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The content marketing industry has matured over the past decade, from the development of short articles stuffed with links to the creation of live video and AI-developed articles. Some marketers have evolved with popular trends to create content audiences want, while others have dug in their heels and fought these changes.
These two schools of thought have created a rift in the industry, with old-school marketers decrying that content is dead and no longer a valuable tool for advertising. However, modern marketers think content is very much alive.
Don’t let anyone tell you that content isn’t king. It might not rule in the same style as 2012, but that doesn’t mean it’s not successfully leading from its throne.
Content Is More Targeted Now Than Ever
Image via Flickr by trainjason
Five years ago, marketers created content because it’s what everyone else was doing. Your competitors had a blog, so you needed a blog. With that logic, millions of content marketing budgets around the world were used to crank out articles and share them with social followers in hopes of generating sales. Today, a similar process is in place, but marketers have evolved to make content more targeted.
Today’s content marketing industry is more of a science than an art. Before a piece is posted, marketers take into consideration the target audience, the content’s location in the sales funnel, and the questions the content is meant to answer. In some cases, the content is meant to be fun and attract top-funnel visitors, but other times it’s developed with sales goals in mind.
This isn’t just a shift from content quantity to quality, it’s a shift toward content strategy. Even great content can get ignored if it’s placed poorly. By setting up a plan for each piece, the content is more effective and the industry continues to grow.
The Definition of Content is Growing
Content detractors who think the industry is dying are typically the ones who can’t find people to buy their products anymore. A few years ago, most people considered a generic 500-word blog post to be content. Production only cost a few dollars and it was easily scalable. However, the industry is evolving. While audiences can enjoy a well-written think-piece or in-depth analysis, they have no patience for shallow articles. Even entry-level content creators are focusing on long-form pieces that provide value to new people in their industries.
Content also continues to expand outside of the written medium. More brands than ever are investing in digital assets, graphics, and videos to connect with audiences. These pieces are content just as much as written articles, even if old-fashioned content mills can’t produce them.
Businesses publish an average of 18 videos per month, and 56 percent of these videos are less than two minutes long. The content ranges from video tutorials and product descriptions to testimonials and case studies. The content is still there and only the medium has changed.
Other Industries Continue to Grow out of Content Marketing
Content marketing has become a parent industry for a variety of sub-industries and advertising tactics. Guest blogging, influencer marketing, and native advertising all stem from the idea of content creation. If content wasn’t king anymore, then these industries would inevitably go down with it.
Consider the statistics that 86 percent of women turn to social media before making a purchase while 78 percent of beauty brands used social influencers as part of their marketing strategies in 2017. The customers are dictating the channels and styles of how they want to interact with brands, which means it’s up to the beauty brands to meet them where and how they want. Influencer marketing continues to grow because customers demand it.
Furthermore, if you think content marketing sub-industries like influencer marketing are just fads for B2C brands, consider that it averages a $6.50 return for every dollar invested. Companies that treat this industry as a valuable communication channel can easily reap their rewards, while others who ignore it or only partially commit will still struggle to see its value.
Customers Rely On Content for Information
Both B2B and B2C industries need content to help customers make buying decisions. It doesn’t matter whether the content is an environmental think piece about investing in solar or an Instagram video about unicorn hair, content convinces buyers.
Without content, brands have no way of providing information to customers. They can’t convey a sense of urgency over industry trends or highlight new products that can solve customer problems. Without content, the Internet is blank.
People who decry the end of content marketing as a medium fail to take product descriptions, social media posts, and company announcements into account. All of these are the base level of content that almost every business needs. If you take those forms of communication away, then a company is silent.
Content Production Isn’t Slowing Down
Every few years, marketing experts like to create think pieces depicting the end of content’s dominance in the sales process, and every year the industry proves those ideas wrong. Simply put, as long as people continue to create content and prioritize production within their organizations, then content will be king.
For example, 51 percent of content marketing teams say they plan to increase their spending over the next year, and 35 percent say their budgets will remain the same. Only three percent of marketers plan to actively decrease their content spending.
The value of this data is emphasized by the idea that people who say content marketing is the most effective tool for their business invest 39 percent of their budget in it on average. People who say content marketing is ineffective typically only give 16 percent of their budget to it. Those who are dedicated to creating content and deeply invested in its long-term opportunities have more success than those who do the bare minimum.
Content will remain king until brands decide it’s not, and you can expect serious declines in production and budget-allocation before content is officially considered dead.
As long as customers seek out content, brands will be happy to create it. Those who succeed will continue to evolve their marketing strategies for better content and better results. Those who fail typically blame the downfall of an industry that is going strong. Content will always be king, as long as there’s great content to share.