It’s hard to be a marketer these days. Keeping up with consumers’ rapidly changing content consumption habits can prove challenging, let alone staying on top of the latest tech breakthroughs and newest social platforms.

But at the end of the day, effective marketing boils down to reaching the right audience with the right message at the right time, and good marketers realize that content marketing is one of the best tactics for achieving this goal.  While the basic marketing formula remains steadfast, there are some emerging trends and best practices that we have our eyes on.  Here are six tips for staying current with your content marketing endeavors. 

1. Embrace user-generated content
Your clients can be your biggest brand evangelists.  Savvy brands take advantage of the real-time feedback they’re generating on social media and have created some truly inspirational marketing campaigns.  (Here are 10 great examples of user-generated content campaigns.)  Companies of all sizes can easily engage their audience by asking for input and utilizing that feedback in future campaigns and posts.  Mediaplanet often turns to its global fan base for ideas on what topics to cover and which celebrities to feature.  Our audience appreciates that their voice is heard, and we benefit from insights that we can then pass along to our clients.    

2. Reconsider your metrics
The viewability debate has put a spotlight on how to best spend the marketing dollar.  (The answer probably isn’t investing in some run-of-the-mill, irrelevant banner ad that may never be seen.)  The page view measurement has also sparked some scrutiny.  It’s an important metric, but when it’s prioritized above the user experience, the result is an unhappy audience and an un-valuable click.  The Financial Times recently announced it will now sell ads based on engagement time.  While we’re not predicting that every publisher will follow suit, it is an interesting move indicative of a market-wide conundrum.  How can we tell if what we’re doing is working?  At Mediaplanet, we measure more than clicks.  We’re also monitoring time spent on page, social media shares and discussions about our content on and off our channels.  Make sure you, too, fully understand what’s resonating with your readers.

3. Focus on mobile
In the US, advertisers will spend 83 percent more on tablet and smartphone advertising than they did last year, resulting in an increase of $8.04 billion, according to eMarketer.  Why the dramatic uptick?  Mobile spending is increasing because time spent on mobile is increasing.  This year, US adults will spend an average of 2 hours and 51 minutes a day with their mobile phones, also according to eMarketer.  Yet, not everyone is prepared for the mobile surge.  According to research from Vibrant Media’s Mobile Advertising Readiness Survey, 45 percent of “the most popular print media publications in the United Kingdom” have sites that display ineffectively on mobile devices.  Ensure your content is optimized for the medium it will be displayed on, and remember there’s an ever-increasing chance that that medium will be a smartphone. 

4. Agencies, make dramatic changes—and quickly 
The surge in content marketing is redefining what it means to be a marketer.  Both brands and agencies are building newsrooms to churn out effective, high quality content.  Programs like BuzzFeed’s agency education programs and tools like Mashable’s Velocity help agencies learn to act like publishers—a lesson they’ll need to learn quickly if they want to keep up with their clients’ growing demand for content.  We believe agencies will continue to turn to publishers for insight, and will be forced to adapt new practices faster than ever before. 

5. Woo the Millennial
Remember when all the marketing chatter was about the Baby Boomer?  There’s a new largest population group in town, and a slew of research devoted to understanding it.  Meet the Millennials (19-to-36 year olds).  Even if they’re not your target audience yet, someday they will be, and they make purchasing decisions differently than the generations before them.  Luckily, Millennials love content and social.  Expect to read more and more about how to best engage this market segment, and start your research by checking out the infographic below, created by CEB in conjunction with their recent report, “Inside the Millennial Mind.”

Photo credit: CEB