Content marketing is everything but new. In the B2B space, 88 percent of marketers use content marketing to attract audiences and build loyalty. And, on any given day, they and the rest of online users share 27 million pieces of content. Robert Caruso mentions that, “the total amount of digital content that exists in the world doubles every two years.”
An increasing number of brands have entered the creation game in the last couple of years. The race for eyeballs has turned them into 24/7 publishing machines, which has led many to announce the death of content marketing.
But is it really the case? Has content marketing plateaued? I asked several experienced B2B marketers to share their thoughts. This is what they have to say.
Content marketing is evolving
Years ago, firms could get away with decent blog content. They just had to share their links on a platform or two, and they were set. Further, ranking highly in search engine results was lot easier. Now? Things are very different.
According to Tom Treanor, Director of Content Marketing at Wrike, customers’ needs for answers are still there. The problem is ads and promotional messages. People are tired of them.
“The bar has been raised,” he says. “Industry-leading quality, creative use of media (text, video, infographics and more) and hyper-targeted content are now required to cut through the noise. Evolve your content or be left behind.”
Curatti CEO Jan Gordon echoes that statement: “Perhaps it is fair to say that original, ‘broader stroke’ content marketing, is indeed dead. It has become more important to specialize in ever more clearly defined niches.”
Marketers have some growing-up to do
For Mark Traphagen, Senior Director of Marketing at Stone Temple Consulting, stellar quality now drives the content marketing roadmap. “Rand Fishkin of Moz has said that we’ve entered the time of 10X content, when your content needs to be ten times better than anything your competition is putting out.”
Remaining relevant in this day and age comes with a heavy price tag. Brands need to invest time, efforts and money into content creation, distribution and promotion. Unfortunately, many still seem reluctant to do so.
“One of the primary functions of effective content is to make your brand stand out,” he says. “The reader/viewer should be so impressed with what she has gained from the content that a strong, favorable impression of your brand is implanted. You can’t do that with ordinary content.”
The rise of content curation
So, what’s the answer? If you said, “Less is more,” bingo! And less is sometimes (a lot) more.
“Content marketing as an inbound tactic is over,” says Curagami Founder Martin W Smith. “Today’s content marketing needs to be more about THEM (our customers), almost displacing our role as content creators.”
Martin recommends adopting content curation as a complementary approach to creation: “Markets are made by collaboration and development of a community where collaboration is prized and US (marketing teams) and THEM (customers) become WE. We are smarter and more powerful together than anyone is alone. The key, in this web marketing business, is to be five minutes ahead of the pack not five minutes after.”
It’s all about strategy
A few months ago, I highlighted in a post four firms that rule the B2B video content marketing space. Their content hits the mark most of the time for a simple reason. The companies know their customers and deliver the goods based on that knowledge. In a nutshell, they follow a very specific strategy.
“We all heard ‘content is king’. This rushed a lot of businesses to experiment with content without really defining how they would achieve return on investment,” says Scoop.it CEO and Co-Founder, Guillaume Decugis. “Content marketing success requires to execute well all steps of a cycle: defining a strategy, planning and project managing content operations, producing and curating content, distributing it, measuring its impact on business goals, and amplifying what works well.”
The siloed approach towards the content marketing lifecycle doesn’t work. Content marketing is a sum of different steps. Overlooking one of them will have a deleterious impact on the success of your strategy. “This is why some marketers feel discouraged these days while others are bullish on content as they invested in processes, tools and skills that deliver ROI,” Guillaume continues.
It’s pretty clear. Content marketing is alive and kicking. Actually, it does not even seem to have peaked yet.
“We are only just beginning to see what it can really do,” says Digital Marketer Marisa Sanfilippo. Or, to quote Ann Handley, “Content Marketing still has the heart of a storyteller, the soul of an artist, and the playful spark of spontaneity.”
Photo credit: Jon Evans