Content in 2018 and Beyond

This was originally published on kevinpnichols.com, by Kevin Nichols, a Big Content Alliance Partner. 

One of my favorite LinkedIn influencers, Tom Goodwin, recently wrote in a LinkedIn post: “I think my mega trend for 2018 is just the word “same.” The trends decks I wrote in 2013 pretty much still predict the same future that you see a way off today.” Tom, I could not agree with you more. Yet, there are some things I think worth mentioning. The theme for trends this year centers around the reality that technology will help businesses better realize what they have sought for years: better customer experiences, more robust personalization, and more effective content at each stage of the cross-channel customer journey. Having said that, I feel a few other areas will present challenges and additional opportunities for businesses. Before I begin, let me say a most refreshing and insightful 2018 trends for content article I’ve read comes from CoreDNA.

 B2B Opportunities Abound

While eCommerce and retail businesses battle Amazon for market share and relevance, we will continue to see B2B’s learn from B2C practices in the areas of personalization, omnichannel strategies and cross-channel customer journey content experiences. B2B trends such as account-based marketing, marketing automation and a focus on thought-leadership will continue to prevail throughout 2018. Sales enablement and effective content support will be another major focus area for B2Bs. Content strategy to support sales enablement will provide a significant opportunity for content. What does this all mean? For one thing, it means an elevation in the quality and prominence of B2B content and customer experience. 2018 will produce a plethora of case studies in how to (and not to) design B2B content marketing, providing compelling arguments for personalization, sales enablement and effective content that will support a user throughout the various stages of his or her customer lifecycle. Ann Handley provides excellent thinking and resources in area of B2B content marketing, and I have no doubt she will remain a go-to resource for 2018 and beyond.

Personalization, Customer Journey, Omnichannel

Personalization will continue to be a major focus for all businesses. Newer technologies will promise to make it easier for companies to provide behavioral personalization as well as track customer profiles across multiple platforms. These include customer data platforms and machine learning built into content management platforms. (Watch this space, but be leery of silver bullets and promises for ‘pure automation of personalization.’) We will also see a major focus in the B2B space to fold personalization into their marketing and digital strategies. In 2018, smart businesses will understand that their focus for personalization should not be technology, but rather, their operational and content readiness to support effective personalization. My company, AvenueCXhas partnered with ComBlu to form the Big Content Alliance. We have a lot of thinking around personalization readiness. Also, expect email to be better integrated into personalization efforts; informed organizations will avoid using spam and adopt more selective delivery to customers, providing relevant, personalized, content experiences, instead of irritation from already over-crowded inboxes.

The customer journey, particularly cross-channel customer journeys and customer profiling, will remain a strong consideration in digital strategy and marketing groups. Omnichannel features, such as Single View of the Customer and customer-centricity will drive this focus. My friend Mayur Gupta will continue to inspire us with ways to think about this with his insightful and customer-centric thinking (note: requires you to be logged into LinkedIn). Effective content strategies will leverage the needs and role(s) of the customer journey and effectively harness the journey for content and editorial planning.

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