Content Consumption Trends

Featuring Mimi An, HubSpot Principal Research Analyst

  • - Hello and welcome today's HubSpot Academy Master Class on Constant Consumption trends. My name is Justin Champion and I'm an inbound professor for HubSpot Academy's Content Marketing Training. The master class is presented by HubSpot Academy, HubSpot's official learning resource and world-wide leader in inbound marketing and sales education. HubSpot Academy offers free certification courses and free tools to not only grow your business, but to grow your career. Today, we're joined by Mimi An, principal research analyst for HubSpot Research, the dedicated research arm for HubSpot's content team. Welcome, Mimi, how are you?

    - I'm great, thanks for having me.

    - [Justin] Definitely, thanks for being here. Tell us a little bit about HubSpot Research and your most recent report.

    - So, we do a lot of market research and internal research, and one of the topics that are near and dear to most marketers' hearts is what content people actually want. So, a few months ago, we ran a survey of consumers all around the world and asked them, basically, "What is the type of content that you want to see more of? "What is the type of content "that they're more interested in? "What do they skim? "What do they, kind of, multi-task on?" And we rolled up the results and we broke it down by age in this particular report, because what we found was some really interesting trends based on how old the respondent was and we're really excited to share this out with all of our audience.

    - Yeah, I'm excited to dig in, too. So, as we go throughout today, we're gonna be asking you, the audience, questions as well. And I actually have a bet going with somebody at work that we can't break 200 questions on Facebook Live, so let's prove him wrong on that. So, when we do ask a question, feel free to insert the comments on our Facebook Live feed or tweet it on Twitter and include the hashtag #HubSpotMasterClass. So, I'm dialing in from North Carolina. Mimi, where are you dialing in from?

    - I'm in Cambridge, Massachusets. It's freezing!

    - So, to the audience, to kick things off, tell us where you're calling in from today and what's your favorite type of content to consume and we're gonna be checking this throughout today's session. So, to kick this off, let's talk about this research report and how you went about finding this data and what we're gonna be talking about today.

    - So, it was a mass survey and the first few slides that I'm gonna show, there's gonna be a lot of slides in this particular Master Class 'cause there's a lot of data for us to share and it's the easiest way to consume it. I'm gonna kinda set the stage and then we'll talk a little bit more about content in-depth. So, one of the things that we were really interested in was "What type of device are people using "to access content online?" And this is like a really good starter slide, because it's telling us that younger folks, Millennials, if you wanna call 'em that, are using their mobile phones a lot more than a laptop or, obviously, a tablet. And that really changes the way they consume content and type of content that they want to see because you've got a big screen on a laptop versus a small mobile phone. There's just gonna be different preferences as a result. So we wanted to set it up here and say, "Hey, some of the behaviors that we're gonna show in future slides, it's obviously to us, predicated on the fact that they're using their mobile phone a lot, lot more."

    - Right, yeah, and so, now that we know that mobile's on the rise, and I know this is something that we've been hearing for many years now, where are people using their mobile device most? Because that's really kind of important, right? With the rise of mobile, it's important to know the context of where these people are dialing in from.

    - Yeah, these are mobile-first consumers, so we did ask a question, uh, let me see if I can just get to the next slide. Technical difficulties. Do you mind pressing that button? Give us a moment; bear with us, we're live.

    - So, while we're waiting right now, if, before we actually show the slide, you the, to the audience, if you just wanna put in the comments field on Facebook, well, there we go, we'll just jump right back into this.

    - Sorry, there's a little bit of a lag. So we did ask beyond, you know, okay, "What mobile device are you using? "What device are you using the most? "Where are you using your phone?" And we broke this down by age again, because we're seeing a really interesting trend. So, there's a little, there's a couple of things in this data that's telling me that one, we're super-addicted to our mobile phones, right? We're on our phones before we go to sleep, right after we wake up. We asked a couple of other options like, "Are you going on your phone at the gym? "When you're commuting?" But also, this last piece we included is in the bathroom, right? We're so addicted to our phones that a good chunk of, especially Millennials, are not embarrassed to admit that they bring their phones in with them when they go to the bathroom. And I think all of us online intuitively know that that number is actually higher than 36%. There's a bit of a, like, "Are you willing to admit it?" factor and what this data tells me is that younger folks, probably because they are mobile-first, because they know this is standard behavior across the population, they have no problem, you know, admitting that they bring their phone and they use their phone while they're, you know, doing their business. It's a little bit of funny step, but it also just reflects how addicted, I think, we are to our mobile devices today.

    - So, do you use your phone in the bathroom, Mimi?

    - I do,I do. That's probably why I added that option because I am ashamed enough to know that that's not great, but I'm not ashamed enough to stop doing it. So, you know, you can let me know in the comments if you feel the same way or if this is absolutely taboo for you. I do draw the line, though, at talking on the phone in the bathroom. I have been in the bathroom when people were talking on the phone. I just don't understand how they can live through that, but that's just me.

    - Again, either that, or even, like, when people are watching videos, you always hear, like, someone shuts their phone off really quickly, but you never know when you have to update your fantasy football line. You don't wanna have somebody starting on a bye if you can actually get them in there, so I hear ya, I use my phone in the bathroom too, sometimes. So, now that we all know each other a little bit better. You know Mimi and I both use our phones in the bathroom, to the audience, tells us if you use your phone in the bathroom on Facebook Live in the comments field or you can use it on Twitter using #HubSpotMasterClass.

    - And I would actually add to that, if you do think that is actually a really low number, the orange bar, which is, that's everybody who responded. It's only 36% of people admitted that they use it. I really do think it's higher, but there's a little bit of a shame factor, so let me know if you actually agree with me or you disagree.

    - There's no shame here, like we said, we all do it. It's like Mimi said, it definitely probably is higher than this, but So, now knowing where people are using the phone, let's go to this next slide about the depth of engagement and what people choose to skim versus what takes all of their attention.

    - Yeah, so we've set the stage; now let's actually get into the meat of it, what marketers are really interested in. So, I get a lot of these questions from even our own content team, right? What are people actually gonna pay attention to versus what are they skimming? And so we were really clear in this question. And what we found is that video content, if you think about just the nature of it, is a lot more engaging and people are thoroughly consuming it. You can't really multi-task in the same way with a blog article, right, or even a podcast. I think podcasts are designed for you to be doing something else when you're listening to it. Videos, obviously news articles, multimedia articles, and then social media posts, those are things that people are really, really interested in reading through today.

    - Yeah, and one interesting thing that I've seen people do, is understanding the power of video and actually using that strategically with other different types of content formats. The most successful content marketers that I've seen do a blog post where it has a video at the top. It even has, like, a audio file, if you wanna look at that and then it's a transcription underneath. Rand Fishkin has been doing, Rand Fishkin who's the CEO of Moz, which is a SEO company, has been doing a black, or a Whiteboard Friday segment for many years now, and he's been doing this with video and having the transcription underneath and he's been absolutely crushing it. And one thing HubSpot Academy does, is we create this educational training and on Thursday this week, November 16th, we're gonna be re-launching the content marketing certification with a class that's gonna explain on how you can use all these different types of content formats to really help with your content efforts and just getting better results out of 'em. So now that we understand that video is going up, like it's, video is really gonna be a key part of content strategy in the future, if it isn't already, from everything that you've been saying, Mimi.

    - Yeah, and the next slide just, it's been so consistent, the first indication that video's just really, really top of mind for consumers. People wanna see more video. It's just, I think, a given, especially for folks on their phones, video content is really, really engaging. They're usually quick hits. Usually they're funny or you learn something really quick. It's valuable right now, and it's a new medium. It's not like blog articles where there's millions and millions of blog articles that people have to sift through. Because video is so nascent, and new, when it's really well-done, I personally believe that a lot of people get value and find it memorable.

    - Yeah, and to be honest, video is really difficult to get into. Not everybody has the chops to be able to understand how to create an engaging video, but it's really just about getting started and the brands that are using video right now are the ones that are really seeing more value. So, let's ask the audience this. Which brands do you know that are popping up the most on your social media feeds and who's putting video content, or creating video content that's the best caliber, in your opinion. So, in the comments field on Facebook Live, tell us which brands you think are doing video the best and which videos are actually popping up in your newsfeed frequently?

    - Yeah, there's so much buzz around video, so much trepidation and kind of fear from people who are writers. And so, it's kind of a touchy subject, but throughout our data, it's very, very consistent that people wanna see more videos. So, as a marketer, as a marketing organization, what are you supposed to do? I think this particular report talks through what you need to do to address people's needs without completely abandoning, right, the old channels that have worked so well for many, many marketers.

    - Right.

    - [Mimi] And just in a little bit more detail, this is a little bit of an eye chart, sorry. It's a previous slide, but it's broken down by age again. And this is when we start seeing super, super interesting trends. So you can tell on the very top, videos is the most interesting for our most people, but Millennials, again, the 18 to 24 and 24 to 34, they're usually grouped together as Millennials. You can tell me whether or not you disagree with that, but that's how it's typically been done. They're so much more interested in video content than older folks. Inversely, right, social media po--, I'm sorry, social media posts and social photos, it's the same. There's that same trend where younger folks, probably because they're growing up on that network, they use that network more, wanna see more content there. On the inverse, right, there's research reports, which is what I do, there's email content and even a little bit on the, like, ebooks and PDFs, older consumers who are kinda used to that format, prefer that format. And we start seeing that divergence in preferences and it also is consistent throughout the rest of the slides, which we'll see in a minute.

    - Yeah, and something interesting to even note on this, is that, obviously younger audience prefers videos, but then you even see the younger audiences preferring the social media posts and photos, which is generally the audience that's on social media out-the-gate anyways. One quick thing I just wanted to say here, So I know that we're also engaging you, asking you questions today, but if you have any specific questions, definitely feel free to add them, because at the end of this session, we're gonna go through, Mimi and I, go through the different questions and answer them together. So, if we ask, if we're asking you something specific, feel free to answer it, but if you have a question, make sure to also ask it, because we wanna make sure that we can get those answered before the end of today's session. So, now we're talking mostly about general consumption of content, but this next slide goes into the types of content we expect to see from brands.

    - Right, in the previous slides, we asked about general things, like, social media posts, which could be from your friends or family, or even news articles, which is always top of mind for most people. So, we get a little more specific and we start talking about branded content. And, again, consistency, you're gonna hear me say this over and over again, people wanna see more branded video content, as well, email comes back up because that's been the main lever that most brands have been using to engage with their audience and then it's followed by social, blog, and then, at the very end, the PDF.

    - [Justin] Yeah. Now, branded content can be any type of content from anywhere in the buyer's journey, which could be awareness stage, where people don't know who your brand is to consideration and decision, where you're actually talking about your brands and services. So, if you're looking for types of content that you can be creating and really, what's the best type of content to create for any stage of the buyer's journey? Again, go to academy.hubspot.com. There's different certifications, different trainings that can help you understand where you can get started with creating content. Now, to come back to this and, again, I imagine age plays an important factor for branded content, as well.

    - Absolutely. So, we broke this down again by age and we see more consistency here across the age groups for video. So, once again, video's here to stay. But there's really market differences in email and social again. So we saw echoes of that in the previous slide, that giant slide, and here, especially for branded content, we see real markings of a decline in email in the future. If you think about people who are always on their phones, you probably would feel the same, you get tons and tons of notifications, right? From texts from your friends and family, Facebook notifications, delivery notices, news articles, all that kind of stuff. I would imagine that, an email from, maybe a company that you bought something from a year-and-a-half ago, it's not going to register as important in all of the notifications that you receive, and it's very likely that branded emails are getting ignored. Maybe with the exception of, you know, one of those discount code emails, right? So, I think it's just pointing to a behavior shift where, if you wanna engage with the Millennial group, or as they get older and become bigger decision-makers in their business, they're not gonna be looking to email to actually get content. I really doubt that, in the future, as they mature or get older, that they're all of a sudden gonna start changing up their habits and start opening their emails. So, this is more of, like, "Hey, guys, if you're a marketer "and you want to reach every element of your audience," if that's your audience, right, the Millennial group, or you anticipate them being part of your audience, "you will need to anticipate this decline in email "and shift your resourcing to reflect the way "that they wanna do things." And you can see, over on the edge where social images and social videos, that's where they are. That's where they want to get their content.

    - It's very interesting and so, we have a couple things comin' in from our audience. So Alex says, "I've been very much enjoying BBC Newsnight's "video series for #Viewsnight, short, snappy, intelligent "and highly-relevant videos on politics and society." So definitely has a good point, so they've linked to the video actually matters, so people are producing engaging content and doing it, maybe, within, like, a bite-sized viewing. Probably makes it a lot easier to view while you're in the bathroom, so that you're sitting in that stall for a lot longer. Greg is also said, "Tasty is doin' a fantastic job of video, "as well as Goalcast." No surprises, they are large corporations; smaller companies are dominating this space.

    - Um-hmm, yeah, smaller digital-first companies are dominating. Video is a huge investment, especially for small businesses that are strapped for cash, right? It takes a lot of time; it takes a lot of resources. But I think, based on the conclusions that we formed on this data, if you lose out, if you don't participate, it's very, very easy to get completely left behind. So, figure out what you can, whether it's freelance animation versus actually filming something. That takes a little bit less time. It could be short and snappy things that are relevant to your brand versus, you know, 10-minute long odes or deep dives. I think trying to figure out what works best for your company, your audience, and what you're trying to sell or market, you need to play in video, but it doesn't require, like, the huge amount of resourcing that a Tasty or a Buzzfeed would have.

    - Right, right. I mean, that's even mobile devices, right? You can get started now with, like, I have an iPhone 7, and I know that the video quality of that phone, even an iPhone X, now, the phones are just getting much better, so even just getting started and not being scared of having to use, like, a digital DSLR where it's, like, a high-quality camera. That can really be intimidating.

    - Yeah, experimentation is really key, right now because everyone's trying to figure it out. There are some people who are, or some groups that are ahead of the game, but we're all playing catch-up at this point.

    - Yeah, great point. We do have some questions comin' in, but just for sake of time, I might hold some of these 'til the end, but I do wanna ask everybody a quick question. So, this is definitely the most graphic difference in age groups that we've just talked about here. Look at emails and social media, for instance. Look at the shift that's happening. So, to our listeners, give us some examples of how content consumption habits are built into your buyer personas. Because, at the end of the day, you wanna make sure that you're creating content that's relevant to your buyer personas. Maybe your buyer personas are young, maybe they're old, but what content consumption habits are built into the buyer personas that you've identified? Tell us on Facebook Live or on Twitter using #HubSpotMasterClass. So, as we move on, as we're saying, it looks like context plays a role. Or, maybe a little better way to think about these content channels is intent. When I'm casually browsing social media, it's a different intent than searching for an answer on Google, 'cause I'm actively looking for something if I'm going to Google versus if I'm on social media.

    - Yeah, absolutely, and I think we might've flipped slides a little bit, but we can go back to this. I think, just to reiterate the video point, most of our responses are saying that the reason why they wanna see more branded video content is that it's memorable. And, again, it could be because not everyone is doing it really well or there's a few players that are, like, really producing high-quality video content. So, it could shift in a year or two when there's, maybe, a glut of video that people won't react to it in the same way, but if you wanna get onboard now, we have data that shows that people do consider video, branded video content, to be the most memorable.

    - Perfect, yeah, so, I know that we did switch slides around a little bit. Wanna make sure that we're goin' on to the next--

    - Yeah, we can got this next one.

    - Great, just, bear with me for one sec...

    - So this particular slide is kind of to pull back and say, "Hey, everyone, don't freak out." I'm not here to tell you that you need to completely restaff your content teams. Obviously, video is a trend and there are lots of companies experimenting and I do recommend that teams and groups of people start exploring those options. But there's some tried-and-true channels and assets that marketers use and that will still continue to be used by consumers for brand engagement. So, we followed up, you know, like, "What's most memorable? "What do you wanna see from a brand? But, then, "When you find a brand you like, "how do you wanna engage and learn more about them?" So, the website is still a huge player in this process of a person or a consumer engaging with a brand. Then, it's followed by video, again, because the data's consistent, which we always love. And then, there's more of that social element: signing up for emails, following them on Instagram, but you can see in this chart, how much that website dominates and how important it is to make sure that you have all the answers or all the content your persona needs when they're trying to engage with you.

    - Yeah, the way I like to think of it is the website is almost the hub of where to show all these different areas that exist. Maybe you have a blog, but then the blog can show how you have a video series that maybe's on YouTube. You can explain how to share this through social media where they can engage with them. So, I do think that the website is almost like a brick-and-mortar store now, where you're actually finding all these different ways of being able to consume this content. And, so, it is the highest, but it is also a place that you can actually go and find all these different content formats or channels so that people can engage with you elsewhere. Because people might come to your site initially, but then they continue engaging with you on the channels of where you're posting that content frequently.

    - Yeah, absolute, and I like pointing out, you know, a year or so ago when Snapchat became, like, super-big, everybody was kinda freaking out about it and getting onboard and you can see how low Snapchat is now on the consumer side. So, I'm pointing it out because marketers are used to changing platforms, new things coming up that they have to be prepared for, and sometimes things are a blip and sometimes things stay for good, right. And we can see that Snapchat may be a blip now. I don't know if you feel the same way, but that's what it's telling me.

    - Yeah, I mean, until I actually start seeing different use cases, I know that I've been following @garyvee and seeing what he's doing with Snapchat, but even, like, when we look three years down the road, there's gonna be other channels that we don't even foresee that are gonna be popping up. And it's really people understanding how they can best utilize those channels so that they can, not only get the attention, but that they can start making sure that they're using it in a correct way. And the one thing that I would even say about the channels, is the people who are to those channels first, are the ones who are actually getting the value. So, when you see a channel pop up, even if it's not something that is relevant to your persona, maybe at least claiming it from a search engine optimization perspective, so that somebody can't go on and conquest your brand by taking it from you.

    - Totally. I'm just gonna skip to the next slide, which is, again, the same previous data, but cut, again, by age. And, there's not as much of a variation as we saw in the other slide, with the branded content, with the email decline and stuff. But it's still got the same basic pattern. Again, going to a website is very consistent across age groups, so that's something that everybody's doing when they wanna learn more about a brand. Video is actually fairly consistent, as well. And then, Facebook, which is that social component, much higher, again, amongst Millennials, less so with older consumers. And then emails follows that inverse as well, right, so older consumers, maybe they're used to those email kinda correspondences, they prefer to have email versus Millennials. And I wanna point this out because that's a pretty significant population, right? 38% to 35% of people who are 45 and older. So this data's saying, don't completely abandon anything, especially email, be prepared in the future for your open rates, your click rates et cetera to go down, because it seems like at least, from a use case perspective, younger consumers are not interested in it, but you still have a very captive audience who really expect it. So, don't give up on any channels now. As marketers, we're just gonna have more and more work piled up on us. We're gonna have to be everywhere and this data confirms it.

    - Yeah, and one way, because you have to be everywhere, one of the most important things to consider is becoming a repurposing expert. Understanding how you take a piece of content, maybe it's a blog post, how to reformat that into a video, right? How do you take that content and maybe make bite-sized pieces of information that you can share across Instagram or Facebook, wherever it makes sense. But not just creating new content for every single channel as much as repurposing content for that specific channel's use case, because, at the end of the day, it takes a lot of time to create effective content, so the best thing you can do as a content marketer is just make sure that you have content that would be valuable to your personas and then use all these different channels to get that content out there. So if you can become an expert at repurposing content, you can actually be visible in more places without having to stretch your bandwidth too thin. Because that's usually what I see most marketers, is focusing on different channels where they do unique pieces of content for and it can really take a lot of time to do that.

    - Totally, and it's so key. At HubSpot, we talk about investing your time and resources into evergreen content that'll always draw in your audience, right? So, I would assume that most marketers are doing the research, the keywords, the topics that would matter to their audience and then investing that time to create, let's say, a blog post. But, just like with Academy, just like here, where I predominantly work in research, and yet, here I'm on video, right, talking about this data, you can absolutely repurpose what you create, if you already spent all that time and energy on it. To still reflect what you need to say, but also, maybe, tailor it slightly to the right channel, but not completely go away and create something that's new 'cause that takes so much time and extra energy. It's so, so key if you're gonna take that time and energy to invest in a piece of content to consider all of the different channels that you can proliferate that on. And, again, it doesn't have to be identical from each channel; it should be tailored to each channel because, when people go on Facebook, they expect to see something slightly different from when they go to a blog post or download an ebook. But you can still let that thread be consistent across all of those pieces of content.

    - Exactly, and if you're someone on the line who's tryin' to understand, "where do I even get started "with understanding how to create content "or repurpose it across all these channels?" That's actually my favorite thing to do as a content marketer, is find out how to create efficiencies. So, I actually talk about this in the HubSpot Academy content marketing certification. So, if you want to check it out more, you can go to academy.hubspot.com/certifications and there's classes in there that'll show you, literally, how you can create a downloadable PDF, which we saw earlier people still prefer, and how you can create blog posts from it, how you can create social media posts from it, videos. And that is something that, if you're tryin' to understand where to get started, it would be a really good resource to check out.

    - Awesome, alright, so here's the next slide. So this is a little bit, slightly different, but it's incredible to me. We marketers, especially those who are in SEO, right, focus a lot on Google and Bing and all of the other search engines. And we know what that motion is, right, for a consumer. They have an idea of something that they want to find or look up and so, they input that search query into Google and they get results. That's still a predominate way that people are getting their information to catch up on news or lifestyle or stories or content, but see Facebook? Facebook is really, really close now to Google and that motion is completely different because it's passive discovery, right? You don't go into Facebook to search for finding a new car or buying new shoes. You're just probably wasting a little bit of time. You're in the bathroom, whatever it is, and you're scrolling passively and you're discovering content based on Facebook's algorithm, right. It knows you really well and it's serving you up things that you should probably enjoy. And what we're finding, is that people are discovering things through this algorithm that a lot of marketers haven't been able to wrangle or even thought about. And there's another piece when it comes to content, right. The content you put on Google to rank, to answer questions, to get people's interest is gonna look totally different from the content that you put up on Facebook to catch someone's attention when they're very quickly scrolling through their feed. I just think it's incredible that Facebook has caught up so quickly to Google and it's just gonna, again, make marketer's lives a little bit harder because now there's these two channels. They're very different algorithms that you're gonna have to cope with and deal with to get in front of the right person in your audience.

    - Yeah, and something interesting that I even notice is how search engines will incorporate updates that are happening on social because the content comes in so quickly. So, chances are, if there's a trending topic that's happening and you go to Google to look for more about it, you might find that there's certain Twitter series that are happening of this content that's happening, so Google will pick up and include different pieces of social media if it makes sense at that time. But I'm curious. Let's ask our audience, "Where do you go to catch up on news? "Do you go to Facebook? "Do you go to Google?" Just curious about where you go when you're looking for news. Just put it in the Facebook Live comment field or tweet it out with the hashtag #HubSpotMasterClass.

    - And, we're cutting this data, again, by age, and this is really interesting, 'cause if you look at the Millennial answers, specifically those who are 25 through 34, they're saying that they discover more on Facebook than they do at Google. So, again, if you wanna reach your audience, you can't abandon an SEO, you can't abandon trying to rank on Google, but there's just another piece of discovery now that is just part of our lives. And it's becoming more and more a major piece in how people discover, especially younger folks, right. And, as I like to say, they're gonna grow up. They're gonna be decision makers in businesses, they're going to be buying things and calling the shots and it's gonna be very unusual, I think, for them to all of a sudden change the way they do things because they got older. Which means, for us as marketers and for businesses, you're gonna have to tailor the way you do things to suit their needs.

    - Right, exactly! And it comes back to what we were just talking about a minute ago of having some sort of framework or process in place that allows you, maybe, to post content to your website that will be search engine-friendly so it can get picked up, especially if it's like a new state that's comin' out. And then, making sure that you're sharing it across your social channels. Maybe a couple of different posts with different pieces of content that are different snippets of the message line, so it looks fresh. But it's, again, just like Mimi said earlier, not abandoning any channels as much as it is getting efficient and understanding some sort of process or framework of how you can be present in all these channels so that, no matter where somebody's looking, whether it's passive or active, you're showing up as the content that can help educate them or just inform them.

    - Totally. And, this is the last slide that I'm gonna be sharing for this session and it's a kind of a two-fer. So, here we see how social media is now part of the decision-making process for many, many young consumers. Not so much for older ones, but younger consumers, social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, that's where they're discovering reviews or just researching their options. And that's incredible; that's a total change in behavior. So that's the first piece. The second piece is 10 years ago, social media was, like, barely a thing. It was not part of this decision-making process. It didn't even occur to us that that was going to be part of the equation. It was just for us to find a date or share photos, right. And so, in just 10 years, we put out this basically net new channel where people are researching in their buyer's journey. And, my kind of message and take-away, is that, "Hey, in five years, in 10 years, "who knows what's gonna come up?" I'm reiterating what I said before, which is marketers are kind of accustomed to change now because things move so quickly. New channels, new social networks, new whatever develop so quickly and we have to get in the game really, really quick. It's a huge ask, but it keeps things, I guess, interesting, let's just say.

    - It does and I would even say, really pay attention to the paid arm of these channels that are popping up. I know Facebook has been around for over a decade now, but when you think about it, like, think about the ad channel and all the different type of robust information that Facebook has. You can take your email audience, for instance, and put it into Facebook and find those people on Facebook and you can target them. Then you can even go a step further and say, "Hey, let me create a look-alike audience," which is essentially telling Facebook, "let me create a similar audience that looks very similar "to my current customers." And maybe even add-in specific elements that they want to target. So really look into the paid advertising arms on these channels because that's really what's gonna help even get more visibility to the right people is being able to understand how you can target those people through the correct social channels.

    - Yeah, Facebook's look-alike algorithm is exceptionally good now. They've tweaked it over the years and it's fantastic. I've spoken to our own internal guy who does our Facebook ads, and he used to try to run experiments to kinda compete. And he said about a year ago, he couldn't beat the algorithm anymore, so he just defaults to Facebook's look-alike. It's really interesting how they've been developing their ability to target.

    - It's great. I completely agree. So, thank you, Mimi, for taking the time, really, if it's okay with you, we have some questions that are comin' in. Everybody on the line, if you have questions, please keep asking them. But we'd love to start running through these with you and see--

    - Absolutely. I'm just gonna scroll back through the slides in case I need to go to one because there's a question about a specific slide, so, sorry. It's gonna fly by, but feel free to start with questions.

    - Perfect, so let's start off with Carla. "Can you talk about the future of blogs? "I love to blog and we, as an agency, "still sell blogging like a very good strategy." You wanna start off with that?

    - Yep, blogging definitely is crucial to most businesses, most. The reason why is the evergreen content. It stays online forever and, as long as you're answering the questions that your personas or customers need answered, you should absolutely continue investing in it. I think, like Justin and I touched before, augmenting or supplementing your blog content with these additional channels, whether it's converting a blog post to a webinar or a video, little snippet, a piece of social advice that you give, that just makes your strategy more well-rounded. But, if you think about Facebook posts, for example, not on the ad side, but just content that you generate as a business, it flies by so quickly, you have to maintain that daily, hourly maybe, to keep people's attention. Blog content will live forever and it'll continue, if you write it well and you target it well, will continue bringing you traffic through the years. So, that's an investment that may not be quite as, you know, as sexy and hot right now as video, but it's a tried-and-true thing that we certainly would never stop blogging because we see the returns on it. It's a long game, though. It takes a long time to build up that audience, to build up that SEO juice and so, I think, especially when it comes to, let's say blog versus video, the metrics that you're gonna have to look at have to be very, very different because you're playing in a different time-scale game.

    - Do no abandon blogging. Google or search engines still love the written word. The way that I would approach it, just like Mimi was talking about, is you have to be strategic, right, because a blog is a very ambiguous word because a blog is really just the area on your website where you're producing fresh content on a consistent basis. Generally, you shouldn't be changing too much content, because if you're changing content pages regularly, it can even impact your SEO. So the way that I think of blogging, is think about how it fits into your overall content strategy. For instance, maybe there are specific research reports or offers that you wanna be creating throughout the year and the way that I think of blogging is like a puzzle. A blog is almost like a puzzle piece that's gonna help you get to your end-goal, so if you plan out everything, it's actually a way that you can really put all these pieces together. Not to mention, like we talked about, people that are coming to your website, whether it's watching a video, or they're comin' to look at your content, you can use the blog as a place to host all these types of pieces of content, like your videos, so that you're getting value from the text and you're getting value from the videos. So, blogging, in mind, is something that's not gonna be going away any time soon. I think video actually just enhances the blog experience, in my opinion. Let's go on to the next question with Greg. "Are podcasts on their way out? "Is there still any value in utilizing this in your marketing?"

    - Oh man, podcasts, I don't know if I can say anything controversial, so, there's a small, it's a smaller piece of the population that loves podcasts, but they love it. And it's really up to you as a business, I know it's sounds like I'm copping out, it's up to you as a business to understand if that audience is the same as your, like the ones you're wanting to sell to. Podcasts are extremely valuable when you have a specific point of view. If you're doing a podcast just as a "me to," unless you're a whiz and you're getting the best guests, it may just be kind of a mediocre "me too" kinda of follower in podcasts and that may not be worth the investment. I think, if you want to do a podcast, you have to have someone who passionately believes in it, who has a point of view, long-term stories or storylines or themes that you wanna pursue, that's differentiated. Just like a blog article or an ebook, you need to differentiate yourself to really stand out because lots and lots of businesses are investing in podcasts. There are more and more cropping up every day and, in my opinion, that audience for podcasts is still fairly static, so it's more competition and, if you don't have a unique kind of thing to offer, I'd personally might shuffle my investment to like a video crew instead. But it's kind of like, you need to do your own research to make sure that the audience that you're trying to engage in, let's say it's an executive audience or someone who is new in their career and wants to learn a lot of tips and tricks, that might work for either audience for a podcast. If it's more general, if it's jut basic consumers, then maybe not so much because you're tryin' to grab everybody. So, I hope that answers your questions a little bit it's not too helpful, but you definitely need to think strategically about a podcast because it can be just as much of a time investment as a video crew or content.

    - It is. It's definitely an investment and, as a marketer, I think of myself being unbiased with every situation. I'm not gonna say something works or doesn't work until I test it, so maybe one thing you could even try testing out, is turning your blog post into an audio file and seeing if that gets engagement first before you put the time and resources into creating a podcast, 'cause it's actually gonna be a new content theme that you would have to really make sure that you're producing on a consistent basis. Test it out by trying to see if those audio files are getting engagement. I will say that one thing that you can do, if you, again, it all comes back to repurposing and trying to be efficient, if you do have a video series and you double down on video and you wanna find a way to create maybe a recap series, I would say that one source that really likes those podcasts or even variety shows is Slack. They do really great bite-sized sessions that are an encompassing overview of all the different types of content they talked about over the past month, so really try to get creative if you wanna do it. But just like Mimi said, make sure you got into it and, once you start one, don't stop it. Because I think that'd actually be more detrimental, like starting if off and then you can end up losing trust for people who are like, "well, where did this go?" You try this out, but it's not goin', it never kept up with it, so if you do start something like a podcast, it's really an investment that you're gonna have to almost go into like, a series. Alright, so let's go onto Kristy. "Where's the best place to learn how to create videos?"

    - OooI may not be the best person to answer that. I sit in our content team and I actually have, I know someone in our content team who's actually taking animation courses online, kind of like a general assembly-style of course, to actually hone up her animation skills to create video content. So I would definitely advise you to do a little bit of searching. There's lot of courses now available, generally, for you to hone up on, like, whether it's HTML or video creation, I think a lot of folks are self-teaching themselves rather than, let's say, going to a formal class or a course offered by a school. So, that's what I've been seeing, observing or actually, just off-hand.

    - Yeah, yeah, and the one source that I would say, who I know is trying to produce content pretty regularly for video marketing is The Sales Lion. I know that Marcus Sheridan and their team is really working, I know they do workshops, I believe they're creating content around it. I know that they're even creating different phonography, which is actually creating videos with your phone. I know George on their squad is really working on that. So, I think that could be a good resource. And I would say that next year, I know that-- I can't promise anything, but I know Academy is starting to look into this. Of understanding how we can do help with video a little bit better, so definitely stay tuned to Academy, because I know that this is gonna be something that we're gonna also wanna be assisting with in the future, as well. Alright, moving on, we have Sarah. "My buyer's a Baby Boomer, working as a executive "in insurance, and they prefer email, blog, and direct mail. "So, this research is definitely hard "for my company to embrace. "We anticipate the buyer's gonna transition to Gen X "and/or Millennial, but not at least "for another five years." I'm not sure exactly if there's a question in here, but it definitely looks like the research is helping you understand the next place to go, based on your buyer persona, so thank you for sharing that, Sarah, I think that is a pretty, is a great assumption right there.

    - Sarah's in a great position because she knows who her audience is, right. This data is not gonna be helpful for everybody, because they're not targeting Millennials. So I think it behooves Sarah to know that her strategy, and she knows what type of content her audience wants now. That's fantastic. And in five to 10 years, she can build up that landscape and that point-of-view, that strategy, to engage with that next group of buyers, right, so she has a lot of time to figure out the right way to create her team mix, the skillsets that she needs to hire for, the type of content that this group of people that's up-and-coming will need. So, I think a lot of people might be jealous of what Sarah has and the time that she has to prepare.

    - It's always helpful to look ahead, as opposed to wishing you did something. Don't get into those situations where you had wished you'd done something or you didn't plan it out. So I definitely agree with you, Mimi, that, Sarah, you putting all this together and understanding the next steps is really the best thing you can be doing. So moving down, we have Jim. "If you are using email, what's the best way "to get consumers to know what your company is doing, "to get them to your website?"

    - Well, it depends on what you have to offer. Again, another "depends" question. So, if email is your primary lever, then I think you might have to reconsider what your strategy will be on-launch, will be long-term, right. Because, I anticipate that email rates overall will start declining and open rates and click rates. I think for the most part, traditionally, and I might be misunderstanding the question, the email has always been to drive clicks back to your web property or some type of page where you can convert them to either a lead or a qualified lead or something of that sort. So if you're not going to be able to, let's say, leverage email in the future because not enough people are opening them and clicking them, then you need to consider, again, who your audience is and where they're most likely to be living day-to-day and figure out the messaging and the steps to take to lead them back to your web property on those new channels. Whether it is Facebook posts or Instagram posts or blog articles or videos. I will say that the video back to your asset link, that connection, is incredibly hard for everybody right now. Nobody really knows how to do it or if it's even the thing that they should be measuring, so, if you struggle with it, don't feel back because you're not the only one. Everyone is struggling with it, especially the media companies like Vox who've created a lot of buzz because they got rid of a lot of writers and created videographer roles instead. Their traffic rates are lower than they were before. My contention, before I go into a completely random aside, is that you shouldn't be measuring video views in the same way as you do traffic. It's not the same thing; it's not the same content. It's not the same end goal. It's easier said for us, because we're a business; we're selling a product, than a Vox or a news site where they generate profits from ads, right, from their web pages, so it's harder for them, it's a little bit easier for us. But for the most part, I think you might need to consider what channel you wanna use and whether or not leading them back to the website and measuring that is the right way to go about things. Video's upending everything and you might have to rethink your KPIs as a result.

    - Yeah, and I think this simply comes back to what you said earlier, Mimi, of don't abandon something until it actually shows that it's declining. I know that we're looking into research report and we're getting all this data, but at the same time, you know your business really well and if you're doing something, don't just stop it because you see a trend that's happening. What I would actually suggest, and that's what Mimi, what you just said, is keep testing and keep doing what you're doing now, and if you see something declining, then you can make an executive decision based on data and not an assumption. And then, always be testing when new channels are coming up to see if there's a new channel that might be something that could be a viable option down the road. That's really the best thing that you can be doing, because everything we're talking about now is really based on a a research report of all these things that we've been seeing, but at the end of the day, make sure that you're always testing and that you're using data to inform decisions, as opposed to just doing something because it looks like it's a trend without letting the numbers speak for itself.

    - Yeah, the goal of this study and this report is not for me to convince anyone to stop doing something. I would say start thinking about video, but this data is to say, "Hey, you should anticipate this." When you're building out your strategy, think about how this may affect your future view of how you staff your content team or the tactics that you need to use. Today, nothing is really changing besides this kind of upwards trends for video. People are still gonna be looking at emails and blogs and ebooks, but you should use this data to arm yourself or to prepare for the future.

    - Yeah, and this is actually something kind of interesting. Michelle asked, "Just out of curiosity, "will there be research for B2B as well?" That'd be really awesome. So, like, a report like this that would be based on B2B companies.

    - Well, this report was asking consumers. So this is not surveying businesses, so it's more like, "Hey," directly to consumers, "what is it that you want to see more of?" A B2B angle would be really interesting. I think it would be more of like a benchmark. We've run this report the state of inbound every year, so a lot of that kind of stuff will be covered and it will have a B2B focus, but for this type of stuff, of consumer trends, we obviously prefer to go straight to the consumer and see what it is that they're trying to do. Actually, this is the first report in a series. We got a ton of data, so this is just one angle we're exploring with the age differences. The next report that we're gonna publish is by geography, so if you're located in Latin America, or in Europe, and you wanna see this data cut by the region that's relevant to you, that is upcoming. And we'll have more in-depth stuff around social buying, we have a stat that wasn't featured here about how much Amazon plays in the search process. You know, comparing that against Google when people are interested in buying things.

    - [Mimi] It's not in this report, but it will be in an upcoming report. And we'll go into a deeper dive in video, as well.

    - And where will that report be? Where will it be published?

    - It will be published on research.hubspot.com. This report, the full report, the text explaining the content is there now and if you subscribe to our research notifications, we only email you when there's a new report up and you'll get a notice.

    - Love it, okay, without even saying it's an assumption, 'cause I can't share specific data points behind it, I would still say that video is gonna be big for B2B because it really depends on how you use video, right? It's really the context of how you're using that video, whether it's sent to inform, whether it's to educate, and at the end of the day, whether it's B2B or B2C, if search engines are loving video content, it should be a goal of, no matter who you are, of just being a present to the video game to make sure that you're at least getting the SEO benefits from people finding your website and the content that you have to offer.

    - Yeah, there's really interesting things happening. So with social media, we always see that as a top-of-the-funnel play because it is. You're getting a huge audience and you can't get too specific. You don't wanna have someone scrolling through Instagram and then you're talking about the ROI of your tool. It doesn't resonate, right? But video, video's just like blog content. It can be top-of-the-funnel, it can be middle-of-the-funnel, it can be bottom-of-the-funnel, it can be a case study, which is very bottom-of-the-funnel. It can be educational, which is top-of-the-funnel, about a certain topic or educational about your product, which is middle-of-the-funnel, so you do have a lot of flexibility there. But with that flexibility, just with blogs, right, when you're trying to figure out what to write about and what's gonna resonate, it creates uncertainty, as well, which is, I think, another reason why people are a little iffy about video, in general, because it's hard. It's very hard.

    - It is very hard and, to be honest, so I did a test, and it explains it in the content marketing certification, of shooting an entire video series on my phone and there was one video that got 11,000 views. I didn't even really promote it, or anything, and it was because the way I targeted it, how I focused on optimizing the post. So I would say that, again, like just getting in the game is something that's, you might not be producing the best videos out the gate, but it is gonna take a little bit of time and you wanna make sure that you're givin' yourself time to really get above that learning curve. We have time for a couple more questions and actually really like this one from Sylvana, "About video, should it be distributed directly on Facebook, or on a link on your website?" Or, when you think about it, should you even be using your YouTube link and putting it on Facebook? "What's the best way to distribute your video?"

    - Ooo, that's a good question. So,I think at HubSpot, we default to dedicated on Facebook for the Facebook audience and then, for all else, we use YouTube or sometimes Wistia. We have Integration Wistia. YouTube, because the algorithm is fairly powerful, allows us to do a little bit more tracking and same with Wistia, we have some tracking there. Facebook, you just can't, you have to post natively, otherwise, it's not gonna get the amplification or boost from the algorithm. So, you, unfortunately, it's one of the biggest struggles that all marketers have, is that we are beholden to the networks and their algorithms and the way they wanna do things. So, what we've developed over time is the right mix for us. I think, when you create video content, absolutely experiment and post a number of different channels, of different platforms, and then see what gives you the best results. But, absolutely, post natively in Facebook, and definitely have your video up in YouTube, because, even if you don't promote it, there will be SEO juice behind it because it's a Google-able product.

    - I love that you said that, definitely put that native photo, or put the video in Facebook natively as opposed to the YouTube link. I've done tests myself and I found that you do not get the amplification if you're putting a YouTube video in there, which Facebook obviously wants to have the video on their platform and not something that's just integrated with YouTube, so that's definitely somethin' important to note. "How would you convince," let's take one more, from Shamir, "How would you convince a small business owner "that content marketing is something they should consider, "especially if they have limited time and budget?"

    - Well, what's the other option, buying an ad? Like, I don't mean to be smart or snarky, it's a little bit of a "what would you rather have, an ad that you spend x, like, let's say $10,000 on for the month, you get your leads and then you start again at zero because that ad is no longer running. Or you invest your time and energy on good content. You put it up on the web, Google recognizes it as quality content, the people that you are trying to cater to search for those terms, are finding it, and it yields you, maybe not as many, let's say, leads, in the first month, but over time, it'll all add up and you'll have assets that you can build on month-over-month, week-over-week, right. I think that's really what's important for businesses to sustain themselves, 'cause otherwise, you're just in that, you're like that hamster wheel of buying an ad every week or month and tryin' to hit those numbers and if you run out of budget, or if something happens, you're just beholden to that, right? For me, I think and for obviously the messaging of HubSpot is, "invest in your content." If you're gonna have these two assets, whether it's a paid-for ad or pieces of content, focus on the content. You can advertise around it, but at least there'll be a core message and a core theme that should draw in your target audience. I think there's a lot of assets that we have available to help you make that argument. I might not be the best person to point you to it. Justin, I don't know if you know where they live, but we definitely have those kinds of decks available.

    - Yeah, and to be honest, I would say that you should almost think of content marketing, Don't even position it like that. I would position it as "trust," like you're informing your, you're educating your buyers. It's something that should be spread through the entire company, not just the marketing department. Everybody should really be bought-in on creating content so that it's helpful for whatever stage this person is coming to. But the big thing here, just to follow up what you're saying, Mimi, it's not something that you're gonna get value in the first month. You might not even get value 'til month three or month six, and that's the thing, is that it's something where it's gonna be, that you're gonna see a trend up over time. I did a lot of a research this year and worked with people internally, worked with, did a couple of experiments with external individuals, on how you can think of content marketing like what's some sort of approach? What's some sort of framework that you can do to really boost those results so that it's something that you can see success with quicker? Because a lot of people, when they try to get started, they get bogged down and say, "Well I'm not seeing success in month three," so then they just give up on it when really, you need to make sure that whatever you're doin' is you're putting your full focus forward on the different efforts and different initiatives that you put in place. So, again, I'm happy to say that on November 16th, the HubSpot Academy content marketing certification is gonna be relaunching and there's gonna be a new lesson on it of how you should be thinking about content strategy in 2018 from the formation of topic clusters versus just focusing on individual key words. So, if you're trying to understand how you can be a better content marketer or even sell it into your business, this certification's gonna be something that'll really help you out. You can just go to academy.hubspot.com/certifications and learn more about it, but if you're trying to get buy-in of this, understanding of how you can plan out and position your business, is gonna be the first thing I would recommend. So, thank you everybody for taking the time today and joining Mimi and myself. Mimi, I'll give you the last word on what you'd like to say of kinda what's comin' up with research in the future.

    - Oh, I wasn't expecting that. Okay, well thank you very much. I hope this was informative and useful. Like I mentioned, this is the first in a series of reports that will be talking about content trends. For those who are interested in what marketers, B2B businesses, are doing, we will be launching the state of inbound, which is kind of our marquee business-oriented report in the next year, so feel free to visit our site, subscribe and you'll get notifications when new research is up. And I hope that everyone has, you know, our amps up, right, to start up the next year with some new ideas, new strategies. Just so you know, all of these charts in the report, you can download the PDF of the report and you can also download each of the charts, so if you wanna make a presentation, if you wanna explain what the landscape is look like, they're all available to download and use. So we hope that this is something that you can leverage as you develop your own strategies for the next year.

    - Great, two big take-aways, everybody. Research on hubspot.com, you can check out Mimi's report, you can check out other reports that are gonna be coming up. And then academy.hubspot.com to learn about training and how you can really amp up the different knowledge bases within your company and start getting results today, whether it's from inbound marketing to sales, definitely check us out and thank you for joining.

    - Thank you.
  • Justin Champion
    Justin Champion
    Inbound Professor
  • Mimi An
    Mimi An
    Principal Research Analyst, HubSpot Research

Create a free HubSpot Academy account to be the first to know about events like this one.