As someone that’s always had a passion for journalism, I enjoy staying on top of the latest news. As a B2B content marketer, staying on top of the latest news and trends that impact my clients and the B2B marketing space as a whole has become a daily part of my life and a critical factor in allowing me to do my job effectively.
However, staying on top of everything that’s going on in the world is next to impossible. And at a more micro level, staying on top of the latest trends that could impact content marketing is no small task in itself. So, if you’re anything like me, someone who wants to stay “in the loop” but sometimes finding yourself squeezed on time, I’m hoping to offer some assistance with this post.
I’ve put together a list of ten marketing trends (with the help of our industry news section) from 2015 that content marketers need to consider now and in the future to remain a critical piece of the marketing pie.
1. Effectiveness of Visual Content
Numbers behind this trend: An Ascend2 report revealed that about 87 percent of marketers believe their video marketing effectiveness is increasing, with about half of these marketers claiming the increase to be “significant.” Further, the CMO Council showed that a majority of marketing executives believe visual assets will only grow in importance in the future
Action content marketers should take: As human beings, we are naturally drawn to visuals. This is something that can’t be ignored by content marketers, especially with those already investing in visuals seeing such positive returns. Now is the time to think about and invest in visual content. Photography, infographics and videos are a great place to start.
2. There is in fact a “Sweet Spot” for Shareable Content
Numbers behind this trend: One of the biggest hurdles content marketers have to overcome is standing out from the crowd in a positive way. In fact, data from BrightEdge shows that between 33 and 50 percent of today’s content drives engagement. That’s pretty low. However, thanks to very recent analysis from Moz and BuzzSumo, there are several content characteristics that generally lead to more shares and links. Long-form content (more than 1,000 words), research-backed content, as well as list and video posts were all seen as “share” and “link-friendly.”
Action content marketers should take: Next time you go to write a blog post, consider the factors offered by Moz and BuzzSumo. I have seen long-form content, stats, lists and videos all perform very well in terms of driving links and shares across my clients’ sites.
3. Accuracy is as important as ever
Numbers behind this trend: At the beginning of the year, the “Edelman Trust Barometer” claimed that for the first time ever, online search engines have become a more trusted source for general news and information than traditional media. While this presents a huge opportunity for content marketers, the shine of the spotlight could be detrimental if we aren’t careful. In fact, Neustar data shows that 91 percent of survey respondents do not trust sites that contain errors or mistakes.
Action content marketers should take: Writers should always check, double-check, and triple-check their work. But, with the above statistics in mind, checking content for inaccuracies is more important than ever as errors in content could flip it from a valuable resource into a damaging one. If your organization produces digital content, don’t be afraid to ask someone to fact-check your work for inaccuracies. As all writers know, sometimes things can slip through the cracks. Don’t let those cracks turn into canyons.
4. Email is Alive and Well
Numbers behind this trend: Despite the expansion of the digital landscape and growing number of avenues for content to be promoted, email remains a stalwart in effective marketing strategies. An Adobe survey revealed that 58 percent of respondents prefer email when being contacted by a brand. However, brands need to be careful with what they’re sending. About one-third of respondents said they would like to receive less repetitive emails from marketers.
Action content marketers should take: When executing email campaigns, content marketers should try to establish ongoing relationships with their customers. Pay attention to a customer’s previous actions and don’t be afraid to include valuable information to them in the form of case studies and best practices.
5. Content Curation can be Beneficial during the Sales Process
Numbers behind this trend: A number of studies have proven that a lack of resources, such as time, budget, employees, etc. is a content marketing hurdle. However, according to inboundli data, content curation can provide a solution to these challenges, while also assisting the sales process. Curation specifically can be beneficial early in the B2B buying process, as it’s designed to raise brand awareness, engage target audiences and establish thought leadership.
Action content marketers should take: Whether your company struggles with resources or you simply want to free up some time for other initiatives, content curation is a very valuable tactic. Educating your buyers will put your brand at the top of their minds and hopefully turn into a qualified lead. Get out there and share some content!
6. Mainstream Sales Tactics are Becoming Stale
Numbers behind this trend: Much like the way content marketers need to break away from the crowd, the same can be said for sales. Corporate Visions released a survey in August that showed B2B marketers and sales reps are failing to deliver pitches that differentiate them from the competition. Specifically, the data shows that while 41.5 percent believe leading off a sales pitch with an “unconsidered need” addressing an opportunity that prospects didn’t know they had could be beneficial, only 14 percent are doing so.
Action content marketers should take: Marketers and sales personnel could each benefit from considering these “unconsidered needs.” When creating content, try to always remember what you’re writing should be providing a solution or answer to a question. Think outside the box and offer some possible to solutions to issues your customers may not even realize they’re facing.
7. There is an Opportunity to Communicate with Data
Numbers behind this trend: As I mentioned earlier in this post, people enjoy consuming “research-backed’ content. However, data released by Visage shows that more than a quarter of respondents only share data and insights privately, rather than externally. Some of their biggest challenges include crafting a story from original data (40 percent) and a lack of resources when it comes to visualizing data (29 percent).
Action content marketers should take: Due to the effectiveness of data-rich content, marketers need to spend the time and money to take the lid off. If you’re like some of the Visage respondents struggling to craft a story from original data, try not to over-think it. Simply putting together a list of interesting statistics can go a long way in terms of social shares and links.
8. Readers are Wary about Branded Content
Numbers behind this trend: Publishing as a brand, rather than as an individual, puts you behind the eight ball almost immediately. This claim is backed up by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, which showed that many online users don’t like dealing with advertising or branded content that interrupts their online experience. Nearly half of survey respondents (43 percent) feel deceived or disappointed when they consume content that is actually sponsored by a brand online.
Action content marketers should take: As content marketers in today’s world, it’s imperative that we don’t interrupt the user’s online experience with things like pop-up ads, auto-play videos, and banner ads that block content from being accessed. Instead, we need to provide the online user with material they discover and find useful on their time. This trend elevates the importance of appearing in organic search results for queries that answer questions. Think about ways you can produce content that answers the questions your customers or prospects may have.
9. B2B Buyers Desire Content throughout the Buying Process
Numbers behind this trend: Between two and five. That’s how many pieces of content are typically read by B2B buyers before completing a purchase, according to Eccolo Media data. However, the data shows that content is not only valuable prior to the purchase, but after as well. About 80 percent of respondents said it was important to receive content from the brand following a purchase.
Action content marketers should take: Since buyers are looking to consume a number of content assets prior to making a purchase, content marketers need to make sure they’re running the gamut with their efforts. White papers, product brochures, data sheets and video descriptions of products are all pieces of content that are typically well-received by the B2B buying audience.
10. Millennials are in the Driver’s Seat
Numbers behind this trend: The millennial generation is gaining a tight grip on the B2B space. A survey by Millward Brown Digital and Google revealed that nearly half (46 percent) of potential B2B buyers in 2014 were millennials (ages 18-34). As expected, these young B2B buyers are using various technologies to help make their purchases. About 49 percent use their mobile devices to do product research at work and nearly all (91 percent) use smartphones at some point throughout their path to purchase.
Action content marketers should take: Changes in forms of consumption lead to a need for adaptation. Millennials really don’t want to talk on the phone once the sales cycle begins, they rely on feedback from their friends and colleagues when making decisions, and oh yeah, they want a mobile-friendly experience. These are all things to consider when marketing to today’s millennial. For more advice, take a look at my post from March.
The world of content marketing, and digital marketing as a whole is always turning on its axis with new tools, trends, and opportunity. I hope this post provided some valuable insight into the trends so far in 2015 that could have a significant positive impact on content marketing efforts if leveraged properly. What are some of the trends you’ve seen lately and how are you addressing them with your strategy?
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