As 2017 looms just around the bend, it’s easy to predict that content marketing will seriously be on the rise.
In 2016, we saw big moves in favor of content marketing: growth of the industry as a whole, and national brands opting for content marketing over traditional ads and media.
Content marketing is already more impactful than traditional advertising – it costs 62% less, and generates 3x the amount of leads that traditional ads do.
Influencer marketing was realized when, in 2016, CNN made the move to buy a YouTuber’s entire presence, channel and mobile app (Casey Neistat, who had amassed 6 million organic followers), for a cool $25 million.
Buying influencers and exclusivity to their engaged audiences will be happening more in the New Year, as predicted by top expert Sam Hurley in our expert predictions roundup.
If you’re a serious content marketer, you can bet that your skills, audience, and presence will grow in value in 2017 – you might even be approached for a major buyout! So, with content marketing growing as a mainstream form of brand marketing more than ever, how can you go into 2017 putting your best content foot forward?
Fortunately, we’ve got your complete road map right here. Read on to learn best content marketing tactics for the New Year (and beyond)!
8 Proven Ways to Win at Content Marketing in 2017 & Beyond
Whether you’re looking to enhance your content, earn more visibility and serious ROI in the New Year, or focus on attempting to rectify a less-than-perfect user experience, these eight tips can make your content more successful in the coming year.
1. Combine your written content with compelling visuals
Sure, adding a photo to your blog post makes it pretty, but it also does so much more if you take that visual and go the extra mile. Recently, at Express Writers, we’ve started asking our lead designer to come up with handmade Adobe Illustrator designs for all our featured blogs (like this one). The difference? More social shares, mentions of, and traction on all of our blogs.
Here are a few quick stats about the benefits of adding visual content to your written pieces:
- Adding colored visuals to a post makes people 80% more willing to read it
- People remember 65% of what they see and only 10% of what they hear
- For 34% of marketers, visual content is their most critical asset
- When content has a relevant image, it earns 94% more views
Remember that today, “content” doesn’t just mean written content. Instead, it’s a broad term that also takes into account visual, audio, and video material that can enhance and improve the written content you publish.
With this in mind, find creative ways to start adding visual content to your written content. For example, publish an information-dense infographic in place of your standard weekly blog post or add a tutorial video to your next how-to post. Use video content to review products, provide customer service, or showcase new offerings, or include a series of in-depth screenshots in your next piece to educate and uplift readers. You can even grab a GIF or two to emphasis a point with a movie scene that everyone relates to.
In addition to enhancing your conversion rates, this creative, engaging, visual approach will also make your content more exciting and valuable to your readers.
2. Target your content more appropriately to specific audiences
Many people mistakenly believe that broader content will perform better online when, in fact, the opposite is true.
The more targeted you can get with your content, the better. You’ll be able to use long-tail keywords, which are easier to rank for. And, as a whole, more targeted content appeals to a smaller segment of the audience. While this may seem like a negative thing, it’s a fantastic way to bring in more qualified leads and make more sales.
When your content is directed at a particular set of people, rather than anyone who passes your way, your conversion rates will naturally be higher, and your content will naturally be more successful. What’s more, you won’t face such stiff competition from the “content sea” – the millions of pieces of content available to the public on a daily and weekly basis.
With all of this in mind, develop target personas to specify who you’re writing for, and keep them current enough that they reflect the outlook and problems of your actual audience segments. Update them as needed for maximum accuracy.
3. Make your content powerful enough to retain readers for life
Great, you have readers. Now what? You have to work hard to retain them, with better and better content in their niche interests.
This is a 10x goal of content you should be striving for. Sure, it is a big one – but if this is your goal, you won’t be publishing sub-par content.
Even if you’re publishing compelling and relevant content, it’s not worth much unless it’s inspiring your readers to stay with your brand for life. In 2017, the single best way to win at content marketing is to focus your efforts on user retention.
Here’s a fun fact to inspire you further. In addition to the fact that it’s easier to sell to an existing customer than it is to sell to a new one, loyal customers are worth ten times as much as their first purchase, which means it’s absolutely in your best interest to keep them around!
With this in mind, do the following things to boost your customer retention rates:
- Post quality content on a regular basis
- Engage with your readers by responding when they post, share, comment on, or like your content
- Develop an easy way for your readers to subscribe to your content
- Showcase old posts and favorite posts in a convenient manner so that readers can access them quickly
- Offer incentives for your readers, including free content, giveaways, and prizes
- Use a targeted and specific email marketing campaign to help your readers develop a relationship with your content
4. Encourage your readers to submit content (user-generated content)
What better way to focus on customer retention, engagement, and content creation than by encouraging your users to submit their own content?
User-generated content, or UGC, has a long history of inspiring trust in would-be customers (90% of customers report that their buying decisions are based on online reviews). It can also go a long way to populate your sites with quality content and help new customers engage with your brand.
Also, when you stop and realize that 80% of all online content is user-generated, it only makes sense to encourage your audience to create content.
To create user-generated content for your company, encourage audience members to submit photos, videos, or updates about how they use your products, goods, and services. Alternately, ask for their feedback on your top social platforms and encourage readers to share your posts and videos.
Burberry, founded in 1856, increased their e-commerce revenue a whopping 50% year-over-year when they launched The Art of the Trench website in 2009 (the idea of young CEO Angela Ahrendts, who took over in 2006 and decided to re-engage the older brand with online audiences). The success behind the site? UGC. Users could upload to and/or comment, on the site, on pictures of people wearing Burberry products.
Take some inspiration from Burberry and think of your own brand-centric hashtag or profile (or go all the way and do a site!) that is dedicated towards encouraging your fans to engage – upload, comment, bring their own content. All these things will go a long way toward improving your overall content strategy.
5. Use social media to promote your content, creatively
Content is only worthwhile when people can find and interact with it. That said, it’s essential to promote your content. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can be indispensable for this, but you’ll also need to take addition steps like guest posting and encouraging users to share your content for you.
But, since today’s social platforms are so saturated with other brand’s presences, you want to stand out. Think of starting a Twitter Chat, or posting creative, unique social posts that aren’t found anywhere else. Here’s an example of how to do that: have your team members, people that work in your company, give you a list of customer questions that you can create social media posts around. Custom graphics, unique blurbs fitted to each platform type (hashtags for Instagram, short sentences for Twitter), can all work to attract your fans and promote your brand organically via social media.
These simple steps can go a long way toward spreading the news about your content around the web and ensuring that it is seen by all the people it deserves to reach.
6. Place a renewed focus on email marketing
In the last 12 months alone, BuzzFeed has added more than 1 million subscribers to their email list. What does this say about the claims that email marketing is dead and defunct? It dispels them, of course.
According to Content Marketing Institute, 91% of B2B marketers rank email as their top channel for distributing content and ensuring overall marketing success.
With this in mind, focus on developing targeted and valuable email campaigns in 2017. Not only will it benefit your readers – but it will also give you the metrics and insights you need to develop a more successful content presence in the coming year.
To ensure that your email marketing remains successful, follow these quick tips:
- Write compelling subject lines that make your readers want to click
- Address the reader directly with the personal “you”
- Keep it short, snappy, and valuable
- Make your links clickable and your CTAs obvious
- Segment your lists for a more personal experience.
- Test your campaigns for optimum performance
- Split test your emails for maximum ROI
7. Print isn’t dead; utilize it for a stronger presence
While it may seem like print content is at risk of dying in the digital age, many publishers have turned to print content to enhance and improve their reader’s experiences. How cool is that?! Print is coming back, in an age of a saturated digital market.
Airbnb, for example, recently released an exclusive Airbnb mag. Other brands are following suit.
While you don’t need to go all in and develop a personal magazine of your own, it is a very good idea to find a way to incorporate print content into your daily publications, be it in the form of brochures or flyers for our local business. We’ve been successful creating custom flyers for events we’ve attended.
8. Hire expert writers to develop your content
Nothing will ever replace expert content, and it’s more important in 2017 than it’s ever been before.
To get the most from your content marketing, hire an expert, authoritative writer that knows your niche to craft copy that empowers your brand online.
In addition to turning out higher-quality content, you’ll also relieve some of the content burdens you and your brand likely feel. It’s a smart business move and an effective way to get quality content that will last you a lifetime.
Here’s to Your Best Content Marketing in 2017
If your goal is to dominate content in 2017, our eight tips will help.
From boosting your SEO to keeping your readers at the center of the content experience, there are dozens of things you can do to enhance your written content and make it more successful across the board.
Here’s to ultimate content success in the New Year!