Itâ€™s that time of year again when, as the year comes to a close, we start to look ahead to 2017. Content marketing has become an integral part of B2B marketing strategy, and as its popularity increases, companies are keen to harness its full potential. So what does content marketing have in store for us all next year? Here are our top seven predictions:
1.Â Â Â Â Finding your niche
Vast amounts of content is created on a daily basis, and weâ€™re nearing saturation point. To stand out from the crowd, businesses need to get down to the nitty-gritty and find their niche. Know your audience, and create a tailored content strategy.
According to research conducted by the Content Marketing Institute, only 40% of UK respondents have a documented content marketing strategy. Without a clear strategy, organisations are less likely to be successful. Marketers are still too focused on blanket campaigns that raise awareness of products and services, instead of looking to drive niche offerings that add value.
2.Â Â Â Â The rise of native advertising
More and more organisations are beginning to experiment with paid, native content promotion. Five years ago, companies were spending around 80% of their budget on content creation, and the remaining 20% on promoting that content. Fast forward to 2016, and the ratio has switched. Next year we will see more successful businesses creating differentiated content and putting some paid advertising muscle behind it.
3.Â Â Â Â Video, video, video
Traditionally, content marketing has always been preoccupied with written content such as blogs, white papers and news releases. Next year, we expect to see brands branching out and getting creative with their content marketing format to break through the noise.
At the forefront of this visual content will be video. Marketers are increasingly finding that video content brings in the highest ROI, and social platforms like Facebook are jumping on the bandwagon by optimising their feeds to improve viewing experience.
The introduction of Facebook Live has dramatically altered the video landscape in a very short space of time â€“ content consumption on Facebook has increased 57% in the past two years, and 73% of people say that they use Facebook for professional purposes. In light of this, video buyers are now considering Facebook as the most important video, not just social, advertising platform. Facebook beat Google to the post with Facebook Live; first to market, first in mindshare.
Video content is also great for SEO, as Google (which owns YouTube) favours them in search results. Itâ€™s lights, camera, action for video content â€“ get your camera out and start filming!
4.Â Â Â Â Email isnâ€™t dead
Every day companies send out spam disguised as content â€“ but while often misused, email marketing is far from fading away. Used correctly, email marketing automation can help you to realise your organisationâ€™s performance potential and maximise your content marketing ROI.
Marketing automation has the potential to expand the value and impact of your content, capture lead intelligence to create targeted campaigns and enhance overall customer experience.
5.Â Â Â Â Under the influence
Influencer marketing has always been a â€˜thingâ€™, but thanks to social media, itâ€™s a trend that has exploded over recent years, and one that we expect to lead the way in 2017. Influencers open up a whole new channel for brands to connect with consumers directly, and at scale. Working alongside social media influencers, organisations can amplify their message and hone it directly towards their target audience.
6.Â Â Â Â The personal touch
Personalisation is a crucial aspect of creating a relevant, effective content marketing strategy. Pin pointing audiences increases the effectiveness of a campaign. Businesses need to think carefully about who their audience is, which platforms they use and how they came across their content.
7.Â Â Â Â Say hi to AI (and VR)
2017 will also see Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Virtual Reality (VR) become more integrated into content marketing.
Enlisting the help of AI will provide marketers with more time to identify their objectives, and to achieve them faster and more cost effectively. Take content curation, for example. Weâ€™re all familiar with content recommendations at the end of many articles on the web, but many donâ€™t realise that these recommendations are based on AI analysis, to determine what other articles the reader may be interested in.
2016 saw VR become a billion dollar industry. Deliotte Global predicted that VR will hit $700m in hardware sales by the end of the year, with a further $300m coming from content.
While written and video content form the foundations of storytelling, VR has the capability to offer consumers an immersive experience. HBO TV show, Game of Thrones, led the way with their unprecedented VR game play, which offered viewers a more in-depth brand experience that actually put them in the show. Users were able to don their VR headsets and enter the elevator in â€˜Castle Blackâ€™, where they ascend all 700 ft. of â€˜The Wallâ€™. At the top, users can walk along the wall, and look out towards â€˜The Northâ€™ â€“ three iconic locations in the Game of Thrones universe.
According to research carried out by the Content Marketing Institute, 75% of organisations say that face-to-face events are an effective marketing tactic. While attending events in person can become costly and time consuming â€“ VR will enable delegates to live stream events and experience demos.
Itâ€™s not just consumer marketing that will have all of the VR fun – top of the funnel marketing is all about generating awareness and creating a buzz amongst prospects, and VR is a great was for B2B marketers to engage with their audience.
Marketing is constantly evolving – according to Adobe, 76% of people feel that it has changed more in the past 2 years than it has in the last 50. Technology is set to be a huge influence in 2017, and now is the time for marketers to think outside the box and harness the power of content marketing.