Content marketers, take note: these strategies for 2017 should top your list of New Year’s resolutions.
The content marketing landscape is cluttered with tools and tactics that promise to improve your metrics, with new technologies emerging every year that aim to be the next big thing for your marketing efforts.
We asked several successful content marketers to share their advice for the upcoming year, and predict what emergent strategies and tools they expect to take center stage in 2017. Here’s what they had to say:
17 Content Marketing Strategies for 2017
1. Master the basics.
“A lot of content marketing success still comes down to mastering the basics, and that is not going to change in 2017,” says Katy Katz, Senior Consultant at SmartbugMedia. There are plenty of complex technologies you can use to build on and strengthen your strategies, but you must first establish a solid foundation.
It’s important for marketers to have a firm grasp on both the technical and creative sides of digital marketing. Katz suggests using Grammarly and Hemingway to achieve technical writing mastery, and Moz Keyword Explorer for a high-level approach to keyword suggestions and trending content.
2. Regain focus on quality.
In recent years, a greater emphasis has been put on the length of content. Consequently, Katz says, “A lot of content producers have prioritized length at the expense of quality.”
Katz further predicts, “A lot of content marketers will be spending 2017 going back through old posts that aren’t performing and making some choices about scrapping or improving them.” Enhancing existing content that doesn’t quite hit the mark is easier than starting from scratch, and can help improve website performance without the extensive resources required to produce brand new content.
3. Make data-driven content marketing decisions.
One of the biggest mistakes digital marketers make is blindly following trends and tactics without measuring the success of each in regards to their specific goals. Casie Gillette, Director of Online Marketing at KoMarketing Associates, stresses the importance of “evaluating performance based on real data and making content decisions based on real data.”
Collecting data and gauging results may be time-consuming, but it’s the only way to determine your successes (and weaknesses) and adapt your strategies accordingly.
4. Keep up with Google trends.
“You need your content to be found on page one of Google. Therefore, understanding what Google is looking for and applying proper SEO principles is critical to business success,” says Arnie Kuenn, CEO of Vertical Measures.
It’s no surprise that Google will continue to dominate internet search in 2017. But don’t assume you can sit back and relax once you’ve optimized your website’s content to rank above the competition. It’s important to keep up with Google’s ever-changing SEO policies so you can revise your existing marketing strategies as necessary.
5. Pay attention to Featured Snippets.
Speaking of trends, Featured Snippets have become an integral part of the Google search experience. When you type a question into the Google search bar, you’ll notice a short answer to your inquiry at the top of your results; this is called a Featured Snippet. Google pulls these concise paragraphs directly from top-ranking websites for each individualized search.
Britney Muller, SEO & Content Architect at Moz, firmly suggests that marketers evaluate which of their own keywords appear as Featured Snippets specific to their industries. Muller says, “Leveraging this data can greatly enhance your SERP real estate, amplify your digital strategy and establish credibility within your space.”
It makes sense. Google essentially hand-picks the most relevant responses to searches made by your target audience; why not use these featured paragraphs as a framework for your own content?
6. Take note of Google rankings.
One way to keep up with trends is by monitoring which strategies are rewarded by Google. For example, AMP (accelerated mobile pages) is an initiative aimed to enhance mobile web speed and performance, and has garnered favorable treatment from Google.
“Google is already rewarding AMP pages above non-AMP pages,” Muller says. “This is a big sign that Google is getting serious about rewarding good user experience, page speed, and mobile friendliness.
7. Take mobile-friendly content a step further.
While we’re on the subject of mobile-friendliness, Laura Roth, Director of Corporate Marketing at Conductor Inc., urges marketers to take their mobile strategy a step further by “creating each piece of content assuming the majority will read it on mobile…whether that’s emails, blog posts, guides, etc.”
As more and more users are accessing the internet exclusively from their mobile devices, content marketers should not merely adjust content formatting to translate easily on mobile devices, but should instead build each page for mobile devices specifically.
8. Limit popups.
At some point, we’ve all clicked on an ad for a mouth-watering recipe or a cute pair of shoes, only to be bombarded with prompts demanding our personal details.
Before implementing a pop-up marketing strategy to collect user data, think about the effect it will have on the consumer experience. While these types of forms can be effective for gaining valuable consumer info, Muller warns that “Pages with ‘intrusive interstitials’ (annoying popups) will be potentially penalized in search results beginning Jan 1.”
9. Experiment with progressive web apps.
Progressive Web Apps (PWA’s) are designed to give users an app-like experience on the mobile web.
“These in-browser (app-like) experiences cache instantly, making them lightning fast, and are also connected to Firebase, allowing for targeted push notifications to specific demographics,” says Muller. “If you’re a large brand and not yet thinking about PWA’s, I highly recommend you do so before your competition does.”
10. Be intentional about content marketing tools & technologies.
Implementing new technologies for the sake of staying on top of trends isn’t the most effective use of your time or resources. It’s better to tailor your strategies according to your specific audience and goals.
As Kuenn tells us, “Content marketing has become complicated, so mapping your processes and then applying tools to help speed up those processes” will help ensure a successful 2017.
11. Create video content.
Dave Rohrer, Founder of Northside Metrics, predicts, “After years of ‘this is the year for video,’ we might be getting there. With Snapchat, Instagram Stories and Facebook Live, there are more places and ways to reach audiences.”
Take advantage of this expanding visibility by optimizing your video content and finding creative ways to meet the needs of your consumers.
12. Extend your reach with celebrity influencers.
People have always been inspired and influenced by celebrities. But in this new age of consumer interaction, it pays to think outside of the traditional “endorsement” box.
Rohrer suggests, “This goes beyond just mentioning an influencer, and focusing more on actually engaging with them and leveraging their networks to gain a wider audience for your content.” Celebrities can not only demonstrate what they love about your products and services, but can also expand your reach by sharing their enthusiasm with an untapped market of fans and followers.
13. Build a cohesive message.
Many companies have a sales team and a content marketing team that function as separate departments — but both teams should be contributing to a cohesive, overarching brand message.
“Are you connecting your ad messaging, blog messaging, and social messaging? Does your marketing team have a cohesive strategy that the content marketing team is involved in?,” Gillette inquires. “If not, they should be.” In 2017, focus on building unity between departments, and consistency across different marketing platforms.
14. Nurture your leads.
“Many content marketers have figured out how to generate leads, but the clear majority do not know how to properly nurture those leads,” says Kuenn.
Even if you’re producing tons of relevant content that generates heavy traffic, at some point you’ll want your visitors to take action. Make it a point to focus on converting your leads to sales.
15. Don’t rely strictly on content marketing tools.
Rob Garner, Director of Content Services at iProspect, tells us his favorite tool can’t be bought. As he explains, “All the automation and tools in the world won’t help unless you have a focused, well thought-out strategy, complete with effective ideation and business process optimization.”
While sophisticated marketing tools can be a great way to embellish your strategy, you should also spend time thinking critically about your brand’s goals, and how best to execute them. Your own intuition and years of experience may prove to be the best tools in your arsenal.
16. Focus on the big picture.
As a digital marketer, it’s easy to get bogged down in the details of measuring traffic, leads, conversions, etc. But make sure to focus on a higher-level plan when communicating with clients.
“At iProspect, we focus a lot on helping our client understand what they have, versus what they don’t have. This helps them better grasp how different parts of a site are helping or hurting content performance,” Garner says. “Understanding the big picture makes for a better strategy, and increases focus for ongoing content efforts.”
17. Personalize your content.
“With consumer behavior constantly changing and more specific demands by the consumer in how they wish to interact with brands, it’s going to be even more important for businesses to segment and target their content marketing campaigns if they wish to succeed,” says Roth.
The best strategy for creating content is to consider the consumer journey. Who is your target audience, what problem are they trying to solve, and how can you provide them with the most relevant solution?
With these tricks of the trade under your belt, you’ll be well prepared to ring in a successful 2017. Just remember: the tools and technologies you employ should ultimately be determined by your brand’s specific needs, the consumers you are trying to reach, and the goals you wish to achieve.