Originally published on Mashable by Shaftaq Islam.
In 2015, we reached peak content marketing. Even Gartner has content marketing entering the “trough of disillusionment.” That means we’re going to be suffering from the hangover as things get real. Marketers’ tenacity to stick with the game plan will be tested and we’ll see some “me too” content marketing efforts stutter and stop.
But the marketers who stay the course and focus on their strategy (and measurement) will emerge as long-term winners, both for themselves and the brands they represent. Budgets will continue to grow, but will require more justification than ever. 2016 will not be the year for the weak
As the hype (and the noise) dissipates, we’ll see plenty of opportunity for brands that want to rise to the top. Here’s a list of all the things we have to look forward to in 2016:
1. Integrations will become the norm
Over a billion dollars of venture capital have been poured into content marketing startups since 2006. Now that there are thousands of marketing vendors, CMOs’ lives have become more complex rather than simplified. Marketing tech vendors will have to integrate into existing systems and the larger players will become the systems that the smaller startups will have to plug into. Not everyone can build a unicorn system that does it all.
2. The rise of the communication platforms — WeChat, LINE and more
Already ubiquitous in Asia, communication platforms such as WeChat and Line will start taking over the rest of the world. And marketers will have to pay attention. Starting off with chat, these platforms have quickly grown into mega platforms for everything (including payments, transport and commerce). If most consumers’ lives are spent inside these platforms, that will be the next great canvas for content marketing.
3. Content will come to life
The written word and visuals aren’t going anywhere. But static content will start to be replaced by more interactive and immersive experiences (see virtual reality below). These “living” content experiences will encourage consumers to take action and spend significant time engaging with the brand.
4. The customer experience will be fueled by content
Over the last five years, content marketing has matured and content itself is now the fuel that powers the entire modern marketing engine. Brands will recognize the deeper value of content and put it at the center of the holistic customer experience they provide — every channel, every time, every customer.
5. Marketers will accept that they can’t — and shouldn’t — do it all
Knowing your limits is essential to success. Just because there are 3,000 marketing tech platforms doesn’t mean you use all of them. Similarly, instead of measuring everything there is to measure, marketers are moving toward key KPIs and away from vanity and catch all metrics. Marketers will realize that if they want to continue to grow their hard-won role (and budget) within their organizations they need to have a firm plan and goals to avoid mission creep.
6. Ad blocking will be seen as an opportunity for innovation
As more consumers download ad blockers (250M and counting), the ad industry has undergone a massive correctional shift. In 2016, marketers will really begin to move their digital ad budgets towards content, native advertising, influencer marketing and more innovative opportunities that swim in the same direction as consumer preferences and behaviors, not against.
7. Virtual reality will become a reality for marketing trailblazers
Video was all the rage last year and while its popularity will remain, innovative brands will follow suit with the likes of Hyundai, The New York Times and GE, and begin to experiment with virtual (or even augmented) reality, building dedicated destinations for high-touch campaigns.
8. Attracting and keeping top marketing talent will be more competitive
Top marketing talent that is both creative and analytical is very hard to come by, and with brands bringing more martech resources in house, the demand for people who have this unique aptitude is only going to increase. Companies on the prowl for that talent are going to have to think outside of the box in order to attract those individuals because perks like ping pong tables and unlimited vacation are no longer enough.
9. Focus will shift from engagement to goal-based outcomes
Over the last twelve months, we’ve seen marketers start to focus away from traditional publisher-centric metrics (page views, uniques, likes) to engagement metrics (attention minutes!). But next year we will see another significant shift to goal-based metrics. For most marketers, this means measuring conversions. Whether it’s a lead capture or signing up for sweepstakes/emails/coupons, conversion-based content marketing will get us closer to the holy grail of real marketing ROI; the ones that can measure multi-touch attribution will win.
10. CMOs and CEOs will work more closely (and CFOs too)
Now that content marketing is no longer a “nice to have,” but a “have to have” and marketers are proving real ROI from their efforts, CMOs and CEOs will become more aligned with their goals. Realizing the business impact that marketing has on an organization, CEOs will prioritize marketing and deeply incorporate it into the core strategy for overall corporate growth. Content marketing will help marketing finally become a profit center, and not a cost center. CFOs around the world will rejoice.