Is Content Marketing Dying?

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While there are some forms of content marketing dating back to 1895, content marketing as we know it today is relatively new. Five years ago, a company could launch a content marketing campaign, sit back, and watch the sales roll in. Thousands of companies see success from their content marketing every day, however, success is no longer a foregone conclusion. But is content marketing dying?

Absolutely not.

It’s evolving.

Content marketing is all about storytelling and storytelling is the oldest form of known communication. For at least 120 years, brands have been creating content to help customers navigate through the buyer’s journey. From awareness to consideration to decision, storytelling is integral throughout every stage of a sale.

As storytelling gets more sophisticated, so, too, does content marketing.

Is content marketing dying?

To begin to address the question, “is content marketing dying,” we first have to look at how that rumor started. Here’s why some marketers like to claim content marketing is dead:

  1. There is too much content: While it’s true the web is saturated with content, with millions of blog posts published every month, there will always be an appetite for high-quality content. Google, Bing and other search engines are constantly tweaking their algorithms to favor quality or quantity. Brand focusing their attentions on producing content their customer want and need vs content that panders to search algorithms will win in the end.
  2. It just doesn’t work: There was a time, roughly between 2006 and 2016, when content marketing just worked. In it’s simplest form, a brand could produce an ebook or whitepaper with a catchy title, syndicate it across owned and paid channels, and watch as the leads roll in. Today’s consumers on to us. They don’t give out phone numbers and email address quite so easily. Form fills are down dramatically across the board. The once-invincible whitepaper has all but vanished. What happened? It’s a supply and demand issue and ties back to too much content.
  3. Content marketing is too expensive: There are many costs associated with content marketing. Not only is the creation of the actual content pricey, but then you have to pay to promote it as well. Whether you have content marketers on staff or use a content marketing agency, there’s a price to be paid. Is content marketing expensive? Yes. Yes, it is. Is that bad? No. Consider this analogy: Formula 1 cars cost around $15.5 million per car. Seems outrageous, right? But if you want to win the race, you have to invest in the right car. Content marketing is no different.
  4. Smaller business can’t compete: This is a serious issue, but it’s not the end of the world. Take us, for example. We’re a small boutique content marketing agency. Page one of Google is dominated by our much larger competitors. Trying to rank for a keyword like content marketing seems futile. And it probably is. That’s why we don’t even try. Have you ever heard the saying, “the riches are in niches”? Well, that applies to long-form keywords, too. While the Lorem Ipsum Company will likely never rank for content marketing, we do rank for many more keywords that are important. For example, we rank steadily for Orange County Content Marketing and Orange County Content Creation.

Content marketing is not dying, it’s evolving

Online trends, like search engine algorithms and keyword research, are constantly changing. Content marketing is not immune to that change. Marketing practices that worked well one day, may crash and burn the next.

So how well does content marketing hold up as a strategy?

Marketing website SiriusDecisions, credits the decline of content marketing to the lack of buyer insights and the challenge of developing content that “satisfies buyers’ needs through their decision-making process.”

The future success of content marketing comes down to strategy. Without a documented, well-thought-out content marketing strategy, you’re doomed before you even get started.

Say, “goodbye,” to content created to grab attention but run without substance.

Consumers are too smart to fall for your shallow content marketing attempts.

Clicks are an outdated metric and they mean nothing. If your content is not building trust and converting customers, you might as well burn your money.

Instead of burning that money, how about you ignite a fire under your content marketing strategy.

Ignite a fire on your content marketing strategy

Now that we agree finally that content marketing is not dead, let’s take a look at how we can help navigate these changing waters.

Here are five tips to keep your content marketing alive:

  1. Refine your strategy: As content marketers, we’re shocked at how many businesses have no, or outdated, content marketing strategies. This is crucial to success. A Content Marketing Institute survey shows that only 62% of successful businesses have a documented content marketing strategy. Another 18% have a strategy that is not documented, which is to say, no strategy. What’s even worse, many with a strategy, fail to implement it. Here are a few tips to refine your content marketing strategy.
    1. Define KPIs: All successfully marketing starts with knowing your numbers. Identifying these numbers early on will reduce the possibility of failure early on.
    1. Be involved: While a company like ours is happy to develop or refine a content marketing strategy for you, it’s doomed for failure if you’re not actively involved. We can sketch out your editorial calendar, create your content, publish and syndicate, but the strategy has to come from you.
    1. Be flexible: It’s important to understand that marketing strategies should be able to change over time. Just because something works today, doesn’t mean it will work tomorrow. Flexibility in your strategy will allow you to pivot quickly and efficiently, with little waste.
    1. Focus on audience: Not only do you need to know your audience, you need to know where to find them. Simply publishing content is not enough. Having a blog on your website that you update once a week is not a content strategy.
  2. Invest in your content: Yes, content marketing is expensive, but it should be looked at as an investment, not an expense – remember the Formula 1 car analogy. Remember, you get what you pay for. And make sure you invest equally in the promotion of your content as you do in its creation. When you look at the most effective content marketers vs the least effective, the proof is in the budget. Content marketing is now a $44 billion industry and, despite the death myth, it’s showing no signs of slows. Here are some tips on how to spend your content marketing budget smarty:
    1. Focus on ROI: Not all content is created equal. Take a careful look at the ROI of a piece of content and put your money where it will be most productive. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t experiment, but make sure you’re not overlooking your bread and butter.
    1. Hire an agency: You might think you fully understand content marketing, but if you’re not staying up to date on its evolution, you could be wasting your money. Investing in a good content marketing agency will help ensure your content dollars are not wasted.
    1. Prioritize your spend: It’s true that some content cost more than others. Take video, for example. If your content budget is small, focus your efforts on more affordable content pieces at first. Add video later as you expand.
  3. Focus on promotion: If you create a piece of content and no one ever sees it, does it really exists? Ok, that’s perhaps a little too philosophical, but you get the point, right? Content creation without promotion is futile. You can create content all day long but what good is it if users never find it? Hence, the marketing aspect of content marketing. In fact, many would argue that promotion is more important than creation. I am not quite sure about that, but a good rule of thumb is to spend the same amount of time and money promoting the content and you did to create it.
  4. Provide value: Quality and value are by far the two most important aspect of content marketing. Producing shoddy content for content’s sake is the quickest route to failure. Sure, you might see a temporary spike in SEO, but your customers will stop converting. And Google is smart enough to identify and downgrade shallow content. Here are a few ways to increase the value of your content:
    1. Know what your customers want: If you’re producing whitepapers, but your customer base is more into video, you’re not providing the right value. Choose the content types and themes that resonate with your target demographic.
    1. Spice things up: With the web saturated with content, it’s important to think outside the box in order to grab attention. Video and interactive content are a few ways to spice up your content strategy.
    1. Use experienced writers: If you rely on someone who doesn’t understand your product or industry to write your content, you will be in trouble. Many businesses will try to save money here by paying inexperienced people. But that’s a mistake.

Conclusion

So, is content marketing dead? No. Just because content marketing isn’t working for you, doesn’t mean it’s dead or dying.

As long as storytelling remains relevant, so, too, will content marketing.

It might take a little more work today than it did even a few years ago, but the effort is worth it.

Tell us about your content marketing struggles in the comments below.

    Jeramy Gordon is the founder and Chief Content Officer at the Lorem Ipsum Company. He has been creating successful content strategies for almost two decades and believes in the power of high-quality content. He lives in Orange County, California, with his wife and two children.

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