A scientific take on content marketing trends

A scientific take on content marketing trends


When it comes to copywriting, most of us are left-brain dominant; drifting through life on a cloud of metaphor, interpretation, imagination and emotion.

But, a couple of number-crunching scientific bods have taken an interest in content marketing, and have published two recent reports that shed new light on this too often unquantified industry.

Science has spoken: content marketing works

The first little nugget of insight, authored by Prof. Micael Dahlén and Associated Prof. Sara Rosengren of Stockholm School of Economics (SSE), is as follows: “Brands that continuously offer valueBrand_loyalty to consumers in how they communicate — for instance, by being useful, interesting, fun, or creative — will over time build a kind of trust capital which is called advertising equity.”

The pair conducted five empirical studies (published in the Journal of Advertising) that outline the value of advertising equity in today’s world. For the purposes of this research, ‘advertising’ was defined as “all planned communication from an identifiable company with the purpose to get the recipients to act today or in the future in a way that supports the company’s business.”

Rosengren has discussed this theme before in a separate journal. In this piece, she stated that advertising without attention is ineffective. Such a realisation makes attention a fundamental condition of advertising success. She puts forward the creation of value for the end user as a way to achieve the level of attention needed.

In a review of Dahlén and Rosengren’s studies, entrepreneur and content marketer Thomas Barregren concludes that the research provides scientific evidence that content marketing really does work. Here’s how he describes an effective content marketing strategy:

“A systematic approach to build trust capital for future communications (i.e. advertising equity) through continuously creation and distribution of content made available on an owned platform and distributed in owned, paid and earned media. The trust capital can be used for communication aiming at changing or enhancing the behaviour that leads to the desired business benefits.”

Content marketing and compounding returns

The second scientific trend comes to us from venture capitalist Tomasz Tunguz, who believes that content marketing is one of the few promotional areas that can boast a compounding return. Essentially, this means that content marketing requires consistent investment, but has the capacity to generate returns that are out-of-this-world.

The first steps towards realising this value are to recognise the long-term potential of articles, and to find the right balance of evergreen and temporary content. Both components have a unique role to serve: evergreen content can be recycled and is likely to score additional long-term traffic as well as quick wins, but temporary articles help to keep things bang up-to-date. When you find the right alchemy of these base elements, you can make each post work harder, generating around up to twice as much traffic after the initial launch day rush.

The chart included below shows the evergreen method only, but the compounding effect is clearly indicated:


tomtunguz graph

*Graph courtesy of

The combination of blog longevity and fresh content has created an environment where up to 200,000 visitors stop by each month. Mix in a few temporary pieces that have the potential to elicit higher immediate value, but will diminish severely over time, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for effective branding that can lead to sales growth.