his is an excellent question and the answer is subjective. In my opinion, content marketing started as merely posting to see what stuck and has matured into living and dying by RELEVANCY.
Within the past two years, Google changed it’s algorithm from incentivizing paid SEO (advertising jam-packed with keywords) to giving the consumer the results he asked for. Today’s consumer is bombarded with content day-in and day-out that it’s hard to cut through all the “noise” and not get overwhelmed. So, good content marketing requires the poster to know their audience inside and out, and position herself as a resource and an educator, rather than a seller (more so if you’re marketing as a business).
All of these answers are based on the idea that content marketing is something new, which it isn’t.
As long as there’s been content, there’s been content marketing. One could argue the Bible is a form of content marketing.
In the late 19th century, John Deere started a magazine about farming that was meant to build its brand as knowledgeable resources in order to sell farming equipment. It was so successful that both John Deere and its magazine still exist today.
How its changed is that people nowadays only think of it in terms of the Internet, which is a very narrow view of the term.
Red Bull, for example, does plenty of offline content marketing. There are a lot of extreme sporting events that have no other reason to exist other than to make you buy Red Bull. Remember the guy jumping off a spaceship? There was literally no point to that event other than to promote Red Bull.
Like SEO, content marketing as a way to gain backlinks or other media attention has become common practice throughout the business world, so media outlets are much pickier about what they’ll publish.
Actual freelance journalists have less of a shot of being published in any given outlet than a businessperson who hired a content marketing company because these companies have extensive databases of exactly what type of content these publications want and who to contact.
I think content marketing is in an interesting spot right now. Everybody does it and it seems very noisy but a lot of companies still don’t do it well. By well, I’m not talking about the subjective judging of the quality, I’m talking about the objective metric of tying it to business goals.
Yes, content marketing programs take time to ramp up and be effective but it has to provide an ROI at some point (often less than 6 months). The viral hits or the anecdotal congrats are all well and good but can’t compare to actual value in the form of metrics.
While you can’t see that externally, I’ve also found that content marketing can now serve as a minimum threshold for companies. I may not buy a product from a great content marketing team but if your company has no content marketing, I’m likely not even considering you.