As we brush off the sleep dust and re-emerge into the start of 2024, let’s look at 5 Key Trends that are likely to impact content marketing for the IT channel this year.

1. Diversification of Content Types: The Rise of XR

One of the most significant developments in content marketing is how the emergence of extended reality (XR) technologies (which include virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and brain-computer interfaces (BCI)) may impact the content funnel. As of 2023, the extended reality market was estimated to be worth $40.1 billion forecast to grow to $111.5 billion by 2028.

A well-known example of the implementation of content experiences to amplify a brand impact is the home retail giant IKEA, who were an early AR innovator in the retail sector. IKEA was a launch partner for Apple’s ARKit in 2017 – and last year IKEA launched their Kreativ app that allows customers to browse over 50 3D showrooms to try their products in lifelike spatial settings. It’s not just consumer marketing, however, where XR technologies are making an impact. In B2B, one of our clients, Lenovo, have built the ThinkReality platform that is designed specifically for the enterprise. Their cloud-based management platform allows channel partners and end users to upload applications, content, and services which can be scaled globally. And combined with immersive headsets, XR technologies are revolutionising manufacturing and heavy industries, offering virtual model reviews, safe training programs, and new ways for channel vendors and partners to create unique content and engage end users. 

2. SEO for the AI Age 

One of the biggest updates this year for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is likely to be the rollout of Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE). This is currently an experimental feature that incorporates AI-generated responses to search queries as illustrated in the infographic below. (And for bedtime reading, I highly recommend having a look through Zach Edelstein’s excellent blog on Moz on this subject.) 

What does this mean for content creators in the channel? Well, alongside the increased use of knowledge cards to automatically serve content to users without leaving Google, expect SGE to amplify this trend. With increased zero-click traffic, there’s an even greater need to ensure that website content is accurate, optimised for long-tail keywords and common customer questions. For keywords where organisations don’t rank, there is the potential opportunity to optimise for featured links in the AI generated responses.

What does this mean for technology organisations?

Be aware of how your direct competitors are positioning their products and solutions. How​‘findable’ are they compared to yours? Where’s the opportunity to build alliances with non-competitive partners to develop backlinks to credible content that is going to enhance your brand and visibility? Are you aware of all the common customer pain points that may be included in search results and should be addressed in your web content? 

3. Data Analytics and AI in Content Marketing

The use of data analytics and AI in content marketing has seen considerable growth. In 2024, according to the Content Marketing Institute, 72% of B2B marketers will use generative AI (GenAI) tools for content-related tasks. This trend reflects the growing reliance on technology to create more personalised and effective marketing content. However, as with all things GenAI, caution is the operative keyword here. Whilst using GenAI tools such as ChatGPT, Bard, Jasper and others have been revolutionary for brainstorming ideas and producing rough drafts lightning fast, it’s worth spending time rigorously assessing output for quality and accuracy.

4. The Continued Importance of Thought Leadership

Thought leadership remains a key component in content marketing strategies. Effective content marketing not only focuses on creating engaging content but also on establishing authority and expertise in the industry. This aspect is especially critical in the tech sector where information is rapidly evolving. With the explosion of generated content, expect to see more organisations draft content with a unique human voice that can powerfully convey their organisation’s ethos and ideas. You may have seen the badges below from Not By AI circulating on social media. Expect more of the same as organisations look to distinguish the quality and originality of their research and writing. 

5. The Content Marketing Ecosystem: Integration and Synergy

In 2024, content marketing is no longer a standalone activity but an integral part of a broader marketing ecosystem. This integration involves a synergy between various marketing channels and tactics, from social media and email marketing to influencer partnerships and event marketing. By creating a cohesive and interconnected content strategy, businesses can amplify their message and reach a wider, more engaged audience. A great example of this is from one of our longest-standing clients, IBM. Years before ChatGPT became the fastest-growing consumer application in history, in 2015, IBM targeted their proprietary Watson technology on the food industry with their Chef Watson application. Partnering with the Institute of Culinary Education, Chef Watson analysed over 10,000 recipes from BonAp​petit​.com to detect patterns and suggest up to four different ingredients that pair well. By personalising cuisine and creating new flavour combinations, Chef Watson disrupted the food industry with AI-powered recipe suggestions that then inspired an integrated content marketing program which included a Cognitive Cooking with Chef Watson recipe book (still available on Amazon), a​‘fantastical food’ event hosted by celebrity chef, Heston Blumenthal, and a rollout of education material for schools, and the underlying technology behind the Joule Turbo app. Through multiple channels and reaching multiple audiences across the food industry, IBM’s Watson innovation generated considerable editorial and organic content. 

Conclusion: Charting the Course Forward in Content Marketing

As we navigate through 2024, it’s clear that content marketing for the IT channel will involve embracing diverse content types and creating curated content experiences for each user. In the B2B context, this means thinking holistically beyond producing standard content types such as whitepapers, webinars, and data sheets and reaching the same audiences each time. But extending reach into new mediums and channels. For generating original and purposeful content, it means leveraging AI technology wisely: allowing the tools to aid with the initial development of ideas but ensuring that there is significant human oversight. (Your audience needs to hear your organisation’s true voice not recycled content!) 

And by thinking more broadly about integrating content strategies within the wider marketing ecosystem, it means considering how to reach your target audience in new ways. Perhaps your organisation has developed innovations that would benefit from serving a rich content experience to your identified audience? What will that look like in 2024? 

At TBT Marketing, we have proudly helped clients in the tech sector craft compelling, purpose-led content for nearly 25 years. For deeper insights and guidance on mastering content marketing in 2024, get in touch today.