Technology Content Marketing

Content Marketing in 2017: what you need to know

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In today’s world, sales reps are expected to engage with content marketing more and more; creating their own content, developing their own voice in addition to increasingly using social media as a way to publish their content and own perspectives.

Change is constant in our society. So, it is to be expected that content marketing will experience that change too; it’s evolving and it will continue to evolve in the future. So, as we have just started a new year, these are the key themes that we think will characterise content marketing in 2017:

Analysts say that for complicated and sensitive complaints, customers want to speak to a real person and not with an AI chatbot (2). Customer service via telephone is often a frustrating process, with lots of questions and security procedures, so it is understandable that customers want real people to be on the other side of the phone once they get through. On the other hand, emails and live chat functions could harness AI technology to respond to simple information requests.

Many emails are unstructured, chaotic, and sometimes difficult to understand. AI could filter, classify and “decode” them in a quick and cost effective way so that customer service departments do not have to spend half their time deciphering content and deciding which category they should classify a particular email to. If AI can take this ‘painful’ process away from them, then sales reps and customer service teams have more time to focus their energy on delivering the best service possible to customers.

Email comeback

With the rise of the use of social media in B2B marketing over the past few years, the use of email has seemed to be in decline (or so we thought). Some organisations had started to think that the only way to engage with their audience was through social media. Some even made the mistake of relegating email to the backstage. However, a recent study (2) showed that for the organisations that had continued to use email alongside other methods as a way to distribute content to their audience, email was rated as the most successful metric for measuring content marketing.

In 2017, we expect organisations will start paying more attention to their email content, and therefore, to their e-newsletters. Organisations will likely be making more of an effort to create outstanding content in their email marketing; tailored to their customers and providing their audience with really insightful and relevant content.

Sales reps should bear this in mind and although they already use email constantly to communicate with customers and prospects, they should pay more attention to the information they provide and the format of the content itself. Personalising it to be able to satisfy each customer, will not only get the attention of whoever you are emailing, but will have a higher probability of transforming that attention into real interest, and as a consequence, a new client. This sounds obvious, however we now have a culture of copy and paste and writing generic content that we need to move away from.

Print is back on

Content publication has become increasingly digital; however, many people are actually crying out for more printed content. For example, we all like to browse the IKEA website and see what products we can add to our home to make it cosier. But, printed catalogues are still often mailed to different homes and we all like the feeling of being able to flick through the pages, making notes on something we liked and feeling the weight of the catalogue in our hands.

Sales reps can use this as a point of differentiation by going the extra mile when contacting their clients; mailing to them (where possible) printed collateral, maybe in the form of ebooks or visual whitepapers. Being able to have a call with a prospect while they can flick through the pages of your printed content enhances the experience and gives them something physical to consume offline.

We think that traditional print will become more popular in 2017, as organisations find new and interesting ways to engage with clients.

Adapting to mobile

Most of us own a mobile and take it with us everywhere we go. We use our mobiles for everything: to read the news, access our email and watch films.

Many websites are still not optimised for mobile – but we need to think about how our content will look on different devices.

Organisations should be looking at how they can develop mobile-ready content marketing campaigns with content developed specifically to be consumed on a small screen.

Videos in bulk

By 2020, video will represent 82% of all consumer internet traffic. This is something to consider, even if you think your buyers aren’t consuming much video data. As we mentioned in a recent article (3), “you have to be where your buyers are. And you have to be there now, even if the buyers are only going to get there in a year or two”.

Telling stories via video is a dynamic and often clearer way of getting your content out there. In fact, using mini videos can be very useful when clarifying an idea or concept, explaining a particular topic or even summarising the purpose of an organisation even in just a few seconds. Customers want to buy into a story, and enhanced mobile phone video capabilities make it easy for every sales rep to get on board the vlogging revolution. For more information on B2B Vlogging read the article in full here.

Sales reps can take advantage of this new trend and use it to build a quick profile of themselves so that potential customers can get to know them easily, as well as building a story around the journey from how they became sales reps to why they decided to sell a particular product.

The true power of LinkedIn

If you ask people what they use LinkedIn for, a high number will probably say they use it for networking such as connecting with new clients, colleagues and possible contacts that can help you with your business career.

Well, the truth is that LinkedIn’s power is often underestimated by sales reps. LinkedIn can be so much more than just a networking tool. In fact, some B2B reps have already realised this and are starting to use it to its full potential by publishing blogs and regular updates. Individuals are further developing their own profile, explaining their ideas and thoughts and talking about how they perceive particular trends, or what their thoughts are about a particular issue, business or situation.

By publishing their own content, sales reps position themselves as thought leaders and continuously build their profile. This allows them to be perceived as more strategic, instead of just being yet another sales rep. Their audience can empathise with them and be compelled to want to know more, ultimately leading to mutually beneficial relationships that can end in a business deal or a sale.

All this leads us to one word: personalisation. No matter the form of your content marketing (email, print, etc.), everything you write needs to be more personalised. But, personalisation needs to happen both ways: not only personalised to your customer but to the individual, so the person writing the content is giving their own voice within a business too; empowering them so that they can build their own profile; sharing their own perspectives, whilst tailoring their storytelling to their audiences.

For more information download our Ultimate Content Marketing guide at