The history and future of content marketing

Content marketing is the sharing of published content or media in hopes of generating a reaction from a targeted customer base. This type of marketing is used to generate leads and increase website traffic. Social groups and organizations may pass out flyers with written messages to build awareness for a particular cause. Though it may have been referred to just a marketing strategy, content marketing has been around for more than a century. Distributing free cookbooks for Jell-O in the early 1900’s is one of the earliest examples of content marketing.

Let’s review other examples of content marketing, learn about how it came to be and how it works with other marketing practices to produce favorable results.

The Birth of Content Marketing

It was not until the late 1990’s when the term “content marketing” was used to describe how information was shared with a company’s customers. Until then, publishing useful information and handing it out through solicitations, trade shows and mail subscriptions, was the next best thing. A magazine called The Furrow is touted as being the first recognized form of contenting marketing in the U.S.A., according to the online Content Marketing Institute. Created by John Deere, The Furrow was first published in 1895 for those interested in agriculture and landscaping. The magazine was shared through residential and commercial subscriptions and is still in circulation today, with 1.5 million subscribers worldwide. Other companies practiced content marketing for decades as well. Here are a few more examples:

  • The Michelin Guide: a brief pamphlet about car maintenance that was first published in 1900
  • Jell-Os free circulation of cookbooks that started in 1904
  • Sear’s Radio Program to keep farmers abreast of Great Depression developments in the 1920s
  • Apparently, the content marketing techniques have paid off as all of these companies have stood the test of time and are still in operation today.

    How Content Marketing is Used Today

    The best way to describe content marketing in a modern sense is to understand another vital marketing concept. Search engine optimization (SEO) involves the use of keywords and phrases to make a website or a webpage more appealing to search engines. It’s one of the most used and relied upon web marketing methods today. There are countless books and websites dedicated to the art of content marketing for SEO purposes. The keywords and phrases are part of the overall content marketing and web marketing schema, which in turn affect a website’s SEO performance.

    Content marketing can be published in various forms including e-books, e-newsletters, social media, forum posts, and even YouTube videos. All of these can be used to get more traffic to a business website. A very effective way to ensure a business gets more web traffic through content marketing is to always include contact information, especially social media profiles and on all marketing material sent to the public. With more than 2 billion social media users, sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, etc. are a great way to distribute content and reach your target audience. Popular outlets for content marketing include:

    • Promotional videos on YouTube
    • E-Books
    • Email lists
    • Social Media
    • Webinars & Podcasts
    • One of the most effective content marketing methods is videos. YouTube boasts nearly 1 billion views a month. In fact, more people between the ages of 18-34 watch YouTube videos more so than they do cable. Aside from using YouTube for entertainment purposes, most people appreciate a quick fix to a problem or an issue they are curious about and with more than 6 billion hours of video watched a month; it’s one of the most important internet social media platforms ever.

      How Content Marketing Will Be Used In The Future

      According to a 2013 research study done by Adobe, more than 75% of marketers believe the state of marketing has changed in the past couple years, more so than in the last several decades. Many say it is because of growing technology and the way that information is easily shared in the modern age.

      When asked by several professional marketers on TrackMaven’s blog, a digital marketing company, most of those surveyed believe that content marketing will continue to be defined by the technology that supports it. When detailing the relationship between businesses and their customers through content marketing, one professional states, “they’ll communicate in a way that prospects and customers clearly understand what’s being said.” Another professional believes content marketing will improve business growth by reserving more resources to marketing programs, adding, “they’ll dedicate more money to telling better stories as they mature in how they measure success.”

      The general belief is that content marketing will be on a steady adventure for the next several decades, especially with more technology and money dedicated to its cause.