Fergus Stoddart, managing partner at content agency Edge, shares his view on where he thinks content marketing efforts will be focused in 2017.
As we launch into another frenetic year of content marketing, it would be remiss of me not to share my thoughts on the big themes I see happening in 2017. These are driving our client strategy and planning with clients this year. Here’s to fun, health, happiness and hopefully some progress.
1. Brands are going to be re-working their brand proposition as many will work out that their brand is not fit for storytelling. They now feel boring and irrelevant. Marketers will put more emphasis on the “why”, looking to inject more purpose-driven human brand values that support constant content and conversation, and that connect into popular culture.
2. Welcome in the bulldozers. Organisations will be breaking down internal silos to harness the fluid nature of content and get it working harder. A customer-centric approach will see departments collaborating on content strategy across brand and advertising, sponsorship, CRM, ecommerce and PR. This will be underpinned by the need to drive a return on their investment in digital marketing tech stacks. There’ll be more emphasis on education and stakeholder engagement as larger organisations break down the barriers between teams. Calling on strong personalities and leaders to drive this change!
3. “Oh shit...the funding is drying up ’cause I can’t prove any real value in my content.” Flaws in content marketing measurement will lead to brands moving away from measuring their content’s reach and engagement to measuring the impact of each piece of content along the customer journey to drive to a ROI from a change in customer behaviour.
4. But wait a minute…more brands will be taking a step back, reviewing their content strategy, realising that half of what they are doing is either average or doing absolutely nothing for their brand or sales. Embarrassed by what’s out there in the public domain, many will undertake a content audit as they try to come to grips with what they have, do some QA and reign in the disparate content efforts that have happened over the past few years. Separate microsites, landing pages, apps and tools that have been housing content will be shut down and content will be repurposed and loaded into central content-management systems. Watch out for smug IT people saying “I told you so.”
5. Brands will ramp up the investment in the amplification and distribution of their content to gain reach. After a few years of building out their content libraries, emphasis will shift to getting eyeballs on that content. As brands wean themselves off traditional media, we will see much more significant influencer partnerships and a focus on harnessing their superfan peers to gain reach amongst their chosen tribes.
6. Every piece of content will have a specific purpose. The drive to mapping and improving customer experience will lead to more sophisticated use of content. Content creation will be move from timeless hygiene content developed primarily for search, to planning content for specific customer touch points along a sales funnel.
7. The continued success of content marketing will see more budget allocated to content efforts. Brands will scale their effort chasing the utopia of one-to-one content with their chosen audiences. The need to create content to engage with multiple audiences along different customer journeys will fuel this investment increase.
8. But wait isn’t there too much content? Yep...at the same time, the sea of content at consumers’ disposal will force content marketers to create less content, put more into creativity and higher production values to break through the surface and stand out. Advertising creative will continue its morph into hero brand films at the top of the content tree.
9. The failing ad-driven commercial model for media brands and publishers will force consumer and trade media companies to look for a lifeline. Brands will partner or purchase media companies to start owning the conversation amongst their customers and build authority.
10. The tsunami of digital media dominance from the likes of Facebook, Instagram, Google, Snapchat, LinkedIn will continue but with a much greater focus on social commerce.
By Edge managing partner, Fergus Stoddart