Content marketing comes before digital marketing. You might be surprised, but it’s true.
It’s all about brand storytelling to reach potential customers through content.
Content marketing isn’t new and has been around for more than 100 years. At the time when computers and digital tools didn’t exist like it did today, brands had to rely on creativity and content to build hype around their products and make customers buy them.
With the advent of digital marketing in the 1990s, content marketing started to disappear into the shadows. Since the 2010s it again rose to prominence and today, it is one of the most important marketing strategies that plays a major role in a company’s growth.
Since it’s beginning, content has evolved tremendously. It has changed from journals to radio shows, to comic books, zines and blogs. It is always changing and will never cease to do so.
The change is what drives companies to generate better revenue or reach their goals faster with better results. The earliest content to have ever marketed was so successful because it was something new and people found a way to connect with brands. Similarly, the first ever video, blog or podcast were widely successful because they were something new.
Today there are millions of content in such forms and to be successful in this competitive industry, you need to create better and more quality content than your competition. There is no shortcut or other way around. This Bangalore digital marketing company, WEB I7 provides a content marketing strategy customised and tailored to your business needs.
To understand better how content can play an important role in the success of a business, let’s take a trip to the past –
1895 – The Furrow by John Deere:
An American tractor company called John Deere began publishing journals for farmers about how technology can help them. The goal was to make them more invested in John Deere equipment so that it can help them prosper better. The publication was a hit. Why? Because it wasn’t hard selling in the face of customers.
The company gave a reason to invest in them with their stories and information about the equipment they offered. And this created an interest in the farmers and eventually built a relationship between them and the company.
1990s – The Michelin Guide:
You all have heard about the Michelin stars for restaurants. Ever wonder how they came to be or why they’re called Michelin stars? It all started with content marketing.
In the 1900s, France had about 3000 cars. To create more demand for cars and car tires, Andre Michelin, a French industrialist, with his brother Edouard created a guide on how to maintain a vehicle, repair and replace tires, car mechanics lists, where to find lodging and hotels to stay in during travels. They published and distributed them for free.
Towards the end of WW2, Andre started charging 750 francs for the guide and improved its content by adding a list of fine-dining restaurants based on categories and maps. The guide became very popular because of the detailed information provided in it. The brothers would send inspectors to visit and rate restaurants. At the time, there was only one Michelin star which, over time, became a three-star rating.
You can see how providing content became an important role in the popularity of the Michelin guide and stars. Today, the guide continues to be popular and restaurants work hard to earn the Michelin stars.
1930s – Procter & Gamble’s Soap Opera:
In 1837, William Procter and James Gamble began a business selling candles and soaps. Their products were quite popular and used widely, especially in the military. They continued manufacturing and distributing soaps in the next few decades. The company was later managed by their sons and grandsons.
During the 1930s, radio shows grew to prominence and popularity. There was a dearth of products advertising and P&G was one of the first to advertise on them. There was a show called Ma Perkins on the radio on which P&G advertised their product Oxydol soap powder. The sales and revenue increased post this advertisement and the company began sponsoring many other radio shows. Thus, the term soap opera was born.
Today, P&G is a multinational consumer goods corporation, producing goods in health, lifestyle, beauty, family care, foods, etc.
1977 – Brick kicks Magazine by LEGO:
Who doesn’t love legos, right? It is great for kids’ development and fun. It’s so satisfying to build with legos. So, how was the company able to be so successful even after decades?
That’s right! Through content marketing. They started publishing a magazine called Brick Kicks, which is still running today as Lego life magazine.
The magazine featured comics on lego characters, building ideas, and games. It became widely popular among kids and created a demand for their products. The magazines built a relationship between the company and its customers which made their products widely popular and successful.
1982 – Hasbro & Marvel’s G.I Joe Comic Books:
Hasbro is an American multinational company that deals in the production of toys and games. The joint venture with the Marvel comics changed the game forever in the production and sales of toys.
When Marvel produced comic books on G.I Joe, it became a favourite American soldier among many. And the joint venture with the toy company produced G.I Joe toys that sold in millions.
The comic book played an important role in marketing. It provided content that people loved and resonated with. With that content, it created a demand for G.I Joe’s physical existence in the form of toys.
Like always, Marvel created hype around a character and sold content that pushed many companies’ marketing success forward.
1999 – Microsoft Launches its first Corporate Blog:
Microsoft started their first ever corporate blog that was a big deal back then and within three years, the company’s spend on content marketing came up to $20 billion.
Around the same year, the term content marketing was used in Ohio and parts of America. Since then, content marketing grew big and was used across the world as a major part of their business marketing strategy.
Other notable landmarks in content marketing –
- 2005 – Before Youtube existed, LiveVault created a video featuring John Cleese and a few IT managers which saw over 250,000 downloads.
- 2006 – STIR magazine was created by the company, Sherwin-Williams that gave advice and guides to architects and interior designers.
- 2008 – Procter & Gamble created a website called beinggirl.com for teenage girls to provide information on feminine hygiene and products. This form of content marketing was much more effective than traditional marketing.
- 2011 – Google’s Zero Moment Of Truth, a research into its users showed that they look for information about a product before buying it. This was an important process in the buying cycle and the study proved that content was very important.
If companies could provide the right content on their products, then it would help users ease into buying them. So, Google’s study changed the game in online content marketing. It also discouraged keyword stuffing, which made it harder for content and sites to rank.
- Post 2010s – Social media becomes the number one platform for producing and consuming content. Businesses prosper and the platform has helped many of them become successful with online content marketing.
- 2017 – Video content rose and became one of the most produced forms of content.
You can see how content marketing has rapidly changed over the decades and largely influenced a business’s success. Done the right way, it can reach millions of people and engage them, creating a bond between the company and them. That alone can drive the business forward.
In the coming years, it is expected to keep changing. New upcoming digital technologies like augmented reality and virtual reality can make way for new possibilities. They have set the change in motion on social media platforms. Content and marketing are already seeing a new era on social media platforms with these technologies, providing a unique user experience like never before!
It’s hard to predict exactly how things will change in the marketing industry, but here are some of the near changes that are expected to take place in the near future –
- Video content is on the rise. People love to watch videos of their favourite brands. Moreover, videos get better and longer engagement rate, making it an extremely effective content marketing strategy. 80% of the business use videos in their marketing strategies.
- Mobile searches to increase According to Statistica, the mobile data traffic worldwide is predicted to increase by seven times by 2022. Since the last few years, mobile searches have been increasing without slowing down. So content marketing is also expected to rise for mobile use.
Optimising content for mobile use will be critical for the success of SEO and marketing. The implementation of AR and VR on mobile apps and other platforms will present new opportunities for content marketing.
- Departing from being salesy, content will move towards being empathetic, more informational, and customer-first. Google wants to give the best user experience and providing content that is focused on customers will hold a high place in the rankings. Users don’t care about sales. They care about information and their needs. So, content will become more personal.
- Podcasts watching is better than reading. Listening is even better than watching and reading. Audio content has better engagement than video content. It is more convenient than other forms of content as anyone can listen to it on the go whenever they want.
It is more interactive than written and video content. It is more personal and customised. So users are more likely to be engaged in podcasts and respond to them more.
Challenges faced in the Content Marketing Industry:
Competition – Back in 2005, you could post a blog on anything small in less than 500 words and it would still do well. Why? Because it would be new and there was not much competition.
Fast forward to today, you can write new topics in more than 1800 words with high-quality content and it would still struggle to rank well. Why? Because the competition is quite fierce.
There are over 500 Million Sites to Beat:
The competition for the keywords Content marketing industry itself has over 1 trillion results.
So you can imagine the pain of competition. You want to stand out from them, then you have to be better than them with your finger on the pulse.
Providing high-quality content consistently – Some companies provide content because they have to. They blog and blog and blog and blog…………….. Until it’s not working anymore. Then they stop.
Some companies make the mistake of providing poor quality content with lazy writing, inaccurate facts, and ridiculed articles that are terrible. They might be creating them under the pressure to consistently produce content. This results in poor-quality content that can dent or even damage their reputation.
Battling paid promotion – If driving organic traffic wasn’t hard enough, here comes the competition for paid traffic. Many social media platforms are providing better opportunities for driving more traffic through paid promotions. They help segment your audience better.
The competition for that also is fierce. To battle paid promotions and ads on search engines is a tough one. If you want to expand your reach, then using paid promotions might help as relying solely on organic traffic will make it harder to reach your goals in the long-run.
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