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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 Share on X

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 Share on X


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 Share on X

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.


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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 Share on X

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.

Want your audience to take notice and take action on your brand’s content? Our newest Guide to Essential Content Marketing Tactics has tips, insights, and ideas that can help increase your success with today’s top content marketing plays.