Yeah, OK. I realize it’s the end of February.
I’m a little late to the game with my 2019 content marketing predictions. But we’ve still got 10 months of 2019 as I’m writing this, so I feel like it’s still valid to talk about what I see happening in the industry.
And maybe more importantly, I got inspired to write this post because a lot of the advice I saw floating around was really geared toward bigger businesses, bigger brands, and I want to share what I see as being most important this year for smaller businesses and brands who are trying to compete in this noisy marketplace for a share of attention.
I’ve limited myself to three big picture thoughts I want you to take into 2019…
1. Content marketing is not separate from the rest of your marketing.
Blog post. Twitter. Facebook. Instagram. Snapchat. Podcasts. Interviews. Email. Paid advertising. Postcards. Website copy. Sales pages. Press mentions.
It’s all content marketing.
But we tend to think of a lot of these things as separate, living in different silos. For an efficient and effective content marketing plan, they cannot.
I frequently talk to people about a hub and spoke model of marketing. Your hub is whatever your big piece of epic content will be — a big lead magnet, a blog post, an article, a podcast, or maybe just a marketing message — and the spokes are all the other bits of marketing materials that point back to that.
If your hub is a specific marketing message that you want to convey in the lead up to a product launch, for example, then each of your blog posts during that time period will support and convey that message; all your social media will relate to the message and point back to the blog post; all of your emails will expand on the message and point back to the blog post; the Facebook Live you host will be on the same topic and point back to the blog post… and so on.
Any other “marketing” activities you’re doing should also be included in this plan — whether that’s handing out pens with your logo at an event you’re sponsoring, a talk you’re giving, a book you’re writing, or anything else. It is all interrelated and interconnected, and the more you have the pieces relating to one another, the more effective they will be together.
2. If you don’t have the budget to compete with the big guys, focus on the 3 Es: efficiency, effectiveness, and evergreen content.
When I was researching this article and putting my own thoughts together, I found an article that was 85+ “expert predictions” for content marketing in 2019 from a big content marketing brand. This is a clear SEO tactic to get them to rank well on search for that term and it worked! They were right at the top when I was doing my research.
Could I have produced a similar piece of content? Sure. (Well, I’m not sure I KNOW 85 experts to ask, but… sure, let’s pretend.) But consider how much time and effort that requires. The big brand that produced it has an entire content TEAM; I would have been trying to produce it by myself. Plus, they turned it into an ebook — which costs money in the form of designers, etc. — and they’re running ads to it.
The point is, that brand is set up to produce content like that much more cost effectively and efficiently than I am. Plus, they already have the domain authority that says of course they were going to rank for an article like that; for me, it would be much more of a crap shoot.
The point is, smaller businesses need to focus on where you can compete, not how to try to out spend or out-think the big brands that dominate your space.
And this is totally doable, but it requires some serious thought and strategy. I suggest focusing on the 3 Es:
- Efficiency: Create systems that help you make the most of every piece of content you produce, including repurposing and promoting one piece of content across multiple channels.
- Effectiveness: Because you don’t have a huge budget for content, you have to ensure that every piece you spend time and money creating is going to be as effective as possible. (No more throwing posts up against the wall to see what sticks.)
- Evergreen: As much as possible, you want to focus on evergreen content that will continue to work for your business and drive traffic over time. Spending time and energy creating posts that will only be relevant for a few weeks or months at best is a waste of time and energy.
The way you accomplish all of this is to create a comprehensive content marketing strategy (which happens to be our jam — click here for more info).
3. Nurturing your customers through email will become more important than ever.
I know you’re thinking, “But Lacy, this is 2019 not 1999!” But hear me out.
I think my big soapbox for this year is going to be drilling into your heads that just having a sales funnel is not enough.
At least, not the way we’ve been taught to do it so far.
Because the sales funnel formulas that have been around for the past 5 or 10 years, have all focused on stuffing the top of the funnel with more and more and more leads. Doesn’t matter if they’re teaching you to use webinars, or tripwires, or three-video launch sequences, the strategy has always been about pouring as many people into the top of the funnel as possible so that you can get a few to convert at the bottom.
Unlike a real funnel, there have always been holes in this strategy — literal and figurative. Unlike a funnel you might use to pour water or beans or sand into a container, a sales funnel has holes in it all the way down where a huge percentage of your audience fall out and get lost on the way to a sale.
Think about it: The standard conversion rate for a sales page is 1–3%. That means, on average, only 1–3% of people who actually see the sales page will buy. But the people who get as far as the sales page in a standard sales funnel are a tiny fraction of the people that get poured into the top of the funnel. (We did some quick math — it’s like 0.0045% from somebody learning about you for the first time to making a sale.)
But what if you could improve that? What if, instead of assuming that the 99.99% of the people you touch were not going to buy, you worked to nurture them so that more of them would be ready to buy?
That’s what email does for you. It allows you to nurture those people along the path and improve your conversion rates over time. It allows you to plug a lot of the holes in the traditional funnel.
And frankly, we smaller businesses can’t afford to lose that many people along the way!
But really, even larger businesses would do well to focus more on helping people along the customer journey. Even if you have tens of thousands of dollars to spend on lead generation, you will earn more if you nurture people better along the funnel.
My best suggestion:
So, if you’re trying to figure out where to invest your marketing time, attention, and dollars this year, in summary, my suggestion would be this:
- Invest in creating a big picture strategy for all your marketing efforts (whether you get help from us or do it yourself),
- Focus your efforts on creating content that will give you the most bang for your buck by ensuring it is efficient, effective, and evergreen,
- And don’t neglect the nurturing part of the process; focus some time and attention on your email sequences to improve your conversion rates (which will help you work less to get more sales).
Questions? Comments? Criticisms? Concerns? Let me know in the comments below.