Content marketing has been called “the only form of marketing left” – and in some respects, this is still true in 2016. Whatever you’re attempting to market online, content is a pivotal part of the process – offering your audience something they can’t find elsewhere.
As content marketing has evolved, and the internet has become a more integral part of our lives thanks to the rise in mobile devices, there’s more content online than ever before. But what does your brand need in order to stand out online in 2016?
When was the last time you booted up your desktop or laptop to find a specific article? More often than not, people are searching from their mobile or tablet to find more information, shop, or find answers online. It’s quicker, easier, and now provides just as good an experience as the tried and trusted desktop, thanks to mobile-responsive websites that are becoming more popular.
Essentially, if your site or blog isn’t mobile-responsive, you could be providing a poor experience to a lot of your readers. If mobile users are landing on your content, and struggle to consume or engage with it, they’ll likely hit that back button and go straight to a competitor who offers what they’re looking for.
Now that Google tends to answers more search queries than ever through the Knowledge Graph on the results page itself, it’s become more important to focus on more complex topics in more depth that Google will refer searchers to.
With the rise of digital assistants such as Cortana and Siri, from Microsoft and Apple respectively, finding your ideal target marketing and creating content that answers their queries will be more valuable than ever.
Not only this, but niche topics can often be a lot more effective when trying to convert visitors. It offers rich content specific to your audience, which they in turn will find useful, and come to trust your brand. By focusing on niche topics of a specific nature, you’re more likely to be offering a higher value to readers – as they won’t be able to find similar posts elsewhere.
As internet speeds get faster at home, and especially on mobiles with the likes of 4G, video content is becoming much more popular, and more widely watched.
Examples of video content taking over both social networks and the web at large include:
- Facebook Live
- Twitter videos
Separate content hubs
Some brands are becoming famed for their content aside from actual products – take brands such as Red Bull for example. They are often generating content around extreme sports or otherwise – as part of Red Bull Media House.
Many big companies are buying up media companies in order to boost their own efforts. Journalists are joining the marketing industry at a rapid rate, as online publications cannot compete financially with businesses who offer similar content that promotes their own products or services.
The fact that businesses known for something other than publications or writing to be competing with big media companies is a testament to content marketing itself – but the fact companies are buying media companies just shows how important content is to the marketing of their brand.
For everyone else, maintaining a separate hub of content, or a blog as more than a simple “news” tab on the website, is a growing trend. Whether these separate hubs include articles, resources, downloads, or anything else, there’s a great case for separate content websites for particular businesses.
This also leads into content taking centre stage. Rather than content to support products, original content is often becoming the foremost product of certain companies, who then offer products or services related to the content in question.
Robots won’t be overtaking the jobs of content marketers and writers worldwide quite yet, but if you’re in specific sorts of industries, you may come across a rise in automatically generated content from algorithms and artificial intelligence.
Some examples include sports companies, who will generate algorithms, social media updates, and other forms of content from the latest scores and results. Because of how quickly these can be generated and published, it can be quite effective when looking to gain a wide audience on social media channels. Also, due to the numerical format of the content in general, it doesn’t especially require a human touch once it’s up and running.
As for written passages and blog posts, we’re fairly safe from the rise of androids for now.
Virtual reality is already here, but it’s set to reach a new high once the Oculus Rift, the HTV Vive, and other devices launch.
Virtual reality offers new ways for your audience to experience content. Whether it’s videos or other interactive materials such as games, brands will find new ways to engage with audiences who are simply looking to try out VR – or those which adopt the new peripherals that are on the horizon.
Google has already invested a lot of money into Google Cardboard – with Samsung Gear VR also offering a low-cost solution to VR. Producing content for these platforms will prove to be valuable for a number of brands.
Now that Google’s Knowledge Graph is picking up steam, presenting information from the results on the results page itself, there’s less need for short-form content that is often answered on Google.
That means that offering long-form content, and focussing on in-depth posts, will be a higher priority in 2016. Content that provides a short or quick answer will have less use, due to the fact that personal assistants and Google itself can provide the answers.
Personalisation is a growing trend in areas of web design and digital marketing, and so it makes sense that it bleeds over into the world of content marketing.
Generating relevant content for specific audiences will offer better engagement and retention – and if in turn, these can be marketed to more specific audiences on social media or elsewhere, this can be a great way to spread the word of your brand.
Alongside personalising your content, delivering the content to your target audience in a place where they are active is pivotal. If you’re targeting the CEO or MD of a company, are they likely to be on Pinterest? Probably not. But by targeting content to them on LinkedIn will yield better results.
LinkedIn has been making good use of promoting content published directly onto the platform for some time – but now other social networks will get involved.
Twitter is going to extend the character limit that is currently capped at 140, meaning more long-form posts will become prevalent on the network. Facebook is also promoting publishing on the network itself, and so more marketers are making use of this.
Whether you decide to publish content on another platform or your own website or blog is largely down to your content strategy, and what you wish to achieve. There’s a number of pros and cons for both posting content on social networks versus your own platform – and this depends on many factors such as your product, the results you desire, your industry, and your audience.
Aside from videos, there are other ways to capture the attention of your audience via visual means.
Whether it’s images, statistics, diagrams, or whatever else you wish to portray, there’s no doubt you can present it more visually than simply writing about it.
You could use:Infographics
- Images around facts
- Visualised statistics
- Interactive content or guides
Quality over Quantity
Providing credible, authoritative content is a valuable commodity that is becoming a rarer thing on the internet – especially within the past few years. Whilst the amount of content is growing online, that also means there is a lot more “click bait” and useless content that users do not engage with, or simply do not wish to read once they land on it.
The internet is saturated with content these days – which means there’s all the more reason to be providing high-quality content that your audience wants to read, and is actively searching for online.
With more content online, user expectations are also higher. If your brand isn’t offering something unique or special, then you should really consider what you can provide that will set you apart from the competition.
Staying ahead of the game in content marketing should give your business the edge in widening your audience, and getting your brand recognition online.
If you need a hand in developing a content marketing strategy, or are weighing up your options for digital marketing, get in touch with the team at Xanthos who will be glad to help.