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Four content marketing predictions for 2016

Dominik Grau makes four predictions for content marketing in 2016, based on dozens of conversations with executives, marketers, publishers and content professionals at this week's Content Marketing World event in the USA.

CMW is the world's largest event of its kind and we've attended many times now, ever since it had only a couple of hundred attendees (this year there were 3,500). Since it's launch, it has become a massive event and we strongly believe that it's one of the world's best conferences for media companies and publishers.

CMW teaches marketers and brands to create content. You'll learn everything from creating a content strategy, attracting an audience, building an engagement universe, converting leads, monetising user data and incorporating native ads or branded content into your strategy.

Content marketing today is what custom publishing, corporate media and client communications were in 2000. I worked at a large custom publisher many years ago and had we known back then what we know now about content marketing - we surely would have seen our profits skyrocket over night. Content marketing is media redefined. It is what you need to know to create, grow and maintain great content. Period.

So, what have we seen at CMW 2015 and where do we think this market will be going in 2016. Here are my four predictions based on dozens of conversations with executives, marketers, publishers and content professionals.

1. Predictive content

Content marketing is at a turning point. It's no longer enough to just create good content. You must be able to anticipate, analyse and predict what kind of content will be the best, the most interesting and the most engaging. Content marketers need to learn these skills quickly because that's were the content gold will be in 2016: predicting and matching audience needs based on big data and real-time analysis.

2. Real-time relevancy

While real-time analysis will be important to drive your predictive content strategy, real-time relevancy will drive the user engagement. Only then will content marketing messages be relevant if at the same time you are able to present your audience related messages or products based on a deep understanding of their content usage. At every stage of the funnel and in every content direction: news, evergreens, whitepapers, seminars, webinars, commerce products, books, etc. Your content should be matched with a real-time relevancy system that smartly integrates marketing messages based on automated tags, predictive content and related topics. A content Amazon on steroids.

3. Constant conversions

Content per se has no quality. It's the result of the actions that content triggers that are the real asset and the real quality of your content. The best content converts users. Either to email, to your store, your event, your partners or to another action that is matched with your monetisation or engagement strategy. We will see an influx of content marketing tools in 2016 that will do this for you; tools that will convert and reengage customers, that will reactivate dead leads and will give your content a new quality that goes much deeper than ever before. Be ready to convert but be ready that everyone will do so, too.

4. Deep metrics

Going deep on conversions is only one side of the quality equation. The other is deep metrics. Every element of your content must be analsyed and every element of your audience behaviour as well. Google Analytics is not enough. It's a good start but you need to align every available metrics platform and service that makes sense alongside your content cycle. Go deep on metrics and think about how data can inform your content strategy from the very beginning, for example when planning predictive content. Think about measuring ROI and ROE (return on engagement), map your lead cycle from the very first click to the final conversion. The better your content marketing can be measured, the better your results will be.

What are your content marketing trends for 2016? Connect with me on Twitter and let me know.

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