Content optimization combines the power of content marketing and SEO to create a robust, cohesive data-driven marketing plan that drives awareness, expands reach, and improves customer engagement. Organizations are beginning to see the value in implementing this type of strategy, finding that it builds trust, increases leads, and delivers greater ROI than traditional marketing strategies. PureFocus – a Los Angeles based Digital Content Marketing Agency, is focused on the following 2017 trends.

1. Using the power of micro-influencers.

Influencer marketing has skyrocketed in popularity, with dozens of brands trying to snap up industry experts whose followings number in the hundreds of thousands — this is influenced by the “bigger is better” mentality.

However, high-quality influencers no longer need to have a large number of followers — they simply need to have a fiercely loyal audience in a specific niche. Fans and devoted followers of online personalities and thought leaders feel connected to these individuals, trusting them as though they would a friend or colleague. Influencers are no longer just teens and young adults with funny videos or stylish photos; they have a connection to a specific demographic, such as IT professionals, executives and decision-makers. Leveraging these micro-influencers can be a powerful tactic to gain traction, establish credibility, or simply increase awareness of a product or brand.

2. Creating content for proactive reputation management.

Brands often can’t control what is written about them online — in fact, it’s a feature used as a benefit for some content producers, such as Yelp. But when brands start creating and distributing optimized content, they can exert control over the way it is perceived online. Establishing subject expertise promotes trust, leading to a sense of authority. Not only will the brand voice be trusted, when something disparaging is written (whether true or not), it will be balanced with additional content chosen and optimized by the brand itself.

When brands don’t take the time to optimize their online presence — social media included — the consumers write the narrative. They must take charge of conversations about recent events in the industry, and establish themselves and their organization as an authority.

3. Taking back content ownership from social media.

Social media is a powerful channel, but many brands have begun to rely too heavily on third-party platforms (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram). Instead of focusing on growing the properties they own, they seek out virality for those brief moments of user attention. Social media has its place and should be a staple in any content optimization strategy; however, brands should focus on using it to drive traffic back to their owned properties and website.

Relying on social media alone is a dangerous strategy. In June 2016, publishers on Facebook noticed their reach per post had dropped 42%, showing that a brand’s reputation and reach on a channel that is not under the brand’s control can be wiped out with a simple algorithm adjustment. Facebook then reported in early December that metrics relating to iPhone traffic for Instant Articles (which hosts content on their platform), were underreported for a “small group of … publishers.” And in October 2016, just four years after launch, the popular video sharing app Vine announced it would shut down. The company said that users of the app can download the videos they created, which will also be available online — but there is no telling for how long. But when a company relies on a third-party platform, small issues can create big problems overnight.

4. Stopping the oversaturation of email inboxes.

Email marketing has always been a top performer in terms of ROI, but customers are beginning to ignore their inboxes. Recent research has shown that sending too many emails — which many marketers are guilty of doing — can actually lower overall engagement. Click-through rates have recovered, but are still in an overall decline since email marketing’s heyday.

Consumers are continuously moving towards real-time interactions with a company. According to Forrester report, online chat as a tool for customer service interactions has increased from 38% in 2009 to 65% in 2015. This method of communication allows the customers to remain on the company’s website and interact without major effort. Live chats are popping up everywhere on websites, and not just for customer service — businesses are adding live chat as a way to promote content.

5. Turning to content optimization.

The biggest trend for 2017 will be creating data-driven content strategies. The powerful impact of optimizing existing content, creating new content, and optimizing the distribution strategy — finding new places to promote content offsite and learning to strategically develop new onsite content — will help brands meet consumer needs at the right stage of the purchase funnel.

Content optimization strategies deliver high ROI, especially when repurposing content that has already been written. Many brands have digital content created years — perhaps even decades — ago that can be optimized, promoted and redistributed, resulting in increased traffic and more leads.

Content optimization is picking up momentum. Brands can use this tactic as a way to approach content marketing and SEO in a targeted, data-driven manner. This year, content optimization trends will shake up the way content marketing campaigns are executed, allowing brands to reap the rewards and ROI.