It's a phrase that marketers have echoed for years, and there's a good chance you've heard it more than once before: "Content is king." In other words, content is the linchpin of any well-rounded content marketing strategy.
But is content still king of the content marketing court, or has the throne been stolen by another player? This is one royal drama worth investigating.
Why Content Matters
It may surprise you to know that the saying, "content is king," was first coined by none other than Bill Gates in a 1996 essay of the same name. There, he made a bold prediction: "Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting."
"Those who succeed," he elaborated, "will propel the Internet forward as a marketplace of ideas, experiences, and products — a marketplace of content."
More than 20 years later, we can safely say that his predictions were largely correct. Between social media platforms, blogs, and news sites, it's clear that the internet is powered by content.
Take a marketing perspective and content's value only becomes more apparent. Here's why:
Everything Is Content
In his essay, Gates also observed that "when it comes to an interactive network such as the Internet, the definition of 'content' becomes very wide." Regardless of where you stand on the Microsoft vs. Apple debate, you have to admit it's true — after all, every single one of the following is a form of digital content:
The list could go on, but you get the picture: Just about everything you see on the internet is some type of content or another. And without content, the web would be little more than an empty void.
First Impressions Are Critical
An eye-tracking study conducted at Missouri University of Science and Technology found that when viewing a website, it takes users a mere 180 milliseconds (that's less than two-tenths of a second) to form an initial first impression. And within 2.6 seconds, users have already focused on the portion of the site that influences their first impression the most.
That means that brands only have a fraction of a second to make a favorable first impression, and content plays a pivotal role in that.
Whether it takes the form of snappy copy, an attractive navigation menu, a well-produced video, or an eye-catching photo, the content your audience sees will undoubtedly influence their initial opinion of your brand (and determine whether they come back).
Consumers Value Authenticity, Trust, and Meaning
"Authenticity" has been a popular content marketing buzzword for years, but the concept's ubiquity doesn't make it any less important.
Consider that 86 percent of consumers say authenticity is a key determining factor when deciding which brands they like and support. And yet, 57 percent say that less than half of brands actually create authentic content:
Similarly, 81 percent of people say that in order to buy from a brand they must be able to trust it to do what's right, 66 percent want brands to deliver more meaningful experiences, and 64 percent prefer to purchase from companies that value purpose as well as profit.
So how can you encourage consumers to view your brand as being authentic, trustworthy, and meaningful? You guessed it: content. With high-quality content that emphasizes your brand's values, ethics, and purpose, you can show your audience that your company is about more than just money.
But 70 percent of consumers trust product and company websites, 65 percent trust blogs and vlogs, and 51 percent trust social media.
Translation? When researching your brand's products and services, potential customers are more likely to trust the content you publish on your own site, blog, and social media profiles than they are to trust any of your paid advertisements.
So, by all means, continue to invest in effective ad campaigns. But remember that it's compelling content that will turn casual consumers into qualified leads.
Content May Be King, But It Does Need Support
For all the reasons listed above and more, the answer to our primary question is an emphatic "yes, content is still king." But that doesn't mean that you can build a successful (and profitable) brand on content alone.
Rather, you need to build a comprehensive content marketing strategy to support your content and help it reach the right audience.
For example, let's say you've already invested in creating a wealth of high-quality content for your brand. And yet, it's just not attracting a sufficient number of people. To remedy that, you can implement advanced SEO tactics that serve to achieve higher rankings and get your content in front of more eyes.
This is true for many other members of the content marketing court: from detailed buyer personas to in-depth keyword research, content is only worthy of the title of "king" if it's supported by smart tactics and expert implementation.
So next time you hear someone ask if content is still king, rest assured that it still is. But it's only by complementing it with a well-rounded content marketing strategy that your brand can achieve real growth. Reach out to First Page to see how we can work with you to create a content marketing strategy fit for a king.