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Is Content Marketing Sustainable?


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Algorithm changes, information density and new competition conspire to make content marketing increasingly difficult, This new research report points to essential trends and guidelines to make your content successful in an era of Content Shock.

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Is Content Marketing Sustainable?

  2. 2. © Copyright Schaefer Marketing Solutions HEY THERE. My name is Mark Schaefer. I’m a consultant, college educator, and author obsessed with what’s coming next … specifically when it comes to digital marketing.
  3. 3. © Copyright Schaefer Marketing Solutions Is content marketing sustainable? A few years ago, I published an article proposing that in the long-term, content marketing might not be sustainable for all businesses as levels of published content rise.
  4. 4. © Copyright Schaefer Marketing Solutions The economics of content are changing The idea was based on the economic principles of supply and demand. When the amount of content rises, and our attention span is finite, the cost to “acquire” that attention will go up. I call this “Content Shock.”
  5. 5. © Copyright Schaefer Marketing Solutions CONTENT SHOCK: The emerging marketing epoch defined when exponentially increasing volumes of content intersect our limited human capacity to consume it.
  6. 6. © Copyright Schaefer Marketing Solutions I predicted these implications: ▸ As content topics become saturated, it will be more difficult to break through the noise ▸ The cost of competing will rise due to the need for better content and paid promotion ▸ Content engagement levels will fall ▸ Some will be squeezed out of the content marketing option when costs outweigh benefits
  7. 7. © Copyright Schaefer Marketing Solutions Four years later, research from BuzzSumo shows Content Shock is here.
  8. 8. © Copyright Schaefer Marketing Solutions Volume goes up, engagement goes down BuzzSumo demonstrated that as content saturates a topical niche, engagement levels through social sharing fall with predictability. Articles published on machine learning and average shares
  9. 9. © Copyright Schaefer Marketing Solutions A consistent pattern of saturation The research shows this pattern repeating consistently across industries. As a topic becomes saturated with content over time, social shares decline steadily. Articles published on content marketing and average shares
  10. 10. © Copyright Schaefer Marketing Solutions Content shock is not everywhere Emerging topical issues are still ripe for opportunity, implying that those who first recognize and report on fresh trends and new topics will see the benefits. Articles published on Bitcoin and average shares
  11. 11. © Copyright Schaefer Marketing Solutions Some topics are “evergreen” Content topics like politics and sports never go out of style. There will be consistent social sharing because of the constant churn of issues and new controversies. Articles published on UK politics and average shares
  12. 12. © Copyright Schaefer Marketing Solutions FIVE VITAL IMPLICATIONS OF THIS RESEARCH
  13. 13. © Copyright Schaefer Marketing Solutions 1 If you are entering a saturated content market you need to create radically different and exceptional content. Less is more when it comes to content production. Another “me too” list post will sink without a trace.
  14. 14. © Copyright Schaefer Marketing Solutions 2 In a saturated market you need to discover specific niches or networks where content is still gaining traction. Average shares may be declining overall but rising on a specific network such as LinkedIn or YouTube.
  15. 15. © Copyright Schaefer Marketing Solutions 3 In a market experiencing Content Shock, promotion and amplification are critical, including paid advertising. You may need to spend as much or more time on content promotion than on content creation.
  16. 16. © Copyright Schaefer Marketing Solutions 4 If you’re already a leader in a saturated niche, producing more content may be a viable strategy to effectively create Content Shock for your competitors.
  17. 17. © Copyright Schaefer Marketing Solutions 5 A key task for content marketers is to identify areas before they become saturated. If you’re early in the content cycle you’ll want to focus on building authority, reputation, and trust quickly.
  18. 18. © Copyright Schaefer Marketing Solutions The new content guidelines ▸ Create core “evergreen” content ▸ Develop authoritative content based on original insight and research ▸ Increase publishing schedule as long as quality is maintained ▸ Build a competency on content promotion To succeed in an unsaturated niche, consider these content best practices:
  19. 19. © Copyright Schaefer Marketing Solutions The role of content for a business ▸ Establish thought leadership ▸ Enable customer service ▸ Contribute to SEO success ▸ Connect with a community There are many functions of online content …
  20. 20. © Copyright Schaefer Marketing Solutions But to win in marketing, you have to get your content to move
  21. 21. © Copyright Schaefer Marketing Solutions THE NEW ECONOMICS OF CONTENT There is no value in simply ”publishing.” There is no power in content … unless it is SEEN AND SHARED
  22. 22. © Copyright Schaefer Marketing Solutions It depends! There is no simple content strategy any more. The ideal strategy will depend on 1) stage of the content market, 2) your position in that market, 3) your ability to get your content to “move.” IS CONTENT MARKETING SUSTAINABLE?
  23. 23. © Copyright Schaefer Marketing Solutions LEARN MORE ”The Content Code” book is the best-selling, detailed guide to the six possible strategies to ignite your content and win in a world of Content Shock.
  24. 24. © Copyright Schaefer Marketing Solutions ABOUT MARK For more digital marketing insights, follow Mark on To find: His blog {grow} Marketing Companion podcast Luminaries podcast His best-selling marketing books
  25. 25. © Copyright Schaefer Marketing Solutions CREDITS The fundamental research was conducted using an analytical platform available The research was created by Steve Rayson of BuzzSumo Illustrations used in this presentation are marked safe for re- use by Presentation design by Mark Schaefer