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The Future of Content Marketing: Experts Share Content Predictions for 2017

Posted on Dec 5th, 2016
Written by TopRank Marketing
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  • The Future of Content Marketing: Experts Share Content Predictions for 2017
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    At a time in the not so distant future 2016 will come to a close and many content marketers will reflect on 2016 and think, “Man was that unfair!”. They’ve tightened their belts, worked hard to develop a content strategy and tried to stay up on latest content trends. But the sad reality is that content still isn’t having the business impact that they had anticipated.

    In order for us to look to the future of content marketing, we have to take a critical look at the past and present. One  that we have always known to be true is that creating content just to improve rankings and to say that you “do” content marketing is never going to be good enough. So many marketers get caught up in creating content for content’s sake and find that they’ve wasted hours, months or years developing messages that nobody will ever read or share.

    Our not too distant future holds many opportunities for content marketers, but there will be bumps and challenges along the way. To keep yourself from being distracted by the shiny objects that the future will inevitably hold, you must focus on what is most important. When approaching any content initiative, consider the following:

    • For content to be effective, you must have impact.
    • In order to create impact, your content must be memorable.
    • In order to be memorable, you must understand your audience.

    Experts Share Their Top Predictions for 2017

    Ann Handley

    Chief Content Officer, MarketingProfs

    “The smartest companies will ground their marketing into something substantive.” - @annhandley Share on X

    Two things. One small and tactical; one big and strategic.

    First, the small tactical thing: Companies that aren’t strategically tapping into the power of video get left behind. (And as a consequence they will end up eating friendless and alone, living in squalor in a sad walk-up tenement wearing nothing but boxer shorts and a gravy-stained T-shirt.)

    Why is a writer telling you to think about video in 2017? Because embracing video doesn’t mean we ignore text and writing. Quite the opposite: Writing is the foundation of a good story. And well-chosen words can greatly enhance whatever video you’re creating, too.

    Notice I said “strategically tapping,” too. Not “randomly tapping.”

    Which leads me to the bigger-picture trend: In 2017, the smartest companies will slow the $*(@)$*%& down. Next year (is it really just one month from now?), the smartest and more successful companies go deep into purpose and identity to ground their marketing and content strategy in something substantive—so that our programs can find a place within the context of what our customers care about.

    There is such a thing as a bad slow in marketing, but there is a critical need for a good slow, too.  

    Carlos Abler

    Leader – Content Marketing and Strategy – Global eTransformation, 3M

    “Mistrust of news sources leads to new opportunities for Truth as a Service.” - @Carlos_Abler Share on X

    The accelerating mistrust of news sources triggered by the imputed impact of fake news in the US presidential election, will not only create new points of friction for paid media distribution and credibility of journalism and journalist-like tactics, but leads to new business model opportunities for Truth as a Service.

    For example there is a significant opportunity for Facebook (or someone) to fuze a content curation, with a snopes-like editorial service; a new trending topic information portal for articles with ratings filtration (white list  validated/non-validated, medium-trustworthy validated/non-validated, low trustworthy validated/non-validated); a corresponding “Truth-ometer” rating model for in-stream content; and an affiliate model of gated higher rated articles from paid sites e.g., at a .50 cents per article fee for access, or a charge for aggregated researched original articles or info-graphic display owned by the host aggregator.

    Joe Pulizzi

    Founder, Content Marketing Institute

    “More brands will launch print magazines as a way to cut through the clutter.” @JoePulizzi Share on X

    Print custom magazines, as a content marketing tool, have finally hit the bottom, and more brands will launch print magazines in 2017 as a way to cut through the clutter that is proving so difficult on the web.

    Amy Higgins

    Account Manager, TopRank Marketing

    “We will see a shift in team structure as the role of content marketer becomes more clearly defined.” - @amywhiggins Share on X

    I believe the biggest change in Content Marketing in 2017 will be centered around the structure of the marketing team. As the role of Content Marketing continues to expand and grow, many companies are still struggling with how to structure their marketing teams. Some have Content Marketing as a function of a single department, like Demand Gen or Social Media, while other Content Marketing teams are a shared resource among the entire Marketing team.  To date, there is not a best practice for the team structure. In the next year, we will begin to see a shift in team structure as the role of a Content Marketer becomes more clearly defined.

    Chris Moody

    Content Marketing Leader, GE Digital

    “Having a written content plan helps marketers anchor against business objectives.” - @cnmoody Share on X

    B2B marketers will come around and the number of documented content marketing strategies will increase for the first time in three years. In 2015, 35% of B2B marketers had a documented content strategy and in 2016, that number dipped to 32% (CMI/MarketingProfs). Research shows that those with a documented content marketing strategy are 300x more effective than those without. 2017 is the year that this improves. Marketers realize that having a written plan helps anchor them against business objectives and supports them being more effective.

    If I’m wrong, I’ll be the first of many to bang my head against my desk and question the existence of two-thirds of my marketing friends who are doing stuff without a documented plan. Without that documented plan, that’s all your marketing is…stuff. Gone should be the days of activities-based marketing. Let’s drive action, results and revenue and improve the perception of our industry.

    Jason Miller

    Group Manager – Global Content & Social Media Marketing, LinkedIn

    “As video grows, marketers are going to have to focus on quality over quantity.” - @JasonMillerCA Share on X

    The “Content Shock” that Mark Schaefer called out a few years ago is going to happen with video in 2017. As video grows in importance and live video becomes the norm, marketers are going to have to focus on quality over quantity. Upping the production value of an iPhone video and focusing on smart editing and razor sharp audio will be differentiator.

    Know Your Audience. Be Memorable. Have Impact.

    It’s clear that there are key themes that tie each of these expert’s predictions together. If you’re going to run a successful content program in 2017 focus must be on content quality, planning and cutting through the clutter to create a great experience for your audience.

    Want more? Learn how TopRank Marketing developed an interactive microsite to create a memorable experience for a client’s target audience.

    Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing Client