If we were all honest with ourselves: content marketing is done to get conversions.
Content creators tend to spend hours of time and energy making sure their content is compelling, creative and, importantly, read and shared so leads and interested parties can possibly convert.
Given the regular changes of Google’s fine-tuned search engine algorithm, how fickle target audiences can be, and the changing popularity of mobile devices, content marketing can feel like a race to keep up. And let me tell you this: it’s a race that’s not going away soon.
So how are you planning on maximizing your efforts in 2016 and beyond? We’ve put together 10 things to help you keep pace with the content evolution.
10 Content Marketing Tips to Stay Ahead of the Game
1. Take Generation “C” Into Account (The Millennials)
“C” stands for connected. (Cisco defined this well, too.) This is the generation of 18 – 34-year-olds who have become responsible for over $500 billion in internet spending a year. And, in a couple years, they’re going to make up the vast majority of the workforce.
Key ways to identify them:
- They’re always connected
- They don’t engage with traditional attempts by businesses to reach them
- They trust and rely on friends’ recommendations
- They won’t be pushed
- They are looking for reasons to read and share
I wrote more about marketing to millennials here.
2. Keep Your Brand Genuine
Both the current and future generation of your target market wants the truth. They want to find out who you are and who they’re doing business with. They want to know who is behind the brand.
3. It’s Time to Get a Cause
Today’s customers aren’t worried about how much something costs – to them, the value of being part of a cause is just as important. Talk about your cause. Be a storyteller.
4. People Need to “Get” Your Content
We know that simplifying your writing is the way to go. But readability means people will “get” your content, no matter what device they use. Content strategy design absolutely has to cater to mobile devices these days. Make sure everything you serve up on the web is mobile optimized.
5. Keep Them Participating
Aim to hold competitions as often as you can. Encourage viewers to “vote” on your new logo or answer surveys to make them feel that their opinion is valued. Start a Twitter chat. Participate in Twitter chats as your brand.
6. Honor Customers
Here’s an idea for this point. Why not have a “customer of the month” feature? You want your tribes to keep connecting for the next story.
7. Visuals are More Effective Than Text
Visitors prefer to “see” what you’re saying as opposed to reading it. Every time you come up with new ideas for content, consider how it can be visually presented– be it infographic, podcast, video, or otherwise. Present that alongside the text (which Google will appreciate and rank). Never omit copy, but add striking visuals to your copy. Check out this gifographic we made (an infographic with moving parts).
8. Plan How You’ll Generate Content Ideas
Keep a file of content ideas at all times. Come up with questions your audience may ask, listen to what they have to say.
9. CTAs Should Garner Email Addresses
Aim to maintain a growing email base. Give your readers loads of opportunities to give you their details. Don’t forget to get creative with those emails – especially the titles so that readers open them – and include share buttons.
10. Neuroscience and Sales Psychology
Did you know 85% of purchasing happens to be emotional while just 15% is logical? Really go into the research that neuroscience gives us regarding which parts of the brain are stimulated by what aspects. Use it in your content marketing strategies.
Putting Your Best Foot Forward with Content Marketing in 2016 (It’s About to Get Ugly)
Thanksgiving has come and gone. New Year’s Day will be over before we know it. But what about B2B marketers? Many a marketer has spent the last few years just chugging along with a marketing program. They have a strategy and have been blogging consistently several times a week. They’ve had pretty good success growing their email list and they’ve even had a good amount of leads converting to sales.
Management is starting to ask when the content marathon is going to pay off. When are they really going to see those leads flowing in?
My answer to that would be: What are you going to do to increase the quality and effort of your content marketing in 2016?
5 Trends Earmarked for 2016: How to be Smart About Content Marketing This New Year
While there is probably more to come that can be added to the list below, let’s take a look at some of the digital marketing trends earmarked for 2016 and how you can save time implementing them in your content marketing strategy.
1. Budgets are Going to Grow, Just Not as Fast as in 2015
Content marketing budgets were expected to grow by 55% in 2015. That’s one of the biggest increases year on year for marketing in a long while.
But there is a downside. With more content than ever being created, the global content marketing audience is becoming fatigued.
- Everybody has a blog
- Everyone has a video you can watch
- Everybody has case studies or white papers that can be downloaded
- Everyone wants you on their email marketing list
The problem is when everyone is doing the same thing, it gets a lot harder to cut through the noise and chaos.
So since it is harder than ever to get through to users, you need to start investing more time, energy, and funds into creating high quality and high volumes of content. And when it comes to that, we often find the results just don’t seem to be where you want them to be, do they?
To that end, B2B content marketers went ahead and invested a lot in content creation this year without seeing the results. That means in 2016 they’re going to see push backs from CFOs and leadership since they’ve not met expectations.
We’re well aware it’s a marathon and not a sprint, but even a marathon has to come to an end and all that content needs to start paying off somehow, doesn’t it?
2. Long-Form Content Will be in Demand
According to several pros, long-form content is seriously gaining traction. Why? Because it thoroughly answers questions.
At the moment there may not be a lot of writers out there who are generating posts with word counts in the thousands, there are sure to be more cropping up in 2016. As it stands, this year we’ve noticed:
- The majority of B2B marketers are creating more content than they did in 2014
- Content over 1,500 words is being shared more often
- The average length of content for a web page that is ranking within the top 10 results for any keyword on Google tends to have a minimum of 2,000 words.
We’ve heard so much about sticking to the 300 – 500-word mark for blogging. But today’s reality is that those short posts just aren’t ranking. Not at all. So while you, of course, should be blogging for your readers, you need them to find you. One of those surefire ways is long-form content.
Case Study: Long-Form Content Works Today
In mid-December (2015), I wrote a monster blog that addressed the key principles marketers need to know in relation to the massive 160-page Google Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines document. I tried, but there was no way to keep it under 3,500 words. Well, in less than 4 days it had over 100 shares, and I heard from someone who said it was more “readable” than Neil Patel’s post on the same topic. Just an example to show why I’ve found that long-form content is absolutely not going anywhere. Instead, I think its popularity is increasing. Just be sure you address a question that deserves an in-depth answer.
Back to our overall content marketing trends. If budgets are going to remain more or less the same for content marketing in 2016, but you need to write longer-form copy, how can you save time on your endeavors?
Here’s what you’re going to have to do in the new year to shave off hours while improving the impact you have on the content as well as your lead generation programs.
3. Try Blogging Less, With Better Quality
You heard right. Blog less. I don’t mean fewer words, but rather less frequency. Yes, I know this completely goes against everything you’ve been taught, but let’s just think about it:
If Google’s first 10 search results all seem to have more than 2,000 words, there’s very little chance that blogging around 700 words 3 times a week is going to get you very far, is it?
If you’ve spent the last couple of years blogging and have kind of generated a good wealth of short-form, readable content, it’s time to change up your strategy and start developing content that can help cut through the clutter and start getting your site ranked. And that means coming up with content no less than 1,500 words.
I know what you’re wondering: how do you go about creating quality content of that length?
Think of it this way: if you’re blogging 500 words, 3 times a week, you’re already writing 1,500 words!
Rather than trying to come up with three short posts, leverage your buyer personas and tie all those posts together to blog 1,500 words, once a week.
For example, let’s imagine you want to write a post about when a business should start content marketing programs for their tech companies. The post could be broken up into 3 parts:
- The common challenges that B2B technology companies face when wanting to start content marketing programs
- Why these companies wait to start content marketing
- The statistics that support when a tech company should start a content marketing program
Instead of coming up with 3 shorter posts, all 3 points can be tied together with a central theme. So in the same amount of time it would take to write three 500-word blogs, you can generate a 1,500-word post that will actually rank for long-tail keywords.
4. Short-Form, Spammy SEO Content – It’s Time to Say Goodbye to Consultants
Okay, this one sounds a little harsh, but very few SEO consultants are really qualified to write longer forms of content about anything, let along your pride and joy of a business. How can you save time here?
We all know that SEO has become a major part of content marketing. If you are creating content targeted towards certain audiences, you need to be working within the realm of SEO, or you risk wasting your time. Think mobile, social sharing, long-tail keywords. You don’t need a pricey consultant.
Spend a day working your way around Google and you’ll get to know everything you need to for optimizing your content for the search engine. Read a book, take a short course, add basic SEO to your skill set.
5. Content Should be Creative
Ever wanted to do something more dynamic? Ever envisioned animated infographics and other cool themes? Go with it! Rather than using the same old boring, clip-art filled infographics, create some seriously rich, creative media experiences for your audience.
There are quite a few tools beyond WordPress you can use, including:
- Infogr.am lets you create and publish awesome visualizations of all your data. They offer some great pre-built templates that you can embed with your blog.
- Tableau Public is free software for anyone who wants to regale engaging stories with public data on the Internet. It’s a fantastic tool for visualization, particularly maps.
- Visme is a great tool that will let you create rich media infographics, presentations, reports, and even product demos
Let’s Wrap This Up
2016 is sure to be a busy, and interesting, year for content marketing.
With those budgets hovering around the same as the 2015 mark, and content fatigue setting in, you’re going to need to do a lot more to be more effective with the same resources.
To achieve this, you’ll need to be smarter about how you divide your time and the type of content you create. And you’re going to need content that will go the distance. Use these content marketing tips and do just this. Don’t skimp; involve more resources, time, effort, and investment to stand out in the sea and be a true content marketing leader. It will result in direct ROI: your efforts will be rewarded.