There’s no denying that content marketing has come as a boon for brands looking to engage their target customers. It encompasses looking after a gamut of functions such as website content, blog posts, social media, white papers, ebooks, and of course, promotional tactics. Understanding all of it can get overwhelming, particularly for B2B companies.
As content marketing continued to make waves in 2015, we asked a few noted industry experts about everything that mattered and will continue to make a difference in that sphere, and compiled their responses.
I reached out to a couple of industry experts and asked two questions.
Q1. What’s the future of content marketing according to you?
Q2. Which is the single best content marketing strategy that worked well for you in 2015? If you can share any example(s), that’d be great.
Their answers are so interesting.Go ahead and take a look:
Next year I’m increasing my investment in producing video content and paid social media on Facebook and Twitter. I’m cutting back on Google+.
This article on working moms raising more successful daughters generated around 30 thousand shares on social media and generated nearly a million views. It was the top article for Inc. Magazine for the month. I was able to do this by spending $50 to promote the article to working moms on Facebook which generated several hundred likes and re-shares, which got the ball rolling. When creating new content, think about the different Facebook demographic, behavior and interest-targeting options that are available. If you can’t align your topics with a highly discriminating audience targeting option, don’t bother creating it. (note: targeting “everyone” isn’t a discriminating audience).
Content marketing is going to become much more actionable. For example, when you read marketing posts in the future, you may select the type of company you have and the content will be more actionable to your business.
Writing 5000 words posts. I started writing much more detailed content in 2015 and it has helped grow my traffic at a much faster pace.
The future of content marketing is to create content that is focused on a target audience and doing it better than the competition. The goal here is to go very niche so that you can eliminate the big players with established sites or big budgets. A good example of this would be creating a site or article around the keyword of “how to jump higher to dunk” versus going after “how to jump higher”. (more details) You can see how one is more generic while the other is slightly more description. In addition to the target audience, you will also need to provide better information that what is out there — such as including original images, videos or even infographics. The last step (yet most important) in the process is your content outreach and gaining hight quality backlinks to your site.
Yes, this isn’t the most advanced or amazing setup in the world… but it’s still a method that will continue to work in the future. As long as Google continues to rank sites based on their quality, link power and relevant — going extremely niche is the place to be.
The best content marketing strategy that’s working for me, is continuing to use my own expertise and success to grow my sites. Since most of my content is based around how to start a blog or make money online, it’s easy to provide my audience with real examples, case studies and personal experiences. To take this up another level I even launched my own podcast. This way I can bring my engagement and relationship with my audience to a whole new level.
The takeaway here is to eat, sleep and breathe whatever your business is about.
The future of content marketing lies in deep integration in all other marketing activities such as SEO and social media. Content now comes in a lot of forms, video and audio content is gaining its popularity and in 2016 we’ll see even more of it.
Our most successful strategy was taking user-generating content and creating unique super informative posts with it. We run a Twitter chat and after every chat we post a recap full of tweets from the participants as well as our own thoughts. Such posts were shared two times more frequently than other posts on our blog, and also helped us build a strong community. For example, 80% of the audience that checked this chat recap was new, so we really attracted new visitors and also celebrated the knowledge of our existing audience. We also created a very nice image made of different tips that were shared during the chat, and we keep sharing that over and over again via social media. We really made a lot of emphasis on visually appealing content, it definitely get more engagement and visibility.
Content marketing is going to increasingly be multimedia and interactive. Companies have not yet taken advantage of the mobile market for content. On a small screen, people will increasingly want content that does not require scrolling, and they will react well to content that gives them something to do (choose options, input what they see around them wherever they are, etc.). This does not mean that we writers will be out of work (I hope), but it does mean that we will have to adapt to writing more for multimedia.
My best strategy in 2015 was to create multiple images on many of my blog posts, and pinning them over a prolonged period of time to various group boards on Pinterest. The best example of this would be here. If I had been a little cleverer, I would have carefully chosen the quotes to relate to specific, identifiable niches (such as travel, health, blogging, etc.) That would have made it possible to share on topic-specific group boards, as well as in topic-specific Google Plus communities.
Onward and upward! Content marketing will grow because people seek value. Always have, always will. So if you create value in the form of in depth, thorough content folks will flock your way. You determine the future of content marketing. You set that trend. It’s always up to you, you trend setter you.
My best strategy has been creating long-form content through my blog. 6,000 to 7,000 words blog posts. In depth stuff. Helpful, thorough resources always seem to reel in folks. I’ve noticed how over the past year and a half I’ve been endorsed by top entrepreneurs and featured on top blogs since I went long form with my blog.
The future of content marketing is not what we think it will be, but what we choose do about it. The main problem is that there is already more content being produced than what users are willing to digest. This means that we will need to produce less content but of a higher value. Note that I’m not saying “quality content”. Good quality content is out there, plenty of it. Quality content, however, is not enough anymore.
Everyone’s a purple cow, therefore nobody is.
Content needs to be outstanding and this could mean a lot of things, but essentially it all boils down to providing something new and doing it well. This could be a new insight or a source of entertainment. But it could also be a way of doing things better in terms of information structure, presentation, functionality and personalisation.
I am a big fan of interactive, personalised content. Content marketers of the future must be able to cater for both skimmers and deep readers and the only way to do that is to give users a choice of how much of information to consume on a page. My solution can be seen in practice here and here which offers busy reader a 5-minute read. It’s the same content, but structured in such way so that supplementary information is tucked away in hypotext.
Some general rules of writing that I always try to follow:
- Minimise interruption
- Provide quick answers
- Support easy scanning
- Improve trust and credibility
- Offer in-depth information retrieval
One of my best content marketing strategies was influencer engagement during the content development process. I would typically start with my own research and form a basic content piece and then invite those whose opinion I highly value and invite them to contribute in some way. One recent example was for one of our clients which had a pretty standard landing page for Sydney but I needed to make it stand out as far as content goes by providing additional value. I decided to find out where Sydney locals like to eat and then map the top restaurants to relevant properties by proximity. While doing research for this I discovered a surprising fact about the eating habits of Australians and decided to turn that into a story. I reached out to journalists who wrote about the subject in the past and got some very nice media exposure for the client.
The Future of Content Marketing is that all the world’s most intractable issues – war, racism, energy, healthcare, Trump, etc. – will be decided via expert posts.
The single best content marketing strategy that has worked for me this year is the same one that has worked for me since I launched the Local SEO Guide blog in 2007 – keep sharing as much valuable information as you can for free. Don’t ask people to opt into your list. Don’t spam them with messages that they may or may not care about – that’s what Twitter is for after all. If you give away enough valuable info at some point people may start actually trusting what you have to say, And if you keep doing it, at some point they may send a nice link or perhaps some actual business your way.
It’s no more complicated than that.
I think the foundation of content marketing will remain the same in the future. You must create content that is both unique and valuable for real everyday people. The future will include newer technologies and content formats but the core goal of providing value will stay the same.
I ditched my tried and true video project format and did a one off video that was just for fun (My Insanely Automated Home & Morning Routine). In doing so my production quality suffered but counterintuitively the engagement and sharing of my video content skyrocketed. It turned out I had been optimizing for the wrong things 🙂 I now plan to integrate my new video style into all of my future videos.
As always there’s a growing emphasis on ‘quality’ going into 2016, with a continued focused on delivering high calibre content that not only looks great on desktop, but works well on mobile too. Cheap content doesn’t cut it anymore, and more attention needs to be spent on achieving great user engagement signals (bounce rate, time on page etc.).
Although I have a love-hate relationship with buzzwords, Rand Fishkin coined the term ‘10x content’, and keeps a document containing examples that match his criteria here.
If you’re struggling to understand level of quality required to step up your content marketing, start here.
Looking more at the link building side of things, people will continue to be receptive to infographics and interactives, though again they will have to be of exceptional quality and consist of unique ideas and concepts.
More visual content pieces such as infographics and interactives have continued to be really successful throughout 2015. To give an example, we put together this piece for one of our clients.
This ended up attracting over 100 pieces of coverage on sites such as Boing Boing, Laughing Squid, Business Insider, Daily Dot, and IGN. I believe the success was down to a few things:
- Unique – The idea hadn’t been done before, which always tips the odds in your favour.
- Research – It’s immediately clear that lots of time has been invested into the research of this piece. Hours were spent sifting through various resources, and those who know about the Marvel universe will understand that it is extremely complicated!
- Design – The piece is very aesthetically pleasing, and if you’re looking for people to post it on their own sites this is an absolute necessity.
People continue to churn out low-quality infographics and people get inundated with outreach, so it’s important your piece matches the above criteria and stands out from the noise.
There are so many different levels of content marketing and they all require various strategies. However, people are starting to look for hyper focused “groups” of content. For example, a site section dedicated to the make and model of a specific World War II era plane: The manual, it’s specific use, a bio of it’s inventor(s), the material used in the plane, it’s functionality compared to other planes at the time, etc. I think this trend will continue to grow as people are getting more spoiled by how much information is available in just a few taps.
I’m not sure I’d call this a full strategy, though I did want to see if I could find a better technique for churning out articles that would do well. I did some research in the board game industry and saw that there was very little information about it’s history. It was all segmented by various time spans and countries, even in Wikipedia. I ended up putting everything together into one big piece, which ended up at the top of hacker news and gaining traction on several other user submission sites. It also generated a ton of backlinks, but not in the way you’d think. It got translated in several different languages, which all linked back to the original source.
You can see the original post here.
I think this can be replicated by finding a topic in your industry that has scattered information and just putting it all in one place. However, I’ve only ever tried it this one time, which is why I can’t really call it a full strategy.
As the amount of content creation continues to rise, it’s going to become even harder to build an audience with our content.
This means we need to publish better content and devote more time to promote it.
Strategies like blogger outreach will become even more valuable as time goes on down to the fact that it’s so effective.
As with all strategies, they become less effective as time goes on. Already people are starting to tune out to rubbish attempts at outreach.
But, this presents an opportunity for those who are focused on building long-term relationships to adopt a “helping” mentality. Rather than the usual “spray and pray” approach where people send bulk emails with no thought to quality.
Influence marketing has continuously proved to be effective.
Both my blog and my marketing agency have been built with the help of influence marketing.
It just starts off with saying cool things about people and letting them know about it, but there’s a lot more scope.
If you can involve influencers directly in the content creation process, they’ll be far more likely to share your content with their audience.
You could tag them on Facebook, @mention them on Twitter or email them – you don’t even have to ask them to share. Just give them a heads up about the post and let them decide whether or not they want to share your content.
Other platforms will be in the limelight more than in 2015, with bloggers expanding their text content into other mediums like video with voiceovers. Custom images will probably be used more to capitalize on platforms such as Pinterest.
It’s a combination of creating and maintaining contacts – also from those who get in touch with us via contact form – and using premium tools (Buffer in particular) to maintain a consistent social media posting schedule. This increased reach and engagement significantly.
Nothing gets better than getting the verdict straight out the horse’s mouth. The field of content marketing is a constantly evolving one, which is why expert speak matters as it helps you filter the noise out.
On that note, I would like to thank each of our experts for being a part of this exclusive roundup.