Does content marketing still work?

Content marketing is critical, but focus on customers

Is it still worth investing in content marketing in 2023 (2024 and 2025…)? Yes! Content marketing is critical to every business, brand, or organisation that wants to increase engagement with users, deliver sustainable SEO impact, and smash sales.

We know that the content you need to be creating in 2023 isn’t anything like we were creating all the way back in 2015 when 42group was formed. In this blog post, we’re going to explore how content marketing is shifting the dial for businesses. We’ll outline 5 fundamentals of effective content strategy that you should use to drive your digital marketing activity.

Does content marketing work in 2023?

Let’s start by answering your question: Is content marketing still relevant in 2023? Yes, content marketing is still critical – but to reach audiences, you must use content in new ways. Every piece of content, including blog, social media post, or PPC advert, must be laser-focused on your customers and informed by a data-driven strategy.

Too many businesses and brands begin content planning in broadcast mode. They list all the things they want to tell their customers.

But to be successful, you’ve got to flip it around. Build your content strategy around your customers.

It sounds simple, but far too many brands (including some very big ones) persist in assuming their priorities are the same as their customers – and that’s just bad business.

In 2023, if your content isn’t driven by customers, you’re shouting into the void, wasting time, money, and effort.

#1      Make personalization a priority

Personalisation, people-first-content, customer centricity… call it what you want, but it should be a priority for anyone. An incredible 76% of customers are more likely to buy from brands that deliver personalised experiences, say the experts at McKinsey. Hubspot found that 90% of customers want personalisation from the brands and businesses they buy from.

Stats are always a bit of a fudge, but we can say with confidence that every customer wants greater personalisation – and content is a core part of creating a unique experience.

Of course, you’re not able to create content for every individual, but using personas, data, and available insights can enable you to create what we call ‘customer first’ content.

Let’s use SEO content as an example. One of the easiest and most effective tactics is to create content based on customer search intent. Using Keyword Planner, for example, you can identify the keywords users are searching for. Tools such as Answer Socrates and (yes) ChatGPT (with a plugin like AIPRM providing access to thousands of prompts) can help you create detailed and customer-driven content strategies.

You’ll want to target the high-value keywords with detailed content (think 5,000 – 10,000-word posts), but you must go further.

The brands that win go into detail, identifying search terms, keywords, and customer intent in intelligent ways. Working with content experts like 42group, they identify medium and even low-value keywords that can form the core of online content that

Personalisation doesn’t start and end with SEO. You can (and should) use the principles to develop all sort of digital marketing materials. For example, you’ll see that at 42group, we’re developing a series of in-depth guides and advice pieces (you’re reading one now!). Our strategy is about educating and informing people who are searching for content strategy and content creation from an agency that has all the answers.

One of the most popular content products people use for lead-generation and relationship building are whitepapers. These can provide a way for you to engage with a key topic that touches your customer pain points, and provides solutions.

Personalisation in content isn’t about promotion, it’s about problem solving. If your customers have a question, make sure you’re the one to provide an answer.

#2      Mix up your media

At 42group, we work wonders with words, but we know that a text-based blog isn’t going to provide the rich and engaging experience your customers want.

When developing a content strategy, consider the channels you need to use to reach your audiences. For our customers, we suggest creating a content strategy that uses a range of channels and media, including:

  • Blogs
  • Whitepapers, case studies,
  • PPC
  • Social media
  • Video
  • Animation

Featuring a video on your landing page can increase conversions by up to 80%. It’s probably why video was the largest investment for digital marketers in 2022, according to Hubspot.

We expect more from businesses and brands, including personalised content that answers problems.

Want a great example of video content driven by users? Dyson. The UK-based business has created over 1,000 videos helping Dyson owners tackle technical issues like blocked carpet beaters, batteries that won’t charge, and how to successfully suck up dog fur.

Dyson has built its YouTube channel into a source of competitive advantage. It’s delivering for product owners, reducing the strain on customer helplines, and boosting profits.

You may not have the cash to develop over 1,000 videos – and that’s OK. Maybe it’s not what your customers want. But in 2023 (or whatever year you’re reading this), consider the content channels your customers are using, and use them.

#3      Strategic SEO content is critical to success

We’ve touched on this above, but too many businesses aren’t integrating their content production and strategy with SEO. We’re not talking about SEO principles in writing (although these are, naturally, essential), but about integrating SEO into your content production process.

In many businesses, this isn’t aways a seamless integration. SEO teams and content teams can come into conflict. But to succeed as a business, you need to bring them together.

So, what is strategic SEO content? At its most basic form, it’s about using content to help you deliver your business goals.

Content teams are full of creatives. It’s easy to get carried away investing in new content ideas, but they simply have to contribute to the bottom line – or they’re irrelevant.

You must ensure that every piece of content – including social post, blog, or story – has a strategic purpose and helps you get closer to your customers.

When working with new clients, we look at every piece of content through this lens. While there is always the freedom to explore new ideas, when it comes to content strategy, it’s all about delivering a return on investment.

#4      Deliver quality *and* quantity

Too many people consider quantity to be the enemy of quality, but it’s not. The real blocker to achieving a high throughput of excellent quality content is simple: budget.

Nobody likes talking about money, but if you’re willing to invest enough in content, you can work with an agency that can deliver customer-focused content at the scale you need to make an SEO impact.

We’ve written an article about how often you should blog for SEO (1-2 posts per week) and how long your articles should be (around 2,000 words), but that’s for your average business.

And we know you aren’t average…

What does a blog costs in 2023? We’ve answered that in this post.

What we’re trying to say here is that to rank for anything, you’ll need your content to work as the engine room. It’s about creating high-quality content posted at the right cadence. We’ve provided some outlines of how often you should be posting original content, but it varies from business to business.

We regularly work with leading SaaS businesses, providing large amounts of highly targeted content that’s engineered to support their growth. We don’t want to scare you, but to rank anywhere, you need to be publishing hundreds of blog posts each year.

To give you a sense of scale. At the moment, we’re partnering with a high-growth AI SaaS start-up, and we estimate they’ll need around 300 posts of 1,500 – 2,000 words. That’s 600,000 words of original content. Can we produce that? If you can pay, then yes.

#5      Optimise workflows

Content is all about engaging with customers, and that means being as responsive as possible. The most effective content teams (and content strategies) are flexible, enabling businesses to

Optimising workflows means refining processes so that they’re as lean as possible. In practical terms, this can involve outsourcing some work or using AI to support you (keyword identification, content editing, basic strategy building). AI tools can also provide gap analysis, identifying gaps in your content strategies that you can fill.

As well as streamlining work processes, you can develop production processes that enable you to rapidly commission or create content when your customers need it.

Take a digital marketing business that provides SEO services, for example. A new update to the Google algorithm can spell disaster for some clients and provide opportunities for others. When one is announced, you’ll need to be able to create a 100% original blog post, guide, and associated social posts as soon as possible.


By developing and optimising content creation workflows.

We work as an outsourced content production provider for a range of businesses. When they need us, we’re on-hand to pick up our pens (OK, MacBooks), and create content when it’s needed. This can include blog posts, guide, social posts, and PPC ads. Our services give them the confidence that they’ll get the content they need (at the quality required) without waiting days, weeks, or months.

Discussion point: What’s the role of AI in content marketing in 2023?

This is one of the defining conversations in the creator industry. Will AI destroy the content industry? Maybe, but we’ve got a long way to go…

Creatives can use AI in several ways for content. ChatGPT plugins and other AI-based programmes can help content producers in several ways, including:

  • Generating keyword ideas
  • Developing content strategies
  • Providing blog titles
  • Writing titles and meta tags
  • Creating blog structures
  • Writing entire blogs
  • Editing existing blogs
  • Optimising content

In a world where finances are stretched, the idea of replacing real people with machines is incredibly attractive (for us, as much as you), but it’s just not a good idea to get AI to generate content.

Why not use AI to create content?

Firstly, AI systems use previously written content as the basis for recommendations. That means the content, sources, and style are all from 2021. Have you tried AI writing software? It’s like a supermarket ready meal. It’s superficially attractive but get up close, and it’s derivative, poor quality, and processed.

Using AI content to game the Google algorithm is a bad idea. Firstly, Google will have advanced systems that can pick up AI content, and in time you’ll be penalised for it. Unless you’re operating an advanced keyword planning process, you’ll be targeting the same search intent with identical content, which means you will never compete.

But, let’s get to the core of why AI content sucks: it’s not customer focused.

Getting Ai to create content for you shows a disregard for customers that’s unforgivable.

A message from 42group’s content creation team

Firstly, we’ll lay our cards on the table. We’re a content agency that has made a great living creating all types of content for big businesses, SMEs, and super start-ups.

We’ve obviously got a vested interest in promoting content marketing, content strategy, and copywriting – but we’re 100% committed to content. Why? Because we’ve seen first-hand the results that strategic, SEO-driven content delivers for businesses and brands in all sectors.

One of the most exciting and engaging sectors is SaaS businesses. For any software company entering a cutthroat and competitive market, developing a content strategy should be top of your list.

Want our help? Get in touch…

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Does content marketing work FAQs

In the traditional 42group style, we’re going to conclude this article with some content marketing FAQs, focusing on the impact content marketing can have on your business.

Is content marketing still relevant in 2023?

Yes. Every business that wants to increase engagement with their customers (that’s all businesses) should be investing in content marketing. But we’re not asking for a blank cheque here. You should focus your digital marketing strategy and content budget on the areas where it will have the most impact. We call it customer first content, and it’s the only way to achieve maximum impact.

Does content marketing still work?

100% yes. Content marketing is a key channel to build connections with your audience and boost your brand. One of the main areas businesses use content is for SEO, helping your site to rank for the critical keywords for your customers.

But content can do much more than this crucial job as the example of Dyson above shows. Content can answer questions, increase sales, help to improve the website user experience and streamline internal processes – but only if your content strategy is built around customers.

Should I invest in content marketing?

We’re not (yet) acting as your digital marketing agency, so we can’t answer this question with total confidence, but for most businesses, investing in content is a no-brainer. The most effective strategy is to develop a comprehensive and customer-driven plan that will ensure the content that you create solves problems, answers questions, smashes SEO and increases sales. How?

Want to connect with your customers?

Get in touch!