10 Content Marketing Trends To Watch In 2022

Dramatic changes in consumers’ behavior and informational needs caused by the pandemic have been driving content marketing trends and opportunities through the roof.

As consumers shifted online en masse and the world as we knew it was disrupted, a great many questions arose – and people looked to the brands they do business with for answers.

In 2021, 43% of marketers experienced content marketing budget increases, and 66% expect to see it rise again in 2022.

Video, digital and real-world events, owned-media assets, and paid media are among the top areas of content marketing investment for the year ahead, according to CMI’s latest B2B Content Marketing report.

In this column, we’ll take a look at 10 specific content marketing trends driving this increased investment and activity.

For each one, you’ll find tips and takeaways below the infographic to help you capitalize on them for marketing success in 2022.

1. The Demand For Quality, Relevance & Trustworthiness In Content

Google’s core updates, Page Experience and Core Web Vitals, and anti-spam initiatives continue to raise the bar for creators and marketers who want their content to be discoverable in search.

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E-A-T – Google’s desire for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness in searchable content – is a mantra that will continue to weigh heavily on the minds of marketers through 2022.

Because it lacks a quantifiable metric and cannot be measured, the concept of E-A-T is a perpetual challenge in SEO.

And while it certainly matters more in some types of content than others, average content just won’t perform in any vertical where exceptional content is present.

Tips:

  • Look to create exceptional content experiences with the integration of audio, video, text, AR/VR, gamification, and other interactive elements.
  • Create content with your “dream” client or customer in mind – what does it take to win their business?
  • Focus on displaying empathy and building trust in every piece of content you create.

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2. A Renewed & Intense Focus On Understanding Consumer Intent

What’s the intent behind the search?

Marketers and SEO professionals who are still hyper-focused on keywords and their performance are missing the opportunity to truly connect with their audience in meaningful ways.

Understanding not only what people are searching for but why is essential in planning and crafting content that speaks directly to that need.

Tips:

  • Tap into real-time search insights for a deeper understanding of what motivates your prospects right now.
  • Work through your customer’s journey to find stopping points, content gaps, and other opportunities to create a more seamless experience.
  • Use topic, keyword, and competitive research to inform content that better meets each searcher’s intent.

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3. The Need For More Intelligent, Data-driven Content Planning & Documentation

Savvy marketers are moving beyond using last year’s (or even last month’s) performance insights as a roadmap going forward.

Today, there are more touchpoints and interactions than marketers can possibly track and analyze on their own.

Your content strategy for 2022 shouldn’t be set in stone come January 1. Rather, your strategy must include having people, processes, and tools in place to analyze and act on data to inform content the whole year through.

Tips:

  • Reevaluate your current martech stack with a sharp eye to inefficiencies and tools that don’t play well together.
  • If you don’t yet have data-driven creatives in-house, now is the time to either work on upskilling or outsource to augment your team.
  • Document workflows and processes that work, making your efforts repeatable and scalable.

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4. Further Alignment With SERPs & Google Guidelines

Convincing Google that your content is the best answer for a relevant query is no easy feat.

You can start by ensuring that you’re following Google’s guidelines.

But also be aware of the many opportunities you have to appear at the top of the search rankings, aside from the traditional blue link results.

Featured snippets, People Also Ask, video carousels, image results, Top Stories, and more all present opportunities to be seen.

Tips:

  • Analyze the SERPs where you want to appear and optimize content for the search result types that will get you there.
  • Review and refresh your older content, optimizing for new ranking opportunities and types.
  • Use the appropriate schema markup to help Google understand exactly what your content has to offer.

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5. The Proliferation Of Content Across Voice, Video, And Visuals Via Mobile & Social

Focusing purely on content volume is a mistake. And yet, you cannot rank it if you’re not producing it.

In 2022, challenge yourself and your team to really think about the ways your stories and information are being presented.

Could that article be a more compelling video? Would releasing an audio version help expand your audience?

On mobile and across social channels, consumers are craving interactive, short form, entertaining content. Will you give it to them?

Tips:

  • For each new piece of content you’re planning, consider the supplemental content assets you could use to engage your audience and expand your reach.
  • Invest in the tools and talent you’ll need to branch out into new content types.
  • If you aren’t sure which content formats or platforms are resonating with your audience, ask them! If you’re only looking at your own analytics data, you only know what already works and will never realize these untapped opportunities.

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6. Growth In The Importance Of Real-time Insights And The Provision Of Experience

Tracking in real-time better informs your upcoming campaigns.

But more than that, it provides the fuel for real-time optimizations – which we’ll talk about next.

Real-time monitoring and insights reveal changes that could impact your SEO in the moment so you can take action before it interrupts the customer’s experience.

This is particularly important in enterprise organizations where developers, marketers, IT, and others may be making changes to the website.

Tips:

  • Use a real-time tracking platform that incorporates other real-world insights – weather, elections, spending trends, etc.
  • Set up custom alerts to spot problems and opportunities as they happen.
  • Monitor for competitor insights, as well, so you can see when they add new features or products/services to their pages.

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7. The Rise In Dynamic Content Creation & Autonomous Action

Of course, real-time insights sometimes call for immediate action. This no longer requires that a human is standing by at the ready to make optimizations.

Automated content generation is no longer the stuff of science fiction.

Using an AI-powered and machine learning-based technology enables you to set rules and conditions under which the tool will make optimizations in response to opportunities spotted in real-time, as well.

Tips:

  • Look for opportunities where your content could be personalized based on expressed needs, local conditions, content path, or other factors that can be identified via their query, user signals, or behavior.
  • Explore platforms that are able to monitor for these opportunities and activate that data with real-time content optimization and personalization.

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8. The Fusion Of Formats Such As AR & VR, Audio & Text

Think about the stories you enjoyed as a child. Which ones do you remember most vividly?

Chances are, your fondest memories are those stories you enjoyed in a variety of formats – it wasn’t just the book, but that it was read to you aloud that you remember.

Perhaps your favorite song was acted out in a children’s show, or came from a movie you particularly loved.

This fusion of content formats helps us connect more deeply with the story. When we not only read but also see, hear, or even smell and touch, our emotional reaction to the content is that much stronger.

Tips:

  • Look at every story and message you share and ask yourself, how could we augment this with media in another format?
  • Apply an accessibility lens, as well – are there prospective customers out there who may not get this message because of the way we’re delivering it?
  • Get up to speed on the current state of AR/VR in marketing and, if you haven’t already, start thinking on how you’ll make your content experiences more immersive in the near future.

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9. Balancing The Art & Science Of Storytelling

Even as we dive deeper into automation in content and SEO, creativity and human connection have never been more important.

Smart marketers are learning to capitalize on the efficiencies and intelligence of machine learning and AI without sacrificing the empathy that drives the best content home in the hearts of its audience.

We need machines to analyze the vast amount of data created by myriad consumer touchpoints. But then we need creative, talented people to craft stories around these insights and messages, as well.

Tips:

  • Ensure that your new creative hires are up to speed on advances in content technology. More than a specific level of knowledge, you’re looking for a mindset of openness to working with technology vs. feeling threatened by it.
  • Similarly, it’s important that your technical hires have some creative aptitude, as well. The numbers and data will only get you so far.
  • In small teams, you may be challenged to find these characteristics in a single position, while in larger organizations you need to structure teams to ensure these professionals collaborate well and complement one another’s skill sets.

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10. Integration Of Content Into Account-Based Marketing (ABM)

Account-based marketing, a close collaboration between sales and marketing, is growing increasingly important in B2B.

Consumers are looking for seamless transactions and won’t put up with disconnection between what they’ve already learned or done through marketing content and the experience they have with sales.

Given the impact that getting it right can have on your company’s revenue via upselling and retention, this is an area where you definitely want to sharpen your focus.

Tips:

  • For each campaign, meet with sales to align on the goals, tactics, and success metrics by which it will be measured.
  • Establish your own best practices and create a playbook you’ll use and adapt as you experience success in your ABM campaigns.

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Conclusion

The changing search landscape and ongoing disruption caused by the Coronavirus pandemic are just a couple of the factors driving new content marketing trends and changes in consumer preferences around content.

And with this changing behavior comes great opportunities for you to exceed searchers’ expectations.

The bar is high; “average” content will no longer do.

Tap into these content trends for a more innovative and ultimately successful marketing strategy in 2022.

More resources:


Featured image: Shutterstock/ViewApart
Infographic: Andy Betts and Search Engine Journal