Content marketing is a key component of your company's presence in the marketplace. In a recent survey, 96% of advertisers said content marketing is effective for their brands.

From how-to videos that drive visitors to your website to a newsletter that positions you as a thought leader, this marketing strategy can come in many forms and involves countless tactics.

Infographics and video are skyrocketing in popularity as audiences consume bite-sized content, but written content and email marketing campaigns continue to more than hold their own. Useful tips, strategic insights, or simply entertainment are all effective ways to implement content marketing today.

But regardless of the tactic, the key to creating content that drives website visits, improves conversion, and creates brand lift is to understand what your audience needs and how you can best provide it.

Common Challenges for Companies

However, with audiences hungry to engage and the available delivery methods seemingly endless, the content marketing landscape is crowded and noisy.

Developing content marketing executions that stand out from the crowd while still addressing the audiences' wants and needs is one of the biggest challenges facing companies. Purposeful research and a direct line of communication with your customers is key to developing content that matters and stories that shape perception. Keeping content fresh and up-to-date is another area where businesses might have difficulty.

Maintaining an editorial calendar for new content and conducting regular audits of your existing content are sound ways to overcome those challenges while ensuring you have a sustainable flow of content all year. When planning our content calendar, remember that quality trumps quantity.

Finally, and perhaps most notably, many businesses fall short on measuring the results of their content marketing efforts. Views, social shares, and leads generated are all effective ways to track your company's return on investment (ROI), depending on your objectives. Capturing and analyzing that data empowers you to not only modify your campaign to align with best-practices but also to justify marketing spending and strategy to stakeholders.

Trends in Content Marketing

Video, including tutorials and how-to content, continues to triumph in 2019.

A notable shift is that the number of mobile video consumers has surpassed desktop viewers, and videos with a vertical orientation grew in popularity because of the need for mobile-friendly visuals. Vertical visuals are easy to consume for your mobile audience, providing seamless access to your content across various digital platforms.

The smartphone revolution also spurred another video trend: livestreams. Today, anyone armed with an app and a smartphone can stream live video to followers. With the feel of a behind-the-scenes shoot, live video helps your audience members feel a more intimate connection with your brand and familiarizes them with your team, products, or company mission.

Content marketing in 2019 has also given rise to the art of social selling. As audiences increasingly demand personalized engagement, social selling offers the opportunity to connect directly with customers and tailor content to their specific tastes.

The Future of Content Marketing

Although content marketing will continue to rely on the stories you tell and on your knowledge of your customers, new technology promises exciting changes in how that content is delivered.

Smart speakers such as Amazon Echo and Google Home are booming in the marketplace. These voice-controlled devices stand to change the way we search for content, and may perhaps become the new search norm. With this trend coming in hot, businesses should make sure their content is optimized for voice search and delivery. Think about how a customer might search for content verbally versus by typing—a small change that can make all the difference.

Augmented reality (AR) is another rapid up-and-comer in content marketing. For example, Taco Bell's Cinco de Mayo Snapchat filter was used more than 224 million times and is the most successful campaign ever on the platform. AR has the ability to provide customers with a more in-depth experience with your company or product while reaching them in real-time.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a third upcoming trend for content marketing. At a time when marketers have access to a surplus of data, AI will be an important tool in organizing, analyzing, and acting on insights. As AI capabilities become widely accessible, the technology will help businesses narrow their audiences, identify shared characteristics of their most successful content, and stay on top of important changes in content delivery best-practices.

How to Improve Content Marketing's ROI

To effectively drive ROI, companies should first and foremost collect and analyze data from previous and current campaigns. Data can reveal important insights that empower marketers to make modifications that improve results.

Interactive content, such s quizzes and surveys, can also make a major impact on ROI. Although the content itself engages customers, these tactics also offer them the promise of more content specifically tailored to them. Interactive content can also provide the opportunity for businesses to collect email addresses from audience.

Finally, across all tactics, your content marketing strategy should include visuals. Even when producing blogs or podcasts, your efforts should include relevant photos or videos to grab the audience's attention and aid in storytelling. As easily consumed content, visuals can often encourage the audience to click on a post or read deeper into an article or story.

Great Stories + Empowering Technology = Content Marketing Success

Content marketing will always involve telling unique and meaningful stories, but best-practices for telling those stories will likely be in constant flux. Advances in technology and changing consumer preferences mean tactics and delivery methods can look different from year to year.

The best way to consistently create great content is to stay connected to your target audience while collecting data that can inform decisions and improve ROI. Coupling that with the ability to keep a pulse on new marketing technology and trends will ensure your business becomes and remains an expert at content marketing.

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Can Your Content Marketing Compete? Trends for a Strong Strategy in 2019 and Beyond

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image of Heather O.

Heather O. is a content specialist at Televerde, a purpose-driven global sales and marketing solutions provider that has been working with disempowered communities for 25 years, most notably hiring, training and empowering female inmates. Heather is one of a number of professional marketers working for Televerde from inside correctional facilities in Arizona and Indiana. She is a skilled marketer with a background in journalism and mass communications, sales development, and cause marketing.