According to Content Marketing Institute’s B2B Content Marketing 2017: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America, 2016 was a pretty good year for companies with content marketing programs in place, and 2017 will be even better. We agree—B2B companies are getting better at identifying their target audiences and creating very specific types of content that will attract them.

These same companies got smarter about social media distribution and growing an audience of subscribers, and 2017 will include prominent steps in the right direction. Here are our predictions for 2017, as content marketing continues to march toward maturity.

1. Companies will continue to focus on quality content

There’s too much content out there. So in 2017, more marketing teams will focus on creating quality content that can help them connect with customers and move them through the sales cycle. We’ll also see more brands focusing on atomization or using the brick and feathers approach—creating one large, more in-depth (and likely more expensive) piece of content and following up with related blog posts, infographics, videos, SlideShares and other compelling content.

2017 may also bring some reflection…if there’s too much content out there and people ignore much of it, what makes them ultimately click, read and subscribe?

2. Sponsored content will keep growing

adblockingAdblocking is projected to continue to grow to 86.6 million people in 2017, which means it’s going to be more and more difficult to push broadcast ads to people. Google’s also got plans to penalize mobile pages where interstitial and intrusive ads block too much content. This leaves brands with fewer traditional paid ad opportunities, which means they’ll have to get creative with sponsored content.
Chase’s Sapphire Reserve credit card is underwriting a travel site called Meridian, which was launched by Vox Media. Note that the content isn’t overly promotional; only some content will be sponsored by Chase in addition to some banner ads. Expect more big brands to do this in 2017 as a way to connect with readers.

3. Companies will increase the quantity of content

B2B brands are hoping to amp up their content creation in 2017, in addition to a focus on quality. According to the CMI report, 70 percent plan to create more in 2017 than they did in 2016. Considering just shy of half (45 percent) say that their budgets will also remain the same, this may be difficult. However, 39 percent say their budget will increase, which could help them create more content. B2B brands increasing their budgets may begin using a mix of internal and external resources to ensure they’re getting the right mix of quantity and quality.

4. Strategy will become more important

Next year, the percentage of B2B companies documenting their content strategy will continue to grow. Research suggests that documenting your content strategy can help your team reach its goals. It ensures alignment across your team and can help you make decisions about tactics throughout the year. A documented strategy can also be used to help you increase your budget (or defend it, if needed). In 2017, B2B brands will get a little more serious about strategy. The share of documented strategies will increase, and it may even lead to more senior-level strategic positions on the marketing team, like a Chief Content Officer (finally).