The 5 biggest changes in content marketing – and how to keep up

Content Marketing has transformed in the last five years – contributors to our Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to Content Marketing share their thoughts on the biggest changes

April 1, 2016

Content marketing has massively evolved over the last five years: marketers need it to do more, amid more competition for attention, and that means there’s more need than ever for a clear and coherent strategy. Our new Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to Content Marketing is here to help you navigate these challenges, and get the best bang for your buck on your content marketing initiatives.

It’s the most detailed guide we’ve ever produced to help you build and optimise your content marketing approach, and it’s packed with advice from content marketing pioneers who’ve helped to define what success looks like.

As part of the guide, we asked some of the world’s leading content marketers about the most important differences between content marketing five years ago and content marketing today. Here are their responses – just some of the insights you can expect to find in our latest Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide:

Joe Pulizzi, Founder, Content Marketing Institute

Five years ago, almost everything was experimentation and campaigns. Now, more organisations are defining a real, integrated content marketing strategy and approach as a key part of their marketing process. In other words, this is serious business. At the same time, some who started off with lacklustre results have become disenchanted and need to take a fresh look at the approach.

Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs

First, we’re long past the days when creating content for search engines is an effective practice. We need an audience-centric point of view first, and that comes from a strategist. Second, quality matters a whole lot more than quantity these days. It used to be that publishing regularly was enough to boost you in search rankings and customers would find their way to you. We’re beyond that now. You need to be creating content that has real empathy for the audience you are trying to reach.

Alex Cheeseman, Head of International Strategy, Newscred

The fundamental principles of content marketing haven’t changed. People tend to forget that it’s been a marketing strategy for over 100 years. What’s changed is that technology has pushed content to centre stage, and focused marketers on building relationships with value-based communication rather than push-based advertising. At the same time, the techniques for bringing content to life and distributing it are changing. We’re seeing a massive rise in the use of video to tell longer form stories that often spearhead traditional content marketing. We’re also seeing brands having to look at different distribution channels for getting in front of the right person at the right time – particularly as the use of ad-blocking rises and the choice of where to access high quality editorial content increases daily. This has been one of the drivers of the importance of native and programmatic.

Kirsty Brice, Director of Marketing, EMEA, 4Cinsights

The first thing that jumps to mind is video. Five years ago, the power of the written word was very important. Now, if you don’t have video in your content strategy you are struggling. There’s so much content out there that cutting through is getting harder and harder without video’s capacity for capturing attention quickly.

Rebecca Allen, General Manager, UK & Europe, Contently

The biggest two developments are the growing focus on measurement and distribution. Content marketers are increasingly aware that they can’t create content in isolation, without incorporating distribution as part of the strategy. And they’re ready to move beyond vanity metrics to find ways to demonstrate clear ROI. It’s a huge shift and a complex challenge. Content should run through every stage of the customer journey and therefore we need to look at a wide range of metrics to measure it.

Make sure your own content marketing strategy isn’t behind the times. In our Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to Content Marketing, you’ll find actionable advice on everything from building a solid strategy to essential tools for managing and producing the content you need, expanding reach, amplifying impact and unleashing the power of visuals.

Click here to download the Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to Content Marketing for free