The 4th Wave of Content Marketing

There’s nowhere to hide. The 4th wave of content marketing is looming on the horizon.

Wait a minute, what the heck is a 4th wave? And what happened to the first three?

Well, in case you missed them, the first three “waves” looked something like this:

  1. Text (such as blog posts and webpages)
  2. Multimedia content (such as video and infographics)
  3. Personalization (delivering unique content depending on who’s visiting)

As for the 4th wave of content marketing, it’s all about interactive content. Think quizzes, apps, and interactive e-books that embed real-time data and actively engage your audience.

Why You Should Care About The 4th Wave of Content Marketing? 

There are a few problems that business owners are facing in 2017. This year,

9 out of 10 B2B marketers will produce a lot more content than they did last year Click To Tweet

— and you can imagine that even more people are hopping on board the content bandwagon, hoping to strike it rich.

Are you right there with everyone else, trying to keep up with the need for content? Then you’ve probably already noticed that, in the digital arms race, it’s much harder to stand out with good words alone, or even good video.

You not only need fantastic content, but you also need an edge that helps your brand break away from the crowd. That’s why some brands started employing elaborate Flash websites (remember those?) while others still had a basic-looking site full of text. Even though it wasn’t as good for SEO, multimedia websites were much more appealing and memorable to human visitors.

But there’s something fundamentally different about the jump from those first three waves to the 4th wave: data.

Gathering Data Through Interactive Content

Whether you produced text, infographics, slides, or videos, all of your past content was fairly passive and mostly one-sided. Sure, you could get some engagement in the form of comments, but with the 4th wave of content marketing, you can use it for gathering data.

For example, a marketing app for a business audience might be an assessment tool for determining which business model is best for a particular personality type. Now, could you write a blog post or make a video about this same topic? Of course! But in this case, it isn’t passive — it requires participation.

When they take the assessment, you have all sorts of options at your disposal. Do you want to collect data on which answers your audience seem to gravitate towards? Maybe you want to use the app as a lead gen tool, where you offer gated premium content in exchange for contact information. Or you can create an app that incorporates user-generated content.

The point is, the 4th wave gives you a lot more versatility around how you execute your marketing strategy than web content alone.

Getting Paid for Making Content

There’s one more surprising benefit to marketing apps, and that’s getting paid for content.

Remember how people used to pay a subscription fee for magazines and newspapers? These days, most content on the Web is just a click away. If you want to charge people for premium content, you can do it through membership sites, but people are more conditioned to the freemium business model in apps.

Consider the example of an assessment for business models tied to personality types again. After your user gets to the end of the assessment and is given an example of what they should do to benefit from the knowledge, you can immediately try to sell them on premium content that helps them take their newfound knowledge and turn it into results.

The most ironic thing about this is, you’ll probably be offering content from the first three waves. That’s right — text, infographics, video. They continue to be a great way to deliver valuable information to others. The difference is, you don’t lead with it anymore.

By structuring your content machine this way, you’re making the content more valuable and personalized at the same time.

In 2017, you’ll want to track the same kinds of metrics you did before. But you should be focusing on how to incorporate interactive content into your marketing funnels and lead generation efforts. From additional data collection  to added value for your audience, interactive content can revolutionise the way you reach out and sell your customers.

Embrace the 4th wave. It’s here.

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