The Biggest Content Marketing Trends To Focus on In 2016

The Biggest Content Marketing Trends To Focus on In 2016

Ever hear the term “content fatigue?”

It’s the idea that there’s so much content that people can’t even consume it any more. There’s too much to read, too many social media posts, and too many articles that appear when you Google something.

The amount of content out there is overwhelming.

But the fact is— content marketing works. It drives traffic to websites, builds authority, and can drives leads down sales funnels.  But as we move towards 2016, we need to find ways to blow past content fatigue so that we’re consistently impressing, educating, and delighting our audiences.

In the coming year, we can beat content fatigue by challenging ourselves when it comes to how we think about marketing. To that end, I’ve outlined 6 content marketing trends you should be prepared to capitalize on in 2016. 

I’ve also reached out to a number of my marketer and entrepreneur friends and asked them to share their thoughts on 2016 trends. You’ll find great information and insight from them throughout this post.

1. Beyond The Blog Post

Blog posts are the perfect vehicle for relaying information quickly and succinctly. You can read a blog post while you’re waiting in line. Unfortunately, the traditional 500-800 word blog post isn’t compelling enough to people anymore.

These days, content marketers need to think beyond simply publishing blog posts week after week. You need to think bigger in terms of the purpose behind the content you create, the repurposing opportunities that exist, and the life and evolution of the content itself.

“Your content needs to bring something new to the conversation in 2016. It’s not about simply producing content and having a blog anymore– you need to be a unique voice with powerful insights if you want to stand out from the noise.” — Kaleigh Moore, Freelance Copywriter at

“Instapage focuses heavily on content marketing. We believe that it a primary element in raising brand awareness. Interactive content and GIF’s will prove to be a powerful trend. Our use of interactive content has already improved our engagement and we foresee this continuing through 2016.” — Kieran Daniels, Director of Business Development at Instapage

“I really think that companies that will move away from the standard “must-publish each day/week” approach and choose the “Opposite Framework” will win. Creating & promoting long-form 10x content that provides real value not only to the target audience, but also to influencers will make the difference.” — Alin Vlad, Director of Online at Heimdal Security

Before you consider producing a blog post, you need to think about how you can promote that content and re-use it in different ways (ebooks, graphics, emails, social media updates, etc.).

For example, when I created Team Building Games for When I Work, I wasn’t ok with coming up with a link-baity title and throwing together 5 or 6 lame ideas. Instead, I planned and strategized and packaged 7,000+ words into an awesome, compelling content hub.

2. Deeper Personalization

Ever feel like an article or ad is speaking directly to you? It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, you find it extremely compelling.

Content marketers need to be more specific with the topics they come up with if they want to actually connect with customers. General topics are boring. Personalized topics that readers can actually relate to and use will be much more valuable and effective.

“People are getting smarter about how they get information, and are weeding out things that don’t apply to what they want when they want it, so I think personalization is going to be a lot more critical in the coming years. Success will derive from TRULY understanding the customer journey and targeting messages that speak to needs at whatever stage they’re in.” — Katrishia Velez, SEO and Content Manager at Kroll

“Businesses should understand the importance of going after the “long tail” when it comes to content marketing. Niching down won’t help you target your demographic, it’ll help you HYPER-target them.” – Dan Scalco, Director of Growth at Digitalux

For example, if I was heading up content marketing at a customer support SaaS company, I wouldn’t just publish general topics over and over again about customer support. Instead, I might publish something more personalized and specific to the needs of my audience.

Consider the difference between these two posts:

  • 15 Ways To Become a Better Customer Service Pro (yuck)
  • How To Use Language & Communication Psychology To Put Out Fires & Delight Your Most Challenging Customers (better)

One is a simple click-baity article, though it could be full of good nuggets, while the other specifically targets the type of language a customer support pro would need to use to excel in their job.

3. In-Line Content Upgrade Offers

When was the last time you clicked on a Call-to-Action (CTA) at the end of a blog post?

Traditional lead gen CTAS (typically placed at the beginning or end of a blog post) are not as effective as they once were. People skip over them. You can’t just slap on the same ebook CTA to the bottom of all your blog posts and expect to grow your list.

“If your content marketing lead gen tactics are on auto-pilot, you’re doing something wrong. As a content marketer, it’s your job to test and implement new tactics that can fuel sign-ups and growth. Don’t just rely on the same old blog RSS opt-in form that you’ve always used and expect your list to grow dramatically. Instead, think of new ways to fuel list growth. My favorite new tactic that I’ve been testing is simple: create additional resources (checklists, worksheets, templates, etc.) and bake them organically into blog posts. Make sure they are uber specific and relate directly to what you’re writing about. They don’t have to be complicated or require a lot of additional resources to create…they just have to offer a bit more value than what you’re offering in the post itself. Give them away for free in exchange for email addresses and promote the hell out of them.” — Sujan Patel, Founder at Content Marketer

You have to do more work to develop content upgrades that relate to your blog post. Then you have to offer those content upgrades naturally within the text of your blog posts. CoSchedule does a good job of this – they are constantly offering checklists and templates that you can download that add even more value to their blog posts.

4. Promotion-Driven Content

In addition to developing high-quality content that actually helps people, it’s also important to develop promotion-driven content. This simply means strategically developing content that you can actually promote.

You can do this by including quotes from influencers, mentioning people or tools, or making giant lists that include a lot of people. If you do these posts right, you should be able to email a handful of people within seconds of your post going live to let them know you included them.

For example, if you’re writing a guide on how to plan an employee holiday party, you can create a list of company culture experts and event planners.

Then, you can email each person on this list, and ask for some insights, which you include in your guide. When the guide is published, you can email those who shared their insights, and encourage them to share the guide with their audience.

“I think outreach is pretty crucial if you want your content to gain traction.  By contacting companies/individuals that you mention in your articles, as well as industry blogs, you can really get a huge boost to your content’s exposure.” — Kane Miller, Founder at DoSocial

“B2B content and marketing teams need to work more closely with account management and sales in two areas: topic development and distribution. Client-facing teams are instant, untapped distribution channels that are currently underutilized. Practical tips: integrate content marketing with cold emails and lead nurturing campaigns, to build relationships at scale.” — Ritika Puri, Founder at Storyhackers

When creating content that’s promotion-driven, I recommend making it 80% educational, value-based content, and 20% promotion-driven. BUT it’s important that the promotion-driven content that makes up that 20% is still valuable and authentic. It can’t be overly promotional or disingenuous. It has to be real.

5. Education-Focused Content

When you want to know something, how often do you turn to Google? I do it all the time.

Educational content has always worked. When you create something that solves people’s problems, it’s likely to be successful. Additionally, Google likes to give people answers, so if you’re able to create a post that provides the best possible answer to a search query, you’re likely to get some organic traffic.

“Old standbys, like email and educational content, will still work as we move into the future. People are still checking their email, and they’re still Googling around for articles that can answer their most pressing questions. When I want to know which curling iron to buy, I want to read a great article that gives me information on my options.” — Emma Siemasko, Founder, Stories by Emma

“Companies should stop going after high traffic keywords with their blog posts and switch their strategy to go after more long-tail search traffic. In doing this while at ThinkApps, I was able to increase their organic traffic from 0-12k unique visitors a month in just 6 months. It’s less competitive and if you focus on matching content to search intent, it will also drive qualified leads for your company. For example, when I was at a software development company, one article we wrote that proved valuable for us was content about iOS vs. android development. If you think about a buyers search intent when they’re searching for something like this, they have typically decided that they’re going to build an app but they just need help deciding which platform to build on first. By providing valuable content early on in the decision making process, that person is more likely to come back to you for your services because you built trust with them by helping them weigh the pros and cons of each platform.” — Benji Hyam, Director of Growth at Everwise

“The trend is for people to produce more low quality content – which gives smart content marketers the ability to cut through the crap with really strong, authoritative, helpful content.  Throw away the rubbish and write stuff that genuinely helps people.  I’m reading more and more comments about how articles are providing nothing more than regurgitated information and not enough new content.” — William Harris, VP of Marketing & Growth at Dollar Hobbyz

In 2016, content marketers have an opportunity to produce some really awesome education-focused content in the form of email drips, courses, and other types of advanced media.

Tools like GetDrip, ConvertKit, and Teachable make it easy to create educational content that will resonate with your audience.

6. Email Marketing

Email marketing can help you reach everyone. In fact, according to Pew Research, 92% of adults use email.

Additionally, people like receiving emails from companies. According to Nielsen, when asked to opt-in to receive updates from a company 90% of people chose to receive those updates via email, compared to 10% that wanted updates via Facebook. 

Email is still one of the best ways to communicate directly with people, but you have to be strategic and proactive in your efforts. You have to commit to building your list, but you also need to be ready to consistently communicate with the people that sign up to receive your updates.

Of course, you also need to have something to say. Email requires that you get back to basics, creating well-designed emails that are easy to read.

Tools can help. Email marketing tools like GetDrip and Campaign Monitor can help you easily create all kinds of email campaigns.

7. Content Repurposing

As we enter 2016, many of us will have built up an immense library of content. Instead of automatically creating new content, we should ask ourselves how we can improve on what we already have. Maybe we can refine an article so that it’s more likely to appear in Google search results. Perhaps we can turn an eBook into an email course.

“If content is a coveted business asset, then try to imagine ways you can get the most mileage from it. One great topic can provide the foundation for a multitude of content. A webinar or podcast can be transcribed and turned into various blog posts and posts that are perfect for Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. A long video can be edited into short-form content that is published to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Many organizations complain that they have the lack of resources or budget to create content. And while there is such a thing as too much content, or a lack of quality content, businesses that think about re-purposing material on various channels have a better shot of extending their brand and ending up in the never-ending cascade of content in a social stream.” – Taylor Pipes, Content Writer, Evernote

In 2016, take a look at content that’s already performed well on your blog, and figure out ways to repurpose or reuse it. Maybe it can become an email course or an eBook. Look at content that didn’t perform well, but has potential. See if you can find opportunities to improve how it ranks in SERPS, or if you can repromote the content on social media.

Tactics to Beat Fatigue

As we approach a new year, we need to take a step back and look at where our content efforts currently stand, and where we want to go in the future.

We don’t want people getting tired of our content. We want to make sure that we’re continuing to be innovative. We want to use tactics that lead to results.

What do you expect to see in 2016? What content marketing trends should we incorporate into our strategies?