I glanced at a calendar earlier, spotted the date and gasped aloud in horror. And that’s when I realised 2016 was effectively over. Now that I’m over the shock, I’ve taken some time out to look at what the biggest names in content marketing are predicting for the new year.
Publications, both online and offline
The first trend is an example which has already been around for many decades. Go back in time more than 120 years, all the way to 1895, when John Deere started publishing a magazine for farmers called The Furrow. The magazine was published in hopes of being a resource for their customers. It also made history as the first example of content being used to increase conversion and leads.
Joe Pulizzi, the godfather of content marketing and founder of the Content Marketing Institute, says, “I believe 2017 is the year where we will truly see product brands begin to acquire media companies. We saw a few examples of this in 2016, including Arrow Electronics’ purchase of multiple media properties in the electronics space, but there is much more to come. And even a product brand will become seriously interested in buying a local newspaper.”
For many years now, creating visual content has been at the top of every content marketer’s priority list. Infographics, videos, gifs, and cinematographs – they are what research has shown people want to see. The statistics continue to back this up: Examples include that colourful visuals increase people's willingness to read a piece of content by 80% and content with images get 94% more views than content without relevant images. But it’s more than just creating these beautiful visuals, they also have to get in front of the people who need to see them.
Bryan Rhoads, digital media and business strategist and former global head of Intel’s social marketing, says, “2017 will be the year when creatives start to understand the power of marketing technology – it's more than beautiful images and great video – it will be about designing content and aligning it to your marketing stack.”
Targeted and personalised messaging
That takes me right to the next big trend. Delivering highly targeted and personalised messages to consumers. This is a trend which goes hand in hand (literally) with the increase of smart technology available to consumers. We know that people these days are permanently glued to their phones and we know that their phones are no longer at their ear but in their hands. This is an opportunity for marketers to deliver content directly into their target market’s hands.
Jason Miller of marketing solutions at LinkedIn, says, “Micro-targeting and hyper-personalisation will go mainstream. (Smaller audiences + more relevant messaging = higher conversion rate).”
Examples of delivering personalised content which results in increased leads include the targeting of consumers in specific time zones and analysing email open trends.
The technology available to marketers is increasing rapidly. In addition to what’s available merely by taking advantage of smartphones, the Internet of Things (IoT) is connecting all devices and making consumers accessible, always. Consider pinging messages to consumers when they walk past particular locations or notifying them of discounts when they enter specific stores. This is the future of communicating to consumers.
Rebecca Lieb, an analyst, author, and advisor, says, “Content will move beyond screens into the ‘phygital’ world. New technologies such as beacons, sensors, and IoT now infuse highly contextual content into the objects and environments around us. Get ready to revamp campaigns and content strategy in a seismic new way”
User generated content
Happy consumers are consumers who are more likely to share content and add to the conversation. And sharing of content is the goal. Once you’ve created content which is rich in visuals, personalised and buzzing with new, exciting technology, and delivered to your target market, they can’t help but share with friends and family. In addition, they’ll share their own stories, photos and videos. That’s truly the type of content creation that, even though it’s not being created in an agency, has the most value.
“User-generated content shall be forefront in the minds of every social savvy publisher. Smartphones have put a powerful production studio in everyone’s pocket. Smart marketers understand happy customers are far more persuasive than anything they could possibly create themselves and will be working on initiatives to create a snap-happy army of brand advocates,” says Barry Feldman of Feldman Creative.
*This article was originally published on Media Update.