The rise and rise of content marketing

Content marketing has become de rigueur as brands seek to push leads further down the customer journey.

The sector is growing rapidly - in the UK it is worth nearly £1 billion - and research by Demand Metrics shows that 78 per cent of chief marketing officers think custom content is the future of marketing.

This points to the fact that content marketing is here to stay, as Google's algorithm changes have made it vital for companies to be producing content that boasts expertise, authority and is trustworthy.

What is content marketing?

Put simply, it is the practice of creating and distributing relevant and unique content in order to interact with a clearly-defined target audience. It seeks to change or enhance consumer behaviour through blogs, articles, videos and various forms of rich content.

Thought leaders are clear about the need for content marketing, pointing out that traditional marketing cannot work without the input of high-quality, relevant content.

Coca-Cola has been one of its biggest supporters, as outlined by its Content 2020 video. This showed how the brand wanted to move away from creative excellence to content excellence, as it recognised that it could no longer rely on 30-second TV spots to drive sales.

How popular is content marketing?

The reasons for getting on the content marketing bandwagon are compelling, as numerous statistics underline just how effective it can be. For example, Fat Joe points out that B2B companies with blogs generate 67 per cent more leads on average, while 31 per cent of consumers expect brands to publish content.

Moreover, the CMO Council found that 95 per cent of CMOs view content marketing as an important component of their business strategies, and two-thirds are anticipating a positive return on investment.

This demonstrates how brands are not only keen to invest in the measure, but they also view it as an excellent way of building a community of consumers who interact and engage with each other through content.

"CMOs want to create fresh, relevant, appropriate content to engage consumers," said Patricia Odell in Chief Marketer. "They are committed to investing in and exploring content marketing this year, and measuring the impact from doing so."

What's the future of content marketing?

If brands want to be successful with content marketing, they have to focus on developing content strategies that build a lasting experience with consumers, with the end goal of making them brand advocates.

Producing great content is not going to be enough, as companies have to cultivate conversations if they want customers to keep coming back. Facilitating user interaction is key to success.

Speaking about the future, the founder of the Content Marketing Institute Joe Pulizzi told Track Maven that the measure is set to become a "core discipline in the enterprise".

"Big companies are so siloed that it's hard for them to put together a cohesive content strategy. Major news and information will come mostly from companies that are not traditional media companies. They just have too many resources to screw this up ... but it will take time," he added.

So, it looks like there are exciting times ahead for the content marketing industry.