So much has changed in the past decade. Just ten years ago, iPads didn’t exist, the most popular cell phones still had slide-out keyboards, and mobile-optimized websites were virtually unheard of. The online environment has to be one of the most dramatically different aspects of our culture. With the constant evolution of online standards, requirements, and design aspects, a certain question has grown in popularity: Is content marketing dead as we know it?
Countless articles have been written recently with some variation of the title, "Content Marketing is Dead." Marketers, business owners, and bloggers all seem to agree that online writing is outdated and getting replaced by other forms of marketing. So, does content marketing still matter for businesses in 2018? The answer depends on how you define it, because the right type of content marketing is not only alive and well, it's more relevant than ever before.
The Case for Content Marketing’s Death
In a Forbes article entitled "Content Marketing Is Dead! Long Live Marketing!" written late last year, author and marketer John Ellett claims that content marketing is, as the title proclaims, dead. However, he defines “content marketing” as something that's seller-driven, and says it’s being replaced by buyer-driven content that matches the buyer’s journey and includes information that buyers would appreciate. He summarizes this theory by complaining about marketers who are "focused on what they want to publish and on pushing the content they want to promote.”
In a Relevance article titled "9 Reasons Why Content Marketing is Dead, and Influencer Marketing is the Future" by digital marketing consultant Gaurav Sharma, Gaurav argues that content marketing is dead due to the online market saturation of terrible content. He goes on to project (unsurprisingly) that the online environment is moving towards “influencer marketing,” where brands reach out to social media influencers to publicize their products.
So, is content marketing actually dead? Poorly written content living in an online environment amongst an over-population of more poorly written content that’s not catered to the buyer’s journey definitely sounds dismal. But now let’s check out the other side of the debate.
The Case for Content Marketing’s Survival
In a recent DreamGrow article entitled "Content Marketing Is Dead: 2018 Is All About Storytelling" author Sarah Johnson confirms that, yes, crappy online content is dead (as it should be). However, she says this doesn’t mean that content marketing is actually gone. It just means it should be done differently. For instance, instead of creating clickbaity content that shows up seemingly everywhere online, write solid content that is actually helpful to your buyers. Don’t try to get the most clicks online, try to get the most qualified clicks online. This requires catering to your audience.
The two articles mentioned earlier by Gaurav Sharma and John Ellett are not necessarily saying that content marketing is dead, either. Both of them, and many others who are writing about content marketing's demise, are defining content marketing as a seller-driven, one-way form of communication — where the seller pushes a ton of content on Google that is created solely for the purpose of getting their name out, regardless of how useless it may be to their potential buyers.
Now, we have both sides of the argument. The only question is, what’s the final say?
Content Marketing in 2018: Our Final Say
Everyone cited in this article is correct: Crappy content marketing is dead. But, that doesn’t mean that quality content marketing is dead. In fact, when these marketers provide the response to its death, they typically describe a better way of content marketing without actually naming it: inbound marketing.
By focusing on the buyer’s journey and writing content that’s truly useful to the qualified buyers of your company’s product or service, you’ll be able to push past all the other crappy content online and establish yourself, in Google’s and in your buyer’s eyes, as a content leader. Not only is content marketing not dead, but it’s become even more important in Google’s new algorithm and in the eyes of most consumers.
A lot has changed in the world of SEO in 2018. Last year, Google dropped a new algorithm update which penalized websites that provided a lot of content that wasn’t specifically helpful to their clients. Barry Schwartz wrote about it in his Search Engine Land article. “[The websites that are being penalized by the new update] seem to have content on a vast array of topics that are not adding all that much value above what other sites in the industry have already written,” he says in his book.
Content Marketing Takes Many Forms
While the old form of content marketing may have died off, quality content marketing is at its zenith. Google rewards websites that continually produce helpful content and buyers appreciate the unbiased information to aid in the research process. This doesn’t have to be in the form of a blog though — quality content can come in the form of pillars, podcasts, YouTube videos, and many other media options. When it comes to content marketing formats, the sky's the limit.
With content marketing alive and well, have some fun with it! Create videos, podcasts, long stories, and more — as long as it’s helpful to your customers.