What 2016 Holds For Content Marketing

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Scale, tone, and visuals will be the rage in the digital content space in 2016.

Content marketing was more of a nice-to-have than a marketing must-have for many years. But the explosion of digital marketing over the past decade has brought content marketing along for the ride. And the popularity of the latter continues to increase exponentially.

In an age characterized by unprecedented access to information, content marketing functions as an excellent tool through which marketers can expand their company's audience and fortify their brand, while also providing value to that audience. Chances are that this trend will deepen further in 2016, along with the improvements to the execution and value of content marketing.

Here, Michael Brenner, head of strategy at content marketing agency Newscred, explains what marketers can expect of content marketing in the New Year. Brenner, author of The Content Formula: How to Measure the ROI of Online Content Marketing, also discusses the growing distinction between advertising and content marketing, and how the latter could prove more useful to the average small or medium-size business.

What key difference do you see coming to content marketing in 2016 as compared to last year?

2015 was largely leading and quick-follower brands jumping into content marketing and figuring out how to get it done effectively. In 2016 we're starting to see a consensus around content marketing approaches. Companies, from the start-up phase all the way to the largest brands in the world, [are]…thinking of developing a digital property where they think and act like a publisher. Content marketing is at scale in 2016. We're at the point where we've got businesses looking at how to do it. The leaders are well into it, and [others] are gearing up.

What burgeoning trend in 2015 content marketing will carry over as a major aspect of the practice this year?

The enormous amount of demand for visual content has become so important for brands. Companies that are doing content marketing are realizing that they can't just hire some writers or interns to come up with some Buzzfeed-type headlines. They really need to have the ability and the skill sets to create a consistent amount of visual content in the form of short explainer interviews, infographics, longer-form videos, and even podcasts. We're moving beyond text, and really starting to tap into the fact that we are such visual creatures.

Can you speak about tone? What trends in terms of tone of content do you foresee in the coming months?

A lot more brands are going to start realizing the power of being human, and showing human emotion. If you watched the Super Bowl ads over the last couple of years, you've seen this shift in advertising. This is a bit easier [to execute] as a brand with a big advertising budget, but now we're seeing brands do this on their content marketing publishing platforms.

What's the relationship between advertising and content marketing?

Advertising is great for companies that can afford it. The challenge comes in measuring [its] performance. Some companies think they have some form of directional analytics that point to [lift]. Content marketing is infinitely more trackable and measurable. That's why you hear terms like growth hacker marketing, which is really a way of saying “always do the marketing that works.” So, if you're a small company without a big budget, the best way to reach an audience of folks who don't know who you are is to create content that they're already looking for, and to help them,  educate them, or entertain them in some way. Content marketing and digital advertising is much easier than doing things like logos on stadiums, or Super Bowl ads.

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