If inbound marketing matters to your business, you’re undoubtedly using content marketing to drive customer engagement, boost awareness and increase sales. Between 2013 and 2013, marketers’ attention to content marketing has surged, according to digital marketing company IMN’s 2013 Content Marketing Survey Report. The number of companies that have formal content marketing strategies as part of their marketing plan rose from 28 percentin 2012 to 49 percentthis year. Just 18 percent of businesses report having no content strategy at all, while another one-third say they are currently creating one.
So what are businesses hoping to achieve with their content marketing efforts? That’s changing too. Last year, engagement, awareness and brand loyalty topped the list of goals. This year, “increasing leads” was by far the No. 1 goal, cited by 44 percentof respondents—up from 16 percent last year. (The next most popular goals, engagement and awareness, were both cited by just 19 percent of respondents.) Clearly, businesses are recognizing the value of content marketing in attracting new customers rather than solely for engaging with existing customers. Achieving thought leadership was a goal for 11 percent, and boosting loyalty was cited by 7 percent.
As to what content marketing tactics work best, it’s no surprise that social media was cited the most effective tactic by just over half of respondents, followed closely by the company’s website (44 percent), newsletters (42 percent) and emails (42 percent).
But there’s also a disconnect when it comes to marketers and content marketing. While 90 percent of respondents describe content marketing as either a “high” or “medium” priority, almost half (46 percent) say it accounts for less than 10 percentof their marketing budgets. Doing content right isn’t cheap. Perhaps the lack of resources devoted to content marketing is one reason nearly half (44 percent) of marketers admit that finding and sourcing appropriate content is their biggest content marketing challenge. Companies also admit their content is falling short, with just 27 percent feeling that their content establishes their brand as a thought leader, and 13 percent admitting that it sounds like “sales collateral.”
How can you improve your content marketing efforts?
- Devote time and/or money to it. Creating good content takes time, money or both. If you have no budget, you’ll need to devote more time to creating and sourcing content in-house. If you’ve got money to spend, you can outsource content to qualified writers (there are plenty out there). But skimping on both time and money is a recipe for disaster.
- Be aware of channel differences. In the study, just 22 percent of respondents have a separate content marketing strategy for each channel. But you can’t put the same content on Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest and your email newsletter and hope to succeed. Each channel has its own strengths and weaknesses. Understanding how to format, distribute and generate excitement over content in each channel is key to success.
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