Nearly a decade ago, Seth Godin famously said, "Content Marketing is the only marketing left." While that is certainly an extreme view, it illustrates the continuously growing impact of content marketing for both business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) marketing efforts. As we're nearly through the first month of 2017, its good time to firm up your content marketing blueprint and ensure that your content marketing plans align with the biggest changes that will impact your success.

What's different in 2017?

  1. Research & Data Driven. The volume of content continues to rise, with over 70% of marketers saying that they will create more content in next 12 months. This means there's no more room for gut checks and assumptions about the needs of your ideal customers. The sheer volume of available content requires that you become extremely narrow focused on delivering the answers that your customers seek. This requires that you do your homework. Rather than focusing on what you want to say, you need to leverage websites like Buzzsumo as well as search engine marketing tools such as Google's Keyword Tool and power tools like Moz to better understand what your customers want from you. It's also a great idea to deploy powerful social media listening tools such as Brandwatch.
  2. Mapping Unmet Needs to Your Customer's Journey. Knowing what your ideal customers want to better understand is only the first step. Then you need to map these questions and unmet information needs to the most appropriate step in your customer's journey (see related article "How to Map Your Customer's Journey"). This is important because you need to fully appreciate where your ideal customers are in their buying journey. Does this particular issue drive their initial discovery of your business? Or is this particular content need further down the line when they are looking to engage with someone who can help them with their challenge? Have they already done all their research and are just looking for reasons to buy from the best business that solves their particular problem? Most importantly, what contributions could your raving fan customers make to this particular topic with just a little encouragement? Mapping unmet needs to your customer's journey gives much needed context to the content you're creating and therefore much more relevance.
  3. Mobile First. It's surprising to me that this is still a thing, but many companies are still focused on the laptop experience rather than the mobile one. With the bulk of your audience checking out your content via their mobile devices, all of your content developed today must be viewed via smartphones (not laptops) to ensure you're seeing what your customers are experiencing. If you need some stats to convince your team why all of your content marketing should be mobile first, I recommend this post, 31 Mobile Marketing Statistics to Help You Plan for 2017. My personal favorite is: Google says 61% of users are unlikely to return to a mobile site they had trouble accessing and 40% visit a competitor's site instead. (McKinsey & Company). Bottom line is that your customers expect to access your content marketing on their smart phones and are frustrated when they can't. Making your content freely accessible via mobile devices is not optional - it's a well-established expectation.
  4. Influencer Content Will Drive Relevancy. Last, but not least, the potential customers you're looking to attract would prefer to hear about you, not from you. This is an important distinction that explains the explosive growth of influencer marketing. Yes, your ideal customers want the information you've worked hard to develop. They would just prefer that they discover this content from a trusted friend, family member or respected influencer. People trust their peers' opinions of brands more than they trust what brands say about themselves. How much more? By as much as 92%! The simple truth is that today's consumer is savvy and has felt lied to by companies. There is a need for authentic conversation that is not typically being met by brands. Trust has faded and now more than ever, real people want to hear from real people about brands they should trust.

Lastly, if you're looking for additional help as you're developing your content marketing, be sure to check out the 20+ Best Free Content Marketing Tools and Apps (and How to Use Them), as well as this wealth of content marketing statistics if you need some stats to help you make your case for enhanced content marketing efforts in 2017. And if you find some really useful tools, please feel free to share them here in the comments section. I'm always looking for even more ways to deliver outstanding content marketing for our Trepoint clients.