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Although it’s been around for some time now, plenty of marketers and brands aren’t really clear about what content marketing is. If you count yourself as one of those who’s not entirely sure, then keep reading. Fortunately, it’s not complex at all. Basically, content marketing is when a brand creates content that’s helpful, educational and entertaining for its target consumers.

That content can be found on platforms like blogs, social media, videos and podcasts, and it’s valuable to customers and potential customers, but its primary purpose isn’t to push the brand’s services or products. It’s related to what’s being sold or promoted but not in an in-your-face way.

For instance, if your brand makes athletic gear, and one of your key target markets is business travelers, then your content might include top tips for the best hotel room workouts or the best places to go running in important business cities. Think of content marketing as something extra that customers appreciate, remember and positively associate with your brand.

Who Uses Content Marketing and Why?

Content marketing isn’t just for the big boys. Businesses that use content marketing come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from major corporations and big brands to local fashion boutiques, law firms and community colleges. The audience for content marketing is anyone who might be a member of a target market for a brand’s products or services.

What are the benefits of using content marketing? For one, it helps establish your brand as an authority in your industry. It helps to deepen your relationship with consumers by strengthening their trust in your brand and appreciation for the content’s added value. It broadens awareness of your brand, keeps it relevant and helps it stand apart from the competition.

Top 15 Content Marketing Trends for 2019 and How to Implement Them

When it comes to content marketing trends, 2019 can be the year that delivers results. Here are some of the best ways to make content marketing deliver for you.

1. Optimize Your Content for Voice Search

As the number of consumers using voice search skyrockets, it’s crucial to optimize your content for voice as part of your strategy. Voice search is now 35 times more popular than it was when it launched 11 years ago. Natural language integration, which knows and understands a consumer’s unique voice and language patterns, is on the upswing in voice search, too, and can help you learn what customers are looking for.

2. Create Original, Authentic Content

Original content that is authentic and has value is more important than ever. Say goodbye to click-bait, thank you very much. Consumers don’t want to be taken for a ride with no real payoff or feel like they’ve been hoodwinked by an article that never delivers what the headline promises. Give them real information that they can use and that doesn’t seem like a sales ploy.

3. Discover the Right Content Length

Both long-form and short-form content remain on trend for 2019. What’s most important when determining content length is making sure it’s well tailored for the platform and the topic. For larger topics that require lots of detail and that consumers can really sink their teeth into, use long form. For content that quickly gets major points across, use short form.

4. Cultivate Collaborations

If your brand has never collaborated before, then it’s time to start. Working with influencers can expand the reach of your content, and podcasts can be a great way to collaborate with other industry experts. Joining forces can highlight your individual strengths and also grow your knowledge base.

5. Prioritize Video

Video is quickly evolving as a key component of content marketing; YouTube alone has more than a billion users. Live video and short-form video are heating up as content marketing trends, and that includes branded content video. Live video can boost interactions with viewers, add an authentic element to your content and increase sales. Short-form video is geared to the bite-size attention spans of time-pressed Internet audiences. The shorter your video is, preferably 90 seconds or less, the more likely people will watch it all the way through.

6. Evaluate New Channels

Think of 2019 as the year that you check out new channels for your content to help your strategy. You don’t necessarily need to be on a lot of channels or to be on the same ones as your competitors. However, you do need to find the channels that perform the best for your brand, and that might take some trial and error.

7. Get the Data You Need

Content marketers are putting an even greater emphasis on research and ROI, and improvements in access to data and analytics are moving this trend forward. You can tap into this trend by using data to help define your strategy, market, content, keywords and performance.

8. Consider AI and Chatbots

Advanced artificial intelligence is no longer confined to science fiction. Smart brands are using it to help their content marketing strategy. Different AI applications like text mining can help you figure out the best keywords to use in your content and discover important information about your customers, employees and competition. Chatbots can increase engagement with consumers when they’re done right.

9. Tell Stories with a Human Element

The most powerful content includes stories that feature real people that followers feel they can connect and identify with. If stories don’t ring true, neither will your brand. You can improve your strategy by including a human element in your content. Spotlighting employees and customers who have inspirational stories to tell that align with your brand’s values shows that you care and are engaged with them.

10. Create Powerful Visuals

As content marketing becomes an increasingly crowded and competitive field, eye-catching photography and visuals comprise an element you can’t overlook in your strategy, especially if your brand relies heavily on imagery to sell products, as with fashion and beauty companies.

11. Get on Board With Social Commerce

A bottom-line oriented social commerce strategy makes it easy for your audience to buy your products and services within your content. You can increase sales by letting customers buy from you right on social media channels like Facebook and Instagram, without leaving the platform.

12. Get Started With Virtual Reality

Virtual reality and augmented reality are hot content marketing trends. Virtual reality can immerse a consumer in your content through experiences like 3-D and live-action video. It’s an exciting way to interact and also shows that your brand is technology-forward. Augmented reality apps can do things like put your customers in virtual rooms and spaces and show them what your products would look like in different environments without bringing them home.

13. Inclusivity and Social Issues

Stay relevant and committed to diversity by staying on top of social issues and being inclusive with content. Consumers want to see themselves reflected in content, so make sure yours shows the full spectrum of your market and does so in a respectful way.

14. Try Remarketing

If consumers leave your site without buying anything, then remarketing, also called retargeting, lets you reach them with ads that follow them to other places they’re going online. Well-chosen ads that lead to valuable, interesting content could bring those bounced visitors back to your brand as buyers rather than browsers.

15. Leverage User-generated Content

Don’t hesitate to mine your following for content. Followers love to share their suggestions, tips and stories, and it’s a no-cost way to generate content from users who are authentic and already have a relationship with your brand.