What is content marketing?
According to the Content Marketing Institute, “Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.” The different types of content marketing include:
- Blogs – improve SEO and boost organic traffic
- Videos – contain webinars, vlogs, social media stories, customer interviews, and product demos
- Podcasts – popularized by Spotify and Apple
- Infographics – display graphic and colorful information mixed with simple wordings
- Case Studies – demonstrate real results and share customer success stories
- Ebooks – cover the basics of a certain topic targeted for a general audience
- Whitepapers – cover academic and in-depth reports targeted for experts on the subject
- User-Generated Content – empower audience to become brand advocates through influencer content, social media posts, reviews and recommendations, etc.
How content marketing evolved in the last decade
Google set up the stage
The Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) study conducted by Google in 2011 found that 88% of consumers research a product before purchasing it. This study is pivotal in the evolution of content marketing as it highlighted the need for comprehensive Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Filtering relevant keywords on search engines became crucial in establishing a company’s online presence and credibility during a consumer’s ZMOT.
Simultaneously, in the early 2010s, Google changed its search ranking algorithm to prevent “keyword stuffing” which is the practice of overloading specific keywords on a webpage in an attempt to sway search engine rankings. This significant change demonstrates Google’s commitment to providing users with positive and helpful online experiences. From then on, Google’s search engine results have generated more relevant and detailed content. Consequently, businesses have adapted to focusing on the production of high quality and meaningful content.
Social media took the stage
Apart from search engines, the evolution of content marketing was also heavily influenced by the rise of social media. Unlike in search engines where a consumer actively looks for a specific answer to a specific subject, social media popularized a more passive approach to content consumption. Instead of consumers looking for content, content now finds its way to the consumers through their preferred platforms. This trend prompted businesses to create eye-catching and shareable content that easily spreads across social media channels. Data from HubSpot in 2021 shows that over 80% of businesses use social media while only 40% use content marketing and SEO, making social media the primary channel used in marketing.
Video dominates the stage
Among the different types of content marketing, video has proven to be the most prominent prevalent medium, especially with younger consumers. 2021 data from HubSpot also shows that approximately 70% of businesses use video as their primary form of media in their content strategies. This is because videos are more entertaining to watch and easier to follow compared to reading materials such as blogs, ebooks, and case studies. As such, consumers gravitated toward videos and platforms like YouTube became essential avenues for content marketing at the end of the 2010s.
How content marketing looks today
Video continues to dominate
According to Video Marketing Statistics conducted by Wyzowl in 2023, 96% of consumers learn about products and services by watching videos, 89% of consumers were convinced to buy products and services by watching videos, and 91% of consumers want to see more videos from brands in 2023. This consumer behavior has propelled videos to become the most popular trend in content marketing today with 91% of businesses using it as a marketing tool. Videos currently yield the highest ROI and will continue to see the most growth in 2023.
Influencers give stamp of approval
Following closely behind videos with the 2nd highest ROI is influencer content. Statistics from The Digital Marketing Institute show that 49% of consumers depend on influencer recommendations to determine which products or services to purchase. Compared to faceless brands and companies, influencers are seen by consumers as more relatable. This enables them to form strong bonds with their audiences. Businesses utilize influencers to “humanize” their brands in order to build closer relationships with their customers.
Customer service slides into DMs
Coming up at the 3rd highest ROI is using social media DMs for customer service. Businesses now offer customer support through their social media platforms. This makes it easier for businesses to communicate with consumers for any questions or concerns regarding their products and services. Using social media DMs is also a faster way for companies to reach out to consumers and effectively resolve issues and complaints, rather than calling or emailing them. Moreover, with the continuing development of e-commerce through social media apps like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok, using DMs to provide customer service has become essential in addressing consumer inquiries before, during, and after purchases.
The OG SEO still has it
Going back to the origins of content marketing, SEO changed the game and still continues to play a crucial role in contemporary marketing strategies. SEO ranks 4th highest in ROI with 29% of businesses using website to attract consumers and to convert potential leads as recorded by HubSpot in 2023.
A 2022 study by Google Cloud reveals that 82% of consumers prefer brands whose values align with their own. The Covid-19 pandemic has caused people to reflect on their own values and principles, giving more importance to concepts such as community service, equity and sustainability. As such, consumers are not simply looking at prices, but rather, evaluating what the brand stands for. In fact, 75% of consumers have either permanently boycotted or temporarily cut ties with their favorite brands due to conflict in values. Furthermore, 52% of consumers prefer to support sustainability-driven brands. Consumers are especially interested in knowing how companies are managing their resources and whether they are taking active measures to save energy and reduce waste. 66% of consumers search for brands that are eco-friendly or environmentally conscious, with 55% claiming that they are willing to pay more for sustainability.
In line with this, 30% of businesses are actively creating content which reflects their brand’s core values and principles. Landing the 5th highest ROI, this trend enables businesses to further “humanize” their brand to strengthen customer relationships and maintain brand loyalty.
Importance of content marketing and what lies ahead
We have seen how content marketing has drastically evolved throughout the years and adapted to the trends. This ever-shifting marketing tool presents equal amounts of challenges as well as opportunities. Thus, it’s imperative for businesses to understand its importance and prepare for what the future has in store.
Why is content marketing important?
Content marketing allows businesses to effectively generate leads, cultivate audience engagement, build consumer trust, develop lasting relationships, establish brand presence, and ultimately drive sales. The top benefits of content marketing are as follows:
- Audience retention
- Lead generation and increased conversions
- High Search Engine Results Page (SERP) rankings
- Brand awareness
- Industry authority
- Loyal brand advocates
- How content marketing will evolve in the next decade
Video will still continue to dominate
YouTube and TikTok are increasingly becoming more popular, especially among younger generations. Shooting and editing videos were once considered daunting tasks that only production crews and professional editors could execute. However, with the annual upgrade of smartphone cameras and video editing apps, shooting and editing videos have been simplified and made convenient for content creators. Since anyone can now create videos, the upcoming challenge for businesses is to create videos that stand out to audiences and bring their brand to life.
Mobile-friendly content will prevail
According to records from Statista, global mobile data traffic has increased seven-fold from 2017 to 2022. Mobile internet traffic also accounts for almost 59.72% of total web traffic. Web-enabled mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets are essential tools for consumers to view content. Therefore, websites, videos, and blogs should be formatted for aesthetics and accessibility on mobile devices. Moreover, new mobile technologies such as Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) should be explored for innovative ways of delivering content in the future.
Empathy will win over consumers
Creating content is not just about selling products and services, but rather, telling the brand’s story in a way that is relatable to audiences. Businesses who put themselves in the consumers’ shoes will be able to better understand their thoughts, feelings, needs and wants. Content rooted in empathy will continue to be the trend, with companies creating more targeted, purposeful and customer-centric content.
Content optimization will save time and money
New content is created and distributed every second. Instead of constantly creating new content, updating already existing content with new information is a more practical way for businesses to save time and resources. By simply repurposing previous content, businesses can compete with brand new content without having to start from scratch. Content optimization is an imminent SEO tactic for businesses to stay relevant and to maintain high SERP rankings, while simultaneously preventing redundancy and congestion of content.
Interactive content will stimulate audiences
Static content with long paragraphs and complicated text will inevitably bore audiences. 2022 statistics from Mediafly show that there is 52.6% more engagement from interactive content as opposed to static content, with consumers spending an average of 13 minutes viewing interactive content versus 8.5 minutes viewing static content. With consumers’ diminishing attention spans, the impending challenge for businesses is to stimulate audiences and keep them engaged. Interactive content in the form of quizzes, games, polls, and infographics allows businesses to have a 2-way conversation with their audience.
Zero-party data will make things personal
The process of data collection will drastically change in the next decade. Third-party (3P) data which is bought and sold will become obsolete as business will prioritize the security of consumers’ data. First-party (1P) and second-party (2P) data which are either observed or obtained through filled out forms will also slowly phase out, with businesses shifting to zero-party (0P) data. Zero-party data is the process of collecting data given voluntarily by consumers in exchange for value. Unlike 1P and 2P data, 0P data goes beyond generic consumer information such as emails and phone numbers, and consists of personal interests and preferences. Consumers willingly give out more information because they trust the brand to deliver a more personalized experience and more relevant content. This transparency between businesses and consumers fosters a strong and long-term bond.
How can digital marketing be future-proofed?
Digital marketing is continuously evolving, causing popular practices in the previous years to become outdated. As new forms of technology emerge and consumer behavior changes, business have to adapt better ways of reaching their target audience and delivering more meaningful and personalized content. It’s impossible to predict with certainty how digital marketing will look like in the future. As such, companies should constantly observe emerging trends and analyze how these will impact brand image, business process, and consumer sensibilities.
Consistency is key
Content marketing has proven to be one of the most successful and effective marketing strategies being implemented globally. However, it’s not enough for companies to simply create content, but rather, strive towards creating substantial content. Consistency in content marketing is key in the growth and success of any business. Companies should know how to portray their brand consistently by producing high-quality and meaningful content with a unique voice across all mediums and channels. Consistency in content marketing establishes brand credibility and builds brand reputation.
Summary of main points
- The different forms of content marketing offer unique ways of publishing both written and visual information across diverse online mediums to reach target audiences.
- Content marketing has dramatically evolved in the last decade and continues to evolve with new trends in technology and consumer behavior reshaping content marketing strategies.
- Videos are the most popular trend in content marketing and will continue to rule because they are easy and entertaining to watch.
- Businesses produce more personalized and meaningful content by telling their story, sharing their values, and using influencers to become more empathetic and relatable for consumers.
- Optimization of mobile devices is essential to view content and technological advancements will introduce new interactive ways of presenting content and keeping audiences engaged.
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