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content marketing in 2017

Why You Should Choose Content Marketing in 2017 & The Best Forms of Content to Invest In Today

Today, content marketing is one of the lowest-cost, highest return marketing efforts.

But don’t take my word for it – for example, listen to Kraft, who publicly revealed at Content Marketing World last year that their content marketing ROI was four times higher than that of their most targeted advertising! Or, check out our own case study that reveals how content marketing is responsible for 95% of our business revenue.

Right now, marketers are creating more content than ever to see return, and inbound marketers are spending more time than ever before creating content. In fact, 93% of inbound marketers are now creating content on a weekly basis. What’s more, more than half of the surveyed marketers say they spend more than six hours a week doing so. That’s a lot of time and commitment!

It’s clear that content is the way of the future for 2017 and beyond and that if you want to succeed in the coming year, you need to invest in it. Read on to learn more about the upward trajectory of content marketing, and how it can boost your business this year.

how to do content marketing in 2017

Will Investing in Content Make Your Brand More Successful this Year?

The simple answer is, YES!

Today, most marketers understand that there’s no way around content. After all, it’s the only reliable way to get around the influence of ad blockers, the best way to connect with audiences, and the longest-lasting way to build relationships that last with customers.

Just because most marketers understand they should be creating content, however, doesn’t mean most marketers have invested adequately in doing it. In fact, many marketers halfway it, pumping out cheap, poorly written content that does little but clog up the search engines, and fails at meeting readers’ needs entirely.

Contently calls this: “the zombification of content marketing.”

zombification

Sound terrifying? It is, and it’s a growing epidemic.

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Fortunately, there’s a whole host of things you can do to combat it.

When you pour your best into your content marketing – in creating engaging, valuable, authentic content, that you’re tremendously proud of – you break the growing zombie mold of typical content, and your brand will stand out online.

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5 Content Marketing Pillars to Focus on Right Now

Before we talk about which types of content you should be investing in, let’s talk about which content traits you’ll need to focus on to be successful in 2017. Here are the top five.

1. Storytelling

Scheherazade from Arabian Nights!

Scheherazade from Arabian Nights, featured in a post we wrote late 2015.

We’ve touted the importance of storytelling before, and we’re not planning on stopping anytime soon. There are a few great things about storytelling in content marketing. Namely, storytelling works with all types of content – ranging from video to written material, which makes it the ideal foundation strategy for your various content pursuits. What’s more, it appeals to readers on a universal level.

Think about it for a moment: Didn’t you love hearing stories as a kid? Don’t you still love commercials that make you laugh, riveting travel tales that make you gasp, or a great novel that sucks you in and won’t let you go? Of course, you do, and it’s all because these things are stories!

The appeal of storytelling is broad and universal. Include it in your content marketing and you’ll immediately see your audience transform from “ho-hum,” to engaged, compelled, and genuinely interested.

2. User-Focused Content

Nobody likes a narcissistic company that just tells everyone how awesome they are all the time. In fact, this is a recipe for failure! Instead, a critical foundation of modern content is that it be user-focused. The more you can involve your customers in your online content, tailor it toward their experiences, and ensure it reflects their voices, concerns, and passions, the more successful they’ll be.

In fact, if you look around at modern content, you’ll find that many of the most successful companies out there barely enter their digital content. Sure, they’re in there as supporting cast members, but the target audience is the star – always the star.

This is as it should be, and it’s a wise thing to consider as you think about how to invest in content for a more profitable 2017.

3. Mobile-Friendly Content

No matter what you choose to invest in, make it mobile friendly. On the same level of importance as story-dense, user-focused material, mobile-friendly content is everything right now, and you can’t expect your brand to make much progress online if you’re not catering to your share of the more than 50% of Google search queries that come from mobile platforms.

4. Strategic Content

All the content you create should be strategic and intentional. While it’s one thing to put out short-form content or funny, original videos, everything you do should be supporting a larger content or marketing goal. If it’s not, you’re wasting your marketing budget and your team’s time.

5. Helpful, Relevant Content

Regardless of whether it’s a video, blog post, meme, or infographic, your top priority in all of your content creation efforts should be to make everything you create relevant, helpful, and quality. Without these three pillars, your content will fall short, and you won’t enjoy the massive ROI content is so capable of producing.

Successful Growth in Content Marketing: What Kind of Hot Content Should You Invest in?

If you want to succeed in content marketing, you need to invest in the RIGHT content. Otherwise, you could risk adding to the fluff that’s already clogging up the content sea. Here are the top 5 types of content to focus on in 2017 and beyond:

1. Expert Content

Expert content is no secret. Google demanded it in its 2015 Search Quality Evaluator guidelines, and influencers in virtually all industries have touted its importance since then. In addition to helping you rank better (Google may punish sites that feature poorly written content, or content that doesn’t possess the level of expertise the subject requires), expert content is the only real way to build your business.

By positioning you as an authority in your industry, giving you a platform to showcase your knowledge, and helping you gain more qualified leads, expert content can go a long way toward overhauling your entire online presence and making your content investments more lucrative in the coming year.

Still not sure what expert content means? It means content written by expert copywriters, like the ones we have on staff here at Express Writers. Readers can tell when a page is written by a subject-matter expert, and when it’s written by a novice. And, believe us – they’d rather read the former.

2. Live Streaming

 Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve likely noticed how much traction live-streaming content has gained in recent months. From platforms like Periscope to Facebook Live and Meerkat, live streaming is a hot trend in content right now, and when you use it right, it can boost your brand big time.

According to Variety.com, live-streaming overtook television in 2015 as the media delivery choice of preference, and that trend has extended to social platforms and apps in spades. Today, customers expect a company or brand to be available to them 24/7, and any brand that falls short in this will fall out of favor with its clients.

That said, investing in live-stream video can give you a highly approachable way to engage with your audiences and grow your online following. Once more, though, don’t take my word for it: consider platforms from Facebook to Twitter, which have made live-streaming the near-center of their content strategy in recent months.

3. Newsletters

If you think newsletters sound so 2015, think again. Today, newsletters are a critical content platform that can allow marketers to expand their audiences and produce positive ROIs. Companies from Buzzfeed to The Washington Post have used newsletters to dramatically expand their audiences (The Post, for example, increased newsletter subscribers by 145% year-over-year), and promote more sales.

For best results, ensure that your digital newsletters are optimized for all viewing devices and filled with relevant content. You should also include an exciting CTA that links to something relevant within your company or website.

4. Native Advertising

Did you know that more than 200 million people are currently using adblockers? Unless you’re a superhero, there’s virtually no way you’re going to get around all that software, and your chances of having your banner ad clicked are practically shrinking before your eyes. Don’t despair, though! There’s still a way to get into customers’ heads and hearts.

When you use native advertising, which offers helpful information rather than intrusive CTAs that disrupt user experience, you’re more likely to enjoy engagement and interest from your audiences. What’s more, since Native advertising integrates smoothly into various host environments, it’s easier to implement and use – even for small businesses.

Even The New York Times has named native advertising as one of the top tactics that allowed it to survive the explosion of adblocking software!

5. Virtual Reality

Sound a little wild to you? This is 2017, and VR has become a massive part of the tech landscape!

virtual reality

Today, many of the smartest brands on the web are using VR as a unique way to engage clients and differentiate themselves from the competition. While it might not be the one-stop-shop that social media or blogging is, it’s still a helpful tool that can benefit your company and your brand.

What’s more, it’s right in line with what the influential millennial consumer group wants.

According to a study conducted by the Harris Group, 72% of millennials would like to put more money into experiences than physical things. With this in mind, investing in VR content can be a great way to snag these high-value consumers and keep them with your brand.

Check out a few ways to include VR in your marketing strategy on Entrepreneur.

Invest in Content for a Bright 2017

The growth of content marketing is upon us! From expert copywriters to virtual reality content, there are dozens of smart investment opportunities facing your brand this year. To start your content game off strong, don’t be afraid to revisit your content budget and invest more in these cutting-edge technologies and content types.

Not only will your ROI increase, but your readership and sales will, as well.

Looking for the right copywriters to make your digital content shine this year? Visit our Content Shop to view our content packages and choose the one that’s right for you!

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How-to’s, Listicles, and More: Which Are the Most Readable Content Types?

If you’ve spent any time on the internet lately, you’ve probably noticed that some pieces of content are, well, hotter than others.

Two content types have really stood out as winners.

Specifically, the how-to and the list style, also known as listicle:

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Websites like BuzzFeed and Elite Daily use them as the virtual bread and butter of their marketing strategy. Even high-level industry leaders have started publishing more and more list-focused posts.

While this may seem like a mere coincidence, it’s a trend that’s been sweeping the content industry for the last several years.

The reason for this trend is that these list/how-to styled content pieces are intensely readable, which makes them perfect for an audience with a rapidly decreasing attention span, and an increasing focus on finding the material they want now.

Read on to learn more.

What's the trendiest content styles nowadays and should your posts follow these? @JuliaEMcCoy shares us the top 3 readable content types you should be publishing right now. Click To Tweet

 

How-to’s, Listicles, and More: Which Are the Most Readable Content Types?

Content That Cuts It: Lists, How-to’s, & Videos

While the consumers of 2000 were looking for simple information, today’s consumers want a more comprehensive experience.

Not only are they looking for information, but they’re also in the market for unique, high-quality content that entertains them and makes them feel special.

If this sounds like a tall order, you’re not wrong.

Creating content that works for consumers is more challenging now than ever before, and brands need to invest time and energy into learning to do it properly.

One great way to get started with this, however, is to learn what customers expect from content.

In the 2018 Adobe Consumer Content Survey, the 3 most important content characteristics are informative (89%), accurate (89%), and simple (66%).

However, among millennials, 41% still prefer entertaining content and 25% ranked “beautiful” as an important characteristic to see in quality content.

With these things in mind, it’s easy to see why content has morphed the way it has.

'In the 2018 Adobe Consumer Content Survey, the 3 most important content characteristics are informative (89%), accurate (89%), and simple (66%).' - @JuliaEMcCoy on the most readable content types today. Click To Tweet

Which 3 Content Types Are the Most Readable?

While the customers of yesteryear may have wanted simple, direct content, today’s customers expect brands to get to know them, figure out what their primary concerns are and then concoct content that addresses those things (“how not to mess up your lentils,” for example).

By keeping this in mind, you can craft highly readable content types that your readers will enjoy.

1. How-to Articles

Despite the fact that the how-to article has morphed in recent years, it’s still incredibly valuable.

People are as hungry for information today as they were 16 years ago, and the only difference is that today’s how-to’s need to be much more specific and targeted than they were way back when.

For example, consider these BuzzFeed headlines:

While these headlines don’t resemble the straight-up, verbatim “how-to” headlines of yesteryear, the message is still there.

If you dig a little deeper, it’s clear the first article is really, “How to get more use out of your wardrobe,” the second is “How to get rid of clutter,” and the third is “How to keep your kitchen clean.”

While the headlines may have been made more creative, the message is the same.

To make your how-to articles more exciting than they’ve ever been before, it’s important to think differently.

Because there is such a wealth of information available online right now, people are the most likely to interact with content that shows them how to do something differently. This is the key to making your how-to articles exciting, readable, and unique.

Each of the BuzzFeed articles mentioned above does this, and it’s part of what makes them so popular.

While how-to articles are already some of the most readable articles around, making them interesting, unique, and informative is a fantastic way to ensure that they provide as much value for your readers as possible.

Tool Tip: If you really want to be sure your “how-to” headline is unique, the Advanced Marketing Institute’s Headline Analyzer is one of my favorite tools.

advanced marketing institute headline

Every time I hit a 40-50% score result with my headlines, I see a ton of juice in shares, links and more come from my article.

My blog on 15 tactics for better blogging got over 160 shares, with a headline scoring over 40% on the AMI tool.

advanced marketing institute headline tool

Need some words to infuse might into your headlines? Check out our resource of 120 power words.

2. Lists

How-to’s and listicles can easily cross paths: simply because adding numbers to your headline gives it a higher psychological engagement factor.

Unlike the how-to, however, listicles are broader-reaching and not necessarily designed to teach people a skill. Because of this, listicles are a fantastic form of content for any brand that wants to build traffic and promote engagement.

Fun fact: numbers in a headline are like “brain candy.”

We’re simply attracted to read them more – and some say odd numbers do ever better.

For example, consider “14 Mouthwatering Vegan Recipes Even Non-Vegans Will Love.”

Featured on the BuzzFeed website, this article is promoted by Sabra, a prominent hummus company).

buzzfeed lists

While this article could easily just say “14 Vegan Recipes,” it would never get as much traffic if that was how the headline was structured.

Because this article quantifies the recipes as delicious by using the word “mouthwatering” and expands its audience by stating that even non-vegans will love the content within, it succeeds at creating diverse value that appeals to many readers.

Lists are beneficial because they appear as simple, straightforward piece of content that says, “Hey, this is brief and to-the-point. Read it now.”

'How-to's and listicles can easily cross paths: simply because adding numbers to your headline gives it a higher psychological engagement factor.' - @JuliaEMcCoy on the most readable content types today. Click To Tweet

3. Videos

While videos aren’t literally “readable” content types, they are a powerful form of media content that can help you get views and create traffic.

As it stands now, 65% of marketing executives call visual assets, including video, infographics, and photos, the center point of their brand story strategy.

What’s more, 51.9% of marketers say videos have the best ROI of any marketing content and shoppers who watch a brand’s video content are 1.81x as likely to make a purchase than people who only read text.

With this in mind, it’s clear that creating video is one of the most important things marketing professionals can do to expand their reach and connect successfully with customers.

To make your marketing videos stand out, follow these tips:

  • Ensure good production value. A shoddy online video isn’t worth much, and if you’re going to create video content, you need to be sure it’s high-quality. While you don’t have to be a video expert to turn out a good product, refusing to cut corners on the production ensures you’ll wind up with a product you’re proud to show off.
  • Understand your audience. If you don’t know who you’re trying to reach with your video, take a step back and don’t do anything until you do. Video isn’t something you can just toss out at random, and you need to understand who you’re talking to before you drop in.
  • Implement storytelling. To make your videos as effective as possible, use storytelling to create a compelling story arc. This makes your videos unique and ensures that they will capture the attention of your customers.

Even if you’ve never experimented with video content before, introducing it into your marketing strategy can help make your content as accessible as possible for your readers.

'51.9% of marketers say videos have the best ROI of any marketing content and shoppers who watch a brand’s video content are 1.81x as likely to make a purchase than people who only read text.' - @JuliaEMcCoy on video. Click To Tweet

The “How-to” Revolution: A Brief Backstory

To understand what has made lists and how-to’s the gold standard in informational content types, you need to look back at the evolution of content and, in fact, the internet, as a whole.

A mere 15 or 16 years ago, learning how to do something was a lot harder than it is now. YouTube wasn’t yet the go-to hub that it is today, and there were far fewer online articles that would tell you how to write a cover letter or how to cook lentils. Because of this, how-to articles soared in popularity.

Since then, however, information about virtually everything has become much easier to find. Not only can you find thousands of articles telling you how to write a cover letter, but you can also find tutorialsvideos, and even complete courses designed to help you master the skill. Because of this, the way people write content has changed.

While the how-to article and the list both remain popular, the way people write them has gotten much more specific.

For example, instead of a simple “how to cook lentils,” today’s articles are titled “5 Mistakes People Make When Cooking Lentils.” Instead of “how to write a cover letter,” you get “5 Ways Your Cover Letter Lost You the Job.”

While these articles may teach the same skills, they’re geared toward providing a more interesting, unique, and valuable experience for readers.

And knowing what it takes, down to the style and format of your article, to create interesting, informative content in today’s content-saturated and information-dense world will help you win online.

Readable Content = Effective Content

While content has morphed significantly in the last several years, the mission today is the same as it’s always been: to create valuable content that helps readers learn something.

Today, however, writers need to go deeper than they ever have before and work harder to create valuable, customized content that speaks directly to consumers. This ensures a great user experience and helps both the customer and the brand thrive.

To get help creating content you’re proud of, check out our expert Content Services today!

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