Content Marking Trends
Content marketing isn’t necessarily the “new” kid on the block. In fact, name brands like John Deere, Hasbro, Lego, and Sears have been utilizing content to improve brand loyalty since the turn of the 20th century.
That’s not to say a lot hasn’t changed. Today, marketers and consumers are faced with a multitude of channels by which to distribute or receive content. To make matters more complex, competition is at an all-time high, meaning product variety, pricing, and promotions are no longer enough to seal the deal.
Today, content marketing is still about telling a story and creating a relationship, but the tools and strategies that help marketing teams achieve those end goals are ever evolving. So how can you evolve with the ever-changing content-sphere and make the most of your marketing strategies? Here are five trends that will be essential for successful content marketing in 2016.
1.) Quality Over Quantity Is Here to Stay
Much like the idea of content marketing in general, this isn’t necessarily a “new” trend. When Google’s Panda (2011) took its toll on previous SEO efforts, the notion that quality would supersede the keyword-stuffed, backlink-blitz approaches of the past took hold.
However, the idea of “quality” continues to transform, and today, it’s closely associated with words like “expert,” “complex,” “in-depth,” and even “journalism.” The days when you could create copy around general inquiries is gone – partly because of competition and saturation, partly because consumers expect more, and partly because of Google’s introduction and continuous improvement of its Knowledge Graph (2012), which seamless connects answers with simple search queries.
To attract customers, your content is going to need to be viewed by both the consumers and Google as relevant, informative, and timely. This may mean that you’re churning out less content, but that should free up time for the nitty gritty research and work required to publish what consumers are truly seeking.
2.) Content Marketing Budgets Will Grow
As more and more companies realize the importance of content marketing and how it attributes to their overall health and success, 50% of them are planning on increasing the amount of money allocated towards this particular methodology.
Increased spending will likely be used to create smarter, more appealing and effective content while increasing audience reach through intelligent channel leverage. Strategies that revolve around the purchase of social media traffic and harnessing effective content marketing technologies are just a few of the ways this new budget allocation will be used.
3.) Skill Sets & Interdepartmental Relationships Expand
There are a wide variety of skill sets that fit squarely inside certain channels or positions. A marketing department should undoubtedly be composed of professionals who have a strong affinity for analytics, reporting, and ultimately turning those two things into stories about progress and roadmaps for the future.
While those skill sets are invaluable in any type of marketing, there is another side that is equally important, and that’s where journalists, writers, editors, and videographers can help bridge the gap. These people are born story tellers, audience readers, and curious creatives. There should be an increase in their presence on marketing teams and a budding relationship between those metric minded professionals most frequently found in the driver’s seat.
Thinking outside of the box won’t be limited to marketing candidates; it will be equally important to consider other departments as content methodologies are explored. A perfect example of this dwells in customer service and sales departments. Individuals in these positions are on the front lines with potential buyers and customers at various stages of the buying cycle. Successful content marketers will consider how interdepartmental discussions can help create effective strategies.
4.) Building Relationships Through Brand Personas Is Essential
Defining your brand and what your company stands for is a must for every company, but it’s no longer enough to rest on your laurels once you get there. In 2016, content marketing efforts will reflect this sentiment as it becomes absolutely essential to further bridge the gap between brand and consumer, and to bridge this gap on a channel by channel basis.
What does that mean? Quite simply, your customer’s needs and wants vary based on channel. Some are searching for info in the form of lengthy blog posts or eye-appealing infographs; some are searching for the best deal; and some may be looking to identify a brand that supports their ethical and moral values.
Companies will need to create buyer profiles or personas based on specific drivers and engagement preferences and build unique content strategies around those profiles. Because different channels attract different types of buyers, or buyers in different purchasing cycles, attention will need to be given to identifying the needs at each stage.
5.) Video Content will Continue to Rise
YouTube remains the second largest search engine, and it’s not hard to understand why. Videos are engaging, informative, and thanks to our dependence on mobile devices, easy to watch anywhere. This content delivery medium, either alone or in combination with text, will continue to rise and more and more brands will anchor the power of videos.
The benefits of video content is two-fold. From an SEO approach, videos can boost respect and rankings from Google. On the customer engagement side, videos are more conducive to the today’s fast paced, immediate, results-driven online environment.
The versatile nature of videos is one of the most appealing aspects and likely responsible for the rise. Of course, they can be product driven, but beyond that, and perhaps more useful for building loyal content followers, they provide brands with the opportunity to become creative and really reach out to their audience. From DYIs and instructional videos to branded series and sketches, videos can really provide a boost.
As content marketing continues to become a necessary piece of marketing plans, there will undoubtedly be multiple ways for your brand to engage and harness new audiences. Some of these trends and approaches will prove to be a true boon to your program, while others may not be the best fit.
However you choose to approach your content strategy, it’s important to realize that it’s not a one-size-fits all approach, and that’s true from brand to brand, audience to audience, and channel to channel. So while you test out and review 2016 trends, be sure to research, record, analyze, and perhaps most importantly, have the patience to test and adapt as you hunt for your perfect content marketing strategy.
Jennifer Lobb has nearly a decade of experience in digital marketing and has a passion for the written word. Throughout her career, she’s cultivated a strong interest in the role content plays in the world of marketing. In addition to her interest in marketing and content, she also uses her skills as an adjunct faculty member to help students of all ages and disciplines to improve their writing abilities and to construct quality essays and research documents.
More articles by Jennifer coming soon!