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How the world of content marketing changed in 2015

2015 has been a busy year in the world of content marketing, with major changes in the way that content is produced, distributed and measured.

It’s little wonder, considering the rate at which technology is evolving. 2015 was a year in which virtual reality became an actual reality and social media channels became full-blown publishing platforms.

Join us as we take a look back at how the world has changed over the past 12 months…

Mobile first
First up, one of the biggest shifts was in mobile marketing. Earlier in the year we predicted that people would be consuming more content on their phones. Recent research from Deloitte shows that we were right. 76% of Brits now own a smartphone, up 6% on 2014. Their report goes on to say that 53% of smartphone users check their phones within five minutes of waking.

To fit in with that change, Google introduced a mobile-friendly update in April. This update boosted “the ranking of mobile-friendly pages on mobile search results”. What that means, in practice, is sites that work well for mobile users rank higher in mobile search results.

Of course, mobile is affecting more than web usage. It’s also having an effect on email marketing. Data from Yesmail CRM found that more than half of all emails were opened on a mobile device in 2015. Consequently, the amount spent after clicking a link in those emails was up by 9.6% in Q3 2015 on Q3 2014. So not only are people reading more email on mobile, they’re also spending as a result of receiving those emails.

Getting personal
The use of personalised content has exploded in 2015. Research by Boxever in 2014 showed that 56% of customers want to receive content tailored to their interests and needs. In fact, 40% claimed that they would be less likely to spend with a company that sent irrelevant content. It should therefore come as no surprise that marketers were keen to get their own personalisation efforts underway 2015.

In fact, SAP company hybris claims that as many as 66% of marketers are delivering targeted content based on demographic information in 2015. A further 9/10 want to improve their customer experience using personalisation in future.

But it’s not just the obvious content, like email, that’s being personalised. Digital magazine content is being targeted at individual reader’s interests, as is programmatic advertising and social media ads. They all take user information into consideration to achieve the highest engagement rates.

Moving pictures
Video content marketing has also been on the rise – not least because of the increase in video platforms. 2015 was the year in which Meerkat and Periscope fought it out for live streaming supremacy, while YouTube launched Gaming. Vine also continued to grow, hitting 100 million users this year.

Facebook overtook YouTube for video views in 2015 too, as it introduced native videos to News Feeds. According to Facebook, 8 billion videos are viewed on its platform every day, overtaking the 1 billion secured by YouTube. Although this figure is problematic (how Facebook calculates views can seem misleading), it gives marketers food for thought as they consider where to share their videos in future.

The number of people watching video content via smart phone has also grown. Data collected by the Internet Advertising Bureau found the 40% of people in the UK watched video on their phones. In fact, 26% of UK respondents said that they watch less TV because they’re watching videos on their phones. What that means for traditional TV advertising remains to be seen, but marketers and advertisers will adapt if they want to see return on their efforts.

In-app publishing
In a bid to keep people on their sites, social media platforms turned their attention to becoming publishers in 2015. Snapchat launched Discover for selected brands in January, while Facebook unveiled Instant Articles in May. Twitter entered the field late in the year too, with Moments, which curates information around a particular subject all in one place. LinkedIn also relaunched its Pulse platform mid-2015 to entice people and brands to publish their own content on the site.

As with Facebook video, these shifts are forcing marketers and publishers to consider where they’re sharing content to get the most engagement. With so many people on social media, it seems inevitable that marketers will start to publish to social first in 2016.

Looking to the future
Of course this isn’t a comprehensive list of the ways content marketing has evolved in 2015. There have been shifts towards ad-blocking software, app development and PR in the past 12 months to name a few more changes.
With technology and marketing developing at such a rate, 2016 will be a year that keeps marketers on their toes as they try to keep up with evermore sophisticated marketing techniques.