One of the best parts of content marketing is its forward momentum. Yesterday’s trend becomes today’s best practice; brands that focus on what’s coming up can stand out early on.
While plenty of cynics believe 2016 is the year content marketing dies — just like they predicted in 2013, 2014, and 2015 — even more optimists stand ready to take on the challenges ahead. Discover our top eight picks for what to focus on for content marketing this year.
Image via Flickr by Vironevaeh
1. Incorporate Your Product Listing Ads Into Everything
Are you vying for Google real estate? Google has grown its shopping program in the past few years by placing ads on all aspects of its marketing. Not only can you bring product marketing into your display ads and in images on blog posts, but you can also use the resources of YouTube videos and rich media. Google understands that video is a highly consumed media form and is monetizing YouTube outside of text ads.
While the growth of Google Shopping is great for SEM specialists, SEO practitioners are having a nightmare. Chris Lake of Search Engine Watch reports that Google released an expandable layout to double the amount of products shown above the fold. If you’re a product-based business, you’ll want to make sure your PLA listings are up-to-date to take advantage of all Google’s ways to build them into content.
2. Deep Linking on Mobile Is a Must
If 2015 was the year of Mobilegeddon, when all businesses needed a mobile website to avoid suffering in the rankings, then 2016 is the year businesses need to do mobile well. One of the biggest mistakes to date is a lack of deep linking within apps and online web pages. Directing someone you want to engage with to a home page or to an m.site when they already have the app is unacceptable. If your customers want to be on a specific page, then you need to bring that page to them.
Ignoring deep linking on mobile creates more friction between readers and customers. They’re more likely to get lost or give up on what they’re seeking. When you enable deep linking on mobile, you will only help your conversion rate and grow your business.
3. Be Prepared for Machine Learning to Understand Customer Intent
Google’s RankBrain learns what customers want and how to deliver that information to them. Search intent aims to be a major focus in 2016. In many ways, tracking customer intent is no different from focusing on quality over quantity.
When someone searches for the Hawaiian Islands, Google wants to know whether the searcher intends to create a fourth-grade geography report, book a cruise, or find a desktop background. Each reason is completely different and requires different search results.
For content marketers, this understanding might mean a drop in traffic and even rankings, but this scenario should mean more conversions in the long run. After all, a hotel in Hawaii doesn’t want to advertise to kids creating reports. That hotel will see better quality traffic when Google limits their exposure to searches of high-purchasing intent.
4. Display Ads and Visual Content Are Making a Comeback
Don’t call it a comeback — display has been here for years. In 2016, marketers will spend more on display advertising than search advertising, and you can expect the same trend in content. Marketing strategists predict that spending on rich media will likely grow by more than 34 percent this year, so get your creative team working.
Plan a trickle-down calendar for your content. Start with creating complex interactive infographics or blog comics, and then break them down to social media photos that are easily shared. Finally, repurpose your content into your display ads to continue driving traffic to the post weeks after the material goes live. If you’re going to invest in display, you might as well make the most of its mileage.
5. Don’t Pressure Your Customers To Create Content
Marketers love user-generated content because the material provides word-of-mouth endorsements and relieves the pressure from staff members. Unfortunately, more and more businesses are asking customers to tweet about them, upload photos, and leave reviews.
In 2016, more competition than ever will appear in the attempt to win over customer endorsements. Every store, restaurant, or service provider will be begging for Yelp reviews and Instagram shots. Ian Bogost of The Atlantic explores the pressure felt on the customer side. Before you start depending on clients for your content, read what Bogost has to say.
6. Don’t Hide Bad Information Behind ‘Authority Content’
In the early days of content marketing and public relations, brands could simply issue a press release or launch results of a study to build their credibility. In 2016, the consumer will be checking sources and taking your research with a grain of salt.
The University of Maryland released a study noting how a certain brand of chocolate milk helps high school football players concentrate more. Immediately, the study was torn apart when reports began surfacing that a chocolate milk brand sponsored the study. No other brands served as a control, and researchers tested no other milk types.
So what if the source was a research study and came from a university? Customers and the media can ferret out deception fairly quickly.
7. Brand Tone of Voice Will Win Over Crabby Customers
In 2015, we almost completely rid ourselves of autobots replying to tweets and Facebook posts. By now, most companies have figured out that customers will be angrier if a robot responds than if they have to wait for a representative.
Now that we have human beings behind our accounts, we need to improve the tone. Brands that connect with customers without sounding too corporate will enjoy better engagement. Those that don’t match the right tone for their brands will suffer.
8. Standing Out Will Be Harder Than Ever
If there’s one element that stays the same in 2015 compared to 2016, the crowded content sphere is one. Creating something distinctive or attention-getting is not getting any easier. On the contrary, the more laggards who enter the content universe, the louder the chatter gets. Every year, marketers will encounter more difficulties getting consumers to click, laugh, and share, so start planning ways to stand out now.
These trends all tie back to creating quality content. You need to understand what your audience wants and find ways to offer what they seek. Remember, quality content marketing attracts new customers with flash and flair, but makes them come back with value and care.