What can be learnt from the latest research into content marketing?
A measured approach to content marketing
There’s no denying that content marketing has now gone mainstream. More than nine in ten UK businesses employ content marketing tactics to engage and convert their target audiences, with only one per cent of marketers and business leaders questioned by Axonn Research stating content marketing will be less important in a year’s time than it is today.
The good news is that consumers and business buyers alike are content-hungry – in fact more than seven in ten say they expect brands to publish content. More than half are happy to share personal details in order to access quality content and two thirds (67%) admitted they are willing to pay up to ten per cent more for products and services from brands whose content they enjoy and who they engage with on social media.
It seems undeniable that intelligent content marketing can have a clear effect on the bottom line so why do so many businesses still use a scattergun approach to content marketing, blindly jumping on the bandwagon without a clear strategy and without measuring the results of their efforts?
No time, resources or strategy
Axonn Research spoke to 424 businesses about their content marketing activities and found only two in five have a clear strategy in place. Thirteen per cent admitted they did not have any structured plans, while 42% had no strategy, but had at least identified this as an area for improvement and started to work on putting something formal in place.
Just one in ten respondents noted that their lack of strategy was a problem – with the main barriers to executing content marketing successfully cited as a lack of time, finance and human resource.
Tied to this lack of a coherent strategy the data revealed a laissez faire approach to comprehensive measurement. While only eight per cent of respondents admitted they do not measure the effect of their content marketing efforts at all, the vast majority focused on tracking metrics that are relatively easy to measure, like website traffic or search engine ranking.
Fewer than half stated that they looked at the effect of content marketing on lead generation, while just 38% analysed conversion rates.
Surprisingly nearly a third of respondents (32%) had no idea whether or not content marketing has actually had an impact on their bottom line through increasing sales – they were simply doing ‘content marketing’ and hoping for the best.
As more and more brands work to satisfy the needs of content-hungry audiences, it’s no longer enough to just publish and see what happens. Brands need to diversify their content offerings. Best- in-class content marketers in the UK use 14 different tactics on average, according to the Content Marketing Institute and DMA UK and with increasing shares of budgets being dedicated to content marketing, the need for effective measurement is a clear priority.
This isn’t a short-term activity. If you currently have no measurement in place, it will take you months to accurately identify what has worked the best and what areas of your strategy need to be refined.
The days of quick wins in digital marketing – think old-school SEO, link directories and buying followers – are over. Today, brands need clear, long-term objectives, high-quality execution and, crucially, a strategic approach to measurement in order to succeed.
The stakes are too high and the competition too rife to leave success to guesswork.
Karen Webber, head of marketing communications at Axonn Media, the UK’s leading content marketing agency.