There’s no question that content marketing should be part of every company’s marketing strategy. However, it’s not enough simply to create and curate content on a regular basis. It’s also a must to be aware of the latest trends in content marketing and follow them when it makes sense. There is a fine line between jumping on the bandwagon and missing the parade entirely – but if you know what trends to watch ahead of time, you can make sure that you don’t fall behind.
Why It’s Important to Stay on Top of Marketing Trends
Trend-watching might seem to be the opposite of leadership, but when it comes to marketing you always want to make sure that you’re riding the wave to some degree. These things tend to have a life of their own, and when there’s momentum behind something it can help drive results.
To understand why it’s important to follow trends when it comes to content marketing, let’s look at what might happen if you didn’t. Trends, especially those that catch on, have a way of sucking all of the air out of the room. If everyone is focusing on live video and you avoid it, you run the risk of your other content – even if it’s great – being ignored because it’s just not on trend.
Here are some statistics from the Content Marketing Institute that illustrate why you need to get out ahead of 2017’s marketing trends:
1) 200 million people are now using some type of ad blocking software. Why does that matter? It means that your paid promotions aren’t getting the exposure you might think they are – and it highlights the importance of using valuable and relevant content as a way of getting through to your target audience.
2) Content marketing costs about 62% less than traditional paid advertising, and yet it gets six times the conversion rate. That means that the ROI for content marketing, if you do it right and develop a reputation for creating high-quality content that’s relevant to your audience, can be far higher than it would be for advertising.
3) Finally, content marketing builds brand loyalty. When consumers see the same ads over and over again, they tune them out. Content marketing, however, offers something new each time. That means that your audience stays engaged and interested in what you’re doing. They’ll associate your name with quality – and that’s something they’ll remember when it’s time to make a purchase.
The connection is clear. Companies that adopt content marketing and stay on top of the most popular trends stand to reap a significant reward when it comes to developing leads and closing sales.
2017 Trends in Content Marketing
Now let’s talk about some of the hottest trends that promise to dominate content marketing in the coming year. Some of these may not be a good fit for your business, but many of them will be.
Trend #1: Mobile Content
The trend toward increased mobile use of the internet has been a common topic of conversation for years now. Mobile search hit a new landmark in 2015 when mobile searches outstripped desktop searches for the first time. This year the trend continued, and the latest numbers show that approximately 65% of all time spent on the internet involves the use of a mobile device.
What that means for marketers is that ignoring mobile users is not an option. Your website, social content, and anything else you do online should be optimized for mobile users. You may also want to consider adding some mobile-specific content to your marketing mix, such as:
(a) SMS or text messages that feature links to your most important content; or
(b) A mobile app that provides content, links to your website, or even allows customers to make in-app purchases
The bottom line is that nobody who wants to access your content on a mobile device in 2017 should have to squint or scroll horizontally to do so.
Trend #2: Facebook Instant Articles
Facebook introduced Instant Articles in early 2016 as a way of helping businesses attract readers to their content without making people click through to their websites. Think of them as the written version of Facebook Live.
Many of the initial users of Facebook Instant Articles were news organizations who cut back on them once they realized that readers were perfectly willing to click through to read breaking news articles on their websites. However, they still use them for human interest stories – and you can use them to get people to read content as they scroll through their Facebook feeds.
Instant Articles can be a great way to increase readership of your blog or draw attention to content on your site that you want to make sure your followers see – and unlike sponsored posts, you won’t have to pay to do it.
Trend #3: Expanding Graphic Content
The trend toward visual content is not new, but smart marketers know that graphic content gets more engagement than anything else they post. If you’re not creating and posting photographs and other graphic content on a regular basis, then you’re missing out.
The important thing to keep in mind for 2017 is that stock images aren’t good enough when it comes to content marketing. You must be willing to create (or pay someone to create) unique images that you own. You may hire a photographer or graphic designer to do it for you, or use your photographs instead.
Either way, once you have several hundred images to use, you can then fine-tune them using free design software like Canva or Stencil.
Trend #4: Live Video
Live video made it big in 2016, and it’s expected to continue to grow in 2017. If you use Facebook, then you’ve certainly seen live videos from news organizations, celebrities, and companies in many industries. Companies who fail to embrace live video in 2017 may end up losing ground to their competitors.
When using live video, remember that not every topic or situation lends itself to being covered live. Some things to true include live Q & A sessions, product demonstrations, live events, and behind-the-scenes tours. Ask yourself what your target audience wants to see, and then figure out a way to deliver it using live video.
Trend #5: Micro-Influencers
As social media sites and search engines refine their algorithms, many companies find that their organic traffic has decreased dramatically. It’s a challenge to make sure that your content gets in front of your target audience, but one way to work around algorithms is to make use of micro-influencers to spread your content.
Influencer marketing involves paying someone with a large social following to share your content with their fans. While most small companies don’t have the funds to pay big celebrities to Tweet about their products, you can still use this form of guerrilla marketing by targeting micro-influencers – people with substantial followings who are of great interest to people in your particular niche.
Some examples of potential micro-influencers include writers, bloggers, and authority figures in your industry. Anybody who has built up a good-size following on Facebook or Twitter might be a candidate to be a micro-influencer for your company. The benefit of this type of marketing is that it allows you to get your message out without having to pay to boost a post.
Trend #6: Paid Content Promotion
Another thing that has happened as a result to changes in social algorithms is that more companies are paying to promote their content. While it might seem odd to think that content marketing – which started as a way of getting around paid advertising – is reverting back to a paid form of marketing, it actually makes sense.
Many companies are finding ways to repurpose and share older content from their blogs, and to sponsor content that’s particularly effective as a way of increasing their reach. Boosting a post or Tweet is still more affordable than paying for search engine ads, so it’s a good compromise between spending thousands on advertising and relying on organic reach to ensure people see your content.
Trend #7: Personalization
In the movie Minority Report, director Steven Spielberg imagined a world where ads were targeted directly to individual consumers – and we’re not far away from that now. In fact, personalized marketing is becoming increasingly common, and it’s a trend you can’t afford to ignore in 2017.
There are multiple ways to personalize marketing. For example, you might decide to allow subscribers to your email list to specify which topics they want to hear about and then use list segmentation to deliver targeted content. An alternative might be to create separate social media pages for individual products or services.
The key is to micro-target your audience to maximize the return you get on your investment. When you offer your followers only what they have expressed an interest in seeing, you’ll be likely to get higher levels of engagement – and more sales – than you would if you blanketed everybody with the same content.
Content marketing will continue to be essential in 2017. By heeding these seven trends and using them to connect with your audience, you’ll be sure to maximize every dollar you spend in the coming year.