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The Evolution of Content Marketing

Posted by Molly Geipel on September 19, 2016 at 9:00 AM

Content marketing is growing at an explosive rate. On average, marketers created 70% more content in 2015 than they did the year before, but how is it changing? Let’s take a look at how booming demand is shaping marketing strategy, and how your business can benefit.


Historically, content marketing has been dominated by blogging, to the point where the two terms are nearly synonymous. The data scientists at Contently recently delved into an investigation of how content marketing has evolved over time. As a content marketing platform, they are in a unique position to provide data-driven insight into the rise and fall of content marketing trends straight from the front lines.


Blogging, as Contently points out, is the “safe” choice for content marketing. It’s a relatively low-cost and low-production means of entry for small businesses with no designated content marketing team to test the waters of this nebulous thing called “content marketing.”

A blog post takes less time, skill, and resources to create than a piece of downloadable or multimedia content, such as an infographic or video. As long as you’re a competent wordsmith, launching a content marketing program for your company is as simple as cranking out a few hundred words once or twice a month.


But blogging is just one of many formats content marketing can take. Video and infographics have gotten a lot of buzz as rising stars in the content marketing world, but there are even more forms of downloadable and multimedia content out there, including: white papers, e-books, case studies, webinars, slide decks, quizzes, and podcasts. As content marketing has grown in popularity, these other forms have likewise grown in prevalence.


The evolution of the content marketing industry as a whole is mimicked on the individual scale in the evolution of a single company’s content marketing. As a brand matures in its content marketing program, it gains the confidence to move away from the “safe” format of blogging to experiment with long-form multimedia content.


Contently reports that, in tandem with the industry’s overall shift toward more interactive forms of content, they’ve received an increase in requests for multimedia and downloadable content from their clients in the last year.

Since April 2015, Contently’s clients have dropped from an average of 16 blog posts to 13—but they’re investing those extra resources in developing more multimedia and downloadable content, an average of 2.72 multimedia and 2.47 downloadable pieces per month.


The shift toward visual storytelling in content marketing is a positive one. Images are fast becoming a dominating presence even on formerly text-centric social sharing platforms such as Twitter.


Assessing the performance data of clients who use their content marketing software, Contently reports that downloadable and multimedia content vastly outperforms blogging in terms of engagement and reach. Multimedia content reached three times as many people and received 20% more attention time, while downloadable content had a reach five times that of blog posts.


There’s a lesson here for brands just getting started on a content marketing program, the lesson being that you don’t need to play it safe out of the gate. There’s more opportunity in downloadable and multimedia content than there is in blogging. You’ll have to invest more resources and effort upfront, but the potential return on your investment is much greater.


“Best practice” content marketing strategy is to diversify. Create a variety of different kinds of content right from the start and track performance to find out which resonates most with your audience.

Starting out safe by only creating blog content is essentially just killing time until you take the leap into the content marketing big leagues. Skip the build-up and just dive right in. You might thrash around a bit at first while you get your bearings, but eventually you’ll rise to the top.


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Topics: content marketing, content strategy, digital marketing tactics

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