Content marketing investment and focuses | 2020 trends

Jo-ann Fortune

Head of Content

What does your content do for your audience and brand? What’s its purpose? If you find it difficult to give a straight answer, you’re not alone.

Content delivers results for so many digital channels that strategies tend to unravel in a spaghetti-like tangle of tactics. SEO needs ranking keywords, social media craves likes, paid media chases clicks – content is in demand. So much so that the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) reports 59% of marketers expect their content marketing budget to increase this year.

But whether the people behind these interactions are valuable to your business, and engaged enough to help it grow, is also under increased scrutiny. If your boss isn’t already asking more questions about your content marketing strategy, bets are they soon will – because the stakes just got higher…

The buck stops in house

As an agency, we’re continuously developing our services to support the lean towards in-housing – and this focus on internal accountability has amplified the need for documented validation and planning processes.

The mandate is usually to centralise strategy without stifling creativity. So, as a good editor would, you steer a vision from within a small internal team and draw on external expertise to arrive at a great product.

What to proactively brief and how you reactively wrangle with internal stakeholders’ content demands then become key questions everyone wants answered. And fast – before the production cycle burns more money...

Algorithms demand authority

According to the CMI 80% of B2C marketers outsource content. Not only can it make financial sense in the short term, but it drives greater long-term ROI by giving the people (and therefore Google) what they want.

Google’s 2018 algorithm update cemented content authority and relevancy as critical to visibility, with a refresh of its guidelines in 2019 putting a greater focus on expertise, authority and trust (E-A-T).

If you work for a finance or health brand, you may have felt the impact of the update on traffic to ‘your money or your life’ pages (content that could impact a user’s future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety), and suffered under the subsequent internal scrutiny.

It’s no longer enough to answer a user’s query. To make content worth your time and investment, you need to prove that you’re authoritative and credible – to both your audience and Google.

Your answers – and as such your roster of expert contributors and fact-checkers – should be validated, up to date and top quality. Higher stakes, more eyes on content.

The value exchange for data

Following this line on consumer trust, in January 2020 Google announced it would phase out support for third-party cookies in its Chrome browser “within two years”, seeking to replace them with a browser-based mechanism as part of its Privacy Sandbox initiative.

The resulting paid media focus on first-party data will likely see content marketers promoted through the ranks to strengthen value exchanges (the incentive to opt-in and sign-up), and drive qualified traffic you can learn from to build purposeful interactions with the people who matter most to your business.

Half of respondents in that eminently quotable CMI report said that their organisation is likely to prioritise improving the quality and conversion of audiences in 2020. If yours is among them, start shoring up your content strategy toolkit ready to answer the questions about to come your way.

We’re here to help – download your free template now or get in touch at results@icrossing.co.uk.

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