We’re down to the 2016 wire, which means it’s time to start thinking about how to improve your content in 2017. What goals do you want to reach over the next 12 months? What kinds of content do you want to create? How have your prospects responded to your marketing strategy throughout 2016?

The answers to these questions can help you create content that your prospects will devour. Additionally, you can use the following tips to jumpstart your brainstorming efforts and make 2017 a better year than this one for your brand.

Grow Your Email List

Image via Flickr by hyku

How many times a day do you check your email? Most people carry around their own personal computers in the form of smartphones, and they get a little chirp every time an email comes through. Consider this medium a direct line to your prospective customers, so don’t squander it.

Try sending out emails at least once a month to touch base with prospects. Add something of value to every email — avoid sending pure sales pitches — then finish with a strong call to action related to the information you’ve imparted.

You can add graphics and even videos to your emails for extra engagement. Alternatively, consider running a text-based series on a particular pain point you’ve identified among your customers.

Use Interactive Media

Start 2017 off with a bang by introducing infographics and interactive media to improve your content. They can increase engagement levels, improve conversions, and reach prospects who learn best visually.

The best infographics and interactive media combine text and graphic elements to tell a story or to convey surprising data. Give your prospects a reason to view the media from top to bottom, then add a call to action so you can convert enticed consumers.

Increase Your Blog Post Length

Most companies publish blog posts that range between 500 and 750 words. However, did you know that the ideal blog post, as of 2016, is 1,500 words long? That’s a big difference.

Devote yourself to beefing up your content in 2017. Come up with broader topics and include more detailed information. That way, your post becomes the best destination for readers who have questions.

Not only do longer blog posts tend to rank higher in the Google search engine results pages, or SERPs, but they also lend credibility to your brand. You’ve taken the time to share detailed information, so you might inspire more customer loyalty.

Establish a Style Guide

Style guides aren’t just for Fortune 500 brands. In fact, they’re essential in today’s content-saturated world. If you present conflicting styles to your audience, you send the message that you don’t know your brand or your audience.

Learn how to create a style guide to improve your content. A complete style guide should consist of many components, from spelling and grammar to logo variations and voice guidelines. When you work with third-party agencies, you can present the style guide, so your brand messaging stays consistent.

Write Derivative Content

It sounds like a bad thing but stick with us. Derivative content has a place on the internet because you can find answers to just about any question on the web. Instead of trying to find a unique idea, take a well-covered topic and write the best blog post possible.

It’s called the skyscraper technique. You might cover content that already exists, but you add more meat to the bones so your content becomes the go-to resource for your audience.

For instance, there are thousands of articles with titles like “How to Write a Cover Letter.” If you’re a headhunter or a temp agency, you might write a blog post called “How to Write a Cover Letter.” However, instead of including three or five or seven steps, you might have 30 different sections that explore all the ways in which one might design and word a cover letter.

Share Your Content

There’s no sense in spending hours on a piece of content unless other people read it. Sharing your content has become just as important as writing it. Include social share buttons on every piece of content you publish. Individual share buttons, such as “Click to Tweet,” can prove even more effective because they’re targeted to a specific action.

Don’t forget to follow through, either. Once you share content, join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, and other social platforms. Answer your readers’ questions, offer extra commentary, and let consumers know you care about their opinions.

Start a New Blog Category

Does your blog feel a little stale? Have you run out of topics? The solution is simple: start a new category. Find a type of content you haven’t covered before and make it your focus for 2017 to improve your content.

Start an expert interview series, a Friday roundup, or a Monday video tutorial. Refresh your content to attract new prospects and to keep current readers glued to the page.

You might start an informational series that includes a call to action for a whitepaper. Readers can sign up using their email addresses, receive the whitepaper, and get future email marketing messages from your brand. It’s a win-win situation, and it gives you a reason to post new blog content.

Use Unique Imagery

As 2017 nears, start thinking about the imagery you use on your blog, in your emails, and on social media. If you’re sticking to stock photography, consider branching out. Take your own photographs, hire an in-house photographer, or use a third-party service to gain unique images.

Consumers are tired of seeing the same cheesy images over and over. They want something fresh to look at — a new perspective. Give them that with unique imagery. In addition to photographs, you can also commission unique infographics, interactive media, and graphic content.

Whether you’re hoping to rank higher in the SERPs, gain more followers on social media, or sell more products, improve your content in 2017. You’ll find yourself ahead of the competition and ready to tackle the next phase in content marketing.