Read time: 5 min 15 sec | "Your content marketing agency\u00a0should include efforts to tailor your company\u2019s search engine optimization strategy to respond to voice search demands." Over the last decade, content marketing has become an essential piece of any comprehensive marketing strategy. Since the digital revolution, content production platforms are cheaper and more accessible than ever before. According to the research firm PQ Media, content marketing grew 15% during 2018. Experts have predicted it will be a $300 Billion industry by 2019. Still, those two small words ("content marketing\u201d) often earn you raised eyebrows and baffled looks. Luckily, the basics of content marketing are simple. According to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing is \u201ca strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience.\u201d In other words, you\u2019re not directly selling your product, service, or even brand. You\u2019re creating value around it so it sells itself. Considering the variety of channels that content marketing covers, it\u2019s no surprise that Forbes calls content marketing one of the industry\u2019s most rapidly changing areas. Blog posts, social media presence, video and interactive content, content-driven email marketing that works\u2014 thoughtful content marketing serves as a traffic driver and lead generator for businesses. Content marketing is growing, and original content is more valuable than ever. With technological developments, the methods of delivery have changed, but the principle remains the same. You want to set your brand apart and create a personal connection with consumers. So how can you up your game in 2019? Original, Long-Form Content During the 2008 recession, many industries saw a significant drop in sales. Small companies and larger businesses alike had to get creative with their budgets. Consider the case of Marcus Sheridan, the former owner of River Pools & Spas. Rather than double down on focused advertisements, the in-ground pool company started a blog. They answered their customers' common questions. Their posts helped many navigate the buying process in a tricky market. The result? The company was able to cut their annual $250,000 marketing budget by 90% and generate over $2,000,000 in sales. Sheridan\u2019s advice is still relevant looking forward in 2019: \u201cBe the Wikipedia of your industry.\u201d As this success story shows, there are benefits to producing original, long-form quality content. First, it positions you as an expert in your field. \u201cThe problem,\u201d Sheridan said in a 2013 New York Times interview, \u201cis don\u2019t get a lot of\u00a0 great search results because most businesses don\u2019t want to give answers; they want to talk about their company.\u201d A blog supports customer engagement and shows you're willing to put customers\u2019 needs first. According to Sheridan, customers who read blogs are 8 times more likely to buy. \u201cSo,\u201d He continues, \u201cour marketing campaign revolves around getting people to stick around and read our stuff, because the longer they stay on our site, the greater the chance they\u2019re going to fall in love with our company.\u201d Plus, a recent analysis by Hubspot shows that blog posts between 2,250 and 2,500 words received five times more organic traffic than posts with 1,000 words or less. Though longer posts take more time and effort, search engines favor long-form posts, making this a worthwhile investment for anyone with an eye for SEO. Voice Search Optimization It turns out smart speakers are for more than looking up recipes, or parrots ordering their favorite fruits. According to a 2018 survey by PWC, 71% of consumers prefer voice search to typing in their queries. Consumers, particularly 18-24 year olds, view voice search assistants as a smarter, faster, and more reliable alternative to traditional search engines. 59% of this youngest consumer group report they use voice search at least once daily, a number that\u2019s sure to rise as companies tap into this content marketing area.\u00a0What does this mean for your company in 2019? Your content marketing agency\u00a0should include efforts to tailor your company\u2019s search engine optimization strategy to respond to voice search demands. Chatbots Imagine the best customer service experience you\u2019ve ever had. The employee was probably friendly, yet professional. They asked the right questions and knew the right answers. It was almost like they could predict your needs, right? Now imagine you could access this person anytime, from anywhere, on any device. The year is 2019. While we don\u2019t yet have robot replicas or flying cars, we are seeing the rise of robot assistants. Today\u2019s consumers expect instant and accessible information, all day, every day. And chatbots are evolving to meet the need. With recent advancements in drag-and-drop building platforms, it no longer takes a software developer to program a chatbot. AI-powered bots are able to perform complex cognitive services, including text analytics, content moderation, and even speaker recognition. Chatbots are a cost-effective alternative to 24\/7 staffing. Plus they provide another opportunity for you to provide value to your customers. Whether they\u2019re booking a reservation, price-shopping a product, or helping buyers update shipping information, bots provide a solution when people need it most. According to Christi Olson, head of evangelism for search at Bing, \u201cGartner predicts that by 2020 people will have more conversations with chatbots than their spouse\u201d and Hubspot has heralded them as \u201cthe future of marketing.\u201d But, Olson also warns, not all chatbots are created equal. \u201cDon\u2019t just make a chatbot. Make a dynamic chatbot that is an extension of your brand.\u201d Quality chatbots can think and ask questions. They create relationships between your customers and your brand. Live Videos What do SpaceX, April the giraffe, and Dunkin\u2019 Donuts have in common? They\u2019re leveraging the power of live videos to build relationships with their audience. According to the Cisco Visual Networking Index, there are big changes on the horizon between now and 2022. They predict that video will account for 82% of all internet traffic. As if that weren\u2019t enough motivation to add \u201cLights, Camera, Action,\u201d to your content marketing strategy, Contently & Libris claim 60% of content marketing agency teams surveyed report their highest engagement from live videos. And research from Aberdeen shows that video users grow revenue faster, have higher conversion rates, and enjoy more web traffic than non-users. But what\u2019s so appealing about live videos specifically? Well, from a business standpoint, they\u2019re a cost-effective alternative to old-school production. These days, all it takes is an iPhone, internet access, and a few minutes to put your brand in front of thousands, without the time and costs of editing and post-production. Plus live streaming is attractive to users. Not only does live video provide a spontaneous, authentic view of your brand, The Guardian reports it performs better than more polished material. According to a recent study by Facebook IQ, users say they feel happier, more relaxed, and more engaged with their community after watching video and live streaming content. Social Media If you think Facebook is just for ignored Candy Crush requests and pictures of your friends\u2019 kids, think again. Why social media? Because odds are good, that\u2019s where your customers are spending their time. More and more users are on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. This makes them formidable platforms in the marketing realm. In fact, according to Statistica, 2019 will see an estimated 2.77 billion social media users around the globe, up from 2.46 billion in 2017. Regardless of who you\u2019re trying to reach, it\u2019s almost a guarantee they\u2019ll use some form of social media. That\u2019s why 97% of content marketing agency teams and marketers report using some kind of social media strategy. Whether you\u2019re microblogging, photo and video sharing, or just networking, social media helps grow your fanbase and turn user-generated content into free advertising, versus paid advertising. The right content on the best channels. Above all, 2019 will be the year of honed content marketing strategies. With so many options, it will be more important than ever to define your audience and your marketing goals. Knowing the right channels to reach your target demographics will help you create more compelling branded content and optimize your brand\u2019s presence. 2019 is the year that you need a content marketing agency or content studio in your pocket.\u00a0You can give us a call. We're in Bend OR and Santa Barbara CA and are ready to help.