The Future of Content Marketing

First off, let’s cover the basics; what is content marketing and why do it?

The aim is the same as any other marketing venture, to bring a message to people who may be interested. The difference between content marketing and just doing run of the mill press releases is that the aim is not to be overtly commercial or shout about yourself, but more to bring some actual value and interest people first.

The premise being that after people enjoy reading what you have to offer - whether it’s strange world events, funny pictures or just witty commentary - they follow you or your company on social platforms allowing you to market to them later down the line.

The idea of reciprocation is common in marketing; everyone loves freebies. I recently ordered some tea online and when it arrived, to my joy I received a free sample of another tea. This is common with purchases of consumables because it costs little to give something extra.

The same principle applies to the online world where most people are barraged by marketing everywhere they go, from adverts on YouTube to banners on The Guardian and so on. Giving people information and well thought out, engaging content without any strings attached goes a long way to them wanting to reciprocate in some way.

Five reasons why your company should produce content:

  1. Engage with existing customers and build loyalty
  2. The power of social sharing can get your brand known to many
  3. Keep your brand in people’s minds with regular communication
  4. Be seen as a market leader with your finger on the pulse
  5. ROI – the bottom line, with the right metrics it can be proven.

All this is well and good but as the internet and its usage matures, new trends emerge. In a normal life cycle those trends are at some point overused and are soon replaced by others. We have all sat in traffic jams and seen people taking different routes in an attempt to get somewhere quicker. The same could be said to apply to digital marketing trends. Once too many people start employing the same methods there is congestion and nobody gets anywhere at any rate.

Standard Deviation Graph for Google

Fortunately, content marketing is safe from Google as it is exactly what they have been telling us to do. Make sites which visitors like and you will do fine in search. But people generally choose the path of least resistance and in the last few years it was possible to do well in search by using easier and cheaper methods – the usefulness of these methods is being phased out (when not punished) by Google now, so content marketing is the safest choice moving forward.

Looking back 24 months and content marketing wasn’t a major factor in many brand’s digital marketing endeavours. A recent survey by The Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs shows 93% of marketers are employing content marketing in their overall strategies. Things are changing online and Google is paving the path with qualitative changes to search while consumers’ appetite for good content is always increasing, or is it? What does the congestion mean to people getting in on the action when it’s at its peak?

Staying Ahead of the Pack

If you are late to the game, how things often work is that websites would rehash content from other sources and publish it – not quite content curation, but close. This is a well-used process.

Many companies use social media to drive visitors to their websites, but even gaining followers and fans is no mean feat without a creative strategy.

Content marketing itself has been around since the first tablet was inscribed around 3100BC in ancient Sumer (modern day Iraq). If someone had a message (usually about money owed) that they wanted others to be aware of, it was distributed in written form. Only in modern times that this become more complex. Engaging people with interesting content is the best way to get them to share it with their friends and followers. Viral marketing is the prime example of this with simple videos and pictures reaching millions of people.

Five ways to stay ahead:

  1. Charts and graphs – time is money, don’t list stats, make them pretty and easy to visualise
  2. Make your infographics interactive with Thinglink
  3. Animate where possible or relevant. Great example here on Quicksprout.
  4. Upgrade your eBooks and PDFs to microsites
  5. Interactive resources – good example by Jaguar

Measuring ROI is notoriously difficult when content marketing is involved because there is no reliable tracking methods. When combined with other channels of digital marketing there is certainly a synergistic effect and surveys have shown that 92% of firms that regularly post content on their websites have acquired customers via their blogs.

Our digital marketing team at Free Rein are specialised in organic search, PPC, social and online reputation management. So whatever your digital project requires we can find a strategy that works.