Over the past couple months, we’ve seen some articles come out declaring the so-called “death of content marketing.” The primary argument throughout these articles is essentially the same: there’s too much content out there and users don’t seem to be responding to it like before.
But in reality, content marketing is far from dead. Rather, it’s simply evolving—and it’s for the better.
We’ve heard this story before
For those of us in digital marketing, the hype about the death of content marketing sounds all too familiar. After all, it wasn’t long ago that experts were predicting the end of search engine optimization (SEO). Lo and behold, SEO is still around and a very important part of brands’ online marketing strategies. SEO didn’t go away at all—the way we approach it simply changed.
The same is true with content marketing. Sure, some of the tried-and-true practices of the past several years have now become outdated, and there are always new challenges for marketers to overcome. But the usefulness of content only continues to grow, especially when it comes to its role in inbound marketing.
Let’s take a look at the numbers. According to CMS Wire, more than 85 percent of brands will either maintain or expand their content marketing budgets in 2017. These companies are not blindly pouring resources into a dying methodology—they are ramping up their content efforts because they are seeing real ROI. You’d be hard-pressed to find a CEO who would continue to invest in content marketing if the opposite were true.
Change is good
This brings us to what’s really happening in the world of content marketing: evolution.
One of the most promising trends we’ve seen lately, at least in my opinion, is the phasing out of “clickbait” headlines that oversell what the content actually delivers. Sites like BuzzFeed and Upworthy were notorious for this—so much so that they were subject to mockery on Twitter. As it turns out, we could guess what happens next: clickbait would prove to be a passing fad.
Helping foster this change is the fact that Google’s algorithms have become increasingly sophisticated in determining the content that does and does not offer value. Just like keyword stuffing went by the wayside several years ago, so too has surface-level content that fails to offer anything particularly new or insightful.
There is also more competition than ever before. Brands must compete to set themselves apart in the content marketing landscape, and they need to keep figuring out new ways to publish valuable content. With this increased competition naturally comes greater quality, which means marketers who focus on efficacy are the most likely to find success.
Distinguishing your brand
In addition to focusing on quality, it’s important for marketers to continue to find ways to make their content different from what everyone else is providing. Look for a specific niche or area of your industry that others have not really explored, and perhaps do some research of your own and share the results. If customers tend to have questions that your competitors are not answering in their content, now is your chance to jump in and offer your insights.
You should also look beyond just one or two types of content to reach different audiences. Regular blog posts and a strong social media presence are critical, but you should also explore things like white papers, videos, podcasts, email marketing and case studies, among others.
Also don’t be hesitant to go back to content you published a few years back make updates, if it makes sense to do so. For example, you could compile several older blog posts into a marketing guide or digital presentation. Or, you could take a blog post that was relevant in 2013 and update it so that it better reflects your industry right now. It’s a great way to show readers you are up to date with all that’s happening in your field.
An exciting road ahead
Content marketing will continue to evolve as time goes on—as well it should. And there will always be challenges with getting your message to as many consumers as possible. The good news is that if you keep telling good stories and provide content people find useful, informative and worth sharing on social media, you’ll be able to find an attentive audience interested in what you have to say.
So, to summarize: no, we have not seen (and will not see) the death of content marketing. Change is good, especially for those companies, brands and marketers that can keep pace.
Steve Bailey is president of ProPRcopy, a firm that delivers content creation services to a businesses and organizations across a wide range of industries.