The new social-centric, mobile-first era shows no signs of slowing in the months and years ahead. The current consumer engagement environment is tremendously fragmented, and mastering how to make the most of Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Snapchat can be an extremely tall order. So what should content marketers expect in 2016?

  1. Connecting onsite and offsite analytics will be critical. As consumers spend more time on mobile apps and in social media silos, marketers will need to measure how consumers are interacting with their content (and brand) beyond their website properties. To better connect and understand the complete customer journey, marketers will embrace new tools that are transforming marketing analytics by providing a comprehensive picture of offsite and onsite user activities.
  2. Marketers will push past the browser mentality and wholeheartedly embrace the new mobile consumer dynamic. Content has an oversized effect for marketers in mobile as social apps dominate consumers’ mobile lives – users are actively digesting, sharing and promoting content. More importance will be placed on the mobile user experience and overcoming mobile marketing obstacles, especially in regard to content.
  3. Content data will increase cross-channel visibility and solve some mobile marketing challenges. The industry will start to push past the limitations of traditional cookie-based marketing and use a new crop of content data, which is transferable across siloed channels, to more effectively target consumers. Marketers need to understand who and why, as well as where, and content data can break down barriers of closed platform monopolies. Using new insights from interest data, intent data, conversational data, etc., marketers will better target both desktop and mobile-based content campaigns – driving better business outcomes in turn.
  4. Publishers will segment audiences to generate a new advertising revenue stream and build stronger brand relationships. Innovative publishers are testing ways to drive long-term ROI to keep pace with the shifting publishing landscape. Breaking free from the restrictions of retargeting, publishers will try to model Facebook’s native approach and market extremely specific target audiences. Brands will take back control and start buying segmented audiences directly from publishers as they shy away from fraud-riddled ad exchanges.
  5. Cute cats simply won’t cut it. As organic reach shrinks and content consumption patterns shift, marketers will realize that creating massive amounts of content and indiscriminately distributing it across various audiences and platforms will not achieve business goals. How marketers approach content marketing will change as we move into the next phase of the content marketing evolution – zeroing in on niche audiences, hyper-targeted content, a mobile-first mentality and predefined business objectives. Measuring content effectiveness will become paramount.
  6. Paid distribution will no longer need to be publishers’ dirty little secret. Shifting consumption patterns and business goals have firmly established paid distribution as part of the successful publisher’s marketing handbook. Paid distribution gives publishers more control and will increasingly be used to meet specific business goals by optimizing content campaigns to target and engage qualified audiences.

While the changing consumer dynamic is driving major marketing shifts and creating new opportunities to attract and engage consumers via content, many marketers are still struggling to effectively use content to reach qualified audiences that will drive business goals. The next phase of the content marketing evolution is on the horizon, and 2016 promises to be a major turning point.