If you’re anything like most marketers out there, you probably spent the last quarter of 2015 reviewing, analyzing, budgeting and preparing for a successful new year, and that often involves reading a lot of information about practices and predictions in your industry to help you make the best decisions. And as we start 2016, many of us are putting the finishing touches on our revamped and refreshed strategies.
To help you make the best decisions for your team -- and to keep you ahead of your competition -- here are three noteworthy trends that will continue to shape the world of content marketing and how it’s practiced in the year ahead.
1. High-quality, valuable content will drive SEO.
SEO has been critical to the success of digital marketing for years, and as Google continues to update its algorithms and cater to its users, it’s leaving behind the old link-building tactics and keyword-stuffing practices marketers used years ago. The search engine titan is continuing to reward marketers and other content creators who publish high-quality content with better search results. Why? Because it’s what Google’s users are searching for.
Now, when you create and publish content that is unique, valuable, and targeted to your audience, Google’s algorithm recognizes that content as high-quality -- and bumps it up higher on the list of results to make it easier for searchers to find.
As a content marketer, you should always strive to create the best content for your audience. The updates to Google’s algorithms are driving new practices by marketers to optimize their content effectively -- and it’s ultimately coming down to high-quality, valuable content created with your audience’s experience in mind.
Measuring your results becomes a critical step as you start marrying a content strategy with your SEO efforts. So make sure your team centralizes its efforts with a spreadsheet or analytics template (such as this one from our site), defines key metrics pertaining to your company’s business goals, and keeps track on a weekly or monthly basis.
2. Content will be leveraged -- and created -- by more than just your marketing department.
Content marketing is growing in practice, with nearly nine in 10 B2B marketers reporting that their organizations used content marketing in 2015. And in my experience, those marketers who involve the rest of their companies’ departments in their efforts -- from creation to distribution -- see greater content marketing success.
In the past, many leaders and employees have written off content as the responsibility of the marketing team, but that content can be used to benefit your internal audiences just as much as it can benefit your external ones.
For example, my team at Influence & Co. uses Slack, 15Five, and a company knowledge bank to share, collect and organize ideas for content. (Learn more about how we set it up, here.) When our marketing team members meet to create content for our quarterly campaigns, they can use the ideas, experience and insight from employees in account services, production, or HR to create content that comes from those internal experts and achieves a wider range of goals than our marketing team could alone.
To leverage that content, our entire company receives notifications when an article is published to our blog or when an internal thought leader contributes to a marquee external publication. Crowdsourcing your content creation and distribution from various members of your team is a great way to diversify your creation process, improve the quality and relevance of your content, and prepare your team for success in the year ahead.
3. Alternative publishing platforms will become mainstream.
Savvy marketers and thought leaders have been contributing content to external online publications as a key component of their content marketing funnels for years now, but new alternative platforms have begun changing the game.
When LinkedIn opened its publishing feature to all users in 2014, it also opened a new door for content marketers, presenting an ideal platform for B2B marketers to publish and leverage content directly with the business professionals in their target audiences.
Other social networks such as Facebook and Twitter have also recently announced updates that are changing the way marketers utilize them. Facebook’s Instant Articles now allows companies to publish interactive, customized and responsive articles directly onto the platform, and Twitter is currently testing an expanded character limit that could change the way users interact with its content.
But social media isn’t the only platform that’s changed the way content marketers publish and distribute original content. Medium provides a unique platform for content creators of all varieties to write, publish, read and share original content with a growing audience, and its analytics capabilities allow marketers to easily track performance.
While they were once alternative platforms for marketers and thought leaders to publish content, these sites will grow to the same level of recognition, respect and effectiveness as traditional publishers of years past.
Content marketing is a growing industry, and it’s changing all the time. Although these changes keep us on our toes, it can be hard to know what’s a passing fad and what’s here to stay. So as you and your team finish creating and documenting your new strategy and prepare for another year of successful content marketing, remember to account for each of these three major trends that are surely shaping the industry in 2016.
Members: If your team is looking to optimize your content marketing efforts, Influence & Co. has teamed up with YEC as the exclusive Editorial Concierge service partner to help you write articles for major publications and contribute to the YEC’s monthly Q&As. To sign up for a free consultation, click here.