If you are a consumer of Internet content (and if you’re reading this, you most certainly are), you are already familiar with content marketing whether you realize it or not. Content marketing is one of the fastest growing segments of the marketing world and is a great opportunity for companies who want to reach a large and highly engaged audience.
As the marketing industry evolves, it is going to become increasingly important that every company (or marketing agency) understands the drivers of digital marketing. As it stands right now, every trend points to content marketing as one of the most important elements within the digital marketing sector.
What Exactly is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is the term used to describe written content used as a marketing tool by companies or anyone else that wants to reach a specific audience on the Internet. Unlike paid advertisements or “sponsored content,” content used in content marketing efforts should be of genuine value to users who find it. The emphasis on informative content is quite an exciting development, as it means that the days of obnoxious advertisements and low-quality content designed to trick search engine algorithms is quickly fading into the past.
The rise of content marketing reflects the preferences of Internet users, who have tired of the low-quality content that has been infesting the Internet, and social media feeds for years.
Content Marketing Growth by the Numbers
There is no question that content marketing is growing at a rapid pace. In 2014, approximately $135 billion was spent on content marketing according to industry expert Jeff Bullas, compared to just $16.6 billion in 2011; an increase of more than 713 percent!
This increase in spending coincides with a significant increase in adoption of the content marketing strategy. A study by the Content Marketing Institute indicates that approximately 70% of B2B marketers are using “more” content marketing over the past 12 months, with 27% using “significantly more.”
Attitudes towards the effectiveness of content marketing will likely cause this trend to continue. According to a report by Contently, an astounding 74% of marketers think that an expert content team can drive more than a 250% increase in ROI, brand lift, and lifetime value per customer.
What are the Main Drivers of Content Marketing’s Growth?
Clearly content marketing is an increasingly popular and successful marketing practice. However, it also begs the question: what changed to make high-quality content so popular and effective? While there are numerous reasons for the shift in the industry, there are a few reasons that stand out more than others:
The Impact of Search Engine Algorithms
Google has battled against firms and individuals who have tried to exploit search engine algorithms to place websites at the top of search engine results pages (SERPs) artificially. Unfortunately, this often meant that high-quality content was crowded out by low-quality, “keyword stuffed” content. Hence, creating a lose-lose scenario for both Google and its users since a search engine that served low-quality pages lost popularity quickly. As a result, Google has invested heavily in changing the weighting of their SERPs to favor high-quality original content that is shared on social media organically (Search Engine Roundtable). This shift explains why marketing firms and companies, in general, are now much more incentivized to produce and post high-quality, sharable, content.
The Rise of Internet Consumers
At the same time, the number of Internet users around the world is growing rapidly. There are now more than 3 billion Internet users worldwide, representing about 40% of the global population (Internet Live Stats). More importantly, there are now more than 1.75 billion smartphone users in the world, and these users consume significantly more data (Emarketer).
Social Media as a Marketing Platform
As Google search algorithms like Panda increasingly track the amount of content distributed on social media platforms, content marketing will increasingly be driven by articles and blog posts that excite readers enough to share that content.
At the end of the day, the bottom line is content marketing is good news for everyone on the Internet!