At the end of every year, we take a stab at making some predictions for the next year. Before we share our 2018 predictions, let’s see how we fared last year.
At the end of 2016, we focused on content marketing, and predicted that, in 2017:
1. Content would become more personalized, with insights driving action
We predicted that personalization would receive greater attention in 2017, and we nailed it. 2017 was the year that B2B marketers and technology companies, realized the importance of personalizing the customer experience. It was the first year that Microsoft added a Customer Experience as a category in its annual Partner of Year awards at its Inspire conference – an award that Qorus was proud to win.
This focus on the customer experience highlighted some of the challenges related to marketing at scale – in particular, we were left wondering how to personalize created for hundreds or even thousands of readers.
Advances in data analytics and programmatic advertising have helped, with companies using tools like those offered by Adobe to use existing customer data to create look-alike targeting, shape remarketing strategies, and track customer journeys.
2. Customer experiences would translate into social strategies
We expected the focus on the buyer’s journey to continue to expand beyond email and website content and into social strategies, with smart marketers capitalizing on a “united front” approach to customer engagement.
It goes back to creating a consistent, personalized customer experience, using social to create a series of moments that shape the online experience your audience has with your brand.
We’re not sure this one progressed as much as we thought it would have done in 2017, but we certainly have seen how much power consumers hold over brands on social channels.
3. Sales would need more relevant content and better support
This was an interesting one, and we have seen some great conversations developing around the relationship between sales and marketing, especially when it comes to content. Mid way through the year we hosted a webinar on this topic.
We invited a panel of sales and marketing professionals from Microsoft, Analytics and Qorus to share their thoughts on how marketing teams could create content that sales teams would actually use.
The report is a great read – you can download it here.
4. Your competitors would be producing more content
This prediction certainly came true! “Content marketing” has become such a trend in the B2B world that it has created a new challenge: how do you cut through the noise?
Unfortunately, a lot of the content being created at the moment isn’t very valuable – which could actually damage your brand. It’s better to create less, high quality and unique content than to churn out hundreds of mediocre blog posts.
This cluttered environment is ripe for disruption, and online video platforms like Vidyard are claiming to help brands stand out from the crowd and accelerate lead generation.
5. SEO will be about more than just keywords
We predicted that keywords and backlinks wouldn’t be enough to guarantee search engine rankings. Again, we have seen this coming true.
Our marketing team uses HubSpot to manage our content and SEO. We noticed some great changes, including a new ‘Strategy’ area in the Content module. Here, we’re encouraged to create ‘Topic clusters’ to show search engines that we are creating lots of great content on topics that our customers are interested in.
We expect search engine algorithms to become even smarter in 2018, forcing marketing teams to pay more attention to content quality and consistency.