By Stephanie Stahl published December 10, 2019

Back to the Future? 90 Content Marketing Predictions for 2020

During his rousing keynote presentation at Content Marketing World 2019, Henry Rollins offered this take on the future:

We are not going back to anything. We’re not going back to dial-up phones; we’re not going back to anything ancient … The old must give way to the new. The new must come in with intensity, with innovation, with great fury and speed.

How do we evolve our programs for changes rushing in? That’s the question we put to Content Marketing World and ContentTECH speakers, award winners, and other industry thinkers.

Despite the “great fury and speed” of the new, many who shared their vision of content marketing in 2020 implored marketers not to forget about the basics:

  • Spark conversations instead of blasting marketing speak.
  • Revisit the fundamentals of message creation and delivery.
  • Eschew flashy new tech and trends in favor of clear, personal communication.

I fully support that take. My prediction (and hope) for our industry in 2020 is that we bring more voices into our conversations:

As brands try to improve the quality of their content and the ways they engage with their communities, they’ll work harder to represent diverse voices – both in their content and among the team members they hire to create that content. Whether written, visual, audio, or event-oriented, content thrives when it includes fresh, thoughtful, and compelling perspectives that reflect all the different communities they serve.

Mine is just one view of where we should be headed. Look through the big trends and issues seen on the horizon by 90 other industry voices.

The 2020 predictions are organized by categories:

You can navigate the list in whatever order you choose. I hope these insights will inspire you to take a fresh look at your content marketing activities and prepare for the challenges to come.

Content creation

Tamsen Webster, Find The Red Thread

Less of a prediction than a wish that can be summarized in two words: customized (and) conversational. Working from a consistent core story, brands will start customizing content for individual audiences and applications. To do that and to increase connections they’ll start moving away from “brand speak” and more towards conversational language that reflects what their customers want and believe – in words their customers actually use.

Brands will start customizing #content for individual audiences and applications, says @tamadear via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Ben Plomion, Gum Gum

2020 will be similar to 2019 in many ways. But gone are the days of standard tutorials and educational content. A good old webinar or a white paper just won’t cut it. Our clients expect the highest quality data and authoritative insights, followed by intelligent discussion and analysis. In brief, they want us to be investigative journalists. But if there’s one thing that’s really going to separate 2020 content marketing from 2019’s it is our clients’ appetite for presidential election-related content – especially when it’s data-driven, thorough, and non-partisan.

Timely #content that delivers a strong point of view that's validated by third-party organizations will continue to be in high demand, says @benplomion via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Lisa Dougherty, Content Marketing Institute

Marketers will need to create more natural conversations to stay in the content game. Speaking to people from the heart online – with the same conversational language and tone they might use with a friend, or colleague – will help in search (think “how would I respond personally?”), as well as with building deeper, more trusting consumer relationships through the content they share.

Marketers will need to create more natural conversations to stay in the #content game, says @brandlovellc via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Jay Baer, Convince & Convert

User-generated content not only engages consumers but also allows you to create more content with less resources and time as you are tapping into your community for ideas and pieces. For 2020, you will need to determine what inspires your audience to create and share your story. It won’t be about changing the message; it will be about changing the messenger.

For 2020, you will need to determine what inspires your audience to create and share your story, says @jaybaer via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Michele Linn, Mantis Research

In 2020, savvy marketers will publish their own original research because it’s one of the best ways to cut through the noise – especially when you are operating in a crowded space. Want to get even more bang from your research? Commit to publishing at least six additional pieces of content from your findings.

Savvy marketers will publish their own #originalresearch because it’s one of the best ways to cut through the noise, says @michelelinn via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Ahava Leibtag, Aha Media Group

People are going to continue to look at chatbots and voice and what they mean in terms of editorial planning and back-end technology. Marketing professionals, along with their executive teams (hopefully), are going to continue to refine which business goals they can truly impact. This will help them make the case to develop more original research on their audiences and use that information to create sharper marketing tactics. I truly hope we’ll begin to see a decline in creating just to create and a rise in creating to move the needle.

I hope we’ll see a decline in creating #content just to create, and a rise in creating to move the needle, says @ahaval via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Sarah Mitchell, Typeset

Writing effectiveness will become increasingly important in 2020. The internet is littered with high-quality content no one ever reads because they can’t find it. Or the title is weak. Or the meta description is missing. Or the audience doesn’t care. Marketers must keep the focus on effectiveness as a priority.

Writing effectiveness will become increasingly important in 2020, says @SarahMitchellOz via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Jay Acunzo, Marketing Showrunnners

We’ll all finally realize that great marketing isn’t about who arrives ­– it’s about who stays. We’re witnessing brands big and small move from creating pieces of content to creating shows. We’re living through the rise of the showrunner – individuals responsible for the creation, management, and success of their brands’ podcasts and video shows. Thousands of organizations across sectors have already launched standalone shows, and a handful have even begun building their own show networks, while a few tech vendors are building tools specifically to help marketers make shows. 2020 will be the year this all comes to a head.

We'll all finally realize that great #marketing isn't about who arrives – it's about who stays, says @jayacunzo via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Melissa Harrison, Allee Creative

Brand marketers will take more time to create content for niche channels and/or create super-personalized content for niche audiences. There will be more of an effort to craft content and distribute it in more unique ways – whether it’s by using new platforms or channels or by the brand choosing to move its content in a unique creative direction. I think that 2020 may also be the year where brands aren’t afraid to let go of channels that just aren’t doing it for them. Let it go, let it go…

Brand marketers will take more time to create super-personalized content for niche audiences, says @MHBossLady via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Tim Schmoyer, Video Creators

We’ll finally start to see a trend on YouTube where content marketers will have to start focusing more on creating content that connects with people, not just content that promotes a product or service. People’s tolerance for content and brands that are just trying to extract value from people and sell something will continue to diminish, while their love and support for brands that do something meaningful and tell stories about it will continue to rise.

On #YouTube, content marketers will start focusing more on creating content that connects with people, not just #content that promotes a product or service, says @timschmoyer via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Gini Dietrich, Spin Sucks

In 2020, we will think about how the content we’ve already created will evolve. Let’s say you spent all of 2019 creating webinars with thought leaders and subject matter experts in your space. Now, what are you going to do with them? There are lots of opportunities: transcribe the webinar and create an e-book; develop blog posts from different sections of the webinars; use quotes and audio clips for social media and podcasts; create contributed content that allows you to link back to the webinars. You’re not creating more content … just smarter content.

In 2020, think about how the #content you've already created will evolve, says @GiniDietrich via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Kristin Twiford, Libris by PhotoShelter

In 2020, content marketing will continue to become more personal. Content marketers will act even more like journalists, shifting the focus to real people, infusing their content with authenticity, and using formats like video to make the audience feel as close to the story as possible.

In 2020, #contentmarketing will continue to become more personal, says @KristinTwiford via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Back to list of categories

Distribution and promotion

Christoph Trappe, The Authentic Storytelling Project

Given that syndication of content is becoming harder and harder, I see a huge increase in paid promotion rates on the horizon. My prediction is that Facebook, Twitter, and other social media networks with mass audiences, and maybe Google Ad Network, too, will raise their rates to maximize their earnings. Take advantage of lower rates before this happens. Drive people to your website, convert them to subscribers, and hope a drastic rate increase won’t happen.

I see a huge increase in paid promotion rates on the horizon, says @CTrappe via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Zontee Hou, Convince & Convert

More multimedia content is coming down the pike in 2020. Content will move, reply, reorganize, and customize more than ever – in videos, audio, and interactive charts. The more personal and hands-on the content, the more meaningful to the audience.

More multimedia #content is coming down the pike in 2020, says @ZonteeHou via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Ben H. Rome, AIHA

More engaging video. It remains at the top as the best medium for delivery and will probably stay as such until we all get virtual reality sets implanted into our brains. (Hello cyberpunk!)

 

#Video will remain the best delivery medium, says @benhrome via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Jodi Harris, Content Marketing Institute

My hope is we’ll move on from paying ludicrous sums to self-styled “celebrity” influencers with broad reach but little substance and move toward engaging more meaningful microinfluencers. They might not have huge, anonymous audiences of followers, but they hold more power to persuade their personal and/or interest-driven communities to trust and act on their recommendations. Call me naïve, but payment shouldn’t be the primary motivation for someone to endorse our brands. Influence should be based on a tastemaker’s authentic experiences and genuine interest in positively affecting the lives of their followers.

We’ll move on from paying ludicrous sums to “celebrity” influencers with little substance toward engaging more meaningful micro-influencers, says @joderama via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Tim Hayden, Brain+Trust Partners

We will see an increase in branded content being delivered by “stories” in Facebook and Instagram as paid initiatives (aligned with audio/podcast media), while user-generated content will be woven into streaming/broadcast campaigns. 2020 will be all about being real – and human – as the U.S. presidential election and regional political noise increasingly create challenges reaching audiences on other distribution and broadcast mediums.

We will see an increase in branded content being delivered by “stories” in Facebook and Instagram as paid initiatives, says @TheTimHayden via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Maliha Aqeel, EY

Content distribution will start to become hyper-personalized, as brand marketers increasingly use data analytics to identify customer needs and segment audiences into defined needs-based buyer groups. Then, AI-based tools can be used to personalize the message, experience, and channel based on what’s relevant to each group and drive engagement.

#Content distribution will start to become hyper-personalized, says @MalihaQ via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Dan Hatch, Typeset

2020 should be all about how we leverage the content we’re creating. How are we using it to get third-party exposure (keynotes, guest posts, media coverage, etc.) and get in front of new audiences? If you’ve been creating high-quality content that works, then there’s power in your platform. It’s time to use it.

 

2020 should be all about how we leverage the #content we're creating, says @daniel_hatch via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Amanda Nelson, Salesforce

Content will be delivered in multiple formats and channels, so that it’s available in the way that consumers want to digest it.

 

#Content will be delivered in multiple formats and channels, so that it's available in the way that consumers want to digest it, says @amandalnelson via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Allison Munro, Piano.io

More and more, brand marketers are looking to develop a D2C (direct-to-consumer) relationship with their audience, moving away from the traditional channels of television and billboards to leverage content on owned-and-operated channels and develop and nurture direct relationships with their users and customers.

Brands will look beyond traditional channels for developing D2C relationships with their audience, says @yomunro via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Evan Waters, Prosus Group

The adoption of video as the preferred medium of content should accelerate in 2020. On the other hand, the “10,000-word answer” to simple queries will fall out of favor. Those that seed video content thoughtfully from a brand, referral, and link-back perspective will enjoy outsized benefits.

 

The adoption of #video as the preferred content medium should accelerate in 2020, says @EvanMWaters via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Carla Johnson, keynote speaker, author, storyteller

Over the next year, content marketers will continue to see the rise of video. It’s a format that works for engagement at every step of the customer journey. People like to see other people who’ve done what they’re trying to do. Video delivers that and makes content much more relatable. People find it, watch it, learn from it, and then take action. Not only does it inspire people to take action, it can also motivate them to start down the buying path because they’ve become more educated.

Content marketers will continue to see the rise of video. It inspires people to take action, says @CarlaJohnson via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Adam Ritchie, Adam Ritchie Brand Direction

Smart brands will spend less on emerging influencers yet engage them more effectively. They’ll offer them prestige, which is more valuable than money. They’ll involve them in content creation that makes them more famous than they were. And they’ll set up scenarios where these personalities are the heroes of their own stories.

Smart brands will spend less on emerging influencers yet engage them more effectively, says @aritchbrand via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

John Hall, Calendar.com

Marketers will start to focus on distribution and how much time they are spending on their content. The ROI of a marketer’s time is becoming more and more valuable, so they will be focusing on strategies that grow distribution with a limited time investment. Basically, they will need to focus on strategies that help you do more with less.

Marketers will focus on distribution and how much time they are spending on their #content, says @johnhall via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Cruce Saunders, [A] – simplea.com

Personalization programs that have been in planning phases will finally get off the ground and start moving into production in 2020. Organizations will allocate resources to addressing head-on what it really takes to deliver relevant content recommendations and variations for audiences. Content operations will start to take more defined form as a function within publishing teams.

Content operations will start to take more defined form as a function within publishing teams, says @mrcruce via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Noz Urbina, Urbina Consulting/OmnichannelX

Everyone wants to do omnichannel content personalization at scale in a way that’s truly meaningful and advances customers’ progress along their journeys; yet almost no one knows how to do it efficiently. Addressing this will require much more than technology; it will require deep changes to how the organization functions and how it governs and collaborates on content – both internally and in conjunction with its agency partners.

Adaptive content modelling, customer journey mapping, big data, AI, and enterprise knowledge graphs are coming together, which will enable enterprises to take on the huge challenge that is truly customer-centric content operations.

Adaptive content modelling, customer journey mapping, big data, AI, & knowledge graphs will enable enterprises to take on the huge challenge that is truly customer-centric content operations. @nozurbina via @cmicontent #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Back to list of categories

Performance and measurement

Carlos Hidalgo, VisumCx

I believe CMOs and marketing departments will double down on analytics as they struggle to maintain revenue importance in their organizations. Pressure from the business will continue to mount for marketing to show themselves as revenue creators and accelerators; therefore, a move from vanity metrics to revenue metrics will be paramount.

CMOs & #marketing departments will double down on analytics as they struggle to maintain revenue importance, says @cahidalgo via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Chris White, Capital One

As first-party data becomes the currency of digital advertising, content will be at the epicenter of every brand’s digital plan. Measuring content ROI will now include content’s effectiveness at building first-person audiences, making the case for transitioning advertising budget to content distribution easier.

Measuring content #ROI will now include content's effectiveness at building first-party audiences, says #ChrisWhite @capitalone via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Eli Schwartz, growth advisor and SEO strategic consultant

The industry will evolve into being more KPI driven rather than engagement metrics focused. There will be increased attention on whether engagement (readership, likes, views) translate into revenue.

 

The industry will evolve into being more KPI driven rather than engagement metrics focused, says @5le via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Aaron Orendorff, iconiContent

With only 43% of B2B marketers measuring content’s ROI, I’d love to predict the rise of funnel-based analytics. Sadly, most organizations won’t invest. But the good news is that the future will belong to those who can measure and optimize direct, assisted, and email-led content conversions.

 

The future will belong to those who can measure and optimize direct, assisted, and email-led #content conversions, says @AaronOrendorff via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Jeff Coyle, MarketMuse

2020 will be an exciting year for content. I predict that measuring the efficiency of content creation and updating will be the requirement for any team; content gap analysis will be automated; and teams will eliminate superfluous reporting that has no actionable impact.

 

Measuring the efficiency of content creation and updating will be the requirement for any team, says @jeffrey_coyle via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Back to list of categories

Process and teams

Jenny Magic, Convince & Convert

A lot more energy is going to be spent on implementation plans and team alignment. Too many transformational marketing plans are sitting on shelves because change management was “value engineered” out of the strategic budget. 2020 will be the year we finally admit we can’t move forward without removing roadblocks and put the money where it matters.

A lot more energy is going to be spent on implementation plans and team alignment, says @JennyLMagic via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Andy Crestodina, Orbit Media Studios Inc.

“Click to optimize an article for search.” “Click to optimize a landing page for conversion.” Automated editing is coming. It’s the evolution (and convergence) of tools that already exist. It won’t work well at first; but eventually it will become standard – though, by then, the effectiveness won’t meet expectations because so many brands will be doing it that it won’t drive a big competitive advantage.

Automated editing is coming. It's the evolution (and convergence) of tools that already exist, says @crestodina via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Leslie Carruthers, The Search Guru

The majority, if not all businesses, with a complex sales cycle know content marketing is a required part of their marketing strategy. But they are struggling with working with limited resources, measuring results, and knowing what’s working and what’s not. My prediction for 2020 is that content marketers will focus on optimizing their activities by implementing data-driven strategies and focusing on improving their processes.

Content marketers will focus on optimizing their activities by implementing data-driven strategies, says @TheSearchGuru via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

A. Lee Judge, Content Monsta

Marketers will place more focus on connecting their creative efforts to sales outcomes. Previously, it was a struggle to prove value in content marketing. Now that we have convinced others, we have to provide proof and be willing to put the marketing technology tools in place to hold ourselves accountable.

Marketers will place more focus on connecting their creative efforts to sales outcomes, says @aleejudge via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Berrak Sarikaya, Yesler

We will need to evolve beyond random acts of content; and in order to do that, we should be breaking down silos to get everyone invested in the creation of content that puts the customer’s needs first. Content is not just the responsibility of marketing, and so we need to improve the way we’re using data in its creation and distribution.

We should be breaking down silos to get everyone invested in creating customer-first content, says @BerrakBiz via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Jim Tobin, Carusele

Brands will use multiple sources to generate content (internal, agency, influencer) but put more emphasis on quality signals before deciding which content to amplify. In a world where there is too much content and too little reach, doubling down on great content will be the way to drive returns.

Brands will put more emphasis on quality signals before deciding which content to amplify. Says @jtobin via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Anna Hrach, Convince & Convert

What’s old is new again: Repurposing content is key for 2020. Brands don’t have infinite time, resources, or budget, but they do have endless amounts of content. Thankfully, useful, usable, relevant content can be repurposed, which maximizes existing investments and allows brands to focus more budget on adding new, high-quality content to the mix.

Repurposing content is key for 2020, says @annabananahrach via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Pamela Muldoon, The Pedowitz Group

The importance of slowing down to move forward will resonate with companies in 2020. Ensuring they have a documented content strategy – along with the strong foundation of personas and customer journey alignment – will take precedence over just “doing” content marketing.

Having a documented content strategy will take precedence over just “doing” #contentmarketing, says @pamelamuldoon via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Val Swisher, Content Rules Inc.

In 2020, marketers will continue to see the value of, and need for, intelligent content. Topics such as content reuse and multichannel publishing will continue to be at the forefront of everyone’s mind. The key will be how to get there.

 

Marketers will continue to see the value of, and need for, intelligent content, says @valswisher via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Back to list of categories

Strategy

Juntae DeLane, Digital DeLane; Digital Branding Institute

The world of modern marketing is constantly changing. That is why strategy is key. You need a smart strategy when distributing content. A brand must respond to changes in technology, your industry, and consumer behavior. In 2020, content must be sophisticated. I suggest creating content that is centered around one creative idea but anchored to the medium’s native functions.

Brands should create content that is centered around one creative idea but anchored to the medium’s native functions, says @juntaedelane via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Heike Young, Salesforce

Content marketing in 2020 will be all about the orchestra, not the instruments. By this point, content creators have crafted plenty of individually valuable assets. Now, it’s about stitching them together as journeys with clear next steps. Best-in-class content programs will feel like a symphony, not a solo.

#Contentmarketing in 2020 will be all about the orchestra, not the instruments, says @YoungHeike via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Cathy McPhillips, Content Marketing Institute

At the risk of sounding sappy, my content marketing prediction is that marketers are going to reset and go back to being more human – I’m thinking deep content that is laser-focused on a niche and is purposeful and fulfilling to both the content creators and the customers. Conversational marketing will be at the forefront, and genuine engagement with customers will win their hearts and their dollars.

Marketers are going to reset and go back to being more human, says @cmcphillips via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Andrew Davis, Brandscaping & Town INC.

2020 is the year of people-driven content. Brand marketers will attach people to the content they’re creating to help humanize the brand. Like Rachael Ray brought us the 30-minute meal, or Adam and Jamie brought us MythBusters, brands will power their content by people we can build a relationship with at scale.

Brands will power their #content by people we can build a relationship with at scale, says @drewdavishere via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Ashley Zeckman, TopRank Marketing

Audiences will continue to demand great content from trusted sources. How should that impact content creation and distribution in 2020?

Marketers will need to go all-in on the audience experiences they are creating. Content should be in preferred formats and should create a real connection to the hopes, dreams, and needs of their target.

Partnering with industry influencers is a great way to build trust and create killer content. But remember that influencer marketing is a long play and should mutually benefit the audience, the influencer, and the brand.

Audiences will continue to demand great content from trusted sources, says @azeckman via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Nate Riggs, NR Media

Brand marketers will emphasize one-to-one customer conversations that are fueled by the libraries of content they produce. In 2019, we saw early signs of the viability of ad technologies like Facebook Messenger ads, which can promote content to hyper-targeted audience segments while empowering each audience member with a call to action that opens a direct Messenger dialog with a brand representative. I believe 2020 will bring about true progress on this front, as brand marketing departments and customer service centers align to establish human infrastructures that will make strategies like this work at scale.

Marketers will emphasize one-to-one customer conversations, fueled by the libraries of content they produce, says @nateriggs via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Adele Revella, Buyer Persona Institute

We’ll notice that buyers are impressed when content tells them how we solve their problems, and that too much emphasis on benefits doesn’t work. It will become clear that buyers are the experts on what they want to know and that we simply need to invest in listening to them.

 

We’ll notice that buyers are impressed when #content tells them how we solve their problems, says @buyerpersona via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Jonathan Crossfield, freelance storyteller

Automation and personalization have been hot topics for content marketers for years; but I’m seeing it evolve from being treated as primarily a technical challenge into primarily a content challenge. Right person, right time is great – but only if the message is right, too.

 

Automation and personalization will evolve from being treated as primarily a technical challenge to primarily a content challenge, says @kimota via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Erin Ledbetter, Carusele

Stories will overtake feed content as social media users continue to diverge into two groups – content creators and content consumers. To stay relevant while competing for attention with these creators, brands will need to shift their strategies from ad-like creative to less polished, more authentic storytelling content.

Brands will need to shift from ad-like creative to less polished, more authentic storytelling content, says @Socialsheek via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Matthias Bill, SIX

“B2B marketers can almost never rely on storytelling because the services they sell are often complex.” Wrong. Because the services they sell are often complex, they have to rely on storytelling. Stories create connections that allow us to learn faster. Everyone will at least have learned that by the end of 2020.

 

Stories create connections that allow us to learn faster. Everyone will at least have learned that by the end of 2020, says @matthiasbill via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Melissa Rosen, Groove

Marketing strategy will revolve around customer experience. This will start with deep persona work to craft intensely personal and valuable content, followed by consistent distribution in channels where those customers already live. Strategies will be smaller but stronger, focusing on the bottom of the funnel just as much as the top.
#Marketing strategy will revolve around customer experience, says @Melissa_Rosen via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Oriol Gil Rubio, IESE Business School

More than ever, marketing leaders should think “content” first, and then ad(d) contents to the story. No more excuses: Storytelling training for all marketing teams will become essential. Build the brand story mindset. BE the story. All else will flow from there because products and campaigns are ephemeral, but stories are sempiternal.

#Storytelling training for all marketing teams will become essential, says #OriolGilRubio via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Mariah Obiedzinski, Stamats

Quality over quantity. Strategy over spray-and-pray. It sounds easy, but many organizations divert back to the “lots and loud” approach when panic ensues instead of taking a step back, analyzing the goals, and really considering what the audience wants and needs.

 

Quality over quantity. Strategy over spray-and-pray, says @mariahwrites via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Matt Batten, Edge

Changes in how content is being produced and deployed have put content specialist agencies, in particular, at risk. In response, these specialist agencies must start to fuse content marketing with advertising. The benefits of working with a single, unified team will be many: reduced costs to the client (as you’re only paying for one team), reduced friction, unified messaging and marcom across all touchpoints/channels, increased effectiveness of content, and increased accountability. Happiness all ’round.

Specialist agencies must start to fuse #contentmarketing with advertising, says @mattbatten via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Amy Linert, Manifest

An increased focus on performance will drive creation and distribution. Data that sparks content creation has performed so well for SEO/SEM efforts that we’re going to see this expand into social. Personally, I’d like to see more storytelling that spans multiple channels and isn’t necessarily fully polished. Meaning, we will have hero channels that have the polish needed, but then utilize other channels to show what goes on behind the scenes and/or the efforts it took to get to that polished state. I feel that will build stronger relationships with core audiences – we’re all getting tired of the “perfection filter.”

I’d like to see more #storytelling that spans multiple channels and isn’t necessarily fully polished, says @_AmySparkles via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Tom Martin, Converse Digital

Brand marketers will finally begin to “sell greatly” by shifting from a transaction-first mindset to a relationship-first mindset, which finally places the sales prospects’ needs and desires ahead of the marketer’s own KPI attainment goals. The result will be higher conversion rates and shorter sales cycles.

 

Marketers will finally begin to 'sell greatly' by shifting from a transaction-first mindset to a relationship-first mindset, says @tommartin via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Bernie Borges, Vengreso

According to CSO Insights, only 32% of companies have a content strategy for their sales team and 20.7% of the content used by salespeople is sourced or created by salespeople. With more marketing executives reporting into the chief revenue officer, accountability for content that is specifically made for salespeople will take center stage for content marketers in 2020. This is rapidly becoming known as content for sales enablement.

Accountability for #content that is specifically made for salespeople will take center stage in 2020, says @bernieborges via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Dennis Shiao, Dennis Shiao Consulting

For years, marketers leapt to embrace new things: infographics, videos, podcasts, etc. In leaping so quickly, they forgot to consider how to achieve business objectives. In 2020, marketers will pursue new tactics only after defining the strategy for using them. They’ll achieve more by creating less. We’ll also see a return to the basics, including the reemergence of print.

In 2020, marketers will pursue new tactics only after defining the strategy for using them, says @dshiao via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Olle Lindholm, Spoon Agency

I predict there will be more voice, less noise. More one-to-one distribution (e.g., chat, email), where you can create the most relevant content for your audience at a time and a place when they need it the most.

New business models will be developed as a result of brand accountability and activism. Content will be the business engine, underpinned by applied creativity through data, tech, and human behavior.

I predict there will be more voice, less noise, says @ollelindholm via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

David Meltzer, Sports 1 Marketing

With more ways to capture emotional and valuable content than ever before, as well as our growing ability to amplify it to the more than 4.3 billion people on the internet, I’m looking forward to seeing new methods of monetizing content as it is perpetuated over time.

I’m looking forward to seeing new methods of monetizing content as it is perpetuated over time, says @davidmeltzer via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Allen Gannett, Skyword

Going into 2020, the content arbiters are raising the bar on relevance (check out Google’s BERT update). That bar will continue to rise, making it harder still for brands to get by with irrelevant, keyword-stuffed, clickbait content. It’s time to recognize that your competitive advantage doesn’t come from showing up with quick hacks. It comes from prioritizing trust with your audience. How do you create trust? Through the transference of value. Quality, well-researched, unique content experiences get you there.

It’s time to recognize that your competitive advantage doesn't come from quick hacks; it comes from prioritizing audience trust, says @Allen via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Geoffrey Director, Manifest

Brand strategy will become integral to effective content, as content becomes core to greater brand initiatives (rather than a tangential, executional discipline). We will understand, in greater depth and more scientifically, how content drives affinity and behavior. And brand strategists who can master the various disciplines will start replacing tactical content strategists.

Brand strategy will become integral to effective #content, as content becomes core to greater brand initiatives, says #GeoffreyDirector @manifest_agency. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Michael Becker, Emarsys

2020 will be a year defined by diversification. Look for companies to explore new and different avenues, channels, and mediums to publish content and attract fresh audiences.

 

2020 will be a year defined by diversification, says @mjbecker_ via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

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Tools and technologies

Liz Willits, AWeber

In 2020, AMP for email will transform email marketing by allowing marketers to create dynamic and interactive emails that act like web pages. For example, a subscriber can RSVP to your event by completing a form in your email without visiting your site. This will reduce friction and increase conversion.

#AMP for email will transform #email by allowing marketers to create dynamic and interactive emails that act like web pages, says @lizwillits via @cmicontent. #CMWorld #tools Click To Tweet

Mitch Joel, Six Pixels Group

I’m still bullish on smart speakers and voice-assistant technology. It has come a long way, but not as far (or as fast) as I had thought it might. Currently, Amazon has over 10,000 people working on Alexa, and 30% of all searches are expected to happen without a screen. In content, we talk a lot about the brand voice… but what will be the voice of your brand?

 

I'm still bullish on smart speakers and voice assistant technology, says @mitchjoel via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Karen Hesse, 256

I expect a growing focus on voice-activated content in 2020. While most brands have yet to develop a voice strategy, the voice mega-trend will prompt a back-to-basics review of existing content. From there, companies will optimize and purge existing content with a ruthless lens of user needs and quality.

I expect a growing focus on voice-activated content in 2020, says @256media via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Peter Loibl, Content Marketing Institute

As brand marketers strive to be more “human” in their collective approaches, I see artificial intelligence being used to help with day-to-day minutia more than to create thought-leadership content. The rise and importance of AI has never been greater; but I think 2020 will be the year where marketers really begin figuring out how to leverage this technology to complement organic content creation, not just replace it.

I see #artificialintelligence being used more to help with day-to-day minutia than to actually create thought-leadership content, says @peterloibl via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Michaela Alexis, LinkedIn trainer and keynote speaker

I think 2020 will be the year of LinkedIn Pages for B2B brands. We’re starting to see a ton of new features for LinkedIn Pages being released to help SMBs create engaging organic brand content. I think this will provide a massive opportunity for brands whose target audience is business professionals to build a community around their products/services.

I think 2020 will be the year of #LinkedIn Pages for B2B brands, says @mickalexis via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Allison Wert, SmartBug Media

With more and more interest in machine learning and AI, I think content marketers will be pressured (in a good way) to find effective ways to leverage these technologies – i.e. for automation of manual tasks and better analytics. At the same time, content marketers will need to firmly establish where a human touch is required, namely in creating content that is not merely good enough, but actually indispensable for our audiences.

Content marketers will be pressured to find effective ways to leverage machine learning and AI, says @AllisonWert via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Viveka von Rosen, Vengreso

With all the automation and AI and AR platforms and services being offered, it’s critical to use these tools to create a sense of personal engagement and relationship. There are far too many spammy attempts at blasting unsuspecting prospects with irrelevant messaging; so maybe it’s time for the one-to-one conversation to make its resurgence. Quality over quantity is not a new concept. If bell bottoms and fanny packs can come back in style, so too can actual human engagement become the newest, coolest thing in social media.

If bell bottoms and fanny packs can come back in style, so too can actual human engagement become the newest, coolest thing in #socialmedia, says @LinkedInExpert via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

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Everything in between

George Stenitzer, Crystal Clear Communications

A content marketing renaissance will begin because there will be no viable alternative going forward. Smart content marketers will put people first to:

  • Foster user-generated content
  • Prepare for voice search by gathering, analyzing, and answering customer questions
  • Gain customer insights by using artificial intelligence to listen more intently to customers.
A #contentmarketing renaissance will begin because there will be no viable alternative, going forward, says @GeorgeStenitzer via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Venetta Linas Paris, Aon

Marketing, which might be thought of as business support, will have a stronger seat at the table. Challenges that marketing faces will surface greater business imperatives, forcing better collaboration across all parts of an organization to achieve a common end goal.

 

#Marketing will have a stronger seat at the table, says @Venetta_Beretta via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Robert Rose, Content Marketing Institute

2020 will be a year of disruption for content marketing. Acquisitions and mergers of media companies by both product brands and agencies will hit a fever pitch, as the move to in-house creative and marketing services accelerates.

Content marketing teams will take on much more than the management of siloed blogs, magazines, and resource centers. They will transform into centralized teams that manage audience journeys and all manner of content management-related services.

Consumer data acquisition and privacy issues will become the biggest challenge to digital marketing. Mild (hopefully) headwinds in the economy will revive the do-more-with-less mantra of marketing.

Mild (hopefully) headwinds in the economy will revive the “do more with less” mantra of marketing, says @robert_rose via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Kim Moutsos, Content Marketing Institute

I think we’ll hear more people talking about ethical marketing. I’m not talking about complying with GDPR (EU privacy regulations) and CCPA (California privacy law). I mean marketing with respect. Earning attention. Asking (politely) for just the information they actually need. Protecting the details that are shared. Appreciating interactions. Helping people (not “targets” or “prospects,” or “customers”). Giving people real choices about how to hear from us. And I hope this community will help drive that conversation.

I think we’ll hear more people talking about ethical marketing, and I hope this community will help drive that conversation, says @kmoutsos via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Joe Pulizzi, Will To Die author; founder, Content Marketing Institute

Microsoft will launch their own Apple TV+ version, but just for the business-to-business market.

Multiple Fortune 500 companies will launch coffee-table type print magazines, citing a need to break through the online clutter with a new, innovative print/paper technology.

At least one, probably two, major media networks will be purchased by large brands (not their billionaire counterparts). Multiple brands will launch organic TikTok initiatives that will be ridiculous and will go down in flames.

Deep fakes will explode during the political season. E-newsletters will win in 2020.

Multiple brands will launch organic #TikTok initiatives that will be ridiculous and will go down in flames, says @joepulizzi via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Amanda Changuris, AAA – The Auto Club Group

Trust has always been a must for brand marketers; but with the 2020 elections and growing consumer expectations for transparency, establishing and maintaining our audiences’ trust will be paramount.

 

With the 2020 elections and growing consumer expectations for transparency, establishing and maintaining our audiences' trust will be paramount, says @AmandaChanguris via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Ron Tite, Church+State

Brand marketers will package up their content in scrolls and will utilize drone delivery for distribution. Bonus loyalty points will be given to consumers who order a pizza when they order a white paper and episode of a branded podcast. Also, uh … something, something blockchain.

Brand marketers will package up their #content in scrolls and will utilize drone delivery for distribution, says @rontite via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Gennifer Chenault, SOC Telemed

We are creating more content than ever before, yet our content consumers are also getting savvier. They don’t have more time or attention – probably less. They will be even more selective about what they read and watch. Content that is not substantive will be ignored.

 

#Content that is not substantive will be ignored, says @gennifergsc via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Joseph Kalinowski, Content Marketing Institute

With the evolution of artificial intelligence in content creation, audiences will demand for there to be a human behind those words. I may be wrong (as I am often … ask my better half), but I think that the need for human emotion and feeling behind content will always be required to garner the trust of the crowd. Marketers will need to learn to leverage that human element with the wave of AI that is continually growing and coming their way.

With the evolution of #AI in content creation, marketers need to learn to leverage the human element, says @jkkalinowski via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Michael Brenner, Marketing Insider Group; Mean People Suck

Content marketing 2020 is all about content becoming more strategic, more impactful, more automated, and yet more human. The biggest shift I’m seeing is brands using their employees, influencers, and customers to co-create content for scale and ROI.

#ContentMarketing 2020 is all about content becoming more strategic, more impactful, more automated, and yet more human, says @brennermichael via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Taylor Holiday, Common Thread Collective

In 2020, we will be going global. As the global commerce infrastructure continues to develop, marketers are going to salivate over incredibly cheap CPMs on their favorite ad platforms (read: Facebook, Instagram) in foreign lands. In particular, India will be a major topic for all brands looking to boost revenue growth.

Marketers are going to salivate over incredibly cheap CPMs on their favorite ad platforms in foreign lands, says @TaylorHoliday via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Lisa Murton Beets, Content Marketing Institute

I predict more content marketers will leverage the power of technology to get laser-focused on different audiences in different stages of the customer’s journey. Blanket approaches don’t cut it.

I predict more content marketers will leverage #technology to get laser-focused on different audiences in different stages of the customer’s journey, says @lisabeets via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Nenad Senic, PM, poslovni mediji

Two major things will be happening in 2020: Many brand marketers are going to pull back from content marketing, as they see it as too much work. For some (or for many) content marketing requires too much time and responsibilities. So, they may step back. Second, many are going to invest in print again. (Go figure.)

Many brand marketers are going to invest in print again, says @NenadSenic via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Ann Gynn, Content Marketing Institute

More marketers will recognize the content marketing advice for their brands is good advice for them to follow with their personal brands, too. They will regularly market themselves – not just when they want a new opportunity.

 

More marketers will recognize the #contentmarketing advice for their brands is good advice for them to follow, personally, says @anngynn via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Brian Piper, University of Rochester

More focus will be put on voice search and video content, as usage will spike for both. Optimizing content for search will become a necessary tool in marketing, not a nice to have. Data will lead in measuring performance against strategic initiatives and making business decisions.
More focus will be put on voice search and video content, as usage will spike for both, says @brianwpiper via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Jacquie Chakirelis, Online Platform Institute

According to Salesforce, 54% of customers feel companies don’t operate with their best interests in mind. We need to be aware of this alarming trend and find opportunities to build trust – for example, by leveraging user-generated content from your communities.

Distribution of content in 2020 should focus on data-informed results and opportunities. Data from both internal and external sources should be consulted to understand audience behaviors and content preferences. All in all, we need to see our initiatives as an opportunity to collaborate with our customers through two-way communication, not a one-way channel for push communication and interruption.

We need to see our #contentmarketing initiatives as an opportunity to collaborate with our customers through two-way communication, says @JacquieChak via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Scott Spjut, Fifth Third Bank

I predict that in 2020, content marketing will finally take its place as just another tool in the brand marketers toolbox. It’s not special or unique or especially complex. It’s another way to have a positive interaction with customers and potential customers, and has earned its place among email, social, traditional, and other types of marketing for accomplishing business objectives.

#Contentmarketing will finally take its place as just another tool in the brand marketers toolbox, says @scottspjut via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Frank Strong, Sword and the Script Media LLC

As more and more marketing organizations adopt content marketing, the approach alone won’t be enough to drive results. Certainly, you’ll still need all of the basics – relevancy, quality, consistency – but those attributes are becoming table stakes. To remain competitive, content marketers will need something more: a sizable investment in creativity. This isn’t a call to abandon data-driven marketing. Creativity and metrics are not mutually exclusive. Leaders in content marketing will focus on finding ways to drive marketing innovation by getting their left and right brains to collaborate effectively.

Content marketers will need to make a sizable investment in creativity, @Frank_Strong via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

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What’s your top prediction for content marketing in 2020? Please share in the comments.

Curious about the accuracy of our past predictions? Check out the forecasts we shared for 2009201020112012201320142015, 20162017, 2018, and 2019 to see what we got right and where we went way off track.       

 And one more prediction, we know you’ll expand your content marketing skills with the help from some of the 2020 predictors who will be at Content Marketing World in October. Register today for the best rates. 

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

Author: Stephanie Stahl

As General Manager of CMI, Stephanie leads the brand’s event, digital, print, and e-learning operations. Previously, Stephanie served as VP of Content Marketing for UBM’s Technology portfolio, providing strategic guidance on content development, content optimization, audience engagement, and go-to-market platforms for technology clients. Stephanie also spent many years as Editor in Chief of InformationWeek. Find Stephanie on Twitter @editorstahl and LinkedIn.

Other posts by Stephanie Stahl

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