It’s been almost thirty years since Bill Gates claimed that, “Content marketing is king” back in 1996, but content marketing is still widely used and highly effective today.
That being said, there’s much more to creating content than simply churning out blogs - so what makes a successful content marketing strategy in 2023?
In this blog, we explore what content marketing is, why it’s worth investing in content marketing, how to create content that gets results, and take a look at some of the top content marketing trends for 2023. Whether you’re new to content marketing or you’ve got an established strategy in place, you’re sure to pick up some useful insights when you read on.
What is content marketing?
According to the Content Marketing Institute, “Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
Should we invest in content marketing?
No matter the size of your business or the industry it operates in, content marketing can help you to achieve your goals. Here’s why…
Content marketing generates leads
If lead generation is a key goal for your business, you should be investing in content marketing - particularly as Google is set to join the growing list of browsers that have ended support for third-party cookies in 2024. This means that in order to future-proof your digital marketing strategy and maintain a high level of insight into your customers, you need to be collecting first-party data from your prospects. Creating valuable, high-quality content and asking prospects to share their data in order to access it is an excellent way of gathering first-party data. And by providing your prospects with useful insight, you help to establish your organisation’s authority in your industry in their eyes.
Content marketing nurtures leads
You shouldn’t stop providing your prospects with useful, relevant content once you’ve collected their data, however, as content can be a great way to encourage prospects to move through the sales funnel. Your prospects might not be ready to buy from your business when they first interact with you, for example, but by sending them high-quality content through a newsletter or email campaign you can ensure that your business is front of mind when they are ready to convert.
Content marketing delights customers
If you’re looking to take your customer experience to the next level, content marketing can help you to do so. Providing your customers with exclusive content can boost their experience with your brand and make them feel as though they are getting even more value from working with you. And creating educational content designed to help your customers to get the most out of your product or service can help them to use it to its full potential and make their lives easier. By providing them with added value and continually interacting with them, you increase the chances of customers becoming brand ambassadors.
How to create compelling content
Now you know why you should be creating content, you’re probably keen to get started - so how do you create content that your audience actually wants to read? Here are our top tips to common questions we receive from our clients…
1. How can I develop ideas for content?
Before you begin writing content, you should make a list of potential topics or areas that your audience is interested in finding out more about. Looking at a blank page can be daunting, but there are a number of ways that you can generate fresh ideas for content topics. You can visit sites that are popular within your target audience’s industry, for example, and make a note of any common themes in their most recent blogs or articles - this will give you an indication of the trending topics in your audience’s world.
You could also begin typing some of your target keywords into Google, as Google’s auto-complete search suggestions may provide you with inspiration for content topics. Another good way to come up with new content ideas is by holding a brainstorming session that includes colleagues from outside of your marketing department. Team members from departments such as sales and customer service can provide useful insight into the questions your prospects and customers are asking, so you can create content to answer any common queries.
2. How much content should I create?
The volume of content you create isn’t as important as the quality of your content - so think quality, not quantity. According to HubSpot, 83% of marketers believe it’s more effective to create higher quality content less often, and for good reason - sending your audience low-quality content daily is more likely to lead to unsubscribes than conversions.
As a rough guide, aim to produce two to three content offers - long-form, high-value pieces of content that provide your audience with real insight - per quarter. These content offers could take the form of an e-book or guide, and should be gated in order to help you to generate leads. You can use these long-form content offers as the basis for more regular, short form content, such as blogs, videos and podcast episodes. How often you publish new content will largely depend on how much time and resources you can dedicate to creating high-quality content.
3. How can I get the most out of the content I create?
When you’re investing time and resources into creating content, you want to ensure that you’re getting the most value out of your investment. You can do this by repurposing your content wherever possible. A chapter from an e-book can be repurposed into a blog, for example, or a blog article could be condensed into a short video for social media.
Repurposing your content doesn’t simply mean copying and pasting your existing content into a new format - you should look to take a slightly different angle for your new piece of content and add additional information to provide real value for your readers. A blog on ‘How to create an SEO strategy’ could become a checklist of 10 steps to optimize your website for SEO, for example. Once you’ve been creating content for some time, you can also look to refresh old content by repurposing it into a different format.
4. How can I maximise the reach of my content?
To ensure your content reaches as much of your target audience as possible, you should promote it on all of the channels that your audience is present on. However, it’s important to plan which channels you intend to push your content on before you write it, as different content formats will be better suited to some platforms than others. An eye-catching infographic is more likely to catch the eye on a busy social media feed than a blog, for example.
Ensuring you create content in a range of long- and short-form formats is also important if you’re looking to raise brand awareness through your content. Time-poor C-suite executives, for example, may be more likely to take two minutes to watch an explainer video than half an hour to read an e-book. You should also consider testing content formats you haven’t used before to see if they can help you to reach a new or wider audience - some people may prefer to listen to a podcast than read a blog, for example, so you may be able to capture a wider audience by creating both blogs and podcasts.
5. How can I optimise content for SEO?
It’s vital to optimise your content for search engines, as this will help it to rank better, which will further extend the reach of your content and ensure you’re achieving optimum results from your content marketing efforts. Start by identifying the keywords you want to target, and then focus on one long-tail keyword - keywords or phrases that are more specific, and usually longer, than more commonly used keywords. Research shows that web visitors searching for long-tail keywords are more likely to read to the end of a blog.
When you’re creating content for your blog, you should also use a pillar and cluster strategy to optimise your blog for SEO. This involves creating one lengthy blog that broadly covers a core topic for your business. This blog is an example of pillar content. Once you have a pillar in place, you can start creating ‘cluster’ blogs to support and link back to your pillar content. A cluster blog should go into greater depth on a specific topic related to your pillar content, and by linking it to your pillar content and other clusters under that pillar, you can elevate your search rankings for that page and all linked pages.
6. How does psychology come into content creation?
Like every other part of your marketing strategy, understanding your buyer’s cognitive biases and including certain psychological techniques can enhance the effectiveness of your content marketing. If you’re producing an educational guide that explains the need for your product or service, for example, it’s a good idea to include a short case study, as the social proof bias means that your prospects are uncertain about a purchasing decision and they're more likely to follow the actions of others.
And if you want to stay front of mind for your prospects, you should consider the lag effect when scheduling your nurture emails. The lag effect means that your prospects retain information better when there are longer breaks between repeated presentations of that information. So if you’re trying to get a certain message across in your nurture journey, don’t overwhelm your audience with multiple emails in the first week after they sign up - instead, reinforce your message in weekly emails over a longer period of time.
Content marketing trends for 2023
Whether you’re building a content strategy from scratch or you’ve been creating content for some time, here are the content marketing trends you need to be aware of when you’re planning your content for 2023:
Short-form videos reign supreme on social media
If you’re creating content for social media, stick to short-form content types, like Instagram reels and TikTok videos. Video has been the top content marketing media format in HubSpot’s annual State of Inbound Marketing report for the past three years, and we expect this to continue in 2023. The algorithms behind most social media platforms prioritise video content, which means video posts can reach a wider audience, and they can also hold social media users’ attention longer than a simple text or image post.
So make sure that you include videos in your content marketing strategy - although keep the length of your videos to less than 30 seconds to ensure users watch it all. And if your business is B2B, don’t assume that video content is better suited to B2C audiences - in fact, B2B marketers see higher engagement and better ROI on TikTok than marketers for B2C businesses. You also don’t need to have a huge budget for video content. If you have a smartphone and a script, you’re ready to start shooting your first video.
Create authentic content
It’s likely that you’re not the only company that’s capable of developing and selling the products and services that you sell. So as well as creating content that explains the features and benefits of your offering, you should share authentic content that helps your audience to understand why you do what you do - and why they should buy from your business rather than your competitors.
That’s why we believe that the trend for creating user- and employee-generated content will continue to grow in 2023. By showcasing the voices of their team members and customers, brands can give their audiences unique, ‘behind the scenes’ insights into their organization and what they stand for. If your team is volunteering for charity, for example, asking them to record and share their efforts on social media is a great way to demonstrate how your organization is giving back. By creating content that truly reflects your brand values and what it’s like to work with and for your business, you should find that you begin to build a community of like-minded people who share your organization’s values and trust your brand as a result.
Use influencers to increase your reach
As well as encouraging your staff and customers to create content for your brand, you should also explore influencer marketing, which is set to be one of the key content marketing trends for 2023. Research has shown that B2B buyers in particular find co-branded or sponsored 3rd-party content more trustworthy than content that comes directly from a business itself, so working with industry influencers can help to provide your content - and your organization - with greater credibility.
If you’re interested in collaborating with influencers on your content, there are a range of ways that you can do so. Start by identifying which influencers will have the impact you’re looking for - who is seen as a real authority in your audience’s eyes? Once you know who you want to work with, decide how you want to work with them. You could ask them to contribute a quote to an e-guide you create, for example, or you may decide to pay for a sponsored article on their website. Whichever format you choose, you can ensure that working with an influencer will expand your content’s reach by asking them to share it with their audience once it’s published.
Be ready to create real-time content
It’s important to be strategic and plan your content strategy in advance - but if you want your business to be seen as ‘ahead of the curve’ in your industry, it’s also vital to be ready to react when big industry news breaks. So while you’re scheduling your content, set some time aside for creating ‘real-time’ content.
Often, reactive content isn’t as off-the-cuff as you might imagine - so don’t be deterred by the thought that you may need to create an entire e-book at incredibly short notice. Highlight important dates for your industry and your audience’s industries in your content plan, and make sure you have the resources you’ll need to create content on that day. If your business is in the financial services sector, for instance, you may decide to live-tweet during the Government’s Autumn budget. By creating real-time content during critical times for your industry, you can seize the opportunity to provide your audience with insight before your competitors and establish your business as an authority in that area.
But remember ever-green content is essential
While reactive content is an excellent way to show that you’re au fait with the latest trends, the bulk of your content should be evergreen - search-optimised and relevant for the long-term. We’ve been seeing a shift towards evergreen content over the past few years as marketers look to get the most out of their investment in content creation, and it’s a trend we predict will continue in 2023. By making sure that your content is just as relevant in five years’ time as it is today, with just a few tweaks required in that time, you can get maximum ROI from your content, so this approach makes commercial sense.
How can you ensure that your content stays fresh? Firstly, make sure that it provides the reader with valuable information - otherwise it’s unlikely to perform well in a week’s time, let alone a year. Avoid mentioning specific events or dates, as this will age your content. This blog isn’t evergreen, for example, because it’s about content marketing trends for 2023, which means it won’t be relevant in 2024. You should also regularly revisit your evergreen content pieces, because despite your best efforts when writing it, the world is constantly changing and you may need to update areas of your content to ensure it remains factual and relevant for years to come.
Experiment with new content types
Creating content is no longer simply about writing blog posts or crafting a guide - there are plenty of new content formats available to marketers today, so we think that experimenting with new content types will be a key marketing trend for 2023. Take podcasts, for example - they didn’t really take off until around five years ago, when apps like Spotify began to prioritise podcasts, but global podcast listener numbers are expected to grow to 505 million by 2024. If you haven’t already tried creating a podcast, we encourage you to give podcasting a go - they can help you to reach those who are working from home or catching up with industry news while they do something else.
We also recommend making your content interactive wherever possible, as this can help you to engage your audience and is set to be another big content marketing trend in 2023. Many marketers are already testing interactive content with their audiences, using tools like polls, games and augmented reality to encourage engagement on busy social media platforms and collect valuable information from their audience at the same time. Interactive games and quizzes can also add an element of fun to your content and help your business to stand out from the crowd as a result.
Support for your 2023 content marketing strategy
At Cognition, we know that creating a content strategy can seem daunting - that’s why we’re here to help you to develop a strategy that will support your business objectives.
Whether you’d like to consult us on which content formats, topics and promo channels will truly engage your audience, or you need expert copywriting support to execute your content marketing strategy, our content specialists are on hand to help. Simply get in touch with our team to arrange a meeting today.