20 Experts Provide Their Content Marketing Predictions For 2016

Last week I ran my own content marketing prediction:

A Correction In The Advertising Market

The leading marketing trend of 2016 will be the maturing of the age of ad blocking. I think we’ll see a massive correction in the advertising market.

As more and more consumers download ad blockers on their computers and cell phones, opt-out of telemarketing lists, and cut their cable subscription cords, marketers will start to see the futility of spending so much of their budgets on ads no one wants. Ads we are willing to pay an ad blocker to avoid.

This will drive an increase in content marketing budgets. It will force more marketers to consider how to create and publish content their customers actually want. And it will require content marketers to get pretty damn good at showing ROI.

But what the heck do I know?

So I reached out to some friends. And I am very proud and honored to deliver these content marketing predictions for 2016 from the real experts.

Joe Pulizzi – 2016 will be the year for content marketing M&A.
We will start to see serious buying interest and activity from brands of all sizes in the purchasing of niche media and blogger sites.  Yes, building an owned-media platform takes time, so some with short circuit the process and just buy the asset.
~Joe Pulizzi is the Founder, Content Marketing Institute and the Author of Content Inc.

Jay Baer – All signs point to video.
Whether it’s Facebook Live, video on Twitter, Periscope, Blab, Instagram, Vine or the old standby YouTube, 2016 will be the year when video becomes a primary content marketing consideration for all brands – even B2B. Partially because customer appetite for video (even low-res, real-time video) is insatiable. And partially because video is the most efficient way to atomize content marketing. If you have video, you have audio. If you have video, you have text (via transcription). If you have video, you have photos. But it doesn’t work the other way around. In 2016, video will take its rightful place as the petri dish of great content marketing.
~Jay Baer, President of Convince & Convert and author of Hug Your Haters

Lee Odden – More Participation in Marketing Content
In 2016 an age of democratized content creation will emerge with more brands investing in content co-creation with industry influencers, subject matter experts, customers and their communities. Participation in content creation invests a brand’s network in the success of that content for mutual value and 360 degrees of win. As I like to say, ‘If you want your content to be great, ask your community to participate!’
~Lee Odden is the CEO TopRank Marketing, @leeodden

Jay Acunzo – Podcasting tech will explode.
You can draw many comparisons to the rise of podcasting for marketing to the past rise of blogging. Right now, as with Facebook for articles, everyone is focused on the iTunes audience and algorithm at the expense of gaining meaningful data and building an owned audience. In 2016, we’ll see more tech for hosting, distributing, and measuring podcasts from both startups like Product Hunt and SaaS platforms and larger players like Spotify and PRX, while the criticality of iTunes will begin to slowly
Jay Acunzo, VP of Platform & Content, NextView

Doug Kessler – A Backlash against content marketing
I expect a backlash against Content Marketing as some of the unsuccessful practitioners blame the approach instead of taking a good hard look at how they’re doing it. We’ll see the less committed jumping off the bandwagon and on to some other one. For the rest of us, that’s an opportunity.
~ Doug Kessler is Creative Director & Co-founder of Velocity Partners .

Marcus Sheridan – More resistance to content marketing
More and more businesses will think that “everything has already been said” when it comes to content in their industry. And because of believing this utter falsehood, they wont embrace content marketing, and then they’ll be further left behind by their competitors. At the same time, a few other businesses will ignore this mindset and realize their voice needs to be heard…and they’ll ultimately lead their industry because of it.
~ Marcus Sheridan/Keynote Speaker/Sales and Marketing Consultant/@TheSalesLion

Arnie Kuenn – Content Marketing will finally hit the mainstream
My biggest prediction is that Content Marketing will finally hit the mainstream. I base this on seeing the type and knowledge level of the people attending our content marketing workshops in the U.S. The attendees are almost all from the marketing teams (used to be a lot from SEO and other teams), about half are from agencies (tells me they are finally getting it), and the questions the attendees ask are based on experiences (they are at least trying it). All of this is pretty different from just a couple years ago when everyone in our classes were wide-eyed neophytes.
~ Arnie Kuenn, CEO, Vertical Measures

Carla Johnson – Content-driven experiences
In 2016, I believe that content marketers will move beyond storytelling into story creation through experiences. Creating content-driven experiences will be how marketers truly distinguish their brands and create value separate and distinct from the products and services they sell.
~ Carla Johnson, President, Type A Communications and co-author, Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing

Carlos Hidalgo
1. Marketers will turn their attention from creating more content and create more relevant content that aligns to their buyers, the buyer pain points and buyers content consumption patters and preferences.
2. Marketers will improve on their ability to measure the value of their Content Marketing – currently according to CMI, only 30% of B2B marketers can measure the value of their content marketing spend.
~ Carlos Hidalgo, Author of Driving Demand – & CEO of ANNUITAS

Ian Cleary – Content Marketers focus on sales funnel building and optimization
My prediction is that there will be a big drive towards the upskilling of Content Marketers in the area of sales funnel building and optimization. This is because of the increasing demands of higher ROI from content marketing. There are many funnel experts that can turn cold traffic into profitable traffic so content marketers should be able to convert warmer traffic at a higher rate. Imagine a content marketing and funnel optimization expert. That’s the type of person you need to be hiring in 2016.
~ Ian Cleary, Award Winning Tech Blogger on RazorSocial@IanCleary

Carlos Abler – Synergy between content marketing and customer lifecycle management
Content marketing and customer lifecycle management platform requirements will create a synergy accelerating change management investment, alignment content and platform initiatives and resources, and each will further cross-rationalize investment in one another. Gaps will close between content marketing and solutions technologists as a part of architecting the overall customer experience. The high effort and cost for marketing tech “cloud” configuration requirements (versus licensing), the dependency on many of the same strategic and tactical development factors for content requirements, and the overlapping roles and collaboration required; will all drive greater resource alignment for these efforts. Furthermore the discrete platform and content dependancies for executive organization and revenue goals will function in stereo to accelerate investment for each.
~ Carlos Abler, Leader: Content Marketing Strategy at 3M,  @Carlos_abler

Todd Wheatland – Content marketing breaks free of silos
I see all the signs that 2016 is going to be a year that many companies pay more than lip-service to the fact that the way people consume media has totally changed.

In the old days, it was fine for marketing, sales and ops to look after finding and retaining customers; HR to look after the same for employees; IR to do the same for investors, and so forth. But now, even in companies that are doing great stuff attracting new business, they’re failing to apply those same learnings to the other parts of the business. The silos between investor relations, HR and marketing are typically as bad as ever.

The new reality is people don’t care about internal silos, they just know if they like Brand X or not. If 85% of people applying for a job at Starbucks are existing customers, what impact does a bad experience as a candidate have on sales? The real brand lives free of silos, and the content marketing principals of communicating to an audience with authenticity need to flow across all of a company’s audiences – not just those traditionally addressed by the marketing department.
~ Todd Wheatland is the Global Head of Strategy at King Content

Jason Miller
1. Marketers will move away from grandiose storytelling that has a beginning, middle and end, and instead focus on short anecdotes to capitalize on the dwindling attention spans. Storytelling is hard and time consuming for both the writer and the reader, but anecdotes on the other hand are moments, or a slice of life that can be much easier to digest in the crowded content feed.
2. I think the theme of 2016 for content marketers will be amplification and personalization. Most of us have gotten pretty good and content creation, but are we getting the most value out of every piece of content that we produce? I think not. Paid will become the norm, organic will be deemphasized even more, and better targeting and personalization will be critical for driving results.
~ Jason Miller, Group Manager, Content Marketing and Social Media, LinkedIn Marketing Solutions

Robert Rose – 2016 is a pivot year for content, marketing and advertising
I predict we’ll see exponential growth in the re-organization of sales, marketing and technology departments around terms like “customer experience”, “innovation” and “content”. As digital advertising continues to become more difficult and complicated, companies will begin flowing much more money into differentiated customer experiences as a way to capture and hold attention.
~ Robert Rose is Chief Strategy Officer at the Content Marketing Institute, @robert_rose

Rebecca Lieb
1. The content marketing software stack will continue to evolve into a unified, streamlined whole. Already there are several platforms on the market that offer several of the eight distinct content marketing workflow scenarios (creation; curation & aggregation; distribution; analytics; governance; etc.). We’ll see M&A activity, as well as development of an end-to-end content software solution.
2. Companies will get serious about hiring content talent. While in 2015 they were hiring mid-level content executives at the manager and director level, 2016 will see a promotion of these roles to VP and higher levels, with purview over communications and social media, and responsibility for media decisions as well
~ Rebecca Lieb is an Analyst, Advisor, Author

Amanda Maksymiw – Personalization leads to better results
Personalization will transcend B2B content marketing and new technologies will help make 1:1 content creation the norm, leading to more impactful results and a clearer ROI on content marketing.
~ Amanda Maksymiw, @amandamaks, Sr. Content Marketing Manager, Lattice Engines

Mark Schaefer
By far the biggest issue facing any content marketer is the explosion of information density we’re competing against. Finding ways to cut through this wall of noise will continue to drive budgets, strategy, distribution and advertising channels, creative, and content innovations in 2016.
~ Mark Schaefer is a college educator, marketing consultant, and author of five marketing books including The Content Code.

Ardath Albee
In 2016, B2B marketers will stop, take a breath and get to know their buyers before launching content marketing programs. With this knowledge they will create documented content marketing strategies that focus on building a progressive experience across the continuum of the buying process – using engagement scenarios to structure experiences that span channels where their buyers hang out.
~ Ardath Albee is CEO of Marketing Interactions, Author of Digital Relevance and eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale

Ann Handley

  • Joe Pulizzi decides that Content Marketing World isn’t quite big enough to contain the content marketing industry, so he changes the name of his flagship event to Content Marketing Cosmos.
  • Lee Odden gets so influential with Influencer Marketing that Bono taps Top Rank for one of his global humanitarian relief efforts (with a robust ebook and SlideShare component).
  • Ardath Albee offers a 2016 predication that pretty much echoes the insight she’s been offering all along. Finally, the business world catches up.
  • Jay Baer hugs so many haters that he decides to publish an addendum to his yet-to-be-published NY Times bestseller called, “No More Hugging: High-Five Your Haters Instead.”
  • Tim Washer unseats Jimmy Fallon as “The Funniest Guy Working in Corporate America” because, according to the press release, Fallon “didn’t really understand the funnel.”
  • Michael Brenner regrets asking me for my thoughts for a blog post. (Oh wait. That just happened for real!)

Finally (and this is my legit prediction), content marketing grows up.

Content marketing exits its exuberant college years, where it spent its parent’s money on crazy experimental things that may or may not have been good choices, and it stops being quite so impulsive and immature.

It takes a hard look at its life and decides to be a little more strategic and serious: That means getting the necessary planning, processes, frameworks, and metrics in place to legitimize itself. It’s time to be taken seriously.

Grown-up doesn’t mean boring and staid, though: Quite the opposite, because content marketing still has the heart of a storyteller and the soul of an artist.

So the stories that 2016’s content marketing tells are certainly more strategic. But they are also bigger stories with a braver focus and told with a bolder voice.
~ Ann Handley is Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs co-author of Content Rules and author of Everybody Writes

Luke Kintigh has two predictions:
Reform Teams to Reflect The Convergence of Media, Content and Data.
The increasing convergence of media, content and data will push brands to reform classic marketing teams and roles. Once fragmented disciplines (paid media, creative, analytics) will be combined to keep up with the evolving media landscape and audience behaviors. Consequently, this shift will give rise to the hybrid content marketer—those with diverse skills that strategically connect the dots across the production, distribution and analysis of content.

Ad Blocking Gave the Industry the Kick In Pants It Needed.
The proliferation of ad blocking will prove to be the best thing to happen to digital advertising in years. Ad blockers will push the industry to create a better user experience that includes an ecosystem that work for publishers, advertisers and most importantly, the audience. The age of disruption will come to a close; giving birth to a new era of advertising that actually adds value to audience instead of distracting from it. This shift to human centric marketing will generate an enormous demand for content marketing experts.
~ Luke Kintigh – Intel Global Media and Content Strategist @lukekintigh

Which of these do you think will come true? And what’s your prediction for content marketing in 2016? Let us know in the comments below. . .

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Showing 23 comments
  • Ryan Biddulph
    Reply

    Hi Michael,

    I’m big on Jay’s take. I’m going nuts on twitter videos, using them easily through my Tablet. Few folks personalize responses with video but I learned this little trick from Gary Vee. Awesome way to stand out from the crowd.

    Ryan

    • Michael Brenner
      Reply

      Thanks Ryan, it makes total sense. Create the video and you can re-purpose it into at least 3 or 4 other content pieces. I’m with you 100%

  • Laura E. Pence
    Reply

    Ian Cleary is right on the money. We’ve actually just added marketing funnel development and implementation into the marketing mix we offer our clients. They need to have their funnels clearly defined and well set up to get good conversion, but they weren’t doing it on their own. We found that getting traffic to a client’s website wasn’t enough to keep them as long term clients, which is the only type of relationship we want. To clearly show them ROI we have to get actionable leads into their CRM. Now, if only we can get them to understand the difference between marketing and sales… we’ll be all set!

    • Michael Brenner
      Reply

      Thanks Laura, I was at a conference recently where a CMO stated that he could track every marketing dollar from initial contact to sale – all over his digital properties. All the attendees were clamoring to speak with him after his talk to find out how he does it. I think we’ll see more of this as digital attribution matures but also as the cultural change required to move away from media “ego buys” to dedicated platforms owned by the brand that attract, engage and convert new buyers into the funnel.

  • Danish Pervez
    Reply

    After reading countless nonsensical lists filled with curated content, this piece is a much awaited breath of fresh air! Finally a fluff-free round up of the brass tacks to give content marketing professionals a clear picture – straight from the upper echelons. Excellent work Michael.

    • Michael Brenner
      Reply

      Thanks Danish. I’m truly honored and humbled that these real experts gave us their predictions.

  • Nancy Myrland
    Reply

    Hi Michael…loved reading this! As with every other product, practice and era of marketing, I agree we will see the “sophistication” of the strategy, management and execution of content marketing. It is inevitable.

    New channels are introduced, we fall in love with them, have a blast dating them, take them all over town on a whirlwind romance, then the day comes when we realize it’s time to start planning our lives together….we plan, we make the relationship official, we budget, we buy a structure to house this relationship, and we grow.

    The same will happen with content marketing, video and podcasting. We love some things about them, admire others, and even tolerate some aspects, but we will begin to lean heavily on the entrepreneurs who build businesses around all of these marketing tools to make our time together better in some way.

    Great gathering of experts…thank you!

    • Michael Brenner
      Reply

      Thanks Nancy, I totally agree. It’s all about understanding buyers. Marketing plans should follow these insights based on the stuff that works. Testing new things will always be important. But it’s the tactics that drive results that will always win out. That’s why I think there will be a correction in the ad market. Brands spend so much money on ads that no one wants and we are willing to pay extra to avoid. Publishers might defend this by saying “but who will pay for all this content?” And the answer is simple: Brands! We’ll just have to start adjusting to brand sponsored publisher platforms where the brand gains awareness and attention by being the provider of the content we all want to consumer and not the interruptor.

  • Hannah Stacey
    Reply

    This is a potentially controversial viewpoint, but I honestly don’t think video is all that, especially when it comes to b2b marketing.

    Truly useful content gives time-poor people the answers they need with minimal faff. There are definitely exceptions to this, but in general video goes against all of this – short-form video can rarely go into enough depth to be useful, and longer-form video requires you to give up a certain amount of time without being able to scan to the bit you’re interested in (like you could with a blog post).

    There’s also the practical element – nobody wants to be blaring out a video in the corner of the office if they don’t have headphones to hand, and watching video when you’re out and about is a no-go if you don’t have wifi.

    • Michael Brenner
      Reply

      Hi Hannah, I appreciate all views, and sometimes dissenting ones are best. I do agree with the predictions about video largely because of the brands who are succeeding by creating entertaining or educational videos and who are attracting engaged readers and driving conversion with video. To me the main reason why video is becoming huge is mainly because we, as consumers can’t get enough of it.

      Consumption of video is growing exponentially and takes up an average of one hour of the time we spend on digital each day. Yes that’s an average of 1 hour per day. Now I am assuming that is because some people are heavy video consumers and some less so. But the bottom line is that if you don’t create video, you will be missing a large opportunity to reach your potential buyers.

      The real challenge for brands the expertise and expense required to do video well. But that’s a topic for another post.

  • Hannah Stacey
    Reply

    This is a potentially controversial viewpoint, but I honestly don’t think video is all that, especially when it comes to b2b marketing.

    Truly useful content gives time-poor people the answers they need with minimal faff. There are definitely exceptions to this, but in general video goes against all of this – short-form video can rarely go into enough depth to be useful, and longer-form video requires you to give up a certain amount of time without being able to scan to the bit you’re interested in (like you could with a blog post).

    There’s also the practical element – nobody wants to be blaring out a video in the corner of the office if they don’t have headphones to hand, and watching video when you’re out and about is a no-go if you don’t have wifi.

  • Zahra Ardehali
    Reply

    Hi Michael, thanks for the post. Loved everyone’s predictions. I also like to add that in my opinion, Content Marketing will become more integrated across every stage of buying process and sales funnel. It will become an embedded featured area of marketing. The big challenge will be how to make it seamless and personalized through each stage of the sales funnel.

    • Michael Brenner
      Reply

      Hi Zahra, I seriously hope you are right. I think for many organizations, content marketing is just a tactic. But it needs to be seen as a strategic asset inside and across the enterprise.

  • Steve Shaw
    Reply

    Hi Michael, enjoyed these predictions. While I get Jay’s point on starting with video and repurposing from there, I prefer approaching it from the other end.
    Create a long-form blog post as your seed content and for long-term organic search visibility. Use this to email to your list, repurpose as content for LinkedIn Pulse/Facebook Notes/Google+ microblogging etc., base a Slideshare on it, record the Slideshare for a video, extract the audio from this for a podcast. Systemize the whole thing, leaving say a few months between each repurposing ‘step’, and you have a ton of different content across different media to share on social and build influence and authority.
    I guess in the end it’s a case of selecting the content marketing ‘petri dish’ that best suits your own organization.
    Personally, as pressure grows to extract maximum advantage from content marketing budgets while still needing to ‘be everywhere’ your customers are, I’d say this type of systemized content repurposing would be the trend to watch.

    • Michael Brenner
      Reply

      Hi Steve,

      I agree. I’ve used the approach you’ve outlined as well but either way, figuring our how to produce and re-purpose content to maximize the budget is a big trend. I’m seeing a lot of demand in this area and think the mix might be different for each brand, audience or topic.

      • Steve Shaw
        Reply

        Hi Michael, interested to hear you’re seeing a lot of demand in that type of area.
        Congratulations on the recent publication of your Content Formula book! I look forward to reading and learning from it…
        Related to that, this post inspired one of my own on content marketing predictions, and one such prediction talks about the ROI of content marketing becoming increasingly transparent. Then I come across your book on just this topic, helping marketers to do just that and prove the ROI.
        Other predictions include: the importance of your own website will slide; content repurposing will become a key part of any content marketing strategy (as per my previous comment); native advertising will rise in prominence; and others (full post at http://blog.vwriter.com/content-marketing-predictions-2016/ if you’re interested).

        • Michael Brenner
          Reply

          Thanks so much Steve, I would love your thoughts on the book and a nice 5-star review if you think it’s worthy.

          And it sounds like we have similar views on the future of marketing. I agree about corporate websites and wrote a post on here about how they are dying. But I do believe they will be re-born as brand publisher sites. https://marketinginsidergroup.com/content-marketing/corporate-website-dead/

          Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your post! I suggest everyone check it out.

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