In our last post, we covered the current state of content marketing, as well as market changes that impact you as a content writer.
Today we continue our discussion with five more industry forecasts you need to know to remain effective in both attracting and serving your clients well.
A QUICK RECAP:
In 2017 you can expect…
- Marketing departments will behave more like media companies.
- B2B brands will step up their influencer marketing game.
- Interactive, personalized content will boom.
- Marketers will adopt more content types.
[Again, here’s that full post.]
WHAT ELSE IS NEW
5. Lead nurturing will gain more attention.
Brands have gotten pretty good at capturing leads, typically by getting visitors to exchange their email address or other personal info for special access, a freebie, discount code, or resource download.
But like dating, it’s not enough just to get your crush’s phone number.
You have to make an effort to woo, engage, and build rapport with the object of your affection before they’ll say “yes” to your marriage proposal—especially if that proposal comes with a big price tag.
Likewise, marketers will pay more attention to lead nurturing: building a sense of familiarity and trust via value-packed content to earn their readers’ dollars.
As in all healthy relationships, an effective nurture approach means you’re giving more than you’re asking, balancing sales pitches with truly helpful content. Put another way, make sure you’re educating and solving problems for readers before you ask them to “Buy Now!”
For some perspective, here are a few ways I’ve helped clients nurture their leads in the past year:
- Crafting an autoresponder email series that kicks off when someone joins their email list. These are typically 5-10 brief emails featuring how-to guidance, culminating with a strong call-to-action.
- Crafting an email newsletter to keep that relationship going.
- Driving email subscribers back to the website and offering incentives to click, share, download, and more.
6. More companies will launch or upgrade their newsletters.
According to the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), 83% of surveyed B2B marketers currently use email newsletters.
Because email subscribers have asked to be included in your email list, cultivating this audience is your best chance of converting readers into buyers.
The CMI also notes brands have little control in terms of communicating with their audiences on social media. Fans and followers don’t always see your posts, you don’t own the platform, and you can’t follow up with those readers as easily, reliably or consistently as with email.
It’s no surprise, then, that a CMI survey found marketers rated email as their #1 success metric.
CMI founder Joe Pulizzi highlights two takeaways for 2017:
“First, more brands will launch targeted and relevant e-newsletters, which will become the key method to grow their audiences. Second, more brands will take a hard look at the e-newsletters they have and move them from ‘email as marketing collateral’ to ‘truly amazing and relevant customer experiences.’”
7. Video will continue to grow.
Youtube. Facebook Live. Instagram Stories. Snapchat.
Joei, a content marketer at Mention, writes that video ROI beats all other content formats, and 74% of all online traffic in 2017 will be video, per Syndacast.
How can freelance writers make money from the video trend?
You can help clients nail their video strategy by…
- Developing an editorial calendar
- Mining audience interests to identify compelling video themes & topics
- Writing scripts and talking points
- Adapting existing content for video
- Researching compelling stats, data, testimonials or case studies to back up the claims your client is making on video
- Creating companion resources (slides, summaries, checklists, worksheets, blog posts, etc.) that video viewers will want to download
8. Mobile first, not just mobile-friendly.
Forget mobile optimization. Now, everything must be designed for mobile first, writes Mike Templeman for Forbes.
It makes sense: More people surf the internet from mobile devices than desktops now.
What does that mean for writers?
Let me flip that question: Have you tried reading long blocks of text on your smartphone lately? It’s a pain. But eliminating long-form content isn’t the answer.
What works: Breaking long text into bite-sized chunks to reduce the overwhelm, go easier on the eyes, and make reading on a tiny screen more enjoyable.
- Make paragraphs super-duper short. (Have you noticed how often I use one-line paragraphs in this post?)
- Use subheads to visually separate sections. Your text should look like a series of short sections, versus one long dissertation.
- Use white space and images to break things up some more.
Whatever you do, don’t make readers digest a wall of solid text on their itty-bitty phone screens.
9. Get ready for a print revival.
How do you cut through the digital clutter competing for your audience’s attention? One idea that’s picking up steam is going back to print.
Perhaps you’ve noticed this already.
While none of my clients publish their own magazine, several actively pursue contributor opportunities in industry magazines. They pitch a story idea, the magazine accepts it, then the client sends me the synopsis and editorial guidelines to guest-write the piece on their behalf.
In all, these shifts all circle back to the first trend we covered: Brands behaving more like media companies.
BUILDING YOUR KNOW-HOW
How do you keep track of market changes impacting content writers? And how can you spot future shifts before they’re old news?
Resources to keep on your radar:
- Content Marketing Budgets, Benchmarks and Trends — industry reports published every year and for various segments by the Content Marketing Institute
- Subscribe to CMI’s Chief Content Officer (CCO) magazine (print delivery is free in the U.S.; digital version is free everywhere)
- Convince & Convert blog, podcast, or books (all good)
I’ve given you a lot to chew on. What questions remain for you? And what ideas or changes are you considering for 2017?