Updated: Nov 17
A new year. A fresh start. A blank page. I love the promise of a new year. Don’t you? It’s the icing on the cake after the festive holiday season, representing limitless possibilities for the year ahead. It’s a time to reflect on the past and think ahead.
You’re sure to find many lists at the turn of the new year. Resolutions. Goal setting. Annual trends. It’s this last one that’s captured my interest. In my planning for 2023, I noted five trends that will influence content marketing this year. Rather than keeping my notes tucked away in my personal notebook, I’ve decided to share these content marketing trends for all to read!
Let’s count down the 4 must-know content marketing trends in 2023. Ready? Here we go!
Trend 5: Content reimagined for the metaverse
You can’t talk about 2022 without mentioning the metaverse and it's going to continue to be a conversation in 2023 as well. It became a growing phenomenon last year with 400 million active users across the globe.
Where there’s people, there’s business. The world’s biggest brands are already experimenting in the metaverse, creating virtual worlds with unique immersive experiences for early adopters. And newly formed metaverse teams are figuring out the right immersive experiences to engage audiences.
Content marketers should leap at the chance to get in early to help develop this new channel. They’re best equipped to do so because they know the audience—their pain points, their values, their unique attributes—better than anyone else and can help reimagine the content experience from a 2.0 world to a 3D world.
Trend 4: Channel diversification
Twitter. A name that has popped up in the news a lot lately—and not for a good reason. With a new leader at the helm, Twitter is changing. And those changes are creating a lot of uncertainty for advertisers. Reportedly half of the platform’s top 100 advertisers have said, “Tweet ya later” and pulled their campaigns. Will they be back? Only time will tell. What we do know is that the 1,200 employees who resigned and the other approximately 3,700 who were laid off won’t be. Now its advertisers and users are questioning a lot of things like the new policies Musk has put in place and whether there are enough people to handle the work.
This Twitter shakeup reminds content marketers that channel diversification for reaching target audiences cannot be underestimated. Relying too heavily on channels that your brand doesn’t own can have big implications if things go awry.
Trend 3: Personalization = growth
Competition is only getting stiffer. Your target audiences are continuing to be bombarded with marketing messages. The next Wordle is around the corner. The brands that will win attention, revenue, loyalty and referrals will be those that keep personalization at the center of their content strategy.
McKinsey research shows seventy-two percent of shoppers said they expect the businesses they buy from to recognize them as individuals and know their interests. It also found that companies that do personalization well earn 40 percent more revenue from those activities than the average. “Leaders in personalization achieve outcomes by tailoring offerings and outreach to the right individual at the right moment with the right experiences,” they state.
Segmenting audiences and building tailored content for every part of the customer journey is a massive undertaking but a worthwhile effort to stay competitive. Content strategists–becoming known as audience leaders– can help marketing teams ensure that the customer journey is personalized from end to end.
Here’s a personal anecdote that shows how a brand is getting personalization right. I’m becoming more loyal to Virgin Hotels because of how they personalize my experience each time I stay at their hotel. I signed up for their “In the Know” loyalty program after understanding the value it could offer me–the best room rates, free room upgrades and even free drinks during its Spirit Hour.
This past month, I arrived at Virgin Hotel’s Chicago location four hours before check-in. I asked if I could store my luggage until my room was ready. The front desk associate said, “Let’s first see if we have a room ready.” They did and then she asked, “Do you prefer a low or high floor?” After stating my preference, I got my key–also available as a mobile key through their app. Before heading to my room to drop off my luggage, she did one more thing to ensure my stay was top-notch and offered me breakfast at their on-site restaurant. In my room, I found a handwritten note welcoming me to the hotel with a bag of goodies. The end-to-end experience–from the online booking to the hotel stay–completely exceeded my expectations. From getting the best room rate to paying attention to every little detail while I was staying at the hotel, I felt taken care of. And it was all because they captured a few of my details when I signed up for their loyalty program.
Every company's version of how they personalize the customer journey will be different, but what the Virgin example above shows is that they pay attention to their customers’ individual preferences and deliver.
Trend 2: Entertainment drives engagement on social media
The average person spends 2 hours and 27 minutes on social media each day. They’re spending that much time on social networks for more than just interacting with friends and family. They’re being entertained.
The rise of TikTok (which surpassed Netflix as the most popular app for those under 35), the surge of the creator economy and the dominance of YouTube have proven that users want social media to entertain them.
With so much competition out there for time and attention, brands need to stop the scroll and get audiences to hang around for more. So they’re creating more short videos and original content that create interest, engagement, and, ultimately, loyal followers. They’re also partnering closely with creators and influencers who have engaged followers and a built-in audience to help them align their brand with entertaining content on social media.
Trend 1: AI-generated content
I have to admit this one has scared me a bit. After all, as a writer, I’m not so fond of the idea that technology could do my job. But after learning more about AI content-generating technologies and understanding the pace at which content marketers have to create, I more clearly see a world where AI supports, not replaces, content marketers to meet the increasing demands of the job.
Let me back up and explain what AI-generated content is. Put simply, a machine creates content for you. It’s not too dissimilar from how AI and ML work in other applications. It mines a vast array of data for insights to help create and deliver content across many mediums—from chatbots to blogs. ChatGPT is one such AI content solution that has been all over the news lately.
With the average B2B buyer consuming nearly 13 pieces of content before making a buying decision and over 50% of B2C shoppers researching their purchase before they buy, any help in creating content tailored to the target audience is more welcomed than ever before. AI can do a pretty good job of researching a topic from the gazillions of information sources on the internet but what it can’t do well is differentiate the article it writes for you from the article it writes for someone else.
AI-generated content is directional at best. Think of it like a coach. It guides but can’t cross the finish line. Only you can do that. That’s why us humans still need to maintain the power of the pen to fine-tune tone, voice, style, grammar, syntax, fact check, appropriately source information and insert company and subject matter expert points of view.
I surveyed industry colleagues from some of the most well-known brands around. Here are their perspectives on what will influence content marketing in 2023.
“Next year, I think brands are going to take back their own narratives. With Twitter potentially seeing its own death, I’m seeing brands start to reevaluate their content streams. Brands will take their experience from working with creators and maybe start to work with them in a new way. I’m thinking creators will be partners behind the camera.” -BRANDON SOLIS, Executive Director, Head of Strategy at Annex88
“There's going to be even more ‘commerce content collapse’ than ever. There has typically been a very tight focus on what content works best for each channel and objective–with commerce or purchase-driving content looking very different from awareness and engagement-focused content. They used to live in very different solos in the purchase funnel, and I think next year more than ever that funnel will ‘collapse’ and content will need to be designed to be more fluid and multi-purposeful than ever.” -Anna Ritchie, Global Business Director, BodyMark by BIC
“Twitter has to be a wake-up call for content marketers to expect more churn. I expect there will be a land rush to the platforms that benefit the most from the exodus from Twitter. The resulting land rush to other platforms means that audiences will become even more splintered, so content marketers will have to be keenly aware of the psychographic (and political) makeup of individual platforms users to ensure alignment.” -Franklin Parrish, Sr. Director, Brand, Marketing, Creative at Kaiser Permanente
“First, more importance is going to be placed on content marketing, but that means people need to get serious about measuring how it influences pipeline, revenue, or other metrics that your organization cares about. Second, even the rumors of a recession have impacted marketing budgets–either by driving increased scrutiny or prompting budget cuts (or worse, layoffs). Think what this means for paid media: if your budget is cut for ads, you’ll spend time in areas that drive more cost-effective growth, which is often owned assets. Good for content marketers, who often create those owned assets, but bad for marketers who aren’t in the practice of looking at the data to know what’s working. Budget holders–and their higher-ups–need to see the ROI.” -Ellen Schwartze 🌟, Senior Director of Digital Demand Generation, Knotch
“Zero-click content is going to be a trend in 2023. Instead of a one-click experience to get valuable content, zero-click content (a phrase Alison first heard from Amanda Natividad at SparkToro), gives your audiences all the value upfront. That means you’ll give away all 5 tips of your blog in the social post promoting the blog, for example. Even if they don’t check out your website, you’ll establish thought leadership and credibility.” -Alison Osborne, Director of Growth Marketing at Quill Inc & CoHost
“Social media is the new TV, especially among the younger generations. Brands can no longer solely create product-focused content, it’s all about creating entertainment that shows you know your audience.” -Jennifer Martin, Brand & Product Social Media Content, Community Marketing at Sony Electronics
Now it’s your turn. What content marketing trend do you think will explode, accelerate or gain attention in 2023? Share your POV in the comments!