It has sure been a tumultuous year for American politics and society. However, the content marketing world has seen robust growth and steady improvement in 2016.
According to the latest research unveiled in Content Marketing Institute’s 2017 B2B content marketing report:
- 62 percent of B2B marketers in North America say that their organization’s overall approach to content marketing has been much more or somewhat more successful compared to a year ago.
- The top two factors attributed to this success are: doing a better job with content creation (85%) and developing or adjusting their content marketing strategy (72%).
- 89 percent of B2B marketers surveyed said they use some form of content marketing.
In short, a growing number of marketers and business embraced content marketing in 2016 – a trend that is likely to continue.
As an industry, it seems we are seemingly getting better at content marketing. That’s great news to be sure! However, as more people experience success, the industry gets increasingly competitive for businesses and marketers who want to stand out from the crowd.
With this year drawing to a close, ‘tis the season for content marketers and small businesses to look ahead and start planning strategies in the coming year. Staying up-to-date with the latest changes in the industry will help your content marketing strategy remain relevant, effective and competitive.
2017 SEO Content Marketing Trends
We recognize that discussing the next year’s SEO trends is something of a trend itself – a point humorously illustrated on an SEO Reddit forum when a user asked, “What will be the SEO trends in 2017?” The top (and only) response was:
But the reality is that if you want to remain a trailblazer in your industry, you have read up the latest trends, news, and changes coming down the pipeline.
So without further ado, here’s our top ten picks for trends we believe are worth paying attention to in 2017:
1. Documented Content Strategy
If you don’t have a documented content strategy yet, it’s time to get one. Seriously.
Developing a documented content marketing strategy can provide countless benefits to an organization – including helping you clearly define your goals, streamline your efforts and focus on results rather than be distracted by passing fads.
Despite proof that companies who have a material content marketing strategy and review it often are more successful in their efforts, data indicates that only 37% of B2B marketers have a documented content marketing strategy, and 41% have a strategy in mind but it’s not documented.
Fortunately, we believe 2017 is the year where the scales will finally tip. An estimated 17% of marketers who don’t currently have a content marketing strategy are planning to set one in the next 12 months. Let’s make it happen people!
2. Content ROI
As we mentioned above, marketers are getting better at content marketing. And now we want the stats to back it up. Proving content marketing ROI will likely be at the top of the wish list for many marketers in 2017.
3. More Content Than Ever Before
In 2017, over two-thirds of marketers intend to crank up the quantity of content produced compared to 2016. Businesses finally seems be coming around to the fact that the increasing consumption of content offers greater opportunities for ROI and conversions.
The challenge facing marketers in 2017 will be how to increase the quantity of content without sacrificing quality. Tip: Having a documented content marketing strategy will be key for ensuring this doesn’t happen.
4. Personalized Content
As competition forces us to create more content than ever before, it will simultaneously cause content marketers to personalize each user’s experience. Brands want to become the preferred destination in their niche, and the adoption of marketing automation, account-based marketing, and other technologies are supporting this trend.
How might this play out in 2017? For starters, marketers are beginning to segment and filter their content in order to target specific audience groups rather than their entire customer base. Narrowing down the audience helps businesses increase the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns.
2017 is the year of mobile.
Wait just a second! Wasn’t 2016 the year of mobile? And 2015…2014…
We know – it seems as though mobile marketing makes every annual marketing trends list. Although it may sound like a broken record at this point, we cannot understate how important it will be for businesses to target their mobile audience in 2017 if they haven’t already done so.
Google has already begun testing a separate mobile-first index, and as of 2016 more people are browsing the internet from their mobile devices than desktops. If your site isn’t equipped to handle mobile traffic, then you’re missing out on a huge portion of traffic.
We’ve been preaching about the importance of having a responsive site for years now, but being mobile friendly will be more important than ever in 2017.
Homework: Take a look at your site from a tablet or mobile device. How does it look? Is it user friendly? If not, give us ring or get a free quote.
6. Content Visualization
Visual content is becoming a more and more vital part of making your brand visible amidst all the online clutter. Popular sites like Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest are proof that videos and images are core components of the modern internet experience. In fact, according to Forbes, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg himself was quoted saying, “I think video is a megatrend, almost as big as mobile.”
2017 is the perfect year to finally embrace branded video and visual marketing if you haven’t already. Hire a professional photographer, designer or videographer so that you can start including custom visuals and videos into your content marketing strategy.
7. Customer Generated Content
What takes years to build, seconds to break and forever to repair? The answer: trust.
Building trust in your brand should be one of the core goals of your content marketing strategy, and studies show that one of the best ways to accomplish this objective is through user-generated content. When you compare customer trust levels of user-generated content (reviews, social shares, etc.) vs. company-generated content (landing pages, ads, etc.), the user-generated content wins 85 percent of the time.
Another benefit of customer reviews is free content.
So you’re saying I can build trust in my brand with minimal to no effort?
Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying.
If you aren’t utilizing user-generated content, now’s the time. If you already are, consider how you can incorporate into your strategy even more.
8. Content Optimized for AI and VR
In many ways, Google is the heartbeat that drives the digital marketing world and their recent focus on artificial intelligence has forward-thinking content marketers planning for new forms of AI-friendly content.
The widely successful Pokémon Go app, which debuted in July 2016 and was downloaded over 500 million times in the first two months, also has marketers preparing for the rise of virtual reality and what it could mean for content.
While AI and VR aren’t likely to become the standard in 2017, it’s still beneficial to consider how your current content marketing strategy can capitalize on these certain future trends.
9. Content Promotion
We know it’s not easy for content marketers to pry their red eyes away from their editorial calendars. Thankfully, it seems as though we are finally starting to pay attention not only to planning and writing quality content, but promoting it too.
Paid content promotion platforms like Outbrain and Taboola, as well as the continued growth of social media, is reminding marketers everywhere that content marketing and content creation are two different – but equally important – things.
Making sure content is published and promoted, as well as repurposing existing content, is all about improving workflow efficiencies and results. It’s a trend we’re thrilled to see picking up steam.
10. Content Workflow
In addition to developing a documented content strategy, marketers are starting to dig into the nuts and bolts of content marketing by creating a documented workflow. With increased quantity and promotion comes additional challenges – namely addressing project inefficiencies and organization.
Writing loads of great content is good, but it won’t mean squat if you don’t spend some time thinking about the most efficient way to move it from creation to publication. As the industry becomes more competitive, marketers are likely to recognize the value of making sure their content marketing is as efficient and effective as possible.
Clearly defining a content workflow can benefit your team by:
- Dividing the whole content process into manageable, individual tasks;
- Eliminating confusion about who is supposed to do what throughout the content lifecycle;
- Assigning responsibility for content at each step; and
- Setting realistic time expectations for each team member.
Other content marketing trends to watch out for in 2017 include:
- Rise in influencer marketing
- Increasing uses of ephemeral content (think Snapchat)
- Native advertising as the “gateway drug” to content marketing
- Further growth in email and marketing automation techniques
- Facebooks continued dominance in content consumption and sharing
Over to You
And there you have it! Of course, nobody knows exactly what 2017 has in store for us, but getting a jump on these trends is a good place to start. Stay dialed into the SEO-e blog throughout the year to read about the latest search engine optimization news, headlines and tips from our online marketing gurus.
What other content marketing trends do you expect in 2017? What about challenges?
Let us know in the comments below or visit us on Facebook. We’d love to hear from you!