No change to the importance of good content.

Cliché alert. It sounds trite I know, but content is king. And it will continue to be so in 2018. According to a Smart Insights survey, which asked respondents to ‘select the single marketing activity that you think will make the largest commercial impact in 2018 for your business (or clients)'. Content marketing came out at the top of the list (20%). 

Coming a close joint second were big data and artificial intelligence & machine learning. But let's not forget, big data and AI can could both be driving the types of content that brands are delivering to their customers – in both the B2C and B2B worlds.

True AI, based on machine learning, can watch and analyse what content users are consuming and engaging with, predict what they will want on future visits to a website, then serve it up to them. A seemingly bespoke experience. This personalisation should further drive interaction with customers and start filling up the sales funnel. And that's why more marketing spend is being diverted to this activity. 

Mercifully, full automation is still a little way off. Writers and creatives are still needed to deliver interesting, relevant and engaging content. At the end of the day, we still need to consider tone of voice and different conversational styles. 

However, the options for diverse types of content are expanding as fine-tuned targeting becomes the order of the day. 

These are the types of content that will come to the fore in B2B marketing activities in 2018.
•    Video – In 2017, YouTube reached 1 billion views of videos posted on the platform. Combine that with the fact that it is the second biggest search engine after Google and you have content that can’t be ignored.
•    Social media – Still the most important way of engaging your audience in a timely fashion are the likes of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. In a B2B environment, LinkedIn rules the roost while Google+ remains good for SEO.
•    Blogs and articles –These are a great way to establish thought leadership, allow you to promote specific products and services and help with SEO.
•    Emails – Crafting compelling direct marketing campaigns via email is still important. Getting your audience to click from a newsletter/email content to your website is still an effective driver of traffic to your website. The key is in ensuring the content is engaging and click worthy. 
•    Infographics and visual media – A picture is worth 1,000 words, particularly if you’re presenting dry, data driven concepts. Infographics aid understanding. Virtual reality walk-arounds and fly-throughs are also becoming increasingly useful for delivering complex information about products and how they may benefit prospective customers.
•    White papers – These are perfect for communicating complicated information about products and industry applications, without clouding the issue with sales messages that may well turn your audience off. Make sure you always include a call to action to draw your readers to your website for further information.
•    Podcasts and webinars – Broadcasting your content can be very effective for people on the move using mobile devices with limited time to assimilate the information you’re giving them. Webinars allow you to deliver complex presentations online and enable visitors from disparate locations to engage with you at the same time. And they allow interaction between the presenter and the audience in the form of questions and answers.
•    Landing pages – These provide a home on your website for specific campaigns that will allow you to track campaigns and their effectiveness over time. Unlike standard web pages, these are designed to Include product information and specific, strong calls to action.

The fact is, there is range of content types to draw on. But you need to be careful not to adopt a scatter gun approach to your content marketing efforts. You need to cherry pick from the menu to get the right mix; based on what is going to work best for you. To do this, you need to take a strategic approach to your customers, finding their personae and addressing your content to their pain points is critical. Tell them how you'll help them.

The trend is about making further improvements on the content you're creating... more personalisation and localisation is definitely required. 

Let’s hope it’s a good year.