2016 has been a year of learning for everyone practicing content marketing. Here at Qorus, it’s been no different. Our marketing team made great strides in 2016 and has been hard at work preparing for an even more successful 2017.

As part of our planning process, we spend time exploring the major trends that we think might impact our business and our clients’ businesses.

In the spirit of giving, here are 5 content marketing trends we’ve uncovered that are worthy of your attention in 2017.

1. Content must be more personalized

Personalization will be receiving greater attention in 2017, and rightly so. According to Asend2’s recent Data-Driven Marketing for Personalization Report, 70% of the respondents believe that personalizing the customer experience is the most important goal of a data-driven marketing strategy. But 32% said that creating this personalized experience is the most significant barrier to data-driven marketing success

It’s all about turning insight into action

The key to developing a stronger, more personalized experience for your audience is to build a deep understanding of them (we use personas for this) and the different journeys they take as they engage with your brand. Once you know this, you can begin to plan, map and tailor your content accordingly. HubSpot has some helpful content mapping templates that we highly recommend.

Take a look at how Qorus handles content marketing in this eBook

2. Customer experiences will translate into social strategies

Focus on the buyer’s journey will continue to expand beyond email and website content into social. Smart marketers will be able to capitalize on a “united front” approach to customer engagement.

Take global telecoms giant, Orange, for example. They have adopted a multi-departmental social approach that enables their employees to address customers and prospects through social, answering questions that span across all business units. Orange also ensures that each social request is signed off with the name of the staff member who helped the follower. This, they say, has created more intimate brand experiences.

And that’s what it’s all about – a series of moments that shape the online experience your audience has with your brand. Being able to provide a unified online and offline message and memorable experience will produce the right kind of brand awareness to attract a larger audience.

Read more about our thoughts on creating consistent customer experiences

3. Sales will need more relevant content and better support

Providing more of the right content at each selling stage will be what drives prospects through your purchasing journey.

Next year, we think many marketers will be focusing on plugging the holes in their content baskets – holes that sales teams highlight as reasons for lost opportunities.

Marketers need to get smarter about making more of the right content readily available to their sales teams with the help of smarter content management and sales enablement systems. According to research from McKinsey, staff can waste as much as 20% of their work week searching for internal information.

The ability to conduct quick searches for important white papers, product sheets, case studies, FAQs and other business development collateral, will save time at each stage of the sales cycle, and accelerate the entire process.

4. Your competition will be producing more content

Marketers are producing more content, much faster than before ever before. In the 2017 B2B Content Marketing Trends Report, we see that 80% of B2B marketers are creating more content more frequently.

Meeting the ever-increasing demand for content, however, can be tough. 49% of B2B marketers feel that content production can be a bottleneck along their path to content marketing success.

Scaling your content production in 2017

Frequency is key to establishing brand awareness and is an important element of an effective content marketing strategy. Producing quality content is even more important. When we committed to our inbound strategy, we realised that our strategy had to account for managing our resources and sticking to our production schedule.

As a small marketing team, we had to find ways to produce enough of the right content regularly. We found ways to repurpose content, for example, creating blog posts, press releases, eBooks and webinars from an industry survey we ran. This gave enough content for months of inbound campaigning to this audience. Our efforts paid off tremendously, resulting in recognition for our work in modern marketing by Microsoft and in digital marketing by Fifty Five and Five.

Transforming your marketing team into a publishing powerhouse will require a keen eye for spotting trends that your audience is gravitating towards, and the ability to capitalize where possible. But, while agility is an attractive prospect for any marketer, make sure that you have produced enough core content to support all stages of you buyer’s journey, before you commit to increasing your content production frequency.

5. SEO is more than just keywords

Keyword research and lots of backlinks will not be enough to rank above your competitors in 2017. According to the analysis of over 203,900 data points, topical relevance will be what makes the difference.

Building a better content resource

Marketers will need to focus on producing more content around topics of interest for their persona(s) and not just keywords. This will require more in-depth research and the right amount of creativity to produce unique and engaging content.

The upside to building a base of topically relevant content is that your brand will develop thought leadership status, something every brand must strive for to become a serious contender in their market.

While marketing fundamentals stay the same, much about how modern marketing actually happens is based on constant transformation.

If you are looking for more effective ways to leverage content to drive more meaningful customer experiences across your organization, listen to for our free webinar titled “Transformation to Modern Marketing”. You’ll learn about the Qorus approach, and what to consider on your journey into modern marketing realm from a panel of seasoned C-level marketers of technology and legal businesses.

Have you spotted any other trends that will influence your strategy in 2017?