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By Frank Connolly
Senior Editor, MindEdge Learning
Content marketers, as a group, tend to fixate on trends.
As well they should: you can’t give people what they want unless—well, unless you know what they want. And trends are one way to measure what the market is looking for.
But content marketers also fixate on trends within their own industry. A recent Google search for “content marketing trends” returned 51.4 million results, many of them only a few days old. In the Land of Content, it seems, trend-spotting is a year-round thing.
What’s interesting is that, even as they churn out a seemingly endless stream of trend-defining literature, industry analysts focus on the same handul of trends, day after day. And what’s the most clearly defined content-marketing trend of all? That’s easy: Video rules!
Don’t take my word for it. Digital marketing guru Neil Patel insisted recently that ”Live video is taking over.” Dreamgrow’s Martin Laird observed that ”Video content marketing is on the rise”, only to be seconded by Coredna’s Edward Dennis: ”Video will continue its rise in the years to come.”
Okay, okay, we get it—video is hot, and everything else is not. But in the face of this monolithic consensus, is it possible to offer even a brief defense of the written word? To be even more specific: Isn’t there anything good to be said for blogging?
I’ll admit that I’m biased: I’m left-brain verbal, not right-brain visual. As a professional writer and editor, I’ve been pushing nouns against verbs for a living ever since Jimmy Carter was President. Words matter to me, so I blog.
But the case for blogging relies on statistics, not sentiment. According to Ranksey, written content is the number-one type of content marketing, as 86 percent of marketers report that they produce blog posts. And a 2017 study by BuzzSumo found that long-form content, like blog posts, receives more social shares than short-form content. In fact, the BuzzSumo research suggests that, at least when it comes to blogs, longer is better: content in the 3,000- to 10,000-word range receives, on average, the most shares.
None of that would matter, from a content marketing perspective, if blogs didn’t deliver the goods. But they clearly do. Again according to HubSpot, B2B companies that blog generate 67 percent more leads per month than those that do not blog—and brands that create 15 blog posts per month average 1,200 new leads per month. Overall, companies that blog get 97 percent more inbound links than companies that do not.
Blogs work well because they can establish a brand as a trusted source of information and advice. Through blog posts, a business can address and solve customer problems, teach valuable skills, and elaborate on industry-related topics to establish an “expert” standing. Businesses can take advantage of the long-form format to create in-depth tutorials, how-to guides, product reviews, and interviews that inform and educate a target audience. And, when optimized for SEO, blogs are a surefire way to boost website traffic.
None of this is to say that video is unimportant; far from it. Video is becoming the dominant form of online content, and for good reason: it is both emotionally compelling and highly shareable. And there’s a wealth of research that shows blogs are even more effective when used in conjunction with visual images, including video. For instance, the BuzzSumo study cited above shows that blog posts that incorporate an image every 75 to 100 words are shared twice as often as content with fewer images.
The point is not that blogs are “better” content than video. It’s simply that they remain a highly effective way to build customer relationships, establish trust and expertise, and boost traffic to your website. Smart content marketers know that—even in an online world dominated by video—words still matter.
[An earlier version of this article originally ran in the MindEdge Learning Workshop Blog on June 21, 2018.]
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