Over the past few years, the use of content marketing has grown phenomenally. It continues to evolve at a rapid pace and it is, therefore, essential to stay abreast of the latest changes. However, it is also important to review past months and years to understand how the market has changed.
There are plenty of lessons to be learned from 2016 – the first of which is that content marketing strategists are getting better. In fact, 63 per cent of business to customer (B2C) marketers said they’d been more successful than in 2015. Meanwhile, 62 per cent of business to business (B2B) marketers agreed with these sentiments. With growing success, comes the ability to command larger budgets, and the opportunity to balance tried-and-tested methods with new tactics.
Marketing must be mobile
One clear content marketing message from 2016 is that marketers must cater to a mobile market. Both Google and consumer habits are driving the rising dominance of mobile, and neither can be ignored. Google has prioritised mobile, first with a mobile-friendly update in April. This was followed by a mobile-first index update last October. Whilst many websites are now mobile-friendly, a survey in 2016 suggested that 23 per cent of small businesses have not updated their online homes, meaning that many opportunities could be missed.
Email remains a productive distribution network
Though social networks have risen at an astronomical rate, email remains the best channel for content marketers to distribute their content through. A lot of companies still measure success by how many social media likes and shares they’re getting. However, to get eyeballs on content, email is king.
Trust is crucial
2016 also gave credence to the fact that successful content relies on audience trust. Content marketing works best when it instils trust in readers, engaging with audiences who find the content enjoyable, useful and entertaining. Over time, regular fans come to trust what their favourite brands are saying.
This means that content strategists have to be a trustworthy publisher from the very beginning, catching spelling mistakes, checking facts and never misleading audiences.
Content marketing can utilise user-generated material
Finally, it’s been shown that audiences trust recommendations from their friends and peers. This means that user-generated content has a place in a firm’s content marketing strategy. This can take many forms – from customer advocacy and online reviews – to social shares and unboxing videos. Though this content type can be almost impossible to control, it can reap benefits in terms of engagement and, ultimately, conversions. If organisations want to capitalise on this, audiences should be encouraged to write reviews, take part in contests and share content. This can be done with a call to action with an associated incentive.
Content marketing continues to evolve, and technologies will come and go. However, core interactions and connections with consumers remain the same. Figuring out the best way to maintain these relationships is crucial, and by nurturing audiences using the lessons learned from last year, 2017 can be even more successful.