Content marketing has already transformed so much over the last few years.
That’s why every year, you need to be up-to-speed with the current content marketing trends. Failure to do so could result in you running outdated campaigns that yield no results.
What started as one-off articles has evolved into an entire marketing department. Sales, marketing, and customer success have never aligned as much as they do now, and a lot of that has to do with content marketing and distribution. So as we look ahead to the action in 2022, we’ve put together five predictions on how content marketing will continue to evolve.
These 12 content marketing trends will help you up your game, resulting in more inbound leads and an uptick in sales.
Importance of Content Marketing & Staying Relevant
Why is content marketing so important?
Why should B2B marketers bother to keep up with content marketing trends, even if it means pouring out time and resources?
Well, here are three (out of many more) reasons content marketing should be at the heart of your marketing endeavors:
Helps Drive Inbound Leads
One of the most significant reasons content marketing is important is that it helps drive inbound leads.
Your customers need the content you create to help them know more about you and your product. But, more importantly, they need content to help them understand how to overcome their pain points and achieve their goals.
It takes a well-planned and executed content marketing strategy to attract, nurture, and convert your target audience.
According to research, compared to outbound marketing, content marketing:
- Generates three times as many leads
- Drives 6X higher conversion rate
- Has the potential for a 7.8-fold boost in web traffic
And since lead generation is one of the biggest challenges B2B marketers face, content marketing must get a big chunk of the marketing budget. After all, the numbers don’t lie.
Another reason content marketing should play a huge role in your marketing is because it’s one of the best ways to build trust with your audience.
Particularly for B2B brands, marketing is about building relationships with prospects. And strong relationships are based on trust.
That’s where content marketing comes into play — it helps you build trust with your audience.
Educates Your Target Audience
Content is the best (and easiest) way to educate your audience. Without it, they can’t know what your product does. They won’t even know that they need it.
A robust content marketing strategy is essential in educating your audience and moving them along each stage of your sales funnel.
Top 12 Content Marketing Trends of 2022 & Beyond
Ready to dive into the top 12 content marketing trends of 2022?
Let’s get to it, shall we?
1. AR, VR, Wearables, & the Metaverse
When people think of content marketing, their first thought is a blog post. But content encompasses more than blog posts and videos, particularly in today’s world. That’s because the way people consume content is changing, thanks to advancements in technology like augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), wearables, and more.
Plus, with Meta’s (Facebook) metaverse coming closer to reality, content marketers have to start planning how they’re going to market to their target audience across all these advanced platforms.
So what’s the answer?
Marketers must start looking into immersive content. You must focus on creating content that not only informs but offers unique experiences.
2. SEO is Changing, So Should You
Search engine optimization (SEO) has been the primary channel for organically reaching your audience. Studies even show that 75% of marketers cite SEO as their most efficient content marketing tactic.
But with the competition becoming stiffer and algorithms constantly changing, you need to adapt and leverage current SEO best practices.
That’s why you must ensure you always have a robust B2B SEO strategy.
As we go into the future, one SEO trend you must embrace is the power of search intent, A.K.A user intent. While keywords still dominate search engines, the focus has shifted more toward search intent. So, as you plan your SEO campaigns, particularly the keyword research stage, make sure to add search intent to the equation.
Another SEO trend to watch is how Google continues to update search engine results pages (SERPs). They show varied content forms like rich snippets, knowledge panels, and more. You have to be strategic in your content marketing to own these SERP features and gain more visibility.
While content marketing started as publishing a blog post here and there, publishing simple blog posts won’t cut it anymore. You must be strategic in the research, planning, and execution of your campaigns.
For an idea of what a well-executed SEO strategy can do, check out this case study.
3. Content is Now Spelt — E.A.T
Keyword stuffing, thin content, clickbait headlines, and more were some of the tricks some shady marketers called content marketing. But with both search engines and users becoming more advanced, it will take more than a bag full of tricks to run successful content marketing campaigns.
That’s why one of the content marketing trends you must embrace is creating value-packed content. Yes, even if you’re giving it away for free. You must ensure that your content follows Google’s E.A.T guidelines, which are:
- Expertise. Your content must be expertly written, and that by an expert on the subject.
- Authoritative. This refers to the authority of the website the content is published on, the author of the content, and the content itself.
- Trustworthy. As above, this refers to the website’s trustworthiness, the author of the content, and the content itself.
This is why you must, as much as possible, make sure to get subject matter experts (SMEs) involved in your content creation.
Audiences, especially B2B buyers, are savvier today and can smell shallow or fake content a mile away.
Therefore, if your content doesn’t meet the standard, your website visitors will quickly leave. This will result in high bounce rates and no inbound leads.
Creating high-performing content is a result of exceptional writing by SMEs.
4. Favor Free Content Over Paywall Preferences
One of the primary purposes of content marketing is lead generation. That’s why many marketers gate their content. They put it behind paywalls so that users can only gain access to it by trading their contact information for it.
While that may have worked in the past, this tactic is slowly losing its effectiveness as there’s just too much free content out there.
And that’s the reason one of the content marketing trends you must embrace in 2022 is to do away with paywalls and favor free content. A few reasons for this include:
- Free content drives more brand awareness as it enjoys more pageviews.
- Executed well, free content performs just as well as gated content when it comes to driving leads.
- Building links organically to gated content is very difficult.
Giving content away in the competitive market we’re in now makes more sense than putting it behind a paywall.
5. User Intent, A.K.A Search Intent
Another content marketing trend for 2022 is the shift from keyword density in content to meeting user intent.
While keywords still play a huge role in content marketing and SEO, search engines focus more on making sure the content they serve up on SERPs satisfies what the user wants. Most SEO professionals agree that search intent is one of the differentiators between high-performing content and mediocre content that doesn’t produce results.
A few reasons search intent is a valuable component of content marketing are that it helps you:
- Craft content users find helpful
- Helps drive relevant traffic to your website
- Improves lead quality
- Leads to higher conversion rates
- Lowers bounce rates
Knowing why searchers are using the particular keywords they use is an essential ingredient to a winning B2B content marketing strategy. It shows that you understand your target audience and results in you easily building authority and credibility in your niche.
6. Personalization That Comes From Using Data About Visitors
B2B buyers are usually (wrongly) regarded to make their purchase decisions like robots — with no emotion.
That couldn’t be further from the truth.
Remember, B2B buyers are human beings. As such, it’s impossible to separate them from their emotions.
What does this have to do with content marketing trends for 2022?
Studies show that 77% of consumers choose, recommend, or pay more for a brand that provides personalized experiences. Because of this, B2B marketers need to ensure personalization is part of their content strategy.
If you’re to win in generating marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and sales qualified leads (SQLs), you have no choice but to add personalization to the mix. Personalized campaigns are more memorable and trigger an emotional response in your target audience. As a result, you get to enjoy higher conversion rates, fill up your pipeline, and enjoy an uptick in revenue. Check out this example of the power of personalization from Bottomline Technologies.
But how do you create personalized B2B marketing campaigns?
Leverage data, specifically these four types:
- Firmographic data. This gives insight into the brands you’re targeting. Examples include industry, company size, revenue, location, e.t.c.
- Demographic data. Includes data about the individuals involved in the buying process. Examples include name, job title, role, seniority level, and more.
- Behavioral data. Shows visitor activity on your website and other digital platforms. Examples include visiting your pricing page, downloading a demo, booking a call, email engagement, attending a webinar, and more.
- Contextual data. This includes background data about where the user came from. Examples include referral source, device type, browser, e.t.c.
A point to note is that a lot of data, particularly contextual and behavioral, relies on cookies. And Google is killing off cookies by the end of 2023. Instead, they’re looking into a solution called Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoCs). This new solution will not track users at an individual level. Instead, it will target individuals based on larger groups of users who exhibit similar interests and behavior.
Does this mean personalization will be harder?
According to Google, it won’t. But then again, we’ll have to wait and see how FLoc works and find ways of optimizing for it.
7. Socially-Conscious Content
The past few years have been wrought with unexpected challenges, unprecedented crises, and overwhelming uncertainty. It’s they’ve been years of tremendous adaptation and growth — for individuals and companies alike. Under heightened economic and social pressure, many American companies have adopted socially-conscious business initiatives, marketing messages, and internal policies regarding public health and racial justice. Let’s just say these were all long overdue.
Regardless of how tasteful or authentic this type of outreach feels to you, it reflects an underlying shift in our expectations for corporations. Prior to 2020, companies that practiced corporate social responsibility (CSR) and “conscious capitalism” outperformed their competition in sales, brand loyalty, and employee satisfaction. A corporate social responsibility (CSR) survey published in 2015 found that 91 percent of millennials would switch to brands associated with a cause. The same study revealed that most millennials were willing to make sacrifices to support CSR-driven companies, including paying more for a product, sharing with friends, or taking a pay cut to work for a socially responsible company. When you consider that millennials make up a quarter of the U.S. population and account for nearly $1.4 trillion in U.S. consumer spending, those statistics gain even more significance.
If these benefits weren’t alluring enough before 2020, renewed public pressure has made ignoring them a liability. A report published in June of this year revealed that 85 percent of Americans expect companies to help address racial inequality. And simply talking the talk won’t cut it — brands like Nike faced public backlash for publishing anti-racist messaging on social media but failing to follow up their “For Once, Don’t Do It” messaging with concrete anti-racism policies. Get creative with your socially-conscious content. Consider making collateral for specific groups of people, like Enneagram 3, who are most likely to be entrepreneurs and thus your target audience.
In the future, we’ll continue seeing companies create content that addresses social issues and engage in socially-conscious conversations on social media.
8. User-Generated Content
If we’ve learned anything from the past, it’s that B2C customer expectations drive B2B sales trends. In the B2C realm, user-generated content has proven to be a powerful tool for earning brand credibility and generating sales. In fact, 70 percent of consumers trust peer reviews over sales calls or brand-generated content. In the B2B sales world, pursuing user-generated content strategies often means thinking outside the box. Along with encouraging customers to share photos and videos on social media, more B2B companies are publishing customer surveys and testimonials as a means of driving engagement, providing value, and building trust.
Remember that user-generated content isn’t limited to customers. As companies face more pressure to practice corporate social responsibility, employee-generated content (such as photos from company culture events) will become a more popular means of building brand identity and enforcing brand values.
Many companies have leveraged user-generated content in the form of support forums and FAQs. In addition to providing helpful information and engagement opportunities to customers, encouraging user-generated support content can take some of the heavy lifting off of your customer support team.
9. B2B Podcasting
When it comes to creating meaningful content, don’t underestimate the power of the podcast. While an average user spends under a few minutes on a webpage, podcast fans consume over 3 hours of content a day on average. In addition to being entertaining and informative, podcasts are an incredibly versatile medium because they can be consumed with ease from anywhere. Whether you’re on a busy train, at your desk at work, taking a trip out of town, or working from home for the millionth day in a row, a podcast is the perfect companion.
Although branded content still makes up a small percentage of the podcasting community, that’s already begun to change. Companies like Salesforce, ZipRecruiter, Basecamp, Slack, and LinkedIn have created recurring podcasts as a way to engage different customer segments, attract and engage leads, boost brand authority, and build stronger relationships with their user base.
It’s also worth noting that podcasts have continued to thrive in a remote work world. Compared to other content mediums, podcasts are relatively low-cost and low-production — thereby allowing producers to be more agile in their response to evolving public needs and interests. In the last few months, there’s been a steady stream of “podcasts for the pandemic era.” As podcasts continue to attract new listeners from every generation, it’s no longer a trend or medium that B2B markers can ignore.
10. Video, Video, Video
Did we say video? Our attention spans may be getting shorter, but some content is still capturing our time and imaginations. As of 2020, video content surpassed blogs and infographics as the most commonly used form of content marketing. And for a good reason — people spend more time on pages with videos and retain more information from watching videos compared to text.
Based on current trends, Cisco predicts that online video will make up 82% of all internet traffic by 2022. We expect to see more brands invest in video marketing and leverage live streaming video on social channels to engage with customers.
11. Dynamic Content & Content Customization
In a world where the majority of a buyer’s journey is completed online, content is king. Online content is the primary medium through which buyers research their problems, search for solutions, discover brands, compare products, and ultimately make purchasing decisions. Each piece of content you create — be it web pages, blog articles, social posts, e-books, videos, etc. — is a stepping stone along that journey. If one stone is missing or ineffectual, you lose influence over how that journey will progress and risk losing prospects altogether.
Considering the stakes makes it easy to understand why 70 percent of marketers are actively investing in content marketing. But creating a seamless buyer’s journey isn’t as simple as it sounds — especially if you have multiple products, services, or customer segments. In addition to creating quality content for each customer segment, you need to ensure that prospects are given the right piece of content at exactly the right moment in time.
That’s where dynamic content comes in. Dynamic content, or adaptive content, is content that changes based on a specific user’s data, such as their engagement behavior, preferences, or interests. For instance, when you visit a webpage to look up your local forecast, the website may use your computer’s current GPS location or a previous search to serve up the weather forecast for your area. In such a way, dynamic content anticipates a user’s needs and creates a more seamless experience. Dynamic content can also boost page conversions by ensuring that visitors see content that is relevant to their experience and juncture in the buyer’s journey.
In the same vein, content customization is becoming the rule rather than the exception. More and more customers expect brand communication to be tailored to their needs and experiences. For instance, if you add items to your shopping cart on a website and don’t make a purchase, it’s not uncommon to receive a follow-up email reminding you of what items you’ve left in your cart and when a promotion will expire. This type of content customization has raised our expectations for brand engagement across the board and made non-customized content feel even more impersonal by comparison. As dynamic content and data capturing tools continue to evolve and drive consumer standards, you can expect this trend to continue well beyond 2022.
12. AI Generated Content & Tools
Artificial intelligence (AI) has slowly been making headway in content marketing. So much so that it has now become a critical tool for marketers. For example, AI has become an integral part of the many tools marketers use for:
- Data analysis for running personalized campaigns
- Content planning
- Creating optimized blog posts at scale using tools like GPT3
- Running plagiarism and grammar checks for improved content quality
- Distribution and promotion of content via chatbots, social media, and other channels
Besides content creation, AI plays a more significant role in helping search engines understand search queries and serve users with hyper-personalized content. It’s also assisting savvy marketers in nurturing their leads and closing more deals effectively.
Content Marketing Trends for 2022 — Ready to Up Your Content Marketing Game?
Despite the ever-changing B2B marketing landscape, one thing remains sure — content marketing will always be a significant element for brands that want to succeed.
However, to beat the competition, you must be quick to adapt to current contempt marketing trends — as long as data backs them up, of course. For 2022, these 12 trends are enough to give you a leg up as you plan and execute your campaigns for the year.
Struggling to keep up to speed with the ever-evolving world of content marketing?
We get you. There are simply too many elements to consider.
That’s why we’ve dedicated ourselves to helping B2B brands like yours execute content marketing campaigns that perform exceptionally well. Get in touch and we’ll help you supercharge yours.