10 Content Marketing Predictions for 2016

By Juliet Stott  |  January 5, 2016

3d gold letters spelling 10

What does 2016 hold for content marketing?

It promises to become more focused on the reader, according to Gary Johnson, president of MSP Communications. “My primary concern is consumer fatigue and the challenges it presents to those of us who create content and seek engagement.

The Content Marketing Institute has published at least two years of surveys showing that only a third of content marketers feel their strategies are working. I expect the numbers will worsen in 2016, at least for those brands that persist in creating content that doesn’t meet a higher standard,” he says.

“Consumers still respond best to content imbued with personal resonance, high value and utility—attributes (dare I say, virtues?) that enhance their lives and even their purchases. As content creators we have to keep our eye on the real prize, making certain we are always thinking reader first.”

What do other content marketing gurus predict for 2016? Throughout 2015, MSPC, a division of MSP Communications, conducted interviews on content marketing trends and directions with some of the industry’s leading practitioners, strategists, analysts, best-selling authors and co-founders of influential agencies (check them out in the Content Kings blog on MSPCagency.com).

We also asked these luminaries to share their predictions for content marketing in 2016 and have compiled a list of 10:

1. Jay Acunzo, VP of Boston’s seed VC firm NextView Ventures and former digital media strategist for Google:

“Teams will start to scale up, and strategies will become sophisticated. Businesses will hire people who can create content that speaks the language of a writer and who understands the marketing needs too. We are going to be more focused on the people and less focused on the tactical part. Content is all about the people; it’s all about the talent.”

2. Jay Baer, founder of Convince & Convert and author of the New York Times best-seller “Youtility”:

“Being able to communicate in short form video is a really interesting development and something we’re going to see more and more of. We’ll see companies using that as a primary social media outlet as opposed to a tertiary outlet. Second, we are starting to see the resources pendulum swing back toward reactive social media instead of all of the proactive marketing of, ‘let’s take some pretty pictures.’”

3. Michael Brenner, CEO of Marketing Insider Group and head of strategy at NewsCred:

“I predict a massive correction in advertising budgets that will drive an increase in content marketing. This will require us to get pretty darn good at showing content marketing ROI. We’ll also see more personalization, visual content and brand-produced entertaining content. Is 2016 the year of brands finding a personality and sense of humor?”

4. Andy Crestodina, Web strategist and content marketer from Chicago’s Orbit Media:

“There will be more tools, more techniques, and a lot of marketers will chase these without being strategic. I still think it’s a very common question: Should I use X? Or how can I use X? How can I connect with X? Should I use Facebook? Or what’s my Pinterest strategy? The problem with these types of questions is that they’re not starting with empathy. They don’t ask: Where’s my audience? What are they doing? What do they read? What are they spending time doing? If you start from there, then you’ll never ask the question, ‘What is my strategy for Instagram?’”

5. Ann Handley*, chief content officer at MarketingProfs and author of “Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content

“In 2016, content marketing exits its crazy college years. Grows up. Gets real job. Pays its own bills. In 2016, content marketing tells bigger stories with a braver focus and a bolder voice.”

*Ann had so much to say on this topic she put the rest of her thoughts into a 200-word blog post!

6. Doug Kessler, co-founder of Velocity Partners and author of the viral SlideShare, “Crap. The Content Marketing Deluge”:

“2016 will see a backlash against content marketing as the companies who are doing it badly start to doubt its effectiveness. They’re right—but for the wrong reasons! It’s not content marketing that’s failing them; it’s the lack of strategy and metrics.”

7. Rebecca Lieb, analyst, advisor and author of “Content Marketing: Think like a publisher”:

“Enterprises will begin to hire more senior executives to oversee content initiatives. If 2015 was the year of the content manager or director, 2016 will usher in VP and higher roles. Content is not a channel; it’s related to all advertising, marketing and communications initiatives. As such, it requires senior, strategic oversight—something companies are coming to recognize.”

8. Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute and best-selling author of “Content Inc.: How Entrepreneurs Use Content to Build Massive Audiences and Create Radically Successful Businesses”:

“2016 will be the year for content marketing mergers and acquisitions. 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 will short-circuit the process and just buy the asset.”

9. Robert Rose, chief strategy officer for The Content Marketing Institute and senior contributing analyst for Digital Clarity Group:

“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.”

10. Shane Snow, CCO and co-founder of Contently:

“The content marketing mindset of providing value to attract, rather than interrupting to distract, will spread across enterprise brands. Content will shift from being a department within marketing to being the source that feeds all departments. Executives will demand the technology to support this creation of quality content throughout the company.”

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Read next: Content Marketing vs. Advertising: What’s the Difference, Again?

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