As we bid adieu to 2016, we gear up for (what we hope) will be an incredible 2017, we take a look at what content marketing looked like in 2016. At the heart of it, content marketing is all about zeroing in on your exact target audience and giving it something it wants. Conversely, it content marketing can also be about creating something extraordinary and marketing it to the appropriate audience. Whichever way you look at it, it’s all about giving people what they want. Companies, both big and small, are vying for consumer attention and trying to uncover new and improved ways of connecting with their audiences. In 2016, companies finally awoke to the importance of quality content over mass produced content. Let’s see how content marketing will shape up in 2017.
Video floodgates have finally opened!
In 2016, Snapchat, Periscope and Vine made it right to the top of the content marketing charts. One of the most versatile marketing tactics in the market today, videos can range anywhere between six seconds to full length films and are far more immersive than say, written content, as long as they pertain to the marketing goals. Now this is really important. Whether you want to live stream an event, or give a 6-second sneak peek into behind-the-scenes action, your video messaging must, at all times, pertain to your marketing goals. Quick tips on how to use video: leverage video content to market your product with detailed or brief product walk-throughs, tutorials, demos or even product unveilings. Personally, I hope to see more user-generated content in 2017. It’s, without doubt, one of the best ways to engage your customers, while generating new and interesting content.
Educate, don’t sell
Since time immemorial, “marketing” pretty much meant product marketing; listing out product features, thereby increasing the products saleability. But things have changed since and in 2017, companies will focus on providing value first, rather than trying to hard-sell their products. Let me illustrate with an example. Marketers, for the longest time, have focused all their marketing efforts towards selling a product to those who know what they’re looking for. But what about those who don’t know what they’re looking for? What about the people who weren’t even aware they had a problem to begin with? That, right there, ought to become your starting point. Start with the problem and work your way up to the solution, rather than going out there and saying, “Hey! Here’s a product that will solve all your problems!” Instead, think of it as saying, “Hey! Don’t you hate it when this happens? Perhaps this could help.”
Find influencers to build your community
Influencer marketing is the next big thing in the world of content marketing. Think of it as a brand endorsement, if you will. Now think back to all the things you’ve ever bought. Chances are most of your purchases were made through recommendations by people you trust or reading reviews from reliable sources. And there you have it- trustworthy and reliable, two words you want associated with your content marketing strategy. Who better to build credibility and trust among audiences? You guessed it! Influencers, people you turn to for advice; people you trust. These could be industry experts, professionals within the field, journalists, you name it. Remember, people might not always trust a brand, but they will trust an influencer. Come 2017, brands will focus their efforts on tracking down influencers and finding ways to getting them to join hands with them to create content that matters.
Personalized content will be the need of the hour
We’ve covered providing value. We’ve established that quality wins out over quantity. We’ve seen that visual content is better consumed that written content. Now we turn our focus on personalized content. I look at content marketing as buyer focused content. Meaning, content that’s designed to help, educate and facilitate. To this end, I always recommend a series of steps you need to first go over before you begin creating content:
- Establish who you’re talking to. This entails creating detailed buyer personas, to help you put a face to your target audience. Try and include as many details as you can about this buyer before you proceed.
- Establish what they’re looking for. This should be easy with all the information you have access to these days. It’s easy to navigate pain-points, needs and demands of your target audience, especially when they’re already talking about what they’re looking for. You just need to learn to listen.
- Establish why they’d be interested in you. You believe you’ve created an incredible product and believe in its value with all your heart. Now think about why your target audience would be interested in listening to what you have to say. It’s only when you’re convinced of the utility of your product, can you get someone else to see it as well.
As an addendum, in 2017, powerful mass email and mail merge systems for email providers like Gmail and others will be critical to your marketing and business strategy. I highly recommend Gmass; I have used it, and I find it pretty amazing; you wont find a better mass email and mail merge tool for Gmail, especially when you have several gmail ids like I do.
All in all, content marketing is all about getting to know your audience better and doing right by them with the marketing tactics you employ. 2017 will all be about brands getting up-close and personal with their consumers, focusing on creating value and building and nurturing long lasting relationships, over hard-selling products to unengaged audience. What are your predictions for content marketing in 2017? Let us know in the comments below!