Recently, we covered content marketing trends that are set to take off in 2018.  Now that we’ve glimpsed into the future, it’s time to look to the past.

How did content marketing change in 2017?  What can we learn from this past year?

Lucky for you, we’ve done the research and have rounded up a few key content marketing takeaways from 2017 that will help fuel your 2018 strategies.  To make your holidays a little bit sweeter, we’ve got more content marketing takeaways on the way—so check back for part two in this blog series!

Alright, enough chitter chatter.  Here are the most important takeaways from the year in content marketing and what you need to know as we head into 2018:

Less is More

With the content marketing landscape becoming increasingly competitive, marketers are feeling the pressure to churn out content as fast as they can.  The only problem?  Quality tends to go down as quantity goes up.

What happens when you produce a lot of poor quality content?  We’ll tell you: emails don’t get opened, blog posts don’t get read, and your social media pages look like a ghost town.

To be successful in 2018, you must favor quality over quantity.  Sure, it takes more time to create top-tier articles and blogs, but your audience will be far more likely to pay attention to it and share it if they find it valuable.

If you’re determined to ramp up your content production, then you need to do so without sacrificing quality or consistency.  Otherwise, stick to your status quo and focus on putting as much value as possible into your content.

Long-Form Content for the Win

Ask a dozen content marketers what the ideal length of a blog post should be and you’ll probably get a variety of answers.  While short-form content is important for things like social media and emails, long-form was clearly the winner for blogs this past year.

According to new research from Orbit Media, the average blog post is 1142 words long—that’s a 41 percent increase from 2014!  Unsurprisingly, the time it takes bloggers to write these posts has increased as well, from two hours and 24 minutes in 2014 to three hours and 20 minutes in 2017.

Why are marketers now focusing on creating long-form content?  It’s simple; longer blog posts get more likes, shares, links, and better overall results.

Here are a few big reasons why your 2018 content strategy should include long-form content:

  • Drives organic traffic to your website. Audiences demand longer content that is more in-depth and comprehensive.  When your audiences consume content that is valuable, they naturally want to share it, which boosts your organic traffic.
  • Rank higher for long-tail keywords. When you dive deeper into a subject, you are more likely to use long-tail phrases.  These have low competition in search engines and drive targeted traffic to your site.
  • Provides your audience with greater value. This should be the primary reason why you spend time creating longer, in-depth pieces.  By creating helpful guides and eBooks, you can solve your audience’s problems and instill trust in your brand.
  • Establishes authority in your niche. The more comprehensive and detailed your content is, the easier it is to demonstrate your expertise and establish yourself as an authority in your niche.

If 2017 taught us anything, it’s that putting your audience first always pays off.  Although long-form content may take more time, these benefits make the process worth the effort.

It’s Time to Hop on the Video Bandwagon

2017 was the year many small business owners flexed their video marketing muscle.  From live streaming to native video advertising, more brands began including video content in their marketing strategies.

What’s all the hubbub about?  Consider the following statistics:

  • 64 percent of consumers say that watching a marketing video on Facebook has influenced their decision to buy a product.
  • According to Cisco, video will make up more than 79 percent of all internet traffic by 2018.
  • Facebook recently announced that people held 17 billion video chats on Facebook Messenger in 2017—twice as many video chat sessions from the year prior.
  • 79 percent of companies plan to increase their video advertising efforts in 2018.
  • An optimized video increases your brand’s chance of ranking on the front page of Google by 53 percent.

As online video continues to grow, small brands must tap into this powerful storytelling medium.  If you need some inspiration, check out our favorite video marketing strategies from successful brands and learn how to use them for yourself!

A Documented Strategy is a Recipe for Success

Content marketing is a small business’s best friend.  Not only can it work for those with small budgets, but there is simply no better way to connect with your audience and grow your brand.

According to the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), 78 percent of marketers say that their content marketing is successful in 2017 (compared to 70 percent in 2016).  When asked which factors contributed to their success, 75 percent of marketers cited their strategy as the top reason.

It’s obvious that putting strategies in writing is the best way to maximize ROI, yet, only 38 percent of marketers have a documented strategy.  What gives?

One problem could be that some marketers simply don’t know how to plan and write down their strategy.  If this sounds familiar, then check out CMI’s 16-page guide that will walk you through the process.

Honesty is the Best Policy

According to a 2017 study from Eldeman, consumer trust and confidence in business, government, and media reached a record low this year.  This isn’t particularly surprising, given that research over the last few years has indicated a growing distrust of brands and advertising.

But with “fake news” causing no small amount of controversy this past year, companies are now taking extra care to be transparent and ethical.  What’s the most effective way to inspire trust in your brand?  With your content marketing, of course.

Take Patagonia, for example.  The outdoor clothing company knows their target audience and uses the power of storytelling through interviews and videos to promote sustainability

In fact, Patagonia recently made headlines for standing behind their core values. The company sent holiday shoppers to a black landing page which had one important message:  The President Stole Your Land. 

patagonia.png

The message was directed at the Trump administration for their decision to scale back national monuments.  While taking a stance on social issues can be risky for brands, this move paid off big for Patagonia with a spike in sales and boosted brand loyalty. 

Conclusion

Content marketing is constantly evolving.  If you want to gain a competitive edge in 2018, your strategies must evolve as well.

You don’t need to rely on guesswork in your content marketing strategies.  By reflecting upon the year and taking a closer look at all that has changed in 2017, you will have the valuable insight you need to make strategic decisions.

Did you find these key content marketing takeaways helpful?  Let us know on Facebook and be sure to check out more takeaways in part two of this blog series!