Content marketing has come a long, long way from the dark old days of the barely concealed advertorial. More and more B2B brands are waking up to the value of great content that solves a potential customer’s problem and helps establish them as a leading voice in their sector – and fewer and fewer are trying to pass off conventional marketing materials as “content”.
Companies, too, are recognising just how important it is to have a documented strategy and a content marketing calendar. They realise that you can’t just throw good content out into the ether and hope it equals sales: you have to use it to guide your audience along the customer journey, step by step, in a logical, structured way that’s sensitive to their needs.
All of this is great news. But, when only 9% of content marketers are confident their efforts are “very effective”, it’s clear that there’s still a long way to go.
Here are our some of our predictions for how content marketing strategies will grow and evolve in 2016 – and how to stay ahead of the curve.
Mobile Will Start to Come First
Many companies are still stuck in the old mind-set of making something that works on a computer screen and then “optimising” it for mobile. But when people increasingly view things on mobile devices instead of their desktop, this is clearly the wrong way around. What’s more, they often engage with this content on mobile apps, that try hard to keep them there and make it difficult to link out or find your way back again at a later date – bad news when you’re trying to draw an audience to your website or blog.
2016 will be the year when the switch finally happens: savvy content marketers will start to create shorter, more visually engaging pieces of content that are made for mobile, not adapted to it – and that aim to capture leads, not entice readers elsewhere.
Targeted Exposure Will Become the Norm
Facebook has already put the brakes on the content marketing free-for-all by privileging sponsored content, especially video, in user newsfeeds at the expense of non-paid-for pieces.
This is a pain for brands who were quite happily tapping into social media marketing for free – but there is an upside. As more and more platforms look to increase their revenue by offering promoted content, they’ll also be under pressure to improve the way they target that content to a relevant audience. These platforms have huge stockpiles of data about their users, and companies will be able to tailor the visibility of their content (and adverts) in more and more specific ways.
Brands Will Get Serious About ROI
For many, a lot of their content marketing is internally produced and distributed, and there’s an opportunity to experiment with new ideas and approaches. When this content marketing strategy begins to mature, these brands will (rightly) start to ask deeper questions about their business goals – and precisely how content marketing helps to achieve these.
That means zoning in on the purpose of every piece of content and establishing better ways to measure their ROI. It means they’ll start thinking about the opportunity cost of their content, not just the price tag – i.e. whether it would be a better use of money and time to partner with an experienced content marketing team and free up in-house staff for other tasks. They’ll move from vague targets like “grow our Twitter following” to more definite goals like “secure X amount of high-quality leads”.
This will be the year that content marketing starts to really grow up and come into its own as an indispensable B2B marketing tool for growth.
Looking for practical advice on launching your content marketing strategy? Download The B2B Content Creation Masterclass below.