The new year is here, and as marketers look back and reflect on the previous year — what worked, and what didn’t ‒ we also look ahead.
As a group, marketers are doing pretty well with content marketing. Sixty-two percent of B2B marketers say that they were more successful in 2016 than in the previous year. But even so, it helps to look at upcoming trends.
What changes are forecasted to make an impact in 2017, and how will this affect your plans? Here are five content marketing predictions to watch for in the new year.
1. Video will rule the roost.
Mark Zuckerberg said, “I think video is a megatrend, almost as big as mobile.” And he’s right, because video marketing in 2017 is expected to explode. Forecasts predict that 74 percent of all traffic in this year will be generated by video.
In addition, 52 percent of marketing professionals worldwide name video as the type of content with the best ROI. Not sure where to start? Check out the following places to incorporate video content.
- Landing pages. Unbounce reports that including video on a landing page increases conversions by as much as 80 percent. Use video to address the target market’s major pain points, present your solution, and close with a compelling call to action.
- Resource center videos. Does your company’s website have a resources page featuring white papers, case studies, and other types of educational content? If so, add some video assets. For example, tutorials and how-to videos are great additions.
- Email communications. Are you communicating with customers or prospects through email marketing programs? If so, include video to drive greater impact. Research shows that video provides a 20 percent lift in email open rates, in addition to higher click-through rates.
- Promote special offers. Customers and prospects receive an overwhelming amount of promotional emails each day. Video makes it easier to cut through the clutter.
2. The use of livestream media will expand.
Video plays an important role in the future of marketing, and one facet of that growth is the livestream media trend. For example, YouTube recently launched livestream capabilities through E3, which quickly captured 8 million views in just 12 short hours.
This form of marketing allows you to engage with greater impact and on a wider scale. Here are a few ideas for using livestream in your 2017 marketing efforts.
- Customer support and Q&As. For example, email marketing service provider AWeber uses this type of marketing tool to hold office hours to answer customers’ questions.
- New product launches. General Motors recently became the first auto brand to use livestream via Facebook when the car manufacturer rolled out its new Chevy Volt EV.
- Influencer and partner broadcasts. For example, SAP partnered with key influencers five days prior to the Super Bowl. Each day, the company broadcast with a new influencer and essentially told their story through each one.
- Live events. Brands use this type of livestreaming capability to hold a variety of live events, such as presentations, performances, and even demos. For example, Spotify uses livestream to hold live musical performances.
3. Formats will change.
In the past, blogging, eBooks, and other types of written content reigned supreme. This content helped marketers harness more leads to ultimately fuel future sales. These assets will definitely have a place in the new year, but in 2017 you can expect other formats to grow in popularity.
As visual content becomes more impactful in the coming months, search engines will become more advanced at reading this type of content, which will play an important role in search results. For example, marketers will create more memes, gifs, and infographics, and then share these pieces of content through social media to generate more interest and engagement.
4. Marketers will use an increasing amount of user-generated content.
We’ve highlighted the growth of visual and video content in the coming year, but what other trends are on the horizon? User-generated content, which is already increasing in popularity, will continue to grow steadily. But why?
Content marketing is highly effective, but the reality is that customers are facing content overload. Over 400 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube each minute, 10 billion views are posted to Snapchat daily, and more than 8 billion video views per day come from Facebook. User-generated content not only helps you cut through that clutter, it’s also impactful. Check out a few quick stats:
- Seventy percent of consumers place peer recommendations and reviews above professionally written content.
- Consumers ages 25 to 54 are the largest content drivers, contributing 70 percent of all user-generated content.
- Twenty percent of search results for the world’s 20 largest brands are links to user-generated content.
First, let’s define what qualifies as user-generated content, because some marketers haven’t experimented with this strategy yet. Basically it’s content that’s created by your audience. It can include anything from reviews to social media to testimonials to blog posts. But how can brands encourage the creation of this type of content? Here are a few ideas.
- Host contests. For example, Starbucks held a “White Cup Contest” where customers were asked to draw on their cups and submit the pictures as entries. A limited-edition cup would be produced from the winning entry.
- Call for stories. Target asked customers to submit videos of themselves opening college acceptance letters. The best videos appeared in a commercial, which helped the retailer draw attention to their commitment to education.
- Create video case studies. As we said, video marketing will continue to grow, and a great way to leverage this strategy is to combine it with user-generated content by producing video case studies. Let customers share the impact that your products and services have made on their businesses.
- Piggyback on influencer campaigns. Influencer marketing is highly impactful, and when you co-create with those who use your products and services and have online clout, you can maximize results (more on influencer marketing next).
The best user-generated content will vary based on your audience and a variety of other factors, so try something new and test it. Sometimes you’ll need to iterate, but by doing so you can discover what strategies produce maximum results.
5. Influencer marketing will grow.
As marketers realize that their own staff doesn’t have enough clout with customers, they’ll seek outside help to push the needle and generate greater results. Once they harness results, marketers will discover that influencer marketing is very effective and consequently will expand their budgets.
For example, 94 percent of marketers who use this tactic say that it’s effective. Today, marketers spend about $25,000 to $50,000 per influencer marketing program. These figures are expected to double next year — and with good reason. On average, for every dollar marketers spend, they get $6.50 back. Here are a few tips for successfully creating an influencer marketing program.
- Define your target audience. First, you must decide at which buyer persona you’ll aim this marketing strategy. This will directly impact which influencers you select.
- Locate the best influencers. Who’s sharing content that your target audience is reading? What kind of following do these people have through social platforms and online? Identify the people who have the most clout with your audience.
- Watch the influencers. Once you have a list of potential influencers, watch their activity. What topics are they writing about and sharing, and what is their level of engagement with their audience?
- Engage with influencers. Take action to start building relationships with influencers. Share their content, start conversations online, and learn about their interests and goals. Find out if there is potential for a mutually beneficial partnership.
- Measure the results. As with all programs, set ROI goals and carefully track your results.
Influencer marketing is highly impactful, but it all comes down to finding the right synergy between brand and influencer. Because once you strike this balance, the potential for achieving and exceeding ROI goals is very high.
Moving into the new year
The results of content marketing are excellent, but that doesn’t mean that marketers can’t produce even more impressive results in the new year. As content formats emerge, customer demands change, and new technology arrives on scene, marketers with the greatest agility will thrive.
Yet, at the end of the day, it’s all about the customer. Reaching customers, forging relationships, and becoming a brand with authority in the market are practices that help build more authentic and meaningful relationships with your target audience, fueling growth and revenue.
What trends do you predict for the coming year? Share your thoughts and predictions below.