After two years of accelerated digital transformation brought on by the pandemic, marketing, and content strategists are entering a new normal. A world in which more people are online than ever before, but getting their attention is harder than ever.
To break through, content professionals are having to scale their content operations faster and more efficiently. And content teams are working toward more customized user experiences that require highly structured and well-organized content. These demands require new technology and skills.
So what do content leaders think it will take to succeed in 2023? Keep reading to get 2023 content predictions and plans from select content leaders with top companies.
Designing content fit for purpose and helpful to people at the moment of need remains critical every year. It will be so this year. Understanding how the consumerization of technology affects the expectations of business audiences and technology users (mobile-first of years prior, cloud computing model now, and AI and augmented/mixed reality of coming years) will remain a focus. Measuring the performance of all content types and deriving actionable insights that can be easily operationalized needs attention every year, and will again this year. Finally, doing an even better job of making our content easy to find and eliminating confusing and duplicative content will be a priority.
Colleen Jones, Founder + President, Content Science:
Successful leaders will make big progress in balancing the creative and technical sides of content in new ways to create more value at a larger scale. Content at a finer granularity will need to serve a wider range of purposes in end-to-end experiences tailored to sophisticated customers. Content also will need to communicate brand purpose that genuinely, uniquely, and repeatedly inspires employees and customers (even in B2B contexts). Understanding content performance by assembling intelligence with content analytics and effectiveness evaluations will go from ‘nice-to-have’ to ‘must-have’ as every dollar is scrutinized. And the really successful will view implementing content technology well as key to making this balance possible.
What a time to be alive and in content marketing! Technologies like generative AI are giving us new tools to create and scale content, while digital and social continue to help us make experiences deeper, more engaging and available to our audiences. It’s the march of progress we’ve seen in our industry for years (and many times across history), but the rapid acceleration from idea to market readiness makes these advances feel more real and – and really disorienting – for content teams. That’s why as we enter a new year the role of content strategy remains vitally important. We keep our organizations focused on people: educating, influencing and inspiring our audiences and organizations. Let’s welcome the robots and put them to work by making us better at creating meaningful value, not just more stuff.
AI has the potential to help us create better content. It can sound a bit scary, and some writers and editors are understandably a bit concerned. However, tools like ChatGPT are just that, another tool in our content toolbelt. For now, at least, these tools do not understand the empathy and humanness that skilled writers possess to create content that connects and resonates with other humans. AI is an exciting and disruptive technology that is here to stay. As content professionals, we will need to put in the work to harness AI to create engaging customer experiences.
Erin Everhart, Director eCommerce & Personalization, Arby’s:
ChatGPT will be used for all marketing copy. I jest… kind of. But in all seriousness, if content creation becomes more automated, and anyone (or anything) can create it, our job becomes more how to strategize and execute against it, which (so far) hasn’t been outsourced to AI.
Jonelle Wilkinson-Seitz, Colby Phillips, Meredith Deaver, AT&T:
In challenging economic times, we see a growing focus on demonstrating the value of content in de-risking projects and driving ROI. With a new position in our organization and growing access to business analytics, we plan to build enterprise-level processes that drive cohesion and emphasize consistency. All while ensuring our content remains inclusive, in language and practice.
The mar-tech, creative-tech, and content-tech boom will continue to grow in 2023. Content teams will need to keep up with all the new tools and solutions being developed, but they will also need to embrace them. Even three years ago, best practices are no longer best practices due to the rate of change in the world; the pandemic proved that. The forward-thinking content team will leverage technology to become more efficient in their quality content creation, not just produce more content.
Elizabeth Mendes, Senior Associate, Content Science:
My 2023 content prediction is that many longstanding nonprofits, institutions, and organizations will continue to work toward modernization of their websites and digital content strategies. We are starting to see organizations such as these—sometimes with fewer staff and smaller budgets—looking toward implementing newer tools and technologies that they were previously hesitant to invest in, to help them scale and sustain their content operations. This will be particularly important with a potential economic downturn on the horizon.
Both content creators and content channel designers / developers will continue to focus on making content more inclusive, with particular attention going to word usage, cultural language bias, content localization, and the accessibility of content experiences. And what falls under the umbrella of “accessibility” will continue to grow, with content planners and strategists paying increasingly more attention to how to leverage multiple modalities and rhetorical approaches to make content more accessible and useful to neurodiverse audiences.
Juviza Rodriguez, Sr Director Consumer Health, March of Dimes:
Health organizations committed to diversity, equity and inclusion must examine whether or not their process for creating content is in alignment with these principles. When writing for ethnically diverse audiences, teams must go beyond translation and explore the benefits of transcreation. In doing so content is more likely to resonate because it reflects a voice that captures the cultural nuances and generational customs that so often influence individual and community health and wellness.
Angie Vaughn, Senior Analyst, Content Science:
We’ll see increased focus on first-party data, especially as Google works to phase out third-party cookies on Chrome by the end of the year. This means that organizations will have to get better at collecting and using their own data to develop and deliver content that builds trust and deepens relationships with customers.
John Collins, Sr Content Architect, Atlassian:
Top of mind for me is managing content for personalization at scale, which encompasses many things within content strategy, content ops, and content engineering—content modeling and structure, authoring experience and change management, localization—as well as working with technical teams, and then orchestrating and building user experiences with the content built for personalization. There are several vendors doing neat things especially with authoring experience and orchestration. In the year ahead, I think sophisticated personalization capabilities will have a lower barrier to entry. I’m also kind of hoping to see some new specialty roles develop to support these new capabilities.
My content focus for 2023 is clearly defining and articulating company vision, then aligning the communication of that vision both internally and externally. Content teams often focus the majority of their efforts on the external message. But neglecting your internal audience is a missed opportunity. If employees understand and buy into the vision you’re trying to achieve, they can be some of your strongest advocates in communicating to your prospects, customers, and partners. That internal reinforcement and feedback loop helps build content that truly resonates with all our audiences, strengthening our story about the value we bring across our ecosystem.
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