Content Marketing 2017: New Strategy Checklist

December 12, 2016

Jingle bells, jingle bells, 2017 is on its way! Have you made your resolutions yet? Oh wait – we call them plans and strategies now. If you are a business owner or an online marketer, my guess is that content marketing is going to make your list. In fact, ever since content made it to the top 3 list of Google’s search ranking factors, it was only a matter of time before some big-time strategizing was applied to it.

So, what’s new?

Conveniently, the Content Marketing Institute has been updating the community on the newest trends in content marketing and this year was no exception. Nit-picky as we are, we delved into the stats and compiled a checklist of things to consider when you draft your content marketing strategy for 2017.

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Content that Nailed It

While there is content that works well for most businesses, the trick is to pinpoint the type of content that performed well for your business. Start by looking at your Google Analytics and social media dashboards to assess the overall performance of your content before narrowing the analysis down to individual pieces of content.

Bear in mind that you are gearing all that content towards generating leads and increasing sales. Around 34% of marketers say that sales lead quality is the metrics that has really shown them the effect of their content marketing efforts. Therefore, have a chat with your sales team; ask them what content generated interest in your products or services and more importantly – what propelled sales.

It’s worth mentioning that blog posts are still viewed as the most lucrative pieces of content, with 52% of marketers saying that blogging will be their primary tactics in 2017. Therefore, if you have an active blog (and if you don’t, it’s high time you launched one), compare blog posts that lead to conversions to those that spurred engagement, such as social shares, tweets, comments, inbound links, etc. You can scale different types of posts for different purposes, depending on your content marketing goals.

Channels that Worked Best for Content Distribution

If you didn’t know the first thing about content distribution, you would naturally assume that having an account on each and every platform in creation is a great idea.

Luckily, it’s not.

As regards the popularity of different channels, CMI’s report shows that 38% of marketers view Facebook is the most important channel for content distribution. On the other hand, the staggering 91% claim that email is the most important, while LinkedIn comes second with 71%.

Of course, the choice of channels to explore depends on your industry and your customers. If you, say, run a home remodeling company, you could easily share content on Houzz, where your customers are likely to search for it.

Documenting Your Content Marketing Strategy

Back in 2010, content marketing was a fancy new coinage that a few people could wrap their minds around. As we approach 2017, only 4% of marketers don’t have a content marketing strategy, while 17% plan on having it in the next 12 months. It’s pretty clear how the majority feels about it.

And it doesn’t end there – 37% already have a documented content marketing strategy, and according to CMI, those guys are in the top-performing team!

So, let’s say this one together – documenting your content marketing strategy sounds legit.

Just think about it – it will bring about at least two positive things right from the start: show you exactly where your marketing dollars go, and keep your marketing efforts accountable.

By now, you probably have a funny feeling that we’re referring to content marketing strategy as a full-blown business strategy. That is because as many as 73% of marketers say they are planning to include content marketing into their ongoing business strategy, instead of running it as a series of separate campaigns. Now that is what we call a paradigm shift.

Content Marketing and Brand Awareness

Since the Penguin 4.0 roll-out, it’s been pretty obvious that brand awareness is becoming a huge thing for content marketing. More specifically, the focus has subtly shifted from promoting products and services to promoting brands. What’s more, boosting brand awareness is the 2017 goal for 79% of marketers.

However, 69% state that creating content that addresses the needs of their audience is still better than explicit brand promotion, and that’s what they will focus on in 2017. So what can you make of it?

We might have an idea or two.

Selling Through Storytelling

While integrating content marketing into the business strategy seems to be the most important element of a content marketing strategy, the second most important is the story delivered to the audience. Approximately 59% of marketers say that a clearly differentiated story is the most important element of their strategy for 2017. What’s more, 70% say they will work more on producing original content.

Since it seems that storytelling is going from strength to strength, think about how you can contribute to the overall narrative within your industry and local community. Do you run a small family business or a large corporation? Are you an advocate of green policies? Do you donate to charity? Can you integrate customer testimonials and case studies into your content? All of these, and more, shape the story you tell to your audience.

Think about it this way: if your brand is the protagonist in your story, you could construct the narrative around the protagonist’s core values. The protagonist goes around solving problems for the customers by using the tools at their disposal. In your case, the tools are your products and services. The trick is to reinforce the brand through the stories you tell.

Content Marketing Budget

Currently, an average of 29% of the total marketing budget is spent on content marketing. Approximately 39% of marketers even plan on increasing their content marketing budget. Whether you will follow suit depends on various factors, most of which we already touched upon. However, it is only fitting to mention one more factor – time.

Not unlike SEO efforts, content marketing can take some time to come to full fruition. That’s yet another reason why you need a documented content strategy with predictions and calculations for ROI. That way, you can compare the predictions with the actual results, and adjust your strategy accordingly as you go.

Better Internal Collaboration

With the recent game-changer in digital marketing – mobile indexing – it’s more obvious than ever that the content should lend itself not only to search engine optimization but also mobile optimization. And since mobile optimization has a lot to do with design as it does with the text copy, it’s vital that your content production and web design teams work together on creating content that both users and Google will love.

Additionally, since you will naturally want to scale the content to boost sales, your content production team should also receive input from the sales team. Work on improving the internal communication between different teams and nurture the idea of collaborative effort.

Customer Needs

You need content that touches base with your customers. By creating content that answers their needs and preferences, you are gently directing them towards seeing your products and services as the answer to their needs. The trick is not to try and create demand when there is none, but tailor the content to answer the existing demand.

A Goal in Sight

CMI’s research findings tell us that around 80% of the marketers have named lead generation and brand awareness as their content marketing goals for 2017, which is hardly a surprise. Content-wise, 76% will prioritize content quality over quantity.

The question is – what are your content marketing goals for 2017?