As you lean into next year there are a few tactics to keep top of mind.
At Hardie Grant, we’re experts at bringing stories to life in a way that captures and holds people’s attention. If you read my review on this year’s Content Marketing World conference however, you would know that this is more challenging than ever – the mobile revolution has shortened our attention span to just eight seconds!
To stand out there are ultimately two things we can all do: be more selective about the stories we tell, or rethink the way we tell them (or both). What I'll explore in this article is the latter, with a particular focus on five things I believe could make a difference between simply “doing content” and delivering an effective content marketing program that wins your customers’ hearts and minds in 2019.
It’s not new news by any stretch, and they’re not exactly trends either. These are tactics that are largely tried and tested, and they need to be on your radar.
1. Voice search
One in ten Australian households is likely to have a smart speaker by this Christmas – 1.5 million already do. And it’s not just smart speakers. Voice–assisted technology exists on everything from new home hubs to our smartphone devices. Our very own Emily Tatti recently penned an article that explores how voice search will affect your SEO strategy. I don’t want to steal her show, but it was mind-bending to learn that by 2020 there will be over 200 billion voice search queries per month – about 50% of all searches. It’s a big swing from where we are today.
We’re lucky most companies have designed their assistants to understand the Australian accent too. I can’t say the same for the Scottish:
For those of us crafting online content and editorial we need to ensure we’re responding to very direct and contextual questions including “how”, “where”, “what”, “how” and “why” if we want to have a shot at ranking in the results and being discovered.
2. Loyalty loop and strategic content planning
Nearly 60% of Australian marketers continue to produce content without a documented content marketing plan. This means their content probably lacks consistency, coordination and effectiveness. Even more alarming is the blind spot on customer context – that critical moment in each individual customer journey that dictates whether a message is relevant and useful.
In 2019, more and more marketers will take from customer relationship management (CRM) and use the customer journey as a backbone for their plans. They'll run a central content operation with at least two teams: one focused on programs that help to convert and another that is responsible for deepening relationships and building advocacy.
Don’t get left behind: think about the two major paths in a customer’s decision journey and spend time understanding their mindset, motivations and information needs – then plan around that.
3. Alternative realities
Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) has always suffered from a bit of “gimmick-itis". Because the hardware lagged behind the software, “wow” experiences were limited to a handful of early adopters and the rest of us suffered an uncomfortable anticlimax... and were left feeling pretty “meh”.
Well, I think I can safely say that times have changed. At least for AR, which has been dubbed the brave new world for social media and has Facebook, Apple and Google in a race to develop the first mainstream and culturally acceptable wearable (remember Google Glass?). One article has even suggested that just as we master social media, the future might become a race for marketers to get into people’s smartphone cameras.
My favourite use of AR to date has been by IKEA with their app PLACE back in 2017:
Another great use case will be when the Major League Baseball app “At Bat” introduces AR with stats overlaid on live match action. They did say it would be live in 2018…
I think in 2019 there are going to be some innovative applications of the technology in retail, as well as in fashion, sport, FMCG, travel and lifestyle. Watch this space!
4. Branded podcasts
Podcasts are on the rise and rise. In fact, these days you’d be hard pressed to find anyone in Australia who isn’t familiar with this very intimate format: the 2018 ABC podcast survey revealed that 91% of people aged 18 to 75 are aware of podcasts and 62% have trialed listening in the past year. What’s really astounding is how this format can hold attention. The average listener will spend 6.1 hours tuning into podcasts each week, with an average listening time of 48 minutes.
We recently teamed up with Nearly and Placard Media to deliver “Navigating Parenthood” for our client, HCF. My bet is this will be one of at least 30 branded niche podcasts produced by or in conjunction with Australian brands in the next 12 months.
Take a look at the demographics of podcast listeners and podcast awareness in Australia below.
5. Live video
It's safe to say we live in a time where trust is at an all-time low. This is why we’re seeing so many brands trying to be more human and purpose-driven. We also live in a time where technology has enabled us to tell a story in the moment, as it unravels. What happens when you bring these two things together?
We can use technology to combat lack of trust and build credibility by streaming a more authentic perspective. Being unfiltered might not be right for every brand, but when the time is right it’s nice (and often very engaging) to show people behind the curtain and be a little more open and vulnerable.
One of the best examples in 2018 was the launch of Falcon Heavy by SpaceX:
Another great use case was by Buzzfeed way back in 2016 where a couple of their editors kept an audience of about 800,000 people in suspense as they answered the question “how many rubber bands does it take to explode a watermelon?”
And in 2017, Royal Caribbean used live video as the basis for an entire campaign!
Suffice to say there are some interesting (and easy to use) ways you could bring your stories to life, so start exploring what might work for your brand. But let’s be realistic – you need to be unafraid and prepared not to nail it the first time around. And remember, it is outrageous if you pull the trigger on any of it without some sort of a plan.
Kate Thompson is strategy director at Hardie Grant Media. If you want to win her over it’s best to bring coffee, craft beer, or both.
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