Why the “How-To” Boom in Content Marketing Is Still Growing

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

Trends in content marketing often come and go, especially as rising volumes of competition flood the market with similar types of content and oversaturate their shared readership with variations on the same idea. Sensationalized titles have gone in cycles, with different headline tactics rising and fading in popularity, and different content mediums have similarly risen and faded in popular use.

One common content tactic, the “how-to” article — sometimes in image or video form — has been around for years, and its popularity shows no sign of losing momentum. More content creators are using how-to articles as a foundation for their strategy than ever before, and the market shows no signs of oversaturation. So what makes the “how-to” boom so enduringly popular?

How-Tos Are Universally Practical

The entire purpose of content marketing is to generate material that’s informative — or more specifically, useful — for your given audience. There are many types of articles and content pieces that can be considered useful, but how-to articles are guaranteed some level of practicality.

In contrast, a news article may be interesting or informative, but it’s not always an actionable piece. Even if you’re working with niche how-to topics, you can rest assured that your article has some grounding in practical use, and that automatically makes your article more valuable for your readership. This fact has not changed over time.

There Are Always More Processes to Describe

It’s a vast world out there, and the potential topics for how-to articles are infinite. There will always be new areas to explore within individual industries, and new ground to cover in previously explored areas, but perhaps more importantly, there will always be new trends and new technologies that demand new how-to instructional articles.

Because the potential number of new how-to articles is literally infinite, oversaturation becomes less of a problem. Some publishers may choose to produce simple reiterations of previously explored topics, but there’s nothing to prevent the production of new how-to topics, other than perhaps laziness.

How-Tos are Evergreen — More or Less

How-tos have also managed to retain their popularity because they are, for the most part, evergreen. That is to say, how-to articles aren’t useful solely during a specific time period. Learning how to milk a cow today is the same as learning how to milk a cow in 1960, or in 2025.

Because of this, they’re popular fodder for content marketers. Whereas news items and trend analysis articles might only pay off for a few weeks or months, how-to articles could potentially pay off over a lifetime. The only exceptions are how-to articles that focus on seasonal or temporary practices, and how-to articles that need updated — but the fact that some how-tos need constant updates can actually be a strength.

Tech How-Tos Will Always Need to be Updated

Technology evolves rapidly. Consider web browsers; individual web browsers gradually release new versions of themselves that change both functionally and visually, and new web browsers emerge to compete with older ones regularly.

If you’ve written a how-to article dealing with web browsing, you’ll have to make adjustments to it as all these changes unfold. Pessimists might see this as a blow to the purported “evergreen” quality of how-to articles, but actually, it’s a source of rejuvenation. Old topics can be recycled with new relevance and meaning, and the well of how-to topic ideas is allowed to continue flowing.

People Need Faster, More Immediate Answers

Adding to the overall long-term value of how-to articles is the fact that people are starting to demand even faster, more immediate answers to their questions. We’ve become spoiled by the comprehensive information available on the Internet, and because we’re used to finding detailed how-to information whenever we need it, we start to demand it more.

With the growth in popularity of mobile and wearable devices, on-the-go search queries have also become more popular, meaning more people need how-to articles. Since the need for how-to articles is almost constantly rising, content marketers are more than happy to continue the never-ending supply.

General Topics Aren’t Worth Writing About

Also adding to the popularity of how-to articles is the waning importance of “general information” articles. Google’s Knowledge Graph is trying to take over the general information world by providing direct answers to common user queries, and even if it wasn’t, the companies ranking well for general terms are so established that it’s virtually impossible to upstage them.

The solution is to write more highly-specific content, and how-to articles are the perfect opportunity.

How-Tos Aren’t Restricted By Medium

Finally, how-to articles aren’t restricted to any medium, which gives content marketers more flexibility in producing them. They can be written articles, illustrated articles, infographics, videos, podcasts, or any combination thereof.

They are completely adaptable and completely transformable, which means content marketers can constantly experiment with new forms and find the most appropriate formats for their best material. It adds to the practicality of the genre from a content producer’s perspective.

How-to articles have a unique place in the content marketing world, and it’s unlikely that their popularity or utility will fade anytime soon. If you’re currently engaged in a content marketing strategy that utilizes how-to articles, keep things fresh by always venturing into new territories, and stay ahead of your competition by updating your articles often.

In doing so, you’ll keep your readers, your customers, and even Google happy for years to come.

CEO of EmailAnalytics (emailanalytics.com), a productivity tool that visualizes team email activity, and measures email response time. Check out the free trial!