Put These 3 Trends on Your Marketing Radar for 2020

With a new decade underway, here are content marketing ideas to help you stay ahead of the association pack.

By Eric Goodstadt

So long aughts and ’10s, hello ’20s.

It’s almost February, and no doubt you’ve already begun executing on your business plans for the year. I thought it would be helpful to share the ways your peers plan to showcase their brands in 2020.

If you’re a progressive content creator, these three trends might not be surprising, but the reasons why brands are deploying them might send you back to make some updates to your plans.

Personalization: Creating Goldilocks Content

In recent years, few aspects of marketing have drawn more advocates yet also sparked more debate than personalization.

Tools like Acquia Lift and Sitecore Experience Platform now make it relatively easy and inexpensive to craft content experiences that reflect individual users.

And that’s a good thing because people want content that’s just for them, not a mass audience.

In fact, 90 percent of people say content personalized to them is appealing, according to Statista. What’s more, the same percentage—90 percent—say they would provide behavioral data in exchange for relevant content and offers, SmarterHQ reports. Yet only 18 percent of associations personalize content for members, notes Nimble AMS. Most use type of membership—not career stage, demographics, or other characteristics—as the primary targeting data when planning and executing campaigns, Community Brands finds.

That’s a huge missed opportunity, since the same report also notes that “today’s members have higher expectations of how technology can be used to personalize their experience.”

Where’s the disconnect?

In part, it’s no doubt because of privacy laws like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which triggered a great deal of concern about how to use data for content audiences. But this should not hold you back. Here’s why: If you are using people’s rightfully obtained data to provide them a better experience, you are safe to proceed.

Association members are paying you to make them better and more effective in their roles. Your members not only expect you to use their data, they want you to.

Multimedia: Delivering More Than Text Experiences

The average attention span is just 8 seconds, according to an oft-shared Microsoft data point. As shocking as that stat is, it’s believable when you consider the information bombardment we all face from social media, news feeds, email, and more. On top of that, millions of long-form articles are posted each and every day.

We are inundated with so much information that we cannot possibly consume it all. How can you ensure your association’s important work stands above the fray? For starters, turn to other mediums besides the written word.

The transitory nature of content today means user expectations for production values have dropped exponentially, and technology has made it inexpensive to create decent visual and sound output.

Basically, all you need is a smartphone with a high-res camera, good natural light, and maybe an external microphone, and you are good to go. By adding short video or creating an inexpensive podcast, you can help your content separate itself from all of the text noise in the marketplace.

POV Editorial: Developing a Consistent Perspective for Your Content Program

Editorial content programs were born from a desire to provide added value to association members. Such content often presented useful and high-level information on a range of topics that would appeal to the broad member base.

Content programs by and large avoided controversial topics or taking a stance on specific issues, preferring instead to be educators rather than advisors—leaving opinions to the advocacy wings of their organizations. But in today’s connected world, where we can learn about any topic with a few keystrokes, there is less need for general information and generic content.

Instead, today’s association members seek your guidance and expertise on what they should know, what they should do, and even what they should think about the issues affecting their world. They want to know what side of the road their association suggests they should be on and why.

Content programs that remain high-level and lack a point of view or a context for the content they serve up could very well find themselves with declining readership, lower engagement, and ultimately questions from management about a program’s value.

Whatever your plans for 2020, I wish you significant success. And if your plan doesn’t include addressing at least one of the trends above, it might already be time to amend your strategy.

Eric Goodstadt, president of Manifest, has more than two decades of experience in the agency world, serving clients in diverse sectors—including associations, nonprofits, and Fortune 500 companies.

(Turgay Gundogdu/Alamy)