Ah, content marketing.
Influenced heavily by Google’s algorithms, content marketing has the undivided interest of entrepreneurs and internet marketers around the globe. Marketers know that using content for SEO is more affordable than traditional advertising, but improvements to search engine algorithms (and rapidly changing consumer demand) means it’s never been more difficult to stay in the limelight.
2017 will usher in a new, dense tangle of requirements for content marketers; but before we take a glimpse at the upcoming challenges, let’s take a moment to review what happened to content marketing in 2016:
Content Marketing in 2016 Became:
- Saturated. Statistics show that over 2 million blog posts are published daily, in addition to millions of YouTube videos, GIFs, infographics, and other types of written and visual content. Simply put, the amount of content online is cluttering the digital world.
- Focused on “Behind the Scenes” Strategies: The enormous amount of visual and written media released in 2016 made content marketing heavily dependent on “behind the scenes strategies” like promotion and outreach.
- Ruled by Niches: Marketers today have two options: make your content visible, or allow it to become lost in the jungle. To make their way through the thicket of blogs, videos, and infographics, effective marketers used niche sites to zero in on their target audience.
With this background information in mind, let’s take a look at 5 content marketing trends you can expect in 2017:
1. Visual Content Will Become Crucial
We’ve already seen the power that Facebook Video and YouTube Live hold. In 2017, this growing demand for visual media will skyrocket. A combination of live and staged videos will be used by brands that are openly embracing the inevitable change from written to visual media.
What to do:
Visual content is arguably one of the most time-consuming types of content creation. Thanks to improvements in technology, creating branded videos and images isn’t as difficult as it once was.
Without a budget:
Startup companies and small businesses already have the tools they need to begin creating visual content: company cell phones and computers. Through a combination of social apps like Snapchat, and broadcasting sites like the ones listed below, your business can start building a visual content strategy that won’t stretch your budget.
A few (free) sites to consider include:
It's also a good idea to publish visual content on free sites like Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr, which have a primarily visual focus, and massive audiences.
With a budget:
Brands with a small marketing budget should consider pairing the free solutions above with the work of a professional videographer, photographer, or media agency. Professionals like these can help to plan a unique visual content strategy that captures your brand’s unique personality.
2. Shifting Focus to Data and Retention
Marketing is an industry driven by two factors: results and data. For content marketers, showing how a blog can drive return traffic and therefore sales is difficult - without the right tools, that is.
What to Do: If you’re not already using analytics tools to track your basic content marketing efforts, it’s time to get started. Many agencies use Google Analytics to track basic site data, then expand on that tool with diversified metric tracking tools like:
- SEM Rush
- Hubspot Marketing Automation
- Moz OSE
Be sure to learn more about how data analytics can be leveraged to improve the quality of your website, and increase conversions.
3. Mobile Compatibility Will Be Key
These days, it’s rare to see millennials (even baby boomers!) without a cell phone clutched tightly in hand. Google has monitored the shift from computers to mobile phones closely; as a result, it’s rumored that the Goliath of search engines will make mobile users a key focus in upcoming algorithm changes.
What to Do: If you don’t already have a responsive website, it’s time to invest in one. Content that is easy to read on mobile devices will be critical in 2017. Once a site is set up to support mobile, it’s time to craft content strategies that cater to mobile users. Mixing up content lengths and trying new formatting tricks are just two ways to optimize content for mobile use. A few other ideas include:
- Consider how voice recognition will affect search queries
- Continue optimizing for local SEO
- Use mobile plugins like WordPress Touch
Integrating a mobile content strategy with mobile oriented PR and outreach can increase your exposure to audiences who primarily access the Web through mobile devices.
Remember: it’s likely that shorter-form content paired with minimal visual content will become more important as time goes on.
4. Distribution Will Rule
The internet is saturated with content – everything from plagiarized to carefully written articles can be found in just a few keystrokes. Because of the immense clutter, promotion of existing content will matter just as much as the quantity that’s produced.
What to do: Although there are hundreds of ways to promote content, social media and vertical content platforms will be essential in 2017.
Social platforms like Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter will become marketing staples as we progress into the new year. To reach very specific audiences, vertical platforms are highly recommended. A few “mainstream” examples of these emerging platforms include:
Industry: Home & Garden
- Better Homes & Gardens
Industry: Pop Culture
Industry: Internet Marketing
5. Interactive Content Will Be a Hallmark of Content Leaders
In 2017, brands using interactive content (such as quizzes, questionnaires, and worksheets) will become the thought and trend leaders of the content marketing industry. A few brands already engaging in interactive content include Buzzfeed, The Content Marketing Institute, and Kissmetrics.
How to do it: Whether you want to code your own interactive content or use a site that builds them for you (like ThingLink), start producing interactive content of the kind listed below.
- Quizzes / Polls / Surveys
- Interactive E-books
- Interactive White Papers
- Responsive Images
- Interactive Infographics
By mixing a variety of these interactive assets into your content marketing strategy, you can attract and retain site visitors in your target audience.
To stay competitive in 2017, online marketers will need to stay agile and adapt to emerging content marketing trends. Creating mobile-friendly content and websites will be essential to maintaining a competitive edge: once a site is optimized for mobile, build systems for creating and distributing visual content assets. After reviewing updated data on returning visitors and bounce rates, adjust your strategy to boost retention and conversions.
Angela Higbee is the director of the content marketing agency, Progressive Creativity. She spends most of her time doing business and reading; away from “the desk,” she can be found with family or exploring the Colorado outdoors with her dog.
Want to learn more about any of the subjects mentioned above? Here are some relevant classes: B2B Social Visual Storytelling on Instagram, Pinterest & Tumblr, Leveraging Analytics, Mobile PR & Content Marketing