Content marketing has been a key marketing strategy as early as the ’90s, and arguably sooner. But has content marketing run its course? Or is it a tactic that’s still thriving?
I’ve been in the content marketing game for years now. And I love that something so genuine has been a successful part of many companies’ marketing strategies. I even blog about it from time to time.
So it probably comes as a surprise to my readers that I’m posing the question: Is content marketing dead?
It’s a valid question to ask. Changes in digital marketing happen as quickly as trending Twitter hashtags. And just because a new marketing trick works today, doesn’t mean it will be solid tomorrow.
Does content marketing still work? The answer isn’t going to be straightforward or short.
Let’s Revisit Content Marketing
“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 clear takeaways here are:
- Content targets, attracts and retains a clearly-defined audience
- Content is valuable, relevant and consistently delivered
- Content drives profitable customer action
You may only read “content” from these points, but the real takeaway is that the focus is on the audience. And it’s a big reason whether or not content marketing works.
Why Content Marketing is Dead
The truth is that content marketing simply doesn’t work as a great business model for some companies, particularly in some B2C industries. If you’re a fast food chain, I’m not sure that emailing your customers an eBook or white paper is going to sell fries faster.
Sure, you could create an infographic on 10 ways fries are the best food ever or a meme of Cookie Monster shoveling down fries. Technically, these are forms of content. But this would better serve as a social media strategy targeting engagement rather than a content marketing strategy aiming to build relationships.
Social media is not content marketing! Social media is simply a way to deliver your content to your target audience.
But for many B2C and B2B companies, a content marketing strategy can really help a company build trust with a target audience before, during and after they become a customer.
It’s not that content marketing is dead. It’s the execution of a strong content marketing strategy that is.
Only 32% of companies have a documented content marketing strategy. And when 88% of marketers weave content marketing in their strategy, that means over half of this marketer pool are likely to hate their content strategy or fail at making it work.
While content marketing should be flexible so that a company can respond to real-time trends, it shouldn’t be created on the fly. These content marketing strategies are simply “strategies” because they end up not being consistently delivered. Content creation gets tabled for another off-the-cuff idea or, worse, abandoned.
Customer relationships are just that: Relationships. They’re not one-night stands. They’re not first dates. They’re a promise to your customer that you’re in it for the long haul.
So why treat your content marketing strategy like a crush?
As I’ve said before, the first step to every content marketing strategy is committing to it. And what better way to commit to a consistent schedule than by actually putting it in writing and on an editorial calendar?
Documenting your content strategy in the short term, day-to-day hustle seems tedious and excessive. But this allows your team to really understand what works (and why) once the analytics and sales numbers roll in.
Then you can plug in what works and what doesn’t under two categories:
|MAJOR FAIL||MAJOR SUCCESS|
You know, the “valuable” and “relevant” part of the content marketing definition…
Once you know which content pieces and mediums your audience values, you can then create content tailored to their experience and interests over time.
Why Content Marketing is Alive & Well
Fortunately, content marketing isn’t completely dead. In fact, it’s thriving for many businesses, small and large alike.
That’s because a content marketing strategy isn’t rocket science. It’s about taking the time to understand your audience, your data and the potential story you can build around that valued company-customer relationship.
And these companies value this relationship.
It makes sense. It’s the customers that are essentially keeping a business in business. It seems like a very great place to start.
That means shelving what you want to do. That means checking your ego at the door. That means not letting internal politics get in the way of real-time data and actual customer feedback.
So before you lay your content marketing strategy in a coffin and lower it to rest, ask yourself these questions:
- Have you thoroughly defined your targeted audience?
- Is your content marketing strategy thoroughly documented?
- Is your content being consistently delivered?
- Are you regularly reviewing the effectiveness of your content?
- Are you listening to what your customers want?
What’s worse than failing at content marketing is giving up on it too soon. Because then your content marketing strategy never had a fighting chance to live.
What do you think? Is content marketing dead? Share your thoughts below.