| Content Marketing, Design Trends

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2016-Content-Marketing-Trends2016 will continue to see content marketing dominate as a strategy that many brands use to attract and convert prospects.

In its infancy, most marketers focused on the SEO benefits of content marketing, driving the creation of overwhelming amounts of content. Content marketing will mature as a marketing tactic, forcing people to refine their strategy if they want to to see results from their efforts.

Quality over quantity

Quantity is easy, quality isn’t.

OK, it may seem hard to create any content on a regular basis, but it’s extremely hard to create memorable and engaging content. Yet in 2016, to get above all the noise, you’ll need to focus on stellar content.

Short blogs with little substance and few new ideas may attract clicks, but will not engage and convert real people.

Graphics that go beyond stock photos

One of the most important ways to improve the quality of your content marketing will be to invest in design and create content that is visually engaging.

Twitter used to be just text, but now it can include images and video. You’ve probably noticed how much more interesting Tweets are when they include imagery. The same is true in so many channels.

It’s very easy to do a quick search for a low-cost photo and to slap it alongside your post. But to stand out, you’ll need to think about more interesting imagery and a custom-branded approach. Consider taking your own photographs, customizing stock photos, or trying out different illustrative techniques. Work to develop a graphic style that builds a distinct brand identity for these graphics.

Same message, multiple formats

Most brands are speaking on multiple platforms: their own web site where they have complete control; but also on  social media channels where they need to adapt to the formats and best practices for each. You may find yourself experimenting with different media such as word-heavy blogs, graphic-rich infographics, along with video and traditional advertising.

Years ago, when traditional advertising was still king, designers knew the sometimes painful realities of creating the same ad in dozens if not hundreds of variations to fit the specs of every magazine, television or billboard placement. When it was well executed, a campaign is able to create a consistent look and feel and messaging from everything from: full-page, color magazine ads; to a TV ad that incorporates sound and movement; to an over-sized and quickly-read billboard. The production jockeys who pulled together all the variations were trained to learn about messaging, corporate standards, color, fonts, etc. and to know what is critical and what can be reshaped.

As everything turned inbound and digital, there was a brief moment where people thought all that production work had disappeared. But it’s back and just as nit-picky as ever.

For maximum impact, you need to tailor the size, shape and format of your content marketing promotional materials just like you did with traditional advertising. How can you capture attention on Twitter? What about Facebook? How do you promote a video using non-moving graphics, and how do you use video to promote a web site. The circle is endless and and an understanding of how that consistency matters will again prove important.

For larger companies who usually have marketing staff either in-house or on-retainer, it’s easy to overlook the manpower needed to generate all these items. But many smaller businesses may feel the pain of paying for all these versions that at first glance seem so similar.

More Scrutiny of Marketing Goals

One of the challenges with content marketing is measuring some sort of ROI. Is it enough that you’ve gained Twitter followers and Facebook likes? Is it enough to just increase web traffic?

Ideally, these are steps toward engagement or down a sales funnel. But they may not be.

It’s important to remember that just creating content is not enough. It needs to be tied to steps that push prospects to convert to customers (if that’s your goal).

I expect greater accountability in 2016 about the benefits and return of spending time and money on developing high quality content.

What about you? How do you see your content marketing changing in 2016?

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