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January 10, 2017

5 B2B Content Marketing Trends That Will Take Over 2017

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Adrian Gonzales  /  Marketing Jan 10, 2017

At the start of the new year, you’re probably considering what you can do in the coming months to drive traffic, revenue, and more sales. But marketing is an ever-changing landscape. Will the tactics that worked last year continue to work in 2017? Are people still downloading eBooks? Has the social media sphere changed? Enter content marketing. 

You need to be on top of the latest trends if you want to propel business forward. One thing is for sure– B2B businesses continue to see content marketing as an integral part of their customer acquisition and retention strategies.

Content marketing is here to stay, and B2B companies that want to generate more business need to pay attention. That’s why we’re sharing 5 B2B content marketing trends that you should focus on in 2017.

1. Email takes a front seat over social

In the past few years, the social media landscape has changed. It used to be that B2B companies could gain substantial organic traffic from sites like Facebook and Twitter by promoting their content. Today, it’s become much more pay-to-play, and many companies feel jerked around by ever-changing algorithms and ad prices.

Because of this, many companies are focusing their efforts on email marketing. Although email marketing is a more traditional tactic, B2B businesses are finding clever ways to use email to nurture leads and convert them to prospects. Enhanced features such as personalization, segmentation, and automation have made email one of the best channels for ROI.

Content marketing provides the fuel for every successful email marketing program. When you email your base, you need great content that inspires them to engage with your brand. According to a study by CMI and MarketingProfs, email was rated as as the top success metric for measuring content marketing.

HubSpot b2b email marketing
HubSpot targets business professionals with this email campaign promoting their webinar.

2. Shifted focus on influencers

In 2016, we saw many B2B brands going after influencers for content marketing assets, with a flurry of blog posts with insights from the experts. Many brands created round-up posts featuring industry experts from around the web, in turn finding ways to get links and mentions.

This tactic proved successful, but it has become overplayed. Influencers are more careful about what the say, where they get quoted, and how they share the content. Influencer content was a hot trend of 2016, but we expect the focus on it to shift in 2017 as B2B brands get savvier about how to use influencers.

A McKinsey study found that influencer marketing earned, on average, $9.60 for every $1 spent in 2015, compared to 2014 where $6.85 was generated per $1 spent. If you want to see substantial ROI from influencer marketing in 2017, you need to be deliberate in your strategy and approach.

Joanna Gaines of HGTV's Fixer Upper promotes Darling Magazine.
Joanna Gaines of HGTV’s Fixer Upper promotes Darling Magazine.

3. Higher quality content for niche audiences

As the content marketing space gets more competitive, it won’t be enough to just have content. In fact, B2B businesses are not only going all in with content marketing, but they’re getting much better at producing better content.

According to Content Marketing Institute, 72% of B2B marketers cited creating engaging content as a top priority in 2016. This coming year, we expect that companies will create even better content at a more efficient rate.

Additionally, brands will get better at narrowing their focus and speaking directly to their audiences. Rand Fishkin, Founder of Moz, tweeted that marketers should “get more niche—serve smaller and smaller interest groups.”

4. Organizations get real about what it takes to do content

In the past, marketing leaders saw content marketing as something they could throw at an inexperienced intern, reasoning that writing blog posts wasn’t that time consuming or difficult. Many in-house content marketers complained that they didn’t have the budget or human resources to create the big, bold content that gets attention in the B2B space.

In 2016, that changed. According to CMI, 85% of B2B organizations are now investing in content. These organizations are realizing that in order to do content marketing well, they needed to hire experts in the field, people who have experience building and running content marketing strategies.

5. Rise of native advertising

Ads are everywhere. According to a study by HubSpot, 85% of people notice the ads in their Facebook NewsFeed. Because ads have taken over, people are beginning to opt out. This makes traditional digital advertising less effective.

Enter native advertising. B2B brands are increasingly turning to native advertising strategies as a way to promote content. This allows them to get the message out about their brand while providing value to the audience. It’s a win-win for B2B, and we expect to see more of it in 2017.

LinkedIn Sponsored Updates
LinkedIn sponsored updates captures the attention of engaged people on LinkedIn and drives qualified traffic back to your business page.

Wrapping up

Content marketing will take centerstage in 2017, as marketers focus on new ways to get audience attention. They’ll double down on email, get real about investing in content, and experiment with native advertising. Do you have any additional insights on B2B marketing trends for content creators? We’d love to hear them and continue the conversation!