By now, most B2C and B2B marketers in the US agree that content marketing is an important part of their marketing strategy, but they also realize that the creation and distribution of engaging content and measuring ROI are not as easy as it looks. By using data from three recent content marketing surveys we have identified 10 important trends that will dominate content marketing in 2017.
Main goals for content marketing. Building brand awareness was the main goal of nearly half (49%) of B2B and B2C marketers participating in the Clutch 2016 Content Marketing Survey. Ranking higher in the search engines was the primary goal of 30% of marketers, while 21% favored lead generation. Interestingly, another similar survey last year by Ascend2 found that increasing lead generation and improving customer engagement were the top priorities for 58% and 55% of the B2B and B2C marketers respectively.
Challenges/barriers to success. When market research firm Ascend2 asked B2B and B2C the marketers about the challenges they face with achieving important content marketing goals, nearly half (48%) mentioned “lack of an effective strategy”, “content creation resources” and “budget constraints” as the most significant barriers.
Types of content. Fact-based content such as research reports/original data, infographics, product reviews, and videos were the top-4 content types created by marketers participating in the Clutch survey. Posting content on a blog, a well-established method for the continuous engagement of prospects and customers with timely information, was utilized by 57% of the marketers participating in the survey. The full infographic at the end of this post.
Content distribution channels. Paid and organic distribution and promotion of content are vital to content marketing. Clutch found that content marketers were using paid advertisements (71%), including paid social media, pay-per-click (PPC) and/or native ads, more frequently than organic social media (70%) and traditional marketing channels (69%).
Surprisingly, 46% of marketers participating in the Clutch survey still considered guest posts as a viable content marketing tactic. Today guest blogging is used primarily by SEO’s to acquire incoming “follow” links, a tactic that is not recommended by Google according to Google Webmaster support specialist John Mueller.
Paid versus organic content distribution. The Clutch survey revealed that the majority of marketers (85%) surveyed believed that paid advertisements were more effective than organic content distribution. And that is no surprise. Content distribution through social media networks is not an effective distribution and promotion tactic since many networks have decreased organic visibility for brands. Only 7% of survey participants considered organic content distribution to be a viable option.
Most effective types of content. Now that content marketing is gaining traction among companies in the US, the demand for quality content is rising and many marketers are realizing that developing quality content can be a difficult process. When Clutch asked survey participants which types of content performed best, three content formats came out on top: research/original data, infographics and product reviews.
Most important metrics. Metrics are used to determine content marketing success. Sales metrics are the number of people who make a purchase and become customers, lead generation metrics are people who became a lead by providing personal information, such as filling out a lead capture form and consumption metrics includes the number of people interacting with content, usually measured by number of page views, links to the content and downloads. Sharing metrics are defined as the number of people who share content, measured by social sharing and mentions.
Marketers who participated in the Clutch survey said they paid most attention to metrics corresponding to sales (32%), consumption (29%), and lead generation (29%) and put much less emphasis on sharing metrics (10%).
Another similar survey by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs, among 1,102 B2B marketing professionals, highlighted that 78% of marketers used website traffic to measure how well their content marketing is producing results. Other metrics to determine content marketing success included: sales lead quality 57%, social media sharing 37%, time spent on website 54%, higher conversion rates 51%, SEO ranking 51%, sales lead quantity 47%, subscriber/community growth 40%. CMI and MarketingProfs also found that nearly half (49%) of B2B marketers measured content marketing ROI ‒ through lead generation and audience engagement metrics ‒ at the top of the buyers funnel. Slightly more than one-third (35%) measured at the mid-funnel and 44% at the bottom of the funnel by monitoring conversions and sales.
Budgets and Spending
Content marketing budget. The amount of content marketers are expected to create in 2017 will increase, but many grapple with the issue of cost. Especially the creation of infographics, videos and other high-production-value content can be costly.
Compare to 2016 70% of the B2B marketers polled by CMI and MarketingProfs said they expect to produce more original content in 2017 and 25% indicated they will produce about the same amount.
28% of the marketers participating in the Clutch survey said they were unsure about what percentage of their organization’s marketing budget was spent on content marketing. 22% indicated that content marketing efforts made up about 10% of their company’s total marketing budget.
In-house versus outsourcing of content creation. Although more marketers are realizing the benefits of content marketing many still struggle with the logistics necessary to produce a wide variety of content types. The latter drives the need to outsource content creation. Among the 219 marketers, Ascend2 polled in June of 2016 72% outsourced all or part of their content creation, allowing them to access specialized resources and capabilities not available in-house. 28% of marketers participating in the survey said they keep all content creation in-house.