What are the Top Content Marketing Trends?

AI-generated image by craiyon.com that shows a woman in front of a computer screen to illustrate top content marketing trends.

Just like December sees a ton of “best of” lists, the start of the year sees just as many “top trends” lists. Sure, “The Top 113 Content Marketing Trends for 2023 You MUST Follow This Year To Literally Blow Your Competitors To Smithereens” seems like a catchy headline, but only if the trends really are worthwhile (and you don’t intend to literally blow up your competitors). And “Work harder than the other guy” isn’t really a trend, it’s a work ethic.

In reality, top emerging trends in content marketing are usually just repackaged rules that you should have been adhering to in the first place. That being said, sometimes that repackaging is all you need to look at a workflow in a slightly different way. This can improve your content marketing enough to move the needle in your favor.

Today, AI may very well be that repackaging, and figuring out how best to use that artificial intelligence wrapping paper is how you’ll set yourself apart.

Big Picture Kind of Stuff

In an earlier blog post, I talked about how working with AI writing tools can be a great help to writers (up until the point AI replaces content writers): how they can help augment what we already write and even help us along during those moments of brain fog.

But they can also help writers by freeing us up to write more specifically to potential clients.

There’s no way around it, AI can write boilerplate as well as any human at this point. By that I mean the nuts and bolts of a blog or service page. (Do we really need to wax poetic about the role a water heater plays in your home? It’s been written so many times by so many people that you’d be hard-pressed to come up with anything completely original anyway.)

This does not give you a license to cut and paste content from a competitor. What it does give you license to do is let AI take care of the prerequisite writing (with ample editing of course) while you concentrate more on what potential customers are looking for. When they search for “hot water heaters,” it’s up to you to respond to that query.

Do they want to know where to buy, who to call for repairs, how often to service, or which are the most energy efficient? It’s your job to figure out what question they’re asking and then answer it. This is where the real interactions take place and where humans still have it over content bots.

You’ve worked face-to-face with your customers and clients. You know their fears, desires, needs, and wants and how to address each emotion with information, empathy, and experience. AI can help with the features of your services; you come through with the benefits of your work to hold their attention span.

Sticking with water heaters, AI can give you the standard content for the features of working with you to service water heaters (professional repair and maintenance, quality parts, guaranteed work) while you speak to the emotional side (you’ll always have hot water for your morning shower).

By leveraging what you know about your customers and what their pain points are, you will speak directly to them instead of at them, which is kind of a specialty of an AI bot. You can dig deeper than it can, so do it. While your competitors are happily filling up a 1,000-word blog on a particular topic with AI-generated content, you can give potential customers a 1,200-word blog that serves up a nice 50-50 blend of content.

Dinner Table Conversations

AI-generated image from craiyon.com showing four people at a dinner table to illustrate top content marketing trends.I was watching a webinar with Alex Panagis, founder and CEO of ScaleMath, where he talked about the importance of dinner table conversations with your clients. When speaking at the dinner table, there are certain nuances, voices, and tones that we use when we communicate with each other.

Our shared experiences are what keep the conversation going when we talk to each other. Much like opposable thumbs separate us from most other animals (keep an eye on those chimps), our inflections differentiate us from the AI bots. At least for now. Maybe at some point in the future, they’ll have learned enough, their prompts will have become more sophisticated, and their brains will have been given enough data to talk to us like they are us. (They can already read our minds, after all.)

Or maybe we’ll start conversing more like they do. Content marketing has always been about reaching your client base where they live — but you have to get in front of them first. So we write with an eye towards search engine algorithms: word counts, keywords, Flesch reading-ease score formula, and hundreds of others.

But we’re all working with the same data, within the same framework. So how you differentiate yourself from others is how you start to gain a foothold on that first page of search results. In the case of our trusted local plumber, SEO plays a big part so you can zero in on your Vancouver, WA, customers, not the customers in Vancouver, B.C.

The dinner table conversation isn’t really a trend, either — unless trends can last decades. The best marketing has always been about finding out client pain points and how your products or services can take care of those problems. There are many content formats you can use, too: blogs, long-form content, videos, graphics, interactive content, and more.

What is Content Marketing?

Content marketing is an important part of any successful digital marketing strategy. It can help you to reach your target audience and increase engagement rates with them. However, it’s not enough to just produce content; you also need to understand the search intent behind the questions that people ask when they’re looking for answers.

Search intent is the underlying motivation behind someone’s query when searching for something online. Understanding this intent is crucial for creating content that resonates with users, helps them find what they are looking for, and improves the customer experience. By being able to identify what users want, you can better target your marketing efforts and ensure that your content reaches the right people in the right place at the right time.

There are four main types of search intent: navigational, informational, commercial investigation, and transactional. Knowing which type of search intent a user has can help you create more targeted content tailored to their needs. Keyword research does a lot of heavy lifting here.

The Four Different Search Queries

Navigational searches are driven by users who know exactly what they’re looking for: a specific website or brand. For example, if someone types “Greenwood and Daughter Plumbing” into their search engine, they have a navigational intent and are looking for that website. To satisfy this type of search intent, webpages should be optimized so that they appear as high as possible in organic search results for these particular queries.

Informational searches are those driven by users seeking general information on a topic or industry, something like “how do water heaters work?” To satisfy this type of search intent, content should be created that provides detailed answers to common questions about the topic or industry at hand.

The best way to do this is through comprehensive blog posts or other long-form pieces of content that cover all aspects of the subject matter in detail, including diagrams, videos, and other visuals where necessary. A series of content pieces will help bolster your “authority” on the subject matter.

Commercial investigation searches are for those that want to learn more about a specific product or service that they’re interested in buying. Those searching for “best tankless water heaters” are trying to gather more information before pulling the trigger on a purchase. Buying and installing a new water heater isn’t cheap, so they want to make sure they get the right one for their needs.

Transactional searches focus on finding out how to make a water heater purchase, maybe “where can I buy a water heater?” To satisfy this type of search intent, product listings should be optimized so that they appear on top of organic search results when someone uses keywords related.

By understanding which customers you’re reaching with your content, you can tailor the content to reach those needs. Someone writing a term paper on water heaters (it could happen … couldn’t it?) will have different needs than someone who just had their water heater conk out for the last time.

Writing for all four search queries (ideally four different pieces) will ensure you have all of your bases covered. Does informational content help the bottom line? Not directly. But positioning yourself as an authority means more traffic, more returning traffic, and more top-of-mind awareness when it does come time to read the transaction content.

Top Content Marketing Trends Remain the Same

There are so many different things you can do for your content marketing, but I don’t really see them being any different than past trends, at least at their core. More short-form video content production has been key for many years now, and you should always be using more strategic SEO (is that really a trend or just common sense?). And, of course, creating consistent, quality content has always been the best way to appease potential clients and search algorithms alike.

But content creation can be a real drag, not to mention the process of ensuring that you’re writing content for the right keywords. AI helps in some ways, and you should by all means leverage it as much as you can. But it can’t talk to your customers and clients the same way you can.

I understand you’re busy. (Everybody is busy, it seems.) But wouldn’t you like to be busier? A solid content marketing strategy can help with that.

Take the time to make what you write work for you. Or give Webfor a call! We’ve been offering content marketing help for more than a decade, and we can take that concern off your plate. By offering experienced content writing, SEO, UX (user experience — another trend!), and PPC recommendations, we’ll bring your website — and business — to the next level.

Take a few seconds to fill out the form and find out how we can help your digital marketing efforts. We work with a variety of clients all over the country, and we’d love the opportunity to prove our worth to you with recommendations that can help right now — as well as in the long run.

You can also spend some time with WebforBot, found in the lower right-hand corner of the screen (on your phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer). It’s chock-full of information about Webfor and how we can help your business grow.

(The images on this page were generated using craiyon.com. When I write about AI-generated content, I try to use AI-generated images to show there’s still some work to be done.)