Is content marketing here to stay?
Content marketing is big. Really big. In fact, in just the time it’s taken you to read this first sentence, around 120 WordPress blogs will have been published.
In the next minute, 500 hours of additional content will be uploaded to YouTube, and 3.8 million Google searches will have been performed.
Competing with these types of numbers is hard, and requires a dedication to creating useful, valuable content that will snag your audience in just the right way. Get it right, and you could be creating something incredibly valuable, both now and in the future.
Companies are investing heavily in content marketing, with around 40 per cent of businesses reporting that their spend will increase year on year. In terms of volume of content produced, the trend is clearly more, more, more. But what if all this effort is for nothing?
What if content marketing is just a shudder away from its final breath? What if something bigger and better is just around the corner? Let’s discuss…
What makes us think that content marketing is here to stay?
For many people, the idea that content marketing is a time limited exercise is nothing short of preposterous. And when you start to look at the evidence, it’s easy to see why:
- There always has and always will be high demand for information: From printing presses to libraries, humanity has always sought to expand their knowledge and gather new information. As times move on, there will always be new things to learn, and therefore new opportunities for content marketing.
- Content marketing is not just about articles: Some will argue that as people change and new tech evolves, there will be no impetus to read articles any more. However, content marketing is valid in a range of mediums, from video to spoken word and everything in between, so as people move on, so can our marketing medium.
- The internet is here to stay: Articles you are writing today are not going to disappear any time soon. They will continue to return value to you for many years to come, because their place on the internet is secure. Even if something eventually replaces the internet, chances are it will happen very gradually, if it ever happens at all.
- Content marketing has been around for centuries: For a long time, people have been using storytelling and information sharing as a way to make money. One of the earliest documented examples of content marketing is when Ben Franklin produced the ‘Poor Richard’s Almanack’ (1732) as a way of promoting his printing business. Strip away the internet, destroy the digital world completely, and there will still be a role for content marketing.
It’s clear that content marketing is a powerful advertising strategy, and one which could well be around for many years to come. Good news for content writers, for digital marketers, and for brands who produce a lot of high quality content already. But is that the whole story?
What could mean the demise of content marketing?
For every person who feels passionately that content is not going away, there is another who thinks this strategy is already on its last legs. Here’s why:
- Content centralisation: From Wikipedia to Google Knowledge, there are some big players investing big bucks into centralising and curating the information on the web. As this grows over time, will anyone need to come to your blog for advice?
- User fatigue: Users are already inundated with content, thanks to the dramatic increase in content marketing popularity. Already, we see signs of fatigue in our users, which may eventually metamorphose into a backlash against this type of marketing. Just as customers rebelled against direct marketing like telesales and doorsteppers, so content marketing may be shunned and a new marketing strategy rise up to take its place.
- AI capabilities: Artificial intelligence, of the type we see in Cortana, Siri and Alexa, is advancing at a blistering pace. Who knows how far these types of intelligence will go in the future, maybe retrieving information and automatically generating content in years to come. Content may still exist, but will not be produced by brands, and will no longer serve a purpose as a marketing tool.
Predicting who’s right about the future of content marketing is going to be an exercise in crystal ball reading. Nobody really knows what the future holds, but it is highly likely that a form of content marketing will continue to exist, even if it looks very different from how it does today.
Can you prepare for the future of content marketing?
Back in the 90’s, widely available internet access changed the way people found and digested information, leading to a massive overhaul of the way marketers talked to us and the mediums they used. In the 2000’s, the proliferation of social networks gave people an easy way to connect with millions of others, and again added new opportunities and challenges to our marketing strategies. Then came smartphones, tablets, 4G and everything else, all of which impacted greatly on the way we market and communicate.
What’s next for the world and for marketers to figure out? More live streaming? Augmented and virtual reality? Something we don’t even have a word for yet? We just don’t know, but what we can agree on is that being ready for the next wave of content marketing looks very similar to the best practice strategies of today:
- Create content with a bit of personality
- Research buyer personas and create highly relevant content
- Make use of influencers to spread your messages widely
- Be bigger, bolder and a bit more ‘outside the box’ with written content
- Measure progress, refine and optimise to stay on track for your business goals
Keeping these objectives in mind will help us create powerful, excellent content every time, whether we’re crafting it today or in ten years’ time. The worry over the longevity of content is null and void because a well-told story, delivered to the right people at the right time, will always get you anywhere you want to go.