2016: The year content marketing grows up?

It may not be new, and has already been widely adopted by marketers, but content marketing remains the most important trend for companies.

In a poll conducted to accompany the ClickZ Intelligence Digital Trends report, 24.6% of respondents identified content marketing as the key trend for their company this year.

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There has, of course, been lots of hype around content marketing over the past few years, and this has led to widespread adoption of this strategy.

Also, thanks to Google’s growing insistence on quality content, it has become a key SEO tactic, so much so that many SEO agencies have rebranded to emphasise their content marketing expertise.

Content marketing challenges

However, widespread adoption doesn’t mean that companies are getting content right. Indeed, a recent study by Sticky Content found that a lack of strategy was limiting the effectiveness of content marketing.

Other issues included a lack of dedicated content teams, interference by management, and an ad-hoc approach to content.

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Dan Brotzel, Sticky Content:

Our survey of the UK’s content culture showed a greater acceptance of, and willingness to engage in the development of, the sort of organisational culture and team structure that can make a sustainable content-led approach possible.

Some of the classic challenges remained, however, and we uncovered a slightly alarming picture of tortuous sign-off processes, briefs hijacked by C-level interference and – most alarmingly of all – vast amounts of perfectly good material going to waste through poor governance and production mismanagement.

2016: the year content marketing grows up?

If 2015 was a year when content marketing became a core marketing tactic for many companies, 2016 could just be the year it grows up.

For instance, many ecommerce brands have launched blogs, or magazine style sites, like TopShop, but are they working out?

Content measurement

I expect we’ll be finding out this year. In 2015, content marketers took a more sophisticated approach to metrics, looking beyond pageviews. We’ll see more of this.

Ultimately, whether or not the content delivers measurable results will determine how companies use (or don’t use) it.

topshop magazine

According to marketer and consultant Andy Betts:

Producing content for content’s sake is a 2015 tactic that will become more redundant in 2016. Last year’s comfort metrics, such as shares and likes, will be replaced in 2016 with more meaningful measures such as engagement, reach and audience.

Expect to see certain elements of content marketing fall under the remit of Chief Revenue Officers — an indication that senior executives aren’t willing to devote resources to content if it’s not being tracked to some form of ROI.

A focus on content quality

It’s not enough merely to produce content, it has to be good enough to achieve the results expected of it.

As ad blockers become more common and Google continues its war on thin, poor content, (deploying RankBrain too) producing quality content of all kinds will become the name of the game.

As Tessa Wegert explains:

Brands will start to shift more marketing dollars to content studios and freelancers, rivalling what consumers can find in top magazines. Many will transform their blogs into digital magazines that will keep consumers coming back.

According to Andy Betts, content quality will be driven by the growth of new organisational structures — Marketing Revenue Centres — built on best practice, inter-departmental integration and reporting performance.

He adds:

Successful scaling of content will be dependent upon redefining content cultures based on producing content that is driven by audience demand, optimised and distributed accordingly and built to measure.

According to Dan Brotzel, brands are becoming more mature – and realistic – in their approach to content, and the kinds of topics and formats they can realistically address.

We’ll see more brands with a desire to own a credible editorial niche rather than to simply throw anything and everything at the wall to see what sticks.

For more, you can download our Digital Trends 2016 report here

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