5 Rules for Content Marketers in 2016



It’s the most wonderful time of the year: 2016 planning. With the New Year around the corner, we know content marketers are looking for insights and trends that will shape the year ahead and help their content stand out.

On Dec. 14, we released findings from one of the industry’s largest and broadest global surveys of consumer views on digital content. We surveyed more than 12,000 consumers across six countries to get a deeper understanding of evolving consumer expectations and how they are fueling marketers’ challenge. The report, titled “State of Content: Rules of Engagement for 2016” sheds light on five rules for content marketers to follow in optimizing engagement with their target audiences.

Design for the Multiscreen Reality

Consumers report using 5 different devices and, on average, 83 percent use 2.23 devices at the same time. While the majority of consumers report feeling good about it (81 percent entertained, 80 percent connected, 76 percent productive), nearly half (47 percent) say they are distracted. As attention spans shrink, good design and optimization are paramount. Consumers ranked display (65 percent) as the most important aspect when it comes to content experience in their personal life, and 54 percent listed overall good design, such as appealing layout and photography as important. Content marketers can’t attempt to “get away with” a one-size-fits all approach to content distribution: content must be well-designed and optimized for each viewing device.

Don’t Fall Victim to #TLDR (Too Long, Didn’t Read)

Consumers report lower patience for sub-par content experiences – with length a key factor. Nearly 9 out of 10 digital device users would switch devices or stop viewing content altogether if it fails to meet their quality, length and formatting expectations.  67 percent of consumers would stop engaging if content is too long, and 79 percent would do the same if the content doesn’t display well on their device. Marketers need to deliver content in the right format, get to the point and optimize or consumers might say #unsubscribe.

Humor Makes Brands More Relatable

Seventy percent of global consumers agree that humor makes companies more relatable, but just 14 percent rate company-created content as entertaining. Globally, “making people laugh” was identified as the top personal motivator for sharing content. Content marketers should work to create authentic activations that entertain to help drive brand engagement.

In Our Relationships We Trust

In an era of high skepticism, authenticity and trust are critical. Consumers are more likely to engage with content they trust, but many are highly skeptical of most content they view online: 50 percent of consumers question whether negative comments or reviews have been removed, 49 percent wonder if an author was paid or incented to write a positive review, and 48 percent question whether a news article is biased. However, consumer trust in content increases as their relationship with the source grows stronger. Only 23 percent of consumers trust content from companies whose products they don’t buy, but if the source is a company from whom they do purchase products and have a relationship, that number nearly doubles to 43 percent. Brands need to work on building trusted relationships with their audience, which includes disclosing any endorsements, sponsorships and affiliations.

Don’t Show Up Uninvited

The majority of consumers understand the value of predictive recommendations, with 73 percent noting they are willing to share at least one piece of information about themselves and 71 percent reporting they are open to predictive recommendations from brands based on past behavior. Among consumers not willing to share their information, 40 percent believe companies could do something to ease their concern and 25 percent suggested “asking permission to access data” would make them more comfortable. This maps back to trust; consumers are most comfortable sharing information with brands they trust.

In addition to these insights shaping content marketing in 2016, the study also unveiled interesting findings about online engagement and behavior. For instance, there’s a rising fear of digital footprints. 26 percent of U.S. consumers have cleared their browser history to hide content they viewed from a friend or loved one, and 17 percent have hidden or embellished the truth about the content they regularly consume.

These results, as well as insights on millennial attitudes about content, can be found via the full report.




Reprinted by permission.

Image credit: CC by Martin Fisch

About the author: Linda Bustos

As Director of Ecommerce Research at Elastic Path, Linda Bustos works with some of the world’s largest companies to help improve conversion rates and profitability on the Web. In addition to writing the Get Elastic blog since 2007, Linda’s articles have appeared in Mobile Marketer, CMO Magazine, E-Marketing + Commerce, and Search Marketing Standard. She is a frequent speaker at industry events, including XCommerce, Conversion Conference, and Affiliate Management Days.

In 2010, Linda earned a spot on the DMNews Top 30 Direct Marketers Under 30 list. She has served as faculty for the Banff New Media Institute’s Career Accelerator Program and Marketing Profs University, and has appeared as one of the Top 100 Influential Marketers of the year in 2008 and 2009. Prior to joining Elastic Path, Linda worked agency-side, specializing in usability and SEO.

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