You’ve heard it many times before: “Content is king”. It’s also become a valuable vehicle for bridging the consumer-brand gap. As more businesses continue to realize this, oversaturation becomes inevitable. So how do you stand out from the competition?
Letting Their Audiences Define Them
Nothing engages customers with a brand like participation, and when it comes to participation (especially online), people prefer to do so on their own terms. For brands, this means trading total ownership of their message for increased customer involvement. While brands have long been hesitant to do so, the few who have tried have been wildly successful. I expect to see more brands follow suit.
Integration of Content Marketing Strategies
Companies should strive to create a unified experience across multiple channels, platforms, and devices. For example, it’s now essential for websites to be responsive and equally accessible for people on computers and smartphones. When someone visits your blog, watches your video or clicks on an ad, they should be able to easily reach other content that might be even more relevant to them.
Content will become more visual and interactive. Infographics, for example, are both informative and beautifully designed. Images that captivate the audience and share relevant information will continue to gain traction in content marketing next year.
More User-Generated Content
User-generated content is the modern-day digitization of word-of-mouth. With smartphones, brands have been able to evolve word-of-mouth from one-on-one discussions to broadcasts that visualize high-quality experiences. Brands will continue to figure out how to prompt their customers beyond merely talking, and to encourage them to showcase to their whole networks.
With content marketing, it used to be that you were disseminating your content on every social media outlet available. Now people are moving away from that. It’s not sustainable to pour resources into social media platforms that don’t give you results. Brands will start to abandon social networks that don’t work for them and start playing in the same sandbox as their target audience.
Location-Based Marketing Across Channels
We often think of content as blog posts, tweets, and Instagram photos, but there’s a whole value-add channel in the physical space called retail. Content marketing will need to consider technology platforms and targeting methods that put the right content at the right time in front of the right customer, even in physical environments.
Bigger Emphasis on Private Messaging
While there are ways to speak to certain personas, there’s an even better way to speak to an individual consumer as a person instead of a long list of bullets which describe her likes, dislikes and behaviors. Brands will learn how to effectively utilize private messaging and sharing apps such as Yo, Snapchat and WhatsApp to engage consumers on a whole new level.
Collaboration Between Sales and Marketing
Sales and marketing teams will be laser-focused on strategic alignment to increase efficiency and visibility, which will drive more qualified leads. Companies with strong “smarketing” get 20 percent annual revenue growth. It’s time these two departments communicate and collaborate.
The Rise of Content as a Service
Focus on Value Alignment
Brands are starting to understand that they need to connect with their customers on a value-based level. The content brands produce will continue to be more oriented towards why they’re relevant to their target consumer and how they align with their values rather than why their product should be purchased.
Following Evolving Consumption Habits
Consumer content consumption habits are evolving. Increasingly, Internet users get their news and information from a divergent list of sources, rather than from legacy portals. Social media and sharing continue to drive content consumption, and brands that understand and come up with content marketing strategies that leverage these new habits will be greatly rewarded by user loyalty.
Increased Reliance on Measurement
One mistake brands make is getting lost in the editorial content calendar shuffle. They are so obsessed with posting and keeping up with the social media rat race that they forget to actually measure what’s working. Pause. If you are not continually measuring what has the greatest impact on your audience, it will ultimately damage the value of the community you are trying to create.
Greater Focus on Relationship Building
The key to seeing real value from social marketing is that it has to be a one to one interaction. That online to offline strategy is the true ROI of social. It’s not, “Hey I saw your tweet, I want to buy your product,” it’s “Hey let’s meet, I’ve been following your content and I want to collaborate.”
More Originality and Diversification
As more brands realize that content truly is king, the market will become more and more saturated with brands’ content. It’ll be essential for brands to find a unique voice, experiment and be boldly original with their talent to stand out. This also means really centering in on their niche and writing different, fresh, new content for their special interests all the time.
Featured Image: Sydia Productions via Shutterstock