28 Experts Reveal The Top Content Marketing Trends For 2017

 In Content Marketing

Content marketing is still one of the hottest topics on the minds of marketers. And one of the biggest challenges for CMOs.

To help you stay on top of the latest content marketing trends, every year I publish a list of the top trends and predictions we are seeing from around the marketing world.

Joe Pulizzi, head of the Content Marketing Institute, published his ideas on the top 2017 trends earlier this year. And we covered the top content marketing trends for 2016 thus far.

Now it’s time to look ahead to see what’s hot in 2017. My top content marketing trends for 2017:

2017 will see brands move to more specialization, visualization, personalization, and humanization in their content marketing programs and approaches.

I’ll expand on these points here in the next few weeks. And I’ll provide a recap of my content marketing predictions from year’s past. Until then, here is a list of content marketing predictions from 28 of the most influential people in the industry.

Top Content Marketing Trends For 2017 From 28 Experts

1. I believe 2017 is the year where we will truly see product brands begin to acquire media companies.  We saw a few examples of this in 2016, including Arrow Electronics’ purchase of multiple media properties in the electronics space, but there is much more to come.  And even (gasp) a product brand will become seriously interesting in buying a local newspaper.
Joe Pulizzi – Founder, Content Marketing Institute (@JoePulizzi)

2. Content will move beyond screens into the “phygital” world. New technologies such as Beacons, sensors, and IoT now infuse highly contextual content into the objects and environments around us. Get ready to revamp campaigns and content strategy in a seismic new way!
~ Rebecca Lieb – Analyst, Author, Advisor @lieblink rebeccalieb.com

3. Content marketers will begin to wake up to the fact that their cousins, television advertising executives, are spending five dollars on distribution for every one dollar they spend on content creation. This will cause them to go back to mommy and daddy and demand much more allowance for content distribution. We’ll also see a rash of #CMWorld tattoos on people’s arms, legs and necks.
~ Chad Pollitt – Co-founder Relevance, (@ChadPollitt)

4. Content Production Will Increase While True Content Marketing Effectiveness Will Decrease
Call me a pessimist, but if the last three years are any indication (as seen in the CMI Content Benchmark Study), we will see a continued decline in content effectiveness but an increase in content production. Unless marketers begin to gain deep buyer insights and understand their buyers buying patterns, challenges and motives to purchase, content will miss the mark.  I hope I am wrong, but after three years of content effectiveness declining, I fear we are in a bad trend.
~ Carlos Hidalgo – CEO of ANNUITAS @cahidalgo

5. User-generated content shall be forefront in the minds of every social savvy publisher. Smartphones have put a powerful production studio in everyone’s pocket. Smart marketers understand happy customers are far more persuasive than anything they could possibly create themselves and will be working on initiatives to create a snap-happy army of brand advocates.
~ Barry Feldman Feldman Creative @feldmancreative

6. The future of marketing will be a whole lot of the same faces on many different lists being wrong about the future of marketing. It’s cool though, because we’ll get the links back and promote a cause that helps our day jobs. Mine? More creativity in content marketing! Why? My show, Unthinkable, is about ignoring best practices and cheap tricks and instead following your creative intuition. (Dear Blog Editor: Will you please keep that link in there? Kthanks). Anywho: Creative talent is wildly undervalued compared to strategic or analytical talent on in-house content teams today. When an asset is undervalued, you need to buy-buy-buy! The winners in this field will quickly move to market themselves as a desirable place for top creators to work, in order to outstrip competitors vying for the same talent. This means more importance will be placed on cultivating creative corporate cultures (did alliteration just happen?!) as well as create big, meaningful, longer term content brands — standalone entities with aspirations that sound more like “be the ESPN of X” and less like “convert more leads.” If just one brand or one creator finds their way to that better place, I think this comment was a win. (Well, that, plus any new listeners I get of course… WINKY FACE!)
~ Jay Acunzo – Creator & Host of Unthinkable  @jayacunzo

7. In 2017 content shock actually happens and CMWorld in Cleveland is in doubt. How does this occur? In late 2016 the Cleveland Indians win the World Series. The entire world is wondering what in the hell is happening in Cleveland. And then, just when you think it can’t get any more amazing, the most improbable of events happens; the Cleveland Browns scratch and claw their way into the Super Bowl by going 8-8 in the regular season, making it to the playoffs as a Wild Card team and eventually beating the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship game. Cleveland is on the edge of hysteria. The Arizona Cardinals actually beat the Browns in the Super Bowl, but such a large crowd gathers on the grounds above the Cleveland Convention Center to welcome home the runners-up, that it weakens the structural integrity of the Convention Center, forcing Content Marketing World to look for alternate venues. Not only that, but the online coverage is so massive that content shock actually takes place and it breaks the internet. In the end, so many people are delighted with having no internet for a few days, that they give Cleveland credit for giving them their lives back – if ever so briefly.
~ Arnie Kuenn – CEO of Vertical Measures, an SEO & Content Marketing Agency @ArnieK

8. I have three content marketing trends: 1.) Micro-targeting and hyper personalization will go mainstream. (Smaller audiences + more relevant messaging = higher conversion rate) (Dennis Yu has been leading the way with this) 2.) Live video will issue a death sentence to the talking head video and content marketers will be forced to learn basic film editing and the rules of composition. 3.) Guns n Roses will extend their current tour to include London.
Jason Miller – Group Manager, Content Marketing, LinkedIn Marketing Solutions @jasonmillerca

9. I expect in 2017 we’ll see more differentiated content that’s personable, that humanizes sellers & brands – making them more approachable and likable.  In B2B it’s easy to focus entirely on the transaction, on the business relationship, the value exchange between companies.  But we also buy from people we like.  I’ve been pleasantly shocked at how much value I’ve received (for my business & sales pipeline) purely by sharing photos and updates on social media about our farmhouse remodel and my BBQ adventures.
Matt Heinz – President, Heinz Marketing (@heinzmarketing)

10. As more and more brands embrace storytelling, they will shift the nature of those stories from fiction to non-fiction. The rise of live video, behind-the-scenes content, and true brand journalism will begin to tip the storytelling balance from glossy “best foot forward” to documentary style realism.
~ Jay Baer – President of Convince & Convert  @jaybaer

11. The experienced companies with content marketing will find themselves going “all in” on video– to the point where many will now produce more video-based content than textual-based content.
Marcus Sheridan –  President, The Sales Lion @TheSalesLion

12. 1). Google will buy Twitter for tens of billions of dollars. They won’t change Twitter much, but there will be more ads. The ROI for buying advertising in Twitter will go up. 2). Machine learning will become part of optimization tools. Tools like Unbounce will make recommendations based on huge data sets and then let you make changes with a single click. Websites will continually optimize themselves for better conversions and usability. 3). Live events will set huge attendance records and companies will all try to get more live events into their mix of content types.
~ Andy Crestodina – co-founder and strategic director at Orbit Media. Find more about him on Twitter.

13. In an effort to stand out in a world of overwhelming information density, we’re beginning to see new content formats arrive. In 2016, we saw innovations in interactive video, searchable podcasts, virtual reality, and text-message blog posts, for example. In 2017 we will certainly see more innovation along these lines. I’m hoping for Smellovision myself.
~ Mark Schaefer is a keynote speaker and author of The Content Code  (@markwschaefer)

14. A few layers of the marketing tech stack will bleed into each other, allowing brands to do away altogether with the need to gate content.
~ Todd Wheatland – Head of Strategy, King Content (@ToddWheatland)

15. 2017 will be the year of counter-intuitive acquisitions: Hubspot will buy Kool-Aid from Kraft (in a money-saving exercise); Shamwow will buy the New York Times (to restore editorial integrity); Google and Facebook will buy each other (for fun); and the New York Jets will buy Vaynermedia (in a fit of irony).

Later in the year, expect Microsoft to buy Ello (to merge with its Zune unit); Robert Rose to pull off a shock reverse BIMBO on UBM (Phase 3 of his sinister Master Plan); and Apple to buy EMEA (by accident).
~ Doug Kessler – Velocity Partners (@dougkessler)

16. 2017 Is the year of the content brand. Instead of creating branded content (content created for your company), we’ll start creating content brands (content created for a valuable audience.) Content Brands turn marketing expenses into assets.
~ Andrew Davis – Founder, Monumental Shift (@DrewDavisHere)

17. I have three main predictions for 2017. The first is that a major agency will purchase a large media/publishing company in an effort to align content and native advertising strategies. The second prediction is that “influencer marketing” reaches a fevered state in B2B marketing in 2017. Evangelists, spokespeople, experts and minor celebrities will be hired and acquired, and brands will not know what to do with them. Finally, “Content Automation” – marketing content created automatically by artificial intelligence will be the next, new, buzz.
~ Robert Rose – Chief Strategy Advisor, Content Marketing Institute (@Robert_Rose)

18. Smarter Data + Influencer Integration
In 2017 there will be much greater sophistication at integrating influencers, SEO, social and ABM with content marketing programs. The glue that binds this integration together is a combination of data, marketing technology and human relationships that deliver mutual value. When brands use data informed insights and true relationships to inspire content co-creation with trusted industry experts, it adds authenticity, extends reach, increases quality and effectiveness. Collaborative content that targets specific audiences with influential input also positions the brand credibly as ”the best answer” with customers and influencers alike.
~ Lee Odden – CEO of Top Rank Marketing, @LeeOdden

19. 1). There will be increased recognition of the need to replace the inefficient “project” approach to content marketing with a serial approach, i.e. addressing topics in a series of 3, or more, posts. 2). Gated resource centers, containing multiple PDFs, templates, and videos, will grow in popularity, replacing white papers as list-building incentives. 3). The rising costs of content marketing (paying for premium placement, monthly subscription fees for analytics and CRM, etc.) will give large, well-funded firms a growing advantage over smaller firms and startups. Bonus: The “content marketing talent crunch” will increase creative costs as more firms acknowledge the long-term benefits of top-drawer, “evergreen” creativity.
~ Roger C. Parker www.publishedandprofitable.com @RogercParker

20. Innovative brands will move away from acting like publishers to emerge as bona fide publishers by monetizing their content. Pioneering brands will see their owned audiences as a product that drives revenue just as their staple products do. Content monetization by brands will not only transform the way we measure and value content marketing, but also spark a new battle amongst top brand and traditional publishers. Future advertising dollars will be at stake between the likes of Nike and Sports Illustrated or Intel and Wired—further blurring the lines of a publishing brand and brand publisher.
Luke Kintigh, Global Content and Media Strategist, Intel. (@lukekintigh).

21. Social with the main attraction of live video this last year will finally settle into itself and we will begin to see more business use cases. Content will also continue to target based on deeper analytics enabling a much higher level of personalization. Our definition of entertainment will share air time with more online channels. And the dichotomy of all these areas will share the spotlight with the newest up at bat….virtual reality. VR will steadily step into our lives and will quickly grow as a brand new marketing channel.
~ Bryan Kramer, CEO PureMatter (@bryankramer)

22. Announcements of the launches of new content studios will make as much noise as trees falling in forests of wildly bored content marketers on the hunt for real news.
Stephanie Losee, Head of Content, Visa (@slosee)

23. Content marketers will go too far and not be able to get the bot genie back into the bottle. Content marketers in fear of losing their jobs to automation, as a proactive self-defense, will master Intelligent Content and Artificial Intelligence to the point that we will be able to reverse engineer the psychographics of individual UNKNOWNS based on Dynamic Content Optimization Feedback Loops leveraging Natural Language Processing, Behavioral Inversion Modeling and motivational psychology, leading to new classes of quantified self and concierge applications that merge self-assembling neural networks with contextual behavioral observation to drive the next wave of Personalized Self-Transcendence Coaching and Lifestyle Enhancement Technologies, misapplication of which by Tony Robbins will lead to his own self-transcendence, as he dissolves into an infinitely replicating Multi-self known to each human as an hyper-personalized Tony Robots, whose piercing digital gaze becomes all knowing and all present via a self-assembling ALL PERVASIVE API of EVERYTHING that (Borg-like) pulls data from every context-connected device and transforms them into a collective conspiracy to annihilate self-doubt.
Carlos Abler – Leader of Content Marketing Strategy, 3M (@Carlos_Abler)

24. My 2017 content marketing prediction is that ad blocking software companies will go out of business because brands finally realize that interruption marketing doesn’t work.
~ Carla Johnson, President, Type A Communications and co-author Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing (@CarlaJohnson)

25. 1). Content context becomes the key to getting your content discovered and consumed. 2). Content marketing laser focuses on quality and efficiency eliminating once and done content and increasing content ROI. 3). Blogs regain their rightful place at the center of content marketing offerings as owned media that drives email lists, leads and revenues.
Heidi Cohen – Chief Content Officer – Actionable Marketing Guide @HeidiCohen

26. Video will become a key driver for building an audience that can be retargeted with advertisements.  Facebook recently brought out the ability to retarget people based on the percentage of the video watched.  I think this type of retargeting will be massively important to content marketers.
~ Ian Cleary – Founder RazorSocial @iancleary

27. 1).  2017 will be there year when creatives start to understand the power of marketing technology – its more than beautiful images and great video – it will be about designing content and aligning it to your marketing stack. 2). The Trump campaign has evolved into a deliberate and perhaps brilliant post-election media strategy. After his loss in November, “Trump Media” will counter and eventually overtake Fox’s alt-right dominance. Garnering much more power (and revenue) had he successfully won the 2016 race.
~ Bryan Rhoads  – Digital Media & Business strategist – former global head of Intel’s social marketing (@bryanrhoads)

28. 2017 will see brands move to more specialization, visualization, personalization, and humanization in their content marketing programs and approaches.
Michael Brenner – CEO of Marketing Insider Group, and co-author of The Content Formula. (@BrennerMichael)

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Michael Brenner
Michael Brenner is a globally-recognized keynote speaker, author of The Content Formula and the CEO of Marketing Insider Group. He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael shares his passion on leadership and marketing strategies that deliver customer value and business impact. He is recognized by the Huffington Post as a Top Business Keynote Speaker and a top CMO influencer by Forbes. Please follow me LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook and Subscribe here for regular updates.
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Showing 4 comments
  • Roger C. Parker

    Thanks you, Michael, for gathering together so many insights. And, of course, for including me!

  • Steve Rayson

    Hi Michael, thanks for gathering these insights. I think Carlos is right, my prediction would also have been a significant increase in content production. This is for many reasons including the growth in automated content that Robert references. Content marketers will need to rethink the balance of quality content and the quantity of content, they publish, particularly for the early stage of the sales funnel.

    • Michael Brenner

      Thanks Steve, I agree with you 100%. Content production will go up, as it has since the dawn of mankind. It’s becoming more important for brands to commit to creating quality content at scale. And with all the waste I see inside Marketing departments creating content no one wants, they have plenty of money and time to invest.

  • Alok Raghuwanshi

    Great stuff! Thanks for the insights.