A great marketing strategy cannot be built on bare assumptions, especially when it comes to content.
To keep pace with the industry, content marketers constantly monitor a variety of channels seeking trending topics and hot news.
In our research, we decided to take a look from the inside. We analyzed 2019 Google search queries related to content marketing and the top-performing tweets in English with the hashtag #ContentMarketing posted between January and September 2019.
Why these two channels?
Twitter is a popular platform that has 330 million monthly active users. Each tweet is a short and clear message, and hashtags are used to establish connections between like-minded people and initiate conversation and discussion.
As for search queries, they reflect the topics that people in the industry are concerned with or want to learn more about.
The key findings of the research are presented in the infographic.
Below you’ll find a detailed analysis that will hopefully help you develop a stronger content marketing strategy for 2020.
We collected the tweets in English (more than 450,000) posted between January and September 2019 with the #ContentMarketing hashtag.
For the final analysis, we picked the tweets retweeted 20+ times and extracted the following data:
- Most popular hashtags paired with #ContentMarketing.
- Most popular topics discussed in the tweets (these were detected by our machine learning algorithm).
- Presence/absence of visual content.
- Top content marketing influencers on Twitter.*
*To find influencers, we looked at the accounts that published the most retweeted organic posts (20+ retweets) with the #ContentMarketing hashtag. We also took into account the number of likes and the number of publications ranked as top-performing tweets.
For our Google queries analysis, we collected the keywords from searches related to content marketing (keyword) in English (worldwide) between January and September 2019.
We then counted the average monthly search volume for each keyword to make a list of the top search queries and top questions asked on Google.
Research Findings Overview
In 1732, Benjamin Franklin published the yearly “Poor Richard’s Almanack“, which contained weather predictions, sayings, poems, jokes, and demographics, hoping to promote the printing business and benefit from it. It is considered by many to be the birth of content marketing.
However, people nowadays don’t seem to think of content marketing separately from digital.
#DigitalMarketing turned out to be the most frequent hashtag found in content marketing-related tweets – it was used in 71% of them, while #Marketing came up in just 52%.
The #OnlineMarketing hashtag was also quite popular – it appeared in 18% of tweets we looked at.
Frankly speaking, offline marketing is losing momentum anyway, and the association between digital marketing and content marketing is a good indicator of the course of industry development.
High-quality, engaging content published online is quickly becoming one of the most popular and effective ways to reach out to potential customers in the world of ad blocks and spam filters
Creating content just for your heart’s sake may be pleasant, but it will bring hardly any financial benefit.
The fact that the topic of content strategy was touched upon in 29% of the analyzed tweets and “content marketing strategy” is the second most popular keyword related to “content marketing” on Google (average monthly search volume of 6,600) proves that quite a lot of industry players are aware of its importance.
Last year, 72% of accomplished content marketers cited having a good strategy as key to their success. And the number of people who think this way will certainly grow as “What is content strategy?” is one of the most popular questions asked on Google.
Thus, a strategic approach seems to be popular both among those who are already familiar with content marketing and those who are only beginning to practice it.
Other widely used hashtags included #ROI and #AudienceResearch, which are closely related to a successful content marketing strategy.
Our Ultimate Content Strategy Guide for 2019 covers all of the mentioned topics and contains actionable tips that can help you find the right approach to content marketing and significantly increase your KPIs.
Old Friends, Not Old Enemies
The perennial question of whether SEO and content marketing are at odds with each other seems to have an answer at last.
Corresponding hashtags were mentioned together in 36% of the examined tweets.
Besides that, SEO took third place among the topics mentioned by those who tweeted about content marketing.
In search, SEO and content marketing go hand and hand, too.
“What is content marketing in SEO?” and “How to do keyword research for content marketing?” are among the top 10 most asked questions on Google.
The “SEO content marketing” keyword is also highly sought, with an average monthly search volume of 1900.
As 34.8% of all website traffic still comes from organic search, optimizing content for search engines helps you seriously increase reach, and any good content marketing strategy has to account for that.
At the same time, content is a “brick” needed to build strong SEO.
Notably, blogging appeared in 15% of our content marketing-related tweets as a hashtag and took fifth place among the most discussed topics. This clearly points to the importance of this format for the industry.
To some extent, we can consider blogging as the human face of content marketing, because it brings value and delivers the brand message in a most informal and pleasant manner on the one hand and fully leverages the power of SEO on the other.
With Distribution in Mind
Content marketing is made up of many things:
- Generating ideas (#ContentIdeas hashtag is, by the way, in the list of topics Twitter users discuss in relation to content marketing).
- Creating and optimizing content.
- And, of course, distributing it.
The choice of channel can actually make or break your strategy.
With millions of posts published every day, for many, social media is the channel of choice for getting their content to the public.
So it’s not surprising that #SocialMedia, #SMM, and #SocialMediaMarketing hashtags were used along with #ContentMarketing in 35%, 27%, and 22% of the most popular tweets respectively.
Moreover, social media turned out to be the second most discussed topic in these tweets.
Other important content distribution channels such as influencer marketing and email marketing were present as hashtags in 10% of examined tweets.
“How to create content for affiliate marketing?” and “How to write effective email marketing content?” are also in the top 20 questions asked on Google.
Based on Stats and Facts
Continuing on the topic of distribution, the performance of content on each of the chosen channels should be carefully registered, analyzed, and used to enhance the existing strategy or develop a new one.
This idea is proven by the popularity of hashtags such as #BigData (10%) and #analytics (7%). “Statistics” is also one of the most popular topics, discussed in 5% of analyzed tweets.
Leveraging Advanced Technology
AI and machine learning are hot topics. Applied to content, these can help you connect and engage with your audience in a completely new way based on customization and personalization.
So marketers who want to keep pace with the modern world are definitely looking to put the latest innovations to use.
That’s why AI featured in 10% of analyzed tweets as a hashtag and #machinelearning appeared in 7% of these.
The Power of Visuals
Text-based content will always be the core of content marketing. However, 90% of the information transmitted to the brain is visual.
Moreover, in the epoch of rapid information consumption, the battle for people’s attention is getting hard, and visual content can help a smart marketer gain an advantage in it.
Visual content is not just the ninth most discussed topic in the tweets we looked at – 68% of content marketing-related tweets also contained visuals. 14% of tweets were infographics, 3% contained videos and 1% had GIF images.
These findings are consistent with search trends: the keyword “video content marketing” appears in the top 20 of the most popular search queries related to content marketing.
“What is visual content marketing?” is also one of the most popular questions asked on Google.
Hacking Growth by Means of Content
Growth hacking is another widely discussed topic in the content marketing community. The corresponding hashtag was found in 16% of the tweets we analyzed.
#GrowthHacking is closely followed by #startup, which scored 12% and is also seen in 2% of tweets’ topics.
Such interest may mean that content marketing can be seen as one of the approaches to growth hacking for startups.
It fully conforms to the idea of growing a business rapidly with a limited budget and can bring startups and other companies 55% more visitors to their sites, and help cut acquisition costs by 62% compared to traditional marketing.
In the Service of Ecommerce
Ecommerce website owners are often those “swiss army marketers” who have to do everything from hiring and procurement to bookkeeping and design on their own.
Besides that, they take every opportunity to increase conversions. So it makes sense for them to be interested in content marketing.
This might be the reason why ecommerce, with a 9% score, became the most discussed industry in the analyzed tweets paired with #Content Marketing, followed by beauty and travel.
Seeking Tools for Success
Tools are discussed in just 4% of our tweets, but given the size of the data selection, it’s still very popular.
Currently, there is a huge number of content marketing tools available, but many of these cover the whole process, from generating ideas to measuring performance.
Content strategists, marketers and writers are constantly interested in improving their efficiency through new solutions like SEMrush Content Marketing Platform, which covers all the major steps of the workflow and helps:
- Find topic ideas that resonate with the audience.
- Create SEO-friendly content from scratch.
- Analyze and optimize existing texts.
However exciting and rewarding content marketing can be, not all companies can afford a full-time content strategist and marketer.
This increases the demand for the services of agencies that are eager to deal with content creation, strategy, and distribution for a percentage of the ROI they generate.
It also increases the number of keywords like “content marketing agency” (search volume 3,600) and “content marketing services” (search volume 1,600).
On top of the above, content marketing is a powerful community with its own experts.
So if you want to keep a finger on the pulse of the industry here are a few names of those who set the standards there.
Top 3 Experts on Twitter:
@MikeSchiemer: A respected digital marketing professional and social media expert who is currently ranked as a Top 100 Social Media Marketing and Business Blogger. Author of The $10 Digital Media Startup and founder of the MyFrugalBusiness startup.
Mike Schiemer has provided social media and content marketing for 100’s of companies, including Nissan, Allstate Insurance, American Express, Intuit, Reebok, GNC, Uno’s, DuPont, Monsanto, UnitedHealth, Storm International & Post Holdings.
@evankirstel: A B2B thought leader and top technology “influencer” with a direct social media impact. With an organic reach in the tens of millions and a network of fellow influencers, Evan has helped B2B tech brands like Intel, IBM, AT&T Business and Samsung achieve massive visibility and scale across the social media landscape. Currently, Evan is involved in EvIRA, a network of fellow B2B thought leaders and digital social practitioners.
@jeffbullas: A digital entrepreneur, marketing blogger, keynote speaker, digital strategist, and bestselling author whose website receives over 5 million visitors a year. Topics covered include entrepreneurship, innovation, social media, digital marketing, content, and marketing automation. It is about being digital to the core.
Top 3 Experts Searched on US Google*
*This data is found exclusively in the present article.
Ann Handley: An inspirational digital marketing pioneer, writer, speaker, and the world’s first Chief Content Officer. Ann is cited in Forbes as the most influential woman in Social Media and recognized by ForbesWoman as one of the top 20 women bloggers.
Ann is the author of the Wall Street Journal best-seller on business writing, “Everybody Writes”, co-author of the best-selling book on content marketing, “Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business”, and a co-founder of ClickZ.com, which was one of the first sources of digital marketing news and commentary.
Joe Pulizzi: An entrepreneur, speaker, author, and podcaster, and the founder of multiple startups, including the Content Marketing Institute (CMI). He is also the winner of the 2014 John Caldwell Lifetime Achievement Award from the Content Council.
Currently, he is spending his time at the Orange Effect Foundation (OEF), which delivers funds to children and families for speech therapy services and technology. OEF delivers grants to hundreds of children in 25 states.
Pam Didner: A passionate digital and tech marketer and speaker. Her international book “Global Content Marketing” was the first to describe an accessible, comprehensive process to scale content across regions. Pam currently leads a content consulting company specializing in training and strategic advice.
Take Your Content Marketing
to the Next Level
The opinions expressed in this article are the sponsor's own.