved with a development project. Get the most for your interactive investment by starting with a solid content strategy—then put your best talent on the job.
Reminder: The web, by its very nature, is interactive. The behavior of tapping and clicking has become such an instinct that we now have a more sophisticated definition of the word. But writing and designing for these experiences can still require some learning.
The key to creating great interactive content lies in one’s skill in thinking across time. What happens first, second, last? By thoughtful and deliberate use of the tools at hand, tempered by solid UX principles, your team can produce delightful, showstopping work!
—Mike Kooiman, Interactive Design Director
9. Your Competitors Aren’t Who You Think They Are
You know who your industry competitors are. You probably know a lot about them, too. But when your goal is to win eyeballs, your competitive field is much larger. You’re competing with Buzzfeed’s listicles, YouTube cat videos—the list goes on.
This past year brought massive layoffs to traditional media companies like Gannett and Buzzfeed (shameless plug: support your local newspaper!), and brands are starting to step up and take on the mantle of content creation. And here’s the good news: Consumers want this.
To win those eyeballs in 2020, brands are going to need to think of themselves as content creators more than marketers. This means thinking like a newsroom, providing consumers with value-add content. It needs to be informative and entertaining.
In this new reality, content designed to simply promote a product or check an SEO keyword box won’t cut it. It should contribute a unique, well-researched perspective. Quantity still matters, but with a shift to a distributed content model that lets consumers engage right where they are.
TL;DR: Congratulations, content marketers. You’re now in the media business.
—Amy Goran, Content Director
10. Keeping it Real, for Real
The heavily filtered perfection that has dominated social media for years is being rejected in favor of something that we’re all craving in 2020: true authenticity. What does that mean for brands? It means creating content that meets people where they are: real life!
As “likes” disappear from Instagram and society rejects what it really takes to appear flawless, keeping your brand out of the “do-it-for-the-’gram” waters is all important.
Provide your client’s consumers with content they’re really seeking using SEO, segmentation and consumer research.
Need a place to start? Get entrenched with your consumer’s day-to-day realities, understand how your brand can make those a bit easier and create relevant content from there.
—Emily Den Boer, Associate Content Director
Content Marketing Trends 2020: Wrapping It All Up
More Leads? More Engagement? More Sales? Some of the world’s largest corporations and recognized brands trust MSP‑C to help them with that, and even more. From strategy to execution, we can manage the entire content marketing process for you—connecting your business goals to real results.
A content marketing agency comprised of award-winning journalists, designers, digital and social strategists, we start by identifying the content that your audience craves, and then bring it to them in rich and meaningful ways. Check out some of our case studies for examples of some of our bigger content marketing wins.
Are you looking for a targeted content marketing strategy that will help your company increase audience engagement, customer loyalty and ROI? Contact us with your needs and we’ll reach out right away.
Read next: The 5 Best Types of Content Marketing for Great Storytelling