What could your business accomplish with the active participation of a couple of million social media followers? How would your brand perception and customer engagement be enhanced with such proactive outreach? As testified by the global presence and brand value that Australian surfing and sportswear retailer Rip Curl has built using just such a strategy, it can transform your marketshare and customer loyalty stats.

Exploding onto the international scene as one of the most recognizable names in its market, Rip Curl’s 100k+ YouTube subscribers and more than 2 million Facebook followers played a key role in replicating its success on its native shores, globally. It’s not for nothing that Seth Godin, the famed American author and once Yahoo’s VP of direct marketing, goes as far as to say that Content Marketing is the only truly effective marketing left.

As far as creating a distinct customer connect and a unique niche, the quintessential Aussie humour and Sun-n-Sand optimism that Rip Curl’s online presence projects, is hardly an isolated instance. On the contrary, from retail to politics, the influence of a content based approach is writ large across the marketing landscape in 2019. From zany and quirky, to conventional and earnest, contemporary marketing is about initiating conversations with your audience, and content is the key to building these relationships.

Some trends shaping the evolution of this approach include:

1. Return of the Influencers
Around 64% of the respondents to the Content Marketing Institute’s ‘B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends Report’ said they value a relationship with influencers, but only 24% actually partnered with them. As influencer campaigns evolve and become more likely to trend, in the future, such oversight will be a significant missed opportunity. Apart from promoting products and services, influencers add to your online content and following, diverting their traffic to your media, while lending more credibility.

2. Podcasts aren’t an Outcast yet
While the influence of podcasts was relatively static for a period, they are growing again and gaining a dedicated legion of fans. The most influential being ones that present information in an interesting and engaging manner. Your audience wants to enhance their hour-long drive from home to work with content that insightful, yet light. Promoting your podcasts on other channels, to create a content ecosystem, will add to your outreach and influence.

3. One for the ‘eBookworms’
eBooks are a great lead generation tool, as well as helping to establish you as a thought leader. eBooks help create brand trust and brand authority in ways that other forms of content cannot. Neil Patel lists this as the second best lead generation tool, after case studies.

4. User Generated Content Could be Bigger
User generated content is one of your most powerful weapons, to increase recall and gain the trust of your customers. If you own a business and want to utilise UGC, you can start with running hashtag contests on Instagram. You can also ask your employees to share content about the company on their social media accounts, to promote an emotional connect with your brand.

5. You’ve Got Mail
According to Hubspot, 93% of marketers use email marketing to distribute content. There’s no dearth of data collected from browsing, purchase behaviours, and mail preferences, which can be used to personalise mailers. With the increasing influence of artificial intelligence, mail tools will become more sophisticated and make better use of this data.

6. Blogging Still Hasn’t Gone Old
Yes, blogs are still as relevant as before. At the end, it’s all about what you write in them – content is everything. If you write more informational and relevant blogs, you’ll get a higher number of clicks, leading to more conversions. The key is to strategically identify interesting topics, create great content, and promote it effectively on your preferred channels.

Communication is all about what you have to say
While technologies such as AI and Augmented Reality will refine content strategies and avenues to engage with your customers, the key to creating a connect will always be about what you have to say. As your audience evolves, so too will media, platforms and strategies, but the biggest trend of all has remained consistent over the years – Content is king.