Here is our list of trends and tips for blogging, producing video, running social media, designing graphics and writing longform pieces in 2016.

Digital marketing in 2016: Trends, tips and the new role of content

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Content’s expanding role

2016 will see an increased need for organic, tailored, personal content

Content is king, and it is expected to play an even bigger role in 2016 digital marketing. Developments in publishing, creative and targeting technology have made content creation increasingly accessible for all marketers, from small businesses to the largest enterprises. A strong strategy of creative, personal, interesting content is eclipsing the traditional departments of SEO management, advertising and creative. Ahead of the new year, here is Brafton’s take on the predictions for the expanded role of content, and our tips for making the most of it.

“Content is the new ad”

“Marketing” doesn’t have to necessarily mean paid promotion or advertising, especially since content can be cheaper, less limiting and more efficient than many paid ad formats.

According to Marketing Insider Group, 2016 will bethe age of ad blocking… As more and more consumers download ad blockers on their computers and cell phones, opt-out of telemarketing lists, and cut their cable subscription cords, marketers will start to see the futility of spending so much of their budgets on ads no one wants… This will drive an increase in content marketing budgets. It will force more marketers to consider how to create and publish content their customers actually want.

Content cuts through ad blockers, offers material that audiences want and drives qualified traffic and conversions. Traditional paid advertising still has its place in marketing, but content’s role is demanding an increasing share of marketing budgets for 2016.

“Content is the new creative”

Many organizations plan to increase their content marketing budget in the next year, which is leading to an increasing need for superior creative strategies to stand out from the rest of the pack.

Expanding on the role of the traditional “creative director”, content directors in 2016 will be tasked with communicating without directly selling, and doing so with converging, targeted media. Content should be educational, entertaining (see GE’s Jeff Goldblum video) or enriching, rather than a message centered around a direct sales pitch.

Content marketer tasks now include:

  • re-purposing content
  • entertaining
  • finding a new way to say something
  • finding creative ways of targeting audiences
  • engaging audiences with content

“Content is the new SEO”

With each update of Penguin, Google continues cracking down on SEO tactics in violation of their policy. And with every algorithm update like Panda and RankBrain, Google rewards high-quality content.

Forbes writes about the the decrease and coming obsolescence of black-hat link-building for SEO:

“By the end of next year, new Penguin revisions and an overall decline in opportunities to do this type of link building will make its ROI negligible once and for all, forcing more businesses to pursue… quality content publication that attracts and earns links on its own merit.”

Content is organic, cost effective and engaging. Many organizations know why it is so effective, but staying on top of how to make use of each facet of content marketing from year to year can be challenging. Here is our list of trends and tips for blogging, producing video, running social media, designing graphics and writing longform pieces in 2016.

Content marketing trends and tips for 2016

Challenge: Serve the right material to the right people… at the right time (… in the right place!)

As data and analytic technology continues to develop, we will be increasingly well-equipped to market to our audience’s needs, answer their questions and meet them at their specific stage in their journey.

Blogs / resource centers

  • We’re seeing a continuous increase of the influence of graphics and video. Take advantage of rich visuals to break up your text and catch your readers’ eyes.
  • Keep your blog mobile friendly with responsive design
  • Blog content can be lighthearted. Fun, entertaining content like stories, contests, recipes or Q&As are effective in drawing in your audience

Video

  • Video is one of the most engaging and popular forms of content. More than half of markers in a study by Invodo say that video offers the best ROI of all their content, and by the end of next year, almost three-quarters of all internet traffic will be video.ecommerce_video
  • As technology continues to erode barriers to entry in video marketing, formulating a strategy and budget is within reach of most businesses.
  • Get creative with your video.
    • Try out 360-degree video on YouTube (optimized for mobile or Google Cardboard)
    • Live-broadcast your events and publish webinars
  • You can read about our 3 rules to plan and execute your video content in 2016 here.

Social Media32318088-letter-f-vector-icon-with-flat-design-and-long-shadow

  • Make your videos social. One of the most notable trends in social marketing is the increase of videos in campaigns. Videos average 62% more engagement than photos, and their share rate increased 43% at the start of this year. Facebook sees an average of eight billion video views a day from 500 million users. 
  • Facebook has announced the release date for Oculus, and 2016 will likely offer many developments in social video technology.
  • Stay up to date on social search developments. Pinterest recently announced their visual search, which functions as a discovery engine that “can help users find things they didn’t know they liked.”Periscope_Circle_Logo
  • 2016 is also shaping up to be an important year for inbound message strategies.According to a Sprout Social report, brands have received 32% more inbound messages this year than last, but 82% of messages that brands receive go without response. Take the time this year to make sure your responses are personal, timely and helpful.

White papers / ebooks

  • White papers and eBooks help demonstrate your industry knowledge and expertise to a deeper level of the funnel.
  • As data becomes even more specific and detailed, use it to get to know your audience better.
  • While white papers are generally longer than some of your other content, keep your writing short. Use your word count to tell a complete story.
  • Keep your eBooks and white papers dynamic. Embedded pictures, charts and tables help to keep your readers engaged from start to finish.

Graphics and Infographics

  • The power of visuals for your content strategy shouldn’t be underestimated. 95 percent of marketers say graphics are more effective than plain text content. B2B brands using visuals and illustrations jumped from 69 to 76 percent in the past year.
  • Graphic design trends can be hard to pin down. A theme to keep in mind for 2016 graphics is usable, mobile, accessible.
    • Minimalism and flat/material design have established their place in graphic design for brands.
    • Make sure your designs can fit all formats, sizes, devices and media.
    • Full screen pictures, bold text, muted colors and retro sensibilities have been popular design standards this year, and will continue to be in 2016.
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For more information on social media trends to keep on top of in 2016, head to our Content and Coffee video here, and to read up on graphic design trends for the new year, take a look at our recent blog here.

Ben Silverman
Ben Silverman is a former marketing writer for Brafton. His writing experience dates back to his time reviewing music for The UMass Daily Collegian at UMass Amherst. Ben comes from a background in marketing in the classical and jazz industries.

Thoughts?

  • Marketing Sweet

    Thanks Ben for this brilliant article. Quality content with great visuals are the 2 keys to digital marketing success. Content has been the new creative for quite a while and I think marketers have understood the point that’s why everything is written with more empathy now more than ever.

    • Ben

      Agreed! Thank you, and glad you liked the piece.

  • Camilla Zajac

    Great post and an important pointer for businesses about the growing value of high quality content!

    • Ben

      Thanks for reading, and thanks for commenting, Camilla!

  • http://www.globalwebforce.com/ Hitesh Parekh

    I like the “organic” keyword in the thematic and its occurrence with this great write-up. Organic will refer to personalised content through insights on what do our audiences respond the most to which type of content. Then organic will trickle into imagery or visuals where it must look seamless to blend in — away from the heavy graphical manipulation of content marketing from 2012 or 2013.

    • Ben

      Good insight, Hitesh – thanks for taking the time to read and leave a comment.

  • Digisha

    Nice post!

    • Ben

      Thank you!