We haven’t said goodbye to 2015 yet, but next year is already shaping up to be an exciting and impactful one for brands and organizations successfully using content to engage, inform and ultimately convert.
Over the next two years, content budgets are expected to continue increasing at a rate of 10% annually, reaching 33% of total marketing spend by 2017. Over three-quarters of respondents to the recent State of Content Marketing survey (conducted by The Content Council & AdAge) have a strong or extremely strong commitment to content marketing. The future looks rosy for companies able to tap into the power of content.
And yet only 30% of content marketers surveyed believe their content goals align extremely well with their overall business objectives.
We asked several content marketing industry experts and influencers to share their thoughts, tips and recommendations on the hottest content marketing trends and emerging technologies to watch in 2016.
Millennial Targeting & Influencer Marketing Hot Content Trends for 2016
“Currently, the big push seems to be towards grabbing the biggest market share of Millennials that you possibly can,” said Simon Heseltine, Senior Director of Audience Development at AOL Inc. “I’ve seen brands announce this as their strategy; I’ve seen keynotes from Google and Bing talking about it, and I’ve seen several ‘Millennial roundtable’ sessions at conferences in 2015. It would appear that if you can create content and market to that demographic, you’re currently in demand.”
“As consumers become more savvy with social and digital media and video becomes a bigger part of a content marketer’s output, companies will realize that people really are their best asset and pursue more personal branding, employee advocacy and influencer marketing strategies and tactics,” Carson said. “According to Nielsen, just 15% of us believe what a brand says while 90% of us will trust the recommendation of a friend, peer or family member. In 2016, those companies who invest in humanizing their brand will definitely see an uptick in positive engagement from their target audience.”
For his part, Blue Nile Research founder and CEO Nathan Safran thinks the trend toward brands establishing themselves as thought leaders in their space offers the greatest potential for content marketers.
“I think the old short form way of doing things in trying to ‘grab a sale’ is giving way to the idea that content marketing is intended to establish a connection with the buyer,” Safran told MEDIAau. ”To that end, marketers continuously publish content that makes buyers say, ‘Hmm, these guys know what they are talking about.’ Then, they consume content repeatedly and when they are ready, they think of the vendor and buy.”
Tools & Platforms for Content Marketers to Focus on in 2016
Visual content designed for social will continue to gain traction, according to Connie Bensen, Director of Marketing at CloudCheckr. “Content will continue to get more visual,” she said. “Readers are in a hurry and want to consume their info in passing. The social channels will continue to adapt. LinkedIn has done a good job of building out its publishing platform.”
Which other tools and platforms offer the greatest potential for content success? While your own tests and data will always guide that insight, our experts offer a few high impact places to focus in 2016.
“Instagram is still a relatively underutilized platform for brands,” Hudgens said. “In terms of our ability to get the full attention of those that use it, it’s second to none. Creating the right, high quality content will be more difficult/needs to be unique to each brand, but it definitely is something all should consider.”
The emerging technologies that offer the greatest potential for content marketers in 2016 are related to the dramatic increase in ad blocking, according to Greg Jarboe, President and co-founder of SEO-PR, the author of YouTube and Video Marketing, a contributor to ReelSEO, and the Content Marketing faculty chair at Market Motive.
Jarboe told us, “Consumers are using these technologies to prevent the download or display of advertising. Ad blockers exist for most desktop web browsers and are now beginning to impact mobile web browsing as well. U.S. ad blocking grew by 48% year-over-year to reach 45 million active users in 12 months through June 2015.”
“However,” he added, “Ad blockers don’t prevent the download or display of content. So, I expect a windfall in the share of total marketing dollars spent on content marketing next year.”
“I actually think the best tools for content creation have yet to be created, and they might be smartphone apps,” he said.
Thomas added that TrueView Ads, both in-stream and in-display, can target keywords, topics, demographics, interests and more, helping marketers cut through the noise on an increasingly crowded channel.
Hot Media Types & Smart Content Strategy
We know it’s important to have an interesting mix of content including various formats and types, but which specific content types and tactics might yield the greatest gains in 2016?
Tessa Wegert, Communications Director with Enlighten and brand content developer for such companies as Adweek and Business Insider, believes that the use of video for brand storytelling, which made big strides in 2015, will continue to gain ground next year — especially in B2B markets.
“Brands of all kinds are recognizing video’s unique ability to convey key attributes like company heritage, and to build affinity and trust,” Wegert shared. “Within this space, I’m most excited to see what brands will do with virtual reality and immersive, 360 degree video. With The New York Times now enabling brands to create and distribute short virtual reality films, and The Washington Post reportedly experimenting with VR as well, the potential for developing deeply engaging brand stories is huge.”
“Data offers the greatest potential to marketers by the ability to present content and offers to the people that want and express,” Bailey said. “Personalized content will become more effective and raise the bar on any other types of “general” content that attempts to reach everyone with the same message.”
“Especially as the volume of content each company produces grows, we can’t just leave site visitors on their own, floundering to find the content that would prove most useful to them,” Miller said. “Smart internal linking and site structure helps, but website personalization based on behavioral targeting is really key in delivering on the experience a visitor was promised in whatever channel drove them to your site.
Whether that was a social PPC ad, an organic search listing, email or another channel, marketers must meet the needs of site visitors with triggered messaging, content recommendations and offers that make sense in the context of the interaction. Watch for more sites to adopt behavioral targeting software in 2016, to maximize the value of each visitor and deliver a better on-site experience through the delivery of relevant content.”
Stay tuned next week as our content marketing experts share their thoughts on the skills companies crave — those that content marketers need to continue developing — for success in the content industry in 2016.