What content marketing is
It is important before we discuss the ‘death’ of content marketing that we are sure of what content marketing actually is. This is to highlight some of the common misconceptions which surrounding such terminology.
What content marketing is not MCQ (multiple choice question)
Pick the correct statements from the following (clue: there’s more than one true statement)
Option A) Content Marketing is not the same as content advertising
Option B) Content marketing is not the same as traditional advertising
Option C) Content marketing is not about using paid advertising methods
Option D) Content marketing is not about you, the content creator/marketer.
Answer: All of these statements are true.
Content marketing is none of the above things – yet it has been frequently confused as such. Content marketing, by definition, is about attracting your customers via the creation of content which considers their needs and is therefore valuable.
As such, this definition demonstrates that content marketing is not about using paid channels – these are the remit of traditional and content advertising, whose strategies revolve around ‘disrupting’ the customer rather than attracting them. And this is why content marketing has to be distinctly about the customer’s needs and not just those of the people creating it.
So, is content marketing dead?
Now we have clarified what content marketing covers, we can consider whether it should be considered ‘dead’ or not.
First of all, however, one must note that calling content marketing ‘dead’ could have two meanings:
- That the term ‘content marketing’ is redundant, but the strategy itself is not; and/or
- That content marketing, as a strategy is, no longer useful/valuable
Let’s consider these two meanings separately.
The term ‘content marketing’ is redundant, but the strategy itself is not
This argument about terminology usually revolves around the fact that content marketing is now considered the predominant form of marketing. As such, even the material we deem a form of ‘traditional advertising’ could relabeled as content marketing. All that is required to ‘break the wall’ between traditional advertising and content marketing is that the advertisement shown is in some way useful/valuable to the customer. This seems a pretty low threshold to meet, which people argue renders the term ‘content marketing’ redundant. It’s ‘just marketing’ they say.
I disagree. The threshold of what counts as ‘content’ ought to stay high for the content marketing strategy to work. One of the core components of great content marketing is that the content produced is not only ‘useful’ in some way, but of a high quality. So, while the boundaries may be blurred between poor content marketing and traditional advertising, this is certainly not the case for content marketing when put into proper practice. In my opinion, taking content away from the term ‘content marketing’ undervalues this vital requirement and threatens confusion. So – content marketing, as a term, shouldn’t be dead – even if it is considered to be.
Content marketing, as a strategy, is no longer useful/valuable
This interpretation of ‘dead’ presents a much bigger statement. Straight off the bat, I can confirm that this form of marketing isn’t dead, but I can think of reasons why people think it might be. Probably the most common of these reasons is a lack of understanding as to why content marketing fails in some circumstances. In this case, people are not really asking ‘is content marketing dead’, but rather: ‘does content marketing work?’.
I can tell you know that, yes, it does work. However, it might be working for you. This doesn’t mean that content marketing, as a strategy, has met its expiration date, but rather that you’re not managing it correctly.
One of the main reasons content marketing fails for individuals/businesses is because they haven’t got an established content marketing strategy to begin with. Let me briefly explain what is and why you need a content marketing strategy. A content marketing strategy defines what your marketing goals are (i.e., in terms of reach or number of sales), identifies what your key performance indicators (KPIs) will be, the kind of content you create (e.g., blog articles, Instagram posts) and how you will promote that content (i.e. SEO). Your content marketing strategy should not be set in stone, though, but flexible to/dictated by the current circumstances and, namely, the response of your customers.
So, before you begin shouting ‘long live content marketing’, remember what really defines a good content marketing strategy. There exist hundreds of case studies demonstrating the importance of content marketing when used correctly, namely that of building confidence in your customers and establishing brand loyalty. Both of these things guarantee a greater conversion of your leads to sales, and ensures your customers keep coming back for more.