The State of Content Marketing in 2019: Where to Invest and 2 Things to Stop Doing Right Now
is the Head of Marketing at Lean Labs. His experience ranges from higher education to SMBs and tech startups. When not doing digital marketing, he's sure to be enjoying some kind of nerdy pastime.
300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every 60 seconds.
4,000,000 blog posts are published every single day.
95,000,000 images and videos are uploaded to Instagram every day.
There’s a lot of stinkin’ content out there folks. And most of it is garbage. the problem with garbage is that it’s not intangible. It’s very much physical, and that means it’s a real obstacle to overcome.
Whether you like it or not, content marketing is no longer an option. If you’re not producing content, you are slowly being buried by the garbage of the internet. And, give it a few years and no one will remember you except those nerds that like to nose around the WayBack Machine.
The only thing this mind-numbing onslaught has done to the realm of marketing is two-fold: First, it means you don’t have a choice but to join in, and secondly, it means you have to do it better and faster than everyone else.
That is, if you want to win.
The State of Content Marketing in 2019
Fifty years ago, every business had a relatively limited number of competitors. The brick and mortars had to worry about two or three other brick and mortars in town, and that evil giant Sears that mailed catalogs and delivered anything you wanted in as little as 8 weeks.
Today, every brick and mortar is competing with Amazon, Walmart (who is going toe-to-toe with Amazon on free shipping), thousands of Shopify stores, and every Tom, Dick, and Harry who want to sell things from their operating headquarters Momma’s Basement.
The FALLACY of Content ROI
This is going to be controversial, but here’s the reality as I see it: measuring content marketing ROI on a micro level is not smart.
The hungover dude in his parent’s basement is competing with you.
There’s no geographical barrier.
If he puts content on the web, he is directly competing with you. And, even if he’s putting out garbage, it will be a barrier-an obstacle-to your target audience.
This is why content marketing is not an option. Those people who still agonize over the ROI of every piece of content are going to lose. Because they will always be concerned about investing too much into content that’s not bringing a measurable return.
My favorite Gary Vee quote, when someone asked him about the ROI of posting to Instagram, Gary retorted, “What’s the ROI of your mother?”
Warning: Clip Includes Plenty Of Gary's Cursing
His point: You don’t ask about the ROI of the electricity powering your office. You don’t ask about the ROI of the oxygen your employees breathe. These are necessities in business, and without them, getting an ROI at all would be much harder.
Content is a necessity in 2019. That’s just the truth!
Content Marketing in 2019: What To Invest In
Now that we’ve determined that content marketing is a necessity, what do we invest in? With electricity, you have what, two options? And, no company is currently crushing it online from their solar-only headquarters. At least, not that I’m aware of.
So, there’s one option for one kind of power: electricity.
With content, there’s a ton of options:
- Social Updates
- Live Streams
- Landing Pages
- Website Pages
That list is not exhaustive. And, you can dive into each one of those and have even more options.
So the question is, in 2019, what kind of content should you be creating?
The answer isn’t cut and dry.
The real answer is, it depends on your space, your solutions, and most importantly, your target market. However, when it comes to the B2B space, we’ve narrowed down the most important investments in our humble opinion.
If you’re a B2B organization looking to increase attention, attract customers, and grow your brand, these will be the areas that will give you the most bang for your buck.
This does come with a small caveat: we’re talking about types of content here. If video, for example, was the best type of content for you to create, it doesn’t mean you’ll get traction with video. While video could be the most important investment you could make, you still have to make great videos. And, that’s a completely different discussion.
Just know that the effectiveness of the WHAT is always dependent upon the quality of the WHY, and the execution of the HOW.
While the world is falling in love with video, the truth is that written content still drives a huge amount of attention and website traffic. I believe that, regardless of what you’re doing on social media, your blog is the foundation of all marketing.
When you make a video, it belongs in a blog post (see above). When you create a great infographic, it belongs in a blog post. When you create a valuable guide or lead magnet, it should be showcased in your blog posts.
The only people I know of that might get away without blog content are people like Gary Vaynerchuck. And, he gets by on his celebrity and by pushing out insane amounts of content on other platforms.
And, he’s been doing it for a long time.
B2B’s don’t have that kind of celebrity, nor that amount of time to wait as the audience grows. So, don’t ignore your blog. It’s one of the primary drivers of domain authority for our clients. And, domain authority, helps us to rank for a ton of keywords our competitors can’t.
Oh, and guess what, Gary Vee has a blog, too. In reality, it's just transcribed text from his videos, but it's there.
How Much Should I Invest In Blog Content?
This is a huge debate with marketers. The top marketing blog in the world publishes multiple times a day. We don’t do that much, neither do any of our clients. We can’t afford it like they can.
All I can say is what we’ve learned over the years in multiple verticals and industries.
2–3 Posts Per Month: If you publish less than once a week, you won’t live long enough to experience growth in organic traffic. It’s so slow, it’s not worth it. Invest in PPC advertising instead.
1 Post Per Week: We’ve had clients that only wanted to invest in one post per week, or four per month. We found out that this velocity could build organic traffic, but while not stagnant, it was still painfully slow. In fact, we had one client that started off at one-per-week velocity. After 4 months, we started publishing more on our own dime, and organic traffic took off.
2 Posts Per Week: This seems to be somewhat of a sweet spot. It’s not going to compete with people that are publishing multiple times a day, but the difference between publishing twice a week and publishing three times a week was virtually unnoticeable.
We urge all our clients to make this a bare minimum: two blog articles a week.
Quantity Matters: We’ve experimented with posting every day. And, we did see a spike in organic traffic growth. While you should never sacrifice quality, the bottom line is, the more quality blog content you can produce, the faster your organic growth will be. At a bare minimum, I say go for 2 per week. If you can do 4/5 per week, then do it.
Again, there are a lot of options for video content. Video on social performs very, very well. And the non-produced variety perform the best. That means, if you want to engage your social media followers, produce content that is very raw.
People eat up behind the scenes kind of content. That’s why reality TV is so popular. They like watching what happens in the “real” world (not that reality TV is real). So, if you’re producing video content for social media, and you should, just pop out your iPhone and start recording. Don’t try to make it fancy.
Seriously. Start paying attention to the ads. Disney World is the latest I noticed… they are all using cell phone footage from real people. They have an entire advertisement campaign that is nothing but shaky footage with bad audio.
Why? Because it makes people pay attention.
But, that’s documentary-type content. It’s documenting, not creating. Note the difference, because you can produce much more documentation content than you can created content.
And, in many cases, it’s more effective.
But, there is still a place for content creation in the video space. And, it’s getting to be so important you can no longer ignore it.
YouTube is the worlds second-largest search engine. And, its market share is increasing. Years ago, if I wanted to know something, I searched Google and read about it. I still do that. But, I also find myself more and more going to YouTube and searching for a video that does the same thing.
In some instances, being shown is better than being told. That’s why YouTube is growing so rapidly.
Here’s why you should start creating video content: your blog posts will not show up on the world’s second largest search engine.
The same is true in reverse: your YouTube videos can show up on Google, but your blog posts will never show up on YouTube.
We’re not talking about Bing or Yahoo. We’re talking about the 2nd largest search engine! All your written content, while important, is not showing to a growing number of searchers.
What Kind of Video Content Works on YouTube?
When it comes to blogging to grow organic traffic, you have to write blog posts that answer people’s questions. That is, whatever they are typing into Google to get an answer, you provide that answer–or at the very least, you address the question.
Most of our blog content–nearly all of it–follows that strategy. We find a question our target audience is asking Google, and we create a piece of content to answer it. That’s how our traffic explodes over time.
YouTube is no different.
Like me, people are starting to ask YouTube those questions instead of Google. And, even those that use Google are often clicking on the YouTube results that show up in SERPS.
What does this mean?
It means you need to create video versions of your blog posts. It’s that simple.
If you have a blog post like, X Ways to Skin a Chicken, and it’s getting a lot of organic traffic, you need to create a video version of that post.
Man, in hindsight, I should have picked a different example because that might be a very disturbing YouTube video. Oh well, I can’t go back and edit it now!
YouTube is a search engine. Google is a search engine.
The content you create, and the methods you use to rank are virtually the same. They are just processed differently.
Maximizing Content Mileage
YouTube isn’t the only place that video content is effective.
Facebook gives preferential treatment to video content, so if you want to get organic views on Facebook, you’ll have better luck with video.
LinkedIn is doing the same. Video content on LinkedIn performs very, very well.
Instagram just launched Instagram TV recently. Why? Because there’s a demand for more video content over a bunch of pictures of food.
If you make a video for YouTube, you should share it in as many formats and on as many platforms as possible. This is where video content differs from blog content. You share links to the blog content on social media, and that audience has to leave their platform and move to your website. With video, you can publish the same video in multiple places and those people never have to leave the platform to get your message.
Yes, I’m calling this a type of content you should invest in.
If you’re doing content right, you are investing in making each piece as valuable and insightful as possible. Some people do that, publish a single piece of content, and then call it a day.
That’s a horrible idea.
If that content is valuable, it can be milked for a lot more. And, if done well, it can make a huge difference to your overall ROI.
Some people spend hundreds of dollars to create a blog post. That’s great! But, they see it as a single piece of content.
This is what they should have done:
- Publish the Blog Post
- Take out small quotes, make quote cards and publish to Facebook and Instagram.
- Make a video version of the blog post, and publish it to YouTube and LinkedIn.
- Cut clips from the video, put it into a square format, and upload the clips to Instagram.
- Merge all the best clips together and publish that video on Facebook.
- Pop open their iPhone and do a live stream on Instagram and Facebook, talking about the post they just published and why they like it.
- Catalog the clips for future use in other relevant videos.
That’s potentially 40 pieces of content from what most people see as one piece.
That’s why I say this is another type of content: it takes a lot of time to do that. But, it compresses that time.
To create 40 unique pieces of content would take much longer than to create 40 pieces from repurposed content.
2 Things to Stop Right Now
There are a lot of people, not so much marketers, but the higher-ups, who think of content marketing like it’s 2001. They think you can publish a single post, buy some backlinks to it, and then rake up the money like leaves in the forest in Autumn.
This leads to a bunch of practices and mindsets that don’t belong in 2019.
Obsession With Piecemeal ROI
These people are always concerned first with how much they are spending on content creation. They are concerned second with knowing exactly how much business they can track to each dollar they spend on content.
It sounds so good. It sounds smart!
If you look at content marketing as a necessity and not a luxury, it changes how you measure success. It’s a utility your company can’t live without.
In 2019, you should measure your effectiveness with content marketing at a much higher level. I wrote before how people want to judge the effectiveness of their blog content within 90 days. And they make judgments about 12 months before Google does.
Seriously. How are you going to make any kind of a judgment on the success of a piece of content 9 months before Google does?
How can you realistically get it right?
I could go on a rant here, but I won’t. You can read this post if you’re interested.
What I like to measure with content marketing:
- Is organic traffic growing at a 10X pace?
- Are leads growing to match?
- Is my audience growing?
- Is domain authority increasing?
If the answer to those questions is yes, then we keep going. Some content will perform super-duper within a month or two. Some blog posts languish for 42 months before they take off. None of that really matters, because as a whole, content marketing is driving increased traffic, leads, and customers.
Paying “SEO” Companies
I’m well aware that a lot of people reading this consider themselves “SEOs.” But, the fact is that most SEO companies make their living trying to game the system in favor of their clients. And, Google always seems to catch up to the game and bring the hammer down hard.
With every new client, one of the first questions I ask is, “have you ever employed an SEO company in the past?” If that question is affirmative, I immediately start investigating for black hat practices. And, I find them… a lot! And, a lot of legitimate companies I’ve worked with have had a Google penalty.
The day of “building backlinks” should be over. The day of thin content duplicated to get a bunch of different search terms should be over.
The day of spamming everyone in the industry with the following email should be over:
Day One: Hey X, I love your blog! I recently read X post, and I thought it was great.
I wonder if you would be interested in giving me a link to my article that’s loosely relevant to yours? Let me know! I can give you one in return (not because it’s valuable to my readers, but I just really want the backlink so I can increase my rankings).
Sincerely, Spamming SEO Guy
Day Two: Hey X, just following up to see if you saw my email about getting that link?
***Day 3, 4, 5, 8, 10, 15, 21, 200…: *** Hey X, just following up to see if you saw my email about getting that link?
This should STOP.
It works, at least a little bit. But, in the pursuit of "building links" these spammers are making every single influencer in your industry despise your brand. That’s not a good long-term strategy.
Winning With Content Marketing in 2019
At the end of the day, effective content marketing will come down to two things:
- Did you create content your target audience found interesting, entertaining, or valuable?
- Did you create enough of it?
As the garbage of the internet piles up, the content marketing winners are the ones that can build their towers of quality content faster than the garbage accumulates around them.