It’s hard to read anything on the internet nowadays without being bombarded with posts and articles from marketing professionals about the fact that ‘content is king’. And, being a marketing professional, I agree whole-heartedly with this statement; content marketing is still incredibly relevant and can have an enormous impact on all of the other technical elements that you also implement.
This is providing of course that it’s done well; there are plenty of individuals and agency’s that will want to spin out a vague document of “300-600 words’ (yawwwwn) that will not impart anything onto those who read it. Which is the point of content marketing, write for the reader; strive to impart your expertise and knowledge onto those who want and need it.
But don’t take our word for it – here at Trusted Media, we pride ourselves on being data-led, so I have undertaken some research and unearthed some statistics about content marketing that will cement the importance of content marketing and make you sit up and take notice of the ongoing prominence of content marketing.
Content Continues to Rise
So, to kick off, let’s take a look at how many businesses use content marketing;
89% of b2b businesses are using content marketing, while 86% of b2c businesses are. 75% of firms increased their content marketing budget in 2016, and throughout 2017, 39% of marketers expect their content marketing budgets to grow by at least 29%.
I would hazard a guess and say that the businesses that aren’t using content marketing, it will down to a lack of understanding about the strategy, or a lack of resources.
For those SME’s whose marketing assistant also holds down another role, primarily sales or account management, they simply don’t know what content marketing is, or if they do, they don’t have the time or the budget to produce great content. In reality, this is skewed, with a well-planned and well-executed content strategy in place, it can enhance lead generation; what’s needed in this instance, is the buy-in from other departments in the business.
Aligning the sales and marketing departments could prove to be an extremely profitable move, but there needs to be an understanding that content marketing is a long-term strategy. A period of testing is necessary to find out the type of content that your audience engages with, the best platform for them to find it, and the most effective avenue for it to be amplified – paid ads, social media, email marketing etc.
Promote Your Content
It’s not a ‘build it and they will come’ tactic, every minute, 1400 blogs are published – you need to promote your content so that people know where to find it.
70% of businesses say that their content marketing is more effective now than a year ago. This underpins my point for a long-term strategy, the more you learn about your audience and cater to them, the more successful your content marketing will be. 78% of consumers say that once a brand provides them with useful information, they start their relationship with the brand.
There is an avalanche to tools for you to use when it comes to learning about your audience, from web analytics, social media analytics, online search queries, SEO keyword analysis and customer feedback. All of this will tell you what they are looking for, what they already engage with, the language and search terms they are using, where they are looking online and the other brands that they are affiliated with; it’s up to you to use them all effectively. Trial and error my friend, trial and error. But never guess work.
Integrate Your Business Strategy
Even though businesses understand the importance of content marketing, with 72% having a strategy in place, it appears that is not integrated with the complete business strategy. The result, in this case, is that there is often a diluted brand perception as poor communication between departments can cause issues, this leads to consumer mistrust and dwindling leads and profits. Of course, the content marketing goals should be aligned with the overall business goals, and there should be measurable KPI’s in place prior to executing the strategy, these KPI’s should be factored into every piece of content creation. For instance, do you want to increase the volume of traffic to your website, increase the number of contact form submissions and email sign ups, or increase brand awareness in your industry?
While content is clearly of the utmost importance, this is where it might integrate with other elements such as the usability of your website; result must be analysed monthly. If the content is bringing traffic to the site but they are not staying to look around, you may need to make some UX changes, otherwise, the efforts are wasted.
Vary Your Content
According to b2b marketers, social media (93%), case studies (82%) and blogs (81%) are the most popular forms of content, while b2c marketers quote social media (85%), blogs (75%) and email newsletters (75%) as the most prevalent forms.
Social media isn’t just Facebook; it’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest. By ignoring the variety of platforms and dismissing them – your lack of presence means that you will be deemed as outdated and obsolete. One client of ours had been avoiding social media, thinking it wasn’t the best way to showcase their luxury builds; after creating a Pinterest account, and several boards featuring their varying products, they secured a lead within weeks, simply by being on the platform, even though they weren’t yet actively engaging with other users.
Case studies are a personal favourite of mine, as it’s a natural way of showcasing how your business has positively impacted a client; by having another party involved in the content means that you effectively increase your coverage as they should also be sharing on their social media channels in an authentic way.
The Word Count Argument
YES, we can finally wave goodbye to the 300-600 word argument, with long-form blog generating nine times more leads than short-form versions. Further cementing the need for content marketing, is the fact that 70% of individuals would rather learn about a company through articles than through an advert, and 68% of consumers feel more positive about a brand after consuming content from it.
All in all, content marketing is ‘selling’ your brand, it’s about imparting information and value onto the reader; what’s a common customer issue or misconception in your industry? Write about it, providing information and an explanation and start to build trust with your audience; never underestimate of a well-written, in-depth blog post; we have seen clients rise through the Google ranks, sometimes on the back of one great blog post. Brilliant blog content will naturally picked up and referenced by other sites, boosting your SEO efforts.
Infographics have slipped down with only 67% of the vote. However, research has shown infographics are liked and shared on social media three times more than any other type of content. So, when producing this type of content, you may want to do so with a view to sharing on social platforms rather than gaining placements. However, further to this is the up rise of video content, so you may want to begin to move away from static images and focus on creating video content instead. It’s predicted that by 2018, 79% of internet traffic will be video content and 60% of b2c marketers say that video will be critical to their marketing success this year, while b2b firms haven’t yet recognised its value with only 30% saying it will be a critical form of content.
Marketers recognise that producing great content isn’t an easy task, with 60% revealing that producing engaging content is a top challenge, with 57% citing that producing content consistently is an issue and measuring the ROI of content marketing also proves to be an issue. This brings us back to our SME ‘marketing assistant’ issue – if full-time marketing professionals cite this as a top challenge, are firms giving their employees enough time, budget and tools to produce engaging and effective content?
49% of businesses are convinced of the value of content marketing with regards to measuring its success, while 44% see opportunities but think the measurement of ROI is limited and 6% are not convinced of the value and think ROI is difficult to measure. Without a clear understanding of digital marketing and how the achievements can be measured, it would be easy to dismiss content marketing as an element that is difficult to measure – but this simply isn’t true. It’s difficult to measure if you aren’t striving towards a goal, and if you don’t understand the industry, how can you set an achievable goal?
The truth is content marketing is measurable and it is effective, it’s about being proactive and agile, and striving to keep on top of industry trends and the best method of delivering content to your audience. It’s a learning that is constantly adapting, but when you find your winning formula, boy does it pay off.