By Joe Pulizzi published August 3, 2016

The Biggest Content Marketing Trends in 2017


I’ve spent the last 12-plus months talking with enterprise marketers from around the globe to get a handle on where the content marketing industry is going. Through that process, in combination with our ongoing research, the CMI team puts together the schedule for Content Marketing World 2016.

Here are what I believe are some of the biggest issues enterprise marketers are dealing with, as well as some thought leaders who are covering this topic at #CMWorld (hint, hint).

Note: These are not in any particular order. They are all important, depending on where you are in your content marketing maturity.

One thing is for sure: Content creation and distribution in the enterprise, outside of the content about our products and services, have become both more important and more integrated over the past year.

Creation of a real content marketing strategy

In almost every keynote speech I give, I ask the audience members whether their organizations have a documented content marketing strategy. Sadly, most do not. Our research tells us that those organizations that do have one, and that review it consistently, are more likely to be successful. Even though you (the expert reading this) might think this is basic, it’s not. We are still too focused on campaigns and talking about our products, instead of truly driving value outside the products and services we offer.

In answer to this, Content Marketing World offers a specific workshop solely on how to create a documented content marketing strategy. To get started now, this essential e-book on creating a strategy will get you pointed in the right direction.

Native advertising

If you are a regular listener of the PNR: This Old Marketing podcast, you know that Robert Rose and I cover native advertising just about every week. I’ve often called native advertising the “gateway drug” to content marketing (in a good way). We are starting to see a number of enterprises experiment, and succeed, with paid, native promotion of their content.

Why is this so important? Five years ago, enterprises were spending 80% on content creation and 20% on content promotion. I believe this ratio has switched, with successful enterprises creating differentiated content and putting some advertising and promotion muscle behind it.

This is the first year that we are offering a dedicated track on native advertising at Content Marketing World. In addition, we have a panel on native with some of the leading experts in the world on the subject.

If you are unsure of native and how it can help your organization, check out this post.

Native advertising is the “gateway drug” to #contentmarketing (in a good way) says @joepulizzi. #cmworld Click To Tweet

Influencer marketing

Influencer marketing has always been a “thing,” but in the last six months … wow … this topic has vaulted into the top five. It seems that every enterprise has some kind of content and influencer strategy, but few organizations execute a real strategy that makes sense.

The CMI team did an amazing job on the influencer marketing checklist (totally worth the download). For Content Marketing World, we have quite a few sessions on influencer marketing, including Bryan Kramer on how to create and manage an influencer marketing program.

Purpose-driven marketing

What’s your why? Why do you create your content? Does it have a real impact on your customers and prospects? Is there a deeper purpose behind what you do, instead of just creating content as part of your sales and marketing machine?

We have a number of sessions on finding your purpose at CMWorld this year, but we specifically recruited comedian Michael Jr. to talk about “why versus what.” If you haven’t had a chance to see this video on finding your why, here’s a sneak peek.

Video and visual

It doesn’t take “Chewbacca Mom” to show us how big and important using video and having a visual storytelling strategy are. But, most brands are still hanging their video strategy on the viral video, instead of building a process and organization around the ongoing delivery of valuable information through video.

We have a CMWorld track dedicated to visual content, including an excellent session on building a visual content marketing program that scales. In addition, we have the video architects behind the very successful visual/video programs at Marriott, Jyske Bank, and Foodable.TV.


I have to be honest. I don’t get Snapchat, but enough of my smart colleagues have said it is here to stay. Since Snapchat has surpassed Facebook in total video views, it’s about time we started to take notice at Content Marketing World.

Anyway, I broke down and asked Carlos Gil who heads social at BMC Software to teach us about Snapchat and the opportunities for business.


Well, most of us built our social houses on rented Facebook land, and now what do we have to show for it? Not much actually. But there is a better way, especially when it comes to promoting your content assets on this powerhouse of a channel.

Although we have a number of sessions that discuss Facebook, I’m curious about the benefits of leveraging Facebook as a way to drive your content for lead generation. Brian Carter is putting on both a workshop and a session that will help you use Facebook as a demand-generation tool.

Teams and workflow

I’ve seen so many examples of well-meaning content marketing programs die because of improper workflow and hiring inadequate people to make real content experiences.

Among other sessions, Amanda Todorovich, Content Marketer of the Year finalist, is putting on a session dedicated to how her team built Cleveland Clinic’s content hub.

Content strategy (pipes and process)

My take on both content strategy and intelligent content is that these core areas are about the pipes that the content moves through. Great content is one thing, but if you don’t build in a strategy that makes sense for a user experience or leverages technology in the right way, we are all doomed.

When I think of content strategy, I think of people like Kristina Halvorson, Lisa Welchman, and, of course, Ann Rockley on the intelligent content side. We doubled down this year on sessions about setting up your content marketing process for success. To work properly over time, we need our processes to scale and be personalized. Most enterprises aren’t set up to do this outside of campaigns.

#Contentstrategy & #intelcontent are the pipes that the content moves through says @joepulizzi. #cmworld Click To Tweet


Pokémon Go anyone? How many times have you heard that INSERT YEAR HERE is the year of mobile? Well, with all audiences with at least one untethered device, that year may be now. To put it simply, if your content isn’t easily digested on a mobile device, you have significant problems.

My good friend Jeff Rohrs, CMO at Yext, is putting on a mobile moments panel at CMWorld to look at the opportunities we might be missing, while we also added a new session this year on content design and the mobile device. We considered having a separate mobile track this year, but so many sessions integrate mobile — it’s the natural transformation where mobile is a priority with most of the digital content we develop.

Content technology

Disclaimer: Before you choose any technology for your content marketing, be sure to have a sound strategy first. OK, had to say it.

Before you choose technology for your #contentmarketing, have a sound strategy first says @joepulizzi #cmworld Click To Tweet

With that out of the way, it only takes one look at Scott Brinker’s mammoth marketing technology infographic to make any marketer hesitant of what technology to choose. So yes, we have a full track dedicated to technology and tools (and another 12 sessions just on different content technologies), but I’m intrigued with Paul Roetzer’s session on machine learning. This is not just a futuristic look at content anymore, artificial intelligence and machine learning are here right now, and we need to start paying attention.


Click to enlarge


Writing still counts, perhaps more than ever. More than not, marketers are abuzz about social media and video without comprehending that most of our communication is still text- and story-based. And frankly, most marketers are really bad at writing. From finding freelancers to becoming a better digital writer, we have more sessions dedicated to writing than ever (yes, even in this age of social media). And, of course, Ann Handley.

Integration with sales

I had a great conversation with Marcus Sheridan a few years back. While he loved our programming at Content Marketing World 2014, he made me aware of a very sad truth: Most organizations are dominated by sales, and if we don’t start integrating salespeople into Content Marketing World, marketers are going to get back to their offices and hit brick walls.

Marcus, as usual, was 100% correct, and Content Marketing World is evolving into a marketing AND sales conference. To prove that, we’ve added a full track dedicated to sales and sales integration this year, as well a workshop on how top-performing companies are integrating their sales and content led by Marcus and best-selling author of Same Side Selling, Ian Altman.

ROI and measurement

I don’t think this one needs explaining. The No. 1 question, every year, is “How do I show the success of my content marketing program?” At CMWorld this year we have more than 10 sessions dedicated to driving ROI, performance, and sales with content. In the meantime, if you haven’t checked out this post by Michael Brenner on the secrets of content marketing ROI, please make the time.

Email and marketing automation

I’ve learned a couple things about email recently. First, email is far from dead, and may be more important than ever for our content marketing programs. Second, most enterprises (99% of them) send spam disguised as content every day to our key stakeholders.

And then, as many B2B enterprises have done, they move from just email into marketing automation. I talked to a senior strategist recently who believes that marketers use about 10% of the functionality behind marketing automation (10% is on the high side). Simply put, most of us are using marketing automation the wrong way.

Here’s a great overview on how marketing automation can help your organization as it relates to your content creation programs.

Most of us are using marketing automation the wrong way says @joepulizzi. #cmworld Click To Tweet

Content distribution and promotion

Again, the trend (rightfully so) seems to be moving from less content to more promotion. This is correct. No longer can we afford to create and execute on content projects without them ever seeing the light of day.

Executive buy-in

We developed the content marketing documentary, The Story of Content: Rise of the New Marketing, specifically to help marketers like you with executive buy-in. It’s definitely helped, but we need to do more. Content marketing is an approach … a way of doing business if you will … and many executives we work with are still firmly set with the traditional four Ps model.

Global integration

Content Marketing World attracted 40% of the Fortune 100 in 2015. Every one of those organizations operates globally. This means complex processes, scattered teams, communication issues, politics, and varied customer experiences. Simply put, it’s hard.

We’ve added a full global strategy track this year including sessions from the likes of Oracle and Rockwell Automation.

Construction of a media organization

I’m fascinated by the movement of enterprises to becoming media companies. Red Bull Media House was, of course, one of the first to formally create a media company inside its organizations. PepsiCo and Mondelez recently announced their efforts to structure part of their content organizations as profit centers. This is a huge movement that has some momentum behind it.

After Arrow Electronics (Fortune 500 manufacturer) purchased a number of media properties from UBM (parent company of Content Marketing Institute), we decided to reach out to them about their core strategy. Victor Gao, vice president of digital and managing director of Arrow Media Group, will be presenting the company’s strategy on building a media division through acquisition.

What major challenges did I miss? Please let me know in the comments.

Looking forward to seeing you at Content Marketing World in Cleveland in September.

Learn more about the five core elements necessary for running successful, scalable, and highly strategic content marketing operations within an organization. Read our 2016 Content Marketing Framework: 5 Building Blocks for Profitable, Scalable Operations.

Author: Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi is the Founder of Content Marketing Institute, a UBM company, the leading education and training organization for content marketing, which includes the largest in-person content marketing event in the world, Content Marketing World. Joe is the winner of the 2014 John Caldwell Lifetime Achievement Award from the Content Council. Joe’s the author of five books, including his latest, Killing Marketing. His third book, Epic Content Marketing was named one of “Five Must Read Business Books of 2013” by Fortune Magazine. If you ever see Joe in person, he’ll be wearing orange. Follow him on Twitter @JoePulizzi.

Other posts by Joe Pulizzi

  • Michael Brenner

    Awesome post Joe and I think you have all the major trends covered. For 2017 I am focusing on 4 trends with my clients. I think you have them all covered but this is how I explain it: Specialization, Visualization, Personalization, Humanization (is that a word?)

    Specialization will see brands moving beyond trying to be everything to everyone or everything to someone and being something important to a highly targeted audience. Creating a niche they can own. It’s your “content tilt” from “Content Inc.”

    Visualization you have covered as well and it’s so obvious. But for brands this is a tough one. Visual content has to be engaging, emotional, and authentic. And visual content takes budget and skills many brands haven’t invested in as much as they need to.

    Personalization is, in my mind, one of the biggest trends for 2017. There is some technology aspect to this but for the most part I think this will become a major theme as brands try to achieve becoming a preferred destination in their niche. The rise in adoption of Marketing Automation, Account-Based Marketing, and other technologies support this trend and will enable true personalization.

    Finally, Humanization is important because one of the best ways to scale content marketing without massive investment is to tap into the expertise, the authority, and the real passions of the employees, customers, partners that already sit inside the company.

    I’ll be sharing more thoughts on these trends in the coming weeks. Can’t wait to see everyone in a month in Cleveland.

    • Joe Pulizzi

      Boom! See you in five weeks my friend.

    • Judy Nelson

      good way to describe

  • Erika Heald

    I’m even more pumped up for Content Marketing World after reading this post, Joe!

  • Joe Griffin

    Joe pulls through again – fantastic primer on what’s going on and what’s upcoming in content marketing. Hope to see you at CMW – we have a crew of 5 coming + booth this year!

  • Joei Chan

    Hi Joe,
    Great post as usual. Coincidentally, we asked Rand, Larry, Sujan, Sam, and Benji to answer the same question in video form. (we thought we’re getting ahead of ourselves to talk about 2017 in August, but it seems great minds think alike 😉
    Would very much like to know what you think:

  • Kathleen Lee

    Content marketers who stay track of the present trends will have an benefit when it comes to preparation for the future. Their responses offer a diversity of predictions, and lots of believe that many focus to be found on live video, visual content, interactive content, virtual realism, personalized and niche content, content promotion and distribution, and that more businesses will look for content creators and marketers. A number of observe the focus shifting towards writing longer, superior quality, more in-depth content, Although others sense that the trend of too much terrible quality content will continue.

  • Lyndon Antcliff

    It seems so hard for companies to create a strategy which plugs into the culture and ethos of their brand. Publishing is a complex and nuanced thing and is not as simple as hiring someone for a content marketing position.

    As I assume we all well know.

    The distance from grabbing the latest, fashionable technique, be it blogging, infogaphics, video… etc. and developing a stand alone publishing strategy is huge. And as a lot of agencies make it all sound easy, a misunderstanding of the artform has taken hold and seem difficult to remove.

    When we see blog posts lay out content marketing as a simple list of things to do, it’s no wonder a lot of executives thing it’s simply a case of plug and play, when the reality is the heart and soul of the company, yeah even the very DNA must play a part of shaping any content marketing strategy and be plugged into its nervous system.

    As content marketing professionals we will come up against this time and time again, as the easiest path will also be perceived as being the right path.

    But rather than teach more of the techniques, I think it’s best to change the mindset, the attitude of any executive that show resistant. You have to lay a little Zen on them sometimes, call it hacking if you must as I know it is the term in vogue.

    Stories work so well to help communicate what is after all a complex and nuanced process. And one which requires much time and investment.

    Although I must say, it is highly rewarding when it works.

    • Joe Pulizzi

      Thanks for the take Lyndon. Hope to see you at CMWorld this year.

  • rogercparker

    As Joe Griffin said below, “a fantastic primer on what’s going on and what’s upcoming in content marketing” and Content Marketing World.

    • Joe Pulizzi

      Thanks Roger!



    As always an insightful amazing article. Although 2017 seems so far away, it really isn’t and we will see what it brings us in the world of content marketing. On a side note, the mention you made about Michael Brenner and ‘Secrets of Content Marketing ROI’ was very insightful! Thank you.

    Michael I


    • Joe Pulizzi

      Thanks for that…2017 will be here in a blink of an eye.

  • 3D Architectural Visualization

    Really such an amazing experience. Content marketing is really an upcoming trend and content marketing helps business to grow strongly with fresh, updated and cool contents.

  • tpldrew

    Thanks, Joe for the long list of Marketing Trends!

    I’m going to really have to re-think the way I’m using marketing automation tools.

    Made me think!

  • Dhivya Subramanian

    It is really a nice blog…..thanks for sharing this….its really useful

  • Alexander V

    Excellent post!

  • Christopher Jan Benitez

    Great post as always, Joe! I strongly believe that influencer marketing is the best way to businesses to go if they want to grow their business quicker and faster. Riding the wave of popularity of these influencers will expose your businesses to your audience to ensure increase traffic and brand visiblity.

    I would also like to add brand storytelling in the mix. Audiences like to see brand in a more vulnerable light so they can sympathize with the brand and form a stronger bond with it.

    Everything else is spot on! Also, if you don’t mind, I linked this on my weekly editor post about the latest content marketing resources online: Hope you don’t mind!

    • Joe Pulizzi

      Thanks for the take Christopher…and thanks for sharing it as well.

  • Mattducz

    I’ve learned more about content marketing in the past three days while checking out CMI than I have in the past year. Incredible stuff!

    • Joe Pulizzi

      Love it! Thanks Matt.

  • Marketing Sweet

    Thanks for the great resources Joe! Content marketing is so important for businesses but needs to be done the right way. This article is definitely going to help.

  • rkinfo

    Content generated by consumers : There is no better advertising than the recommendation of a customer right? Well, then to write and share their happy experience with our brand, and see how people come and want to know more about your brand.

    “The company produced bottles of Coca-Cola with customer names and distributed in different cities. They then asked consumers to share photos with the bottle with your name on Twitter and other social networks. The company attributes this campaign a 2% increase in sales in the United States. “

  • Chelsey

    This article is very in depth and I thoroughly enjoyed reading the whole thing. I think one of the things that is difficult for most digital marketers is trying to explain recent trends and communicating this to businesses. It seems as if most business owners fall within the generation X and are more hesitant to believe in real-time and influencer marketing than traditional marketing efforts that they’re used to. Despite the some of the barrier, I think if business owners are open to the idea of implementing some of these tactics, they’ll start so see some positive growth within their company in a short amount of time. All of these content marketing trends are definitely the way to gain attention, build customer relationships and grow a business. Great points all around!

  • Ankesh Agarwal

    Wow very nice tips thank you sir for this post i have maked a blog website recently. i will use your tips for my site thanks again.

    • Komal Kim Kevin

      “Maked” a blog?! You need to first learn English grammar before hoping to write marketable content. And I say this as a fellow Indian. Please don’t use Indianisms and call yourself a professional writer. You insult genuine writers like me!

  • Aidan

    This is trash. Marketing mumbo jumbo pseudo intellectual BS.

  • Kathryn Poloczek

    Hi Joe, if you had to pick your top 3 or top 5 which would they be?

    • Joe Pulizzi

      Hi Kathryn…I think we are seeing more enterprises actually form media companies, and drive direct revenue from their marketing. This is the one Robert Rose and I are starting to focus on now.

      • Kathryn Poloczek

        Thanks for your feedback.

  • Diana

    Great article, Joe. I learned so much!