We’ve all heard about the famous Bill Gates’ quote from 1996 “content is king” by now. But how did it stand the test of time? Does it still apply today, in 2020?
The essence of the quote does. However, as content marketing has changed over the years, this phrase also needs to be revisited and re-evaluated. But what do we mean by that?
We can’t dispute the overwhelming impact of content on the digital marketing world, and we’re not trying to. Content marketing has changed the game for many businesses worldwide and continues to do so to this day. And just as online media overtook traditional media in both success and popularity due to its lack of boundaries, so did content evolve throughout the years. And with that evolution came a shift in focus and purpose.
To preemptively answer the question, yes, content marketing is still changing the game, albeit in a different way than it used to.
The goal of content has always been the same — get your product or service to the top of SERPs and reap the rewards. Unfortunately, the way you’d get there was much different a decade or two ago than it is today.
Back in the day, when the search engines were still young and flawed, content was first tailored to them. But ever since 2011, Google has been shifting the focus of their algorithm to exterminate poor content practices, such as keyword stuffing, and other black hat SEO tactics.
In fact, the focus of the entire content marketing industry has changed over the years due to Google’s shift in orientation toward enhancing user experience. These changes completely reinvented the purpose of content marketing.
Sadly, many businesses unable to adapt were left behind in the depths of the Google SERPs.
With Google’s algorithm shifting focus toward improving user experience, content marketers had to be quick on their feet to adapt. Google’s increasing demand for optimizing user experience gave birth to an entirely different approach to creating content.
From the state of brimming with business-centered content, the digital landscape quickly transformed into a more user-oriented space. Blatant self-promotion and spammy content were no longer providing results, so marketers worldwide shifted their business practices toward a more customer-centric approach.
Don’t get us wrong — content marketing was and still is changing the game; however, its current approach differs drastically.
Today, the recipe for success in content marketing is providing the best value for your audience.
In this new and improved online landscape, identifying your customers’ needs and wants and tailoring your content to meeting them became imperative. That was the only way brands could offer value to their consumers and make it on Google.
A customer-centric approach to content marketing has had a positive impact on all businesses quick to adapt and has helped boost their endeavors in many ways. Nowadays, brands can use various data-driven content marketing strategies to better tailor their campaigns and:
The attractiveness of these benefits is clear from the fact that over 70% of marketers are readily investing in content marketing. And no wonder — the reach and exposure one can get online is so vast that neglecting content marketing would be foolish.
It shouldn’t be surprising that with the reshaped digital landscape come new challenges.
Content has become a more competitive field than ever before.
But is that necessarily bad? That will depend on whom you ask since brands are having a harder time staying relevant in the ever-growing market. However, the online world is becoming a much more user-friendly place.
So, while users enjoy some of the best quality content and products the internet has had to offer in years, many businesses have been fiercely competing for their spot on the first page of Google.
Because of the growing competition, many brands have shifted their endeavors toward more high-quality and personalized content. This ever-evolving competitive landscape has proven fantastic for the users. That is primarily because it has been an incentive for businesses to keep producing quality content.
Unfortunately, 75% of content never sees a social media share or an outside link even today. But what’s the reason behind that?
The answer is likely oversaturation of the market. That is why brands need to come up with new, more exciting ways of engaging their audience and getting to that number-one spot on Google.
With the growing competition in the content marketing field came the need for new and engaging content formats. At the forefront of that craze came videos.
Different types of video content have been changing the game for content marketers for multiple reasons:
With all that in mind, should it surprise us that 85% of businesses are already using video in their content strategy? It shouldn’t!
Besides videos, other content marketing formats have been seeing a boost in popularity, like ebooks, infographics, and various visuals. However, video, visual, and text content are among the most popular ones by far, as you can see from this graph illustrating how B2B companies value each of these formats:
With everything we’ve touched upon, it’s evident that content marketing is still changing the game. But the primary difference lies in that the content that is in the spotlight nowadays has changed significantly.
Long gone are the days of poor and spammy content. The emphasis is now, more than ever, on pieces that offer users tangible value. Also, with all the advances in the area of internet technology and consumer habits, new types of content have emerged at the forefront of the content marketing industry.
So yes, content is still king, but not just any content.
High-quality content is the new king.
With that said, how does that affect brands worldwide? It’s pretty straightforward — they will have to adapt. Those who fail to do so will be left behind and quickly forgotten.