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While the importance of content marketing is beyond dispute, with 90% of respondents believing that it will become more important over the next 12 months, just 38% currently have a defined strategy in place. 

Econsultancy's first Content Marketing Survey Report, produced in association with Outbrain, is based on a survey of more than 1,300 digital marketing professionals working for brands, publishers and agencies. 

Here are a few highlights from the survey report...

The importance of content marketing

The increasing amount of time that people are spending online and searching for information has placed more emphasis on the importance of content marketing, especially as search engines look to provide their users with the highest quality results. 

According to James Keady, Digital Marketing Manager, McLaren Automotive:

Content is the voice of your brand and it is therefore important to allocate the respect, investment and focus it requires. Creating great content is difficult and delivering great content consistently through established processes is complex. However this is what is required if you want to take your brand from good to great in today’s communication environment.

Companies have responded by paying more attention to how their content can help them achieve their marketing goals. 

More than 90% of survey respondents believe that content marketing will become more important over the next 12 months. In addition, nearly three quarters (73%) of digital marketers agree that ‘brands are becoming publishers’.

Rather than treating these areas as separate functions, content marketing brings knowledge and skills together to achieve business goals relevant to the whole organisation.

As a result, content marketing is now seen as an emerging discipline it its own right by a majority of marketers. Indeed, 64% of in-house marketers agree that content marketing ‘is becoming its own discipline’.

Content marketing strategy

Despite the growth in interest around content marketing, the majority of both brands and agency clients are yet to create a defined content marketing strategy, with only 38% of in-house marketers and 13% of agencies stating that this is in place within the companies they work for (or for their clients). 

According to Thomas Messett, Global Editor in Chief, Social Media at Nokia:

I find it quite surprising that the vast majority of respondents use content marketing and see it as becoming more important in the next 12 months but only a minority already have a strategy in place for this area. Maybe that is a sign that the majority of users are simply ‘playing’ in this space or testing the waters.

However, plans are afoot, with 55% of in-house respondents and 58% of agency respondents saying that they (or their clients) are working on a content marketing strategy. 

Does your company / do your clients have a defined content marketing strategy?

Content marketing objectives

We also asked survey respondents about the aims of their content marketing efforts. Increased enagagement (52%) was the most common objective, followed by driving traffic (42%) and brand awareness (35%).

What are the three most important business objectives for your content marketing activity?

 

According to Kevin Gibbons, Managing Director and Founder, Quaturo:

I find these results very interesting. The fact that SEO is only fifth on this list is great to see - you shouldn't be doing content marketing with SEO as the primary goal, as links/organic traffic should be a by-product of great content. So it's refreshing to see that engagement, brand awareness and sales generation are valued more highly here.

There are differences in aims between B2B and B2B marketers though. B2C marketers place a greater emphasis on improving brand perception (+16% compared to B2B), improved SEO (+15%) and increasing traffic to site (+15%). 

For B2B marketers, the emphasis is more significant in the areas of generating leads (+26% compared to B2C), thought leadership (+22%) and nurturing leads (+10%). 

Graham Charlton

Published 3 October, 2012 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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Comments (11)

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Nick Stamoulis

I'm surprised at how few companies actually have a content marketing strategy in place. Are most still just playing it by ear? I know that sometimes it can be a hard sell to upper management and red tape is the death of content marketing!

about 4 years ago

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Anton Koekmoer

Hi Graham,

Personally – I that number will be a lot lower if you take out the poorly planned and executed content marketing strategies. This is one of the biggest issues with a lot of businesses – Depending on the type of website and the product , Content marketing is one of the best marketing methods used in combination with a social media marketing strategy for exposure and growth of your business on various communities and social media channels.

about 4 years ago

Chris Lee

Chris Lee, Founder at Silvester & Finch Ltd.

Interesting that thought leadership and lead gen is way down. Nice that engagement is core, that should lead to good sentiment, although I do believe that SEO should play a big part in the planning stage so you enjoy those benefits on the right keywords/phrases.

I blogged just today that PR, SEO and wider on- and off-line marketing are so aligned now that aren't we ALL just content marketers nowadays in the post-Panda, post-Penguin world?

I look forward to your thoughts: http://bit.ly/SC1oBk

about 4 years ago

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Jorge Franco, Consultant at WSI

Thanks for your posting. Interesting figures, and lead you to re-think your role/responsability as in-house marketer and/or consultant: if we are aware of the key importance of content, for several reasons, to promote content strategy with a solid planning foundation is a must. Agree with Nick: upper management shoul be told better and educated on today's realities.

about 4 years ago

James Gurd

James Gurd, Owner at Digital JugglerSmall Business Multi-user

Hi Graham,

Thanks for sharing.

I personally don't think there is such a thing as a content marketing strategy. For me there is one business strategy from which a series of tactical execution plans come, aligned to that strategy. Content marketing is one of these plans. Perhaps I'm being pedantic but the word 'strategy' gets mis-used, I think.

Anyway, regardless of my Thursday pedantry, I agree that content marketing is an essential part of the overall marketing/customer communication plan. And i'm also glad that SEO is not seen by the majority as the key driver - a focus on keywords ignores user needs and removes focus from business strategy.

Content plans have to start from what the business is trying to achieve and what it needs to produce to give customers everything they need to achieve these goals/conversion. That means thinking about what content helps customers, solves their problems or gives them something interesting/exciting/unique to play with. Then comes SEO - ensuring that you optimise every bit of content to get the maximum exposure in SERPs + in the wider context of SEO (social media, online PR, links etc).

If a Client asks me what keywords they should be targeting for content, I ask them why they want to produce content and how it is going to add value to customers. If that question can't be answered, then my response is don't bother because even if you get near the top in Google, nobody is going to use that content anyway, so what's the point? Content has to serve a purpose, not just a keyword target.

I think Kevin nails it when he says "links/organic traffic should be a by-product of great content."

Out of interest, how does Econsultancy approach content marketing and SEO?

Thanks
james

about 4 years ago

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Mike Todd

The main challenge would seem to be that, as content marketing increases, and therefore competition, the emphasis on quality and innovation in terms of what the content actually is, and its ability to engage a given audience, will increase.

about 4 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

@James. From a blog perspective, first and foremost, we try to produce good content, but we also try to be smart in targeting keywords related to our paid content, events and training.

When we have a report, event etc to promote, we will target certain keywords / phrases with blog posts to grab the rankings - the recent Cookie Law guie is an example of this.

You'll see that we rank well for terms around that law, and we did manage to generate a lot of search traffic for that report and related content.

about 4 years ago

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Pat Gilmour

Great article, thanks! And I like James Gurd's comment about "business strategy from which a series of tactical execution plans come" - including content strategy.

Beyond deciding "what content helps customers, solves their problems or gives them something interesting/exciting/unique to play with" does anyone have any advice on how best to build a content strategy once the business strategy is in place?

about 4 years ago

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Doty

bookmarked!!, I really like your blog!

about 4 years ago

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Monty Carl Fuller

I was in a discussion with a friend about marketing strategies, and we came into this topic about content marketing strategy. Surprisingly, not many organizations have such kind of strategy. Content marketing strategy frames a large chunk of your overall marketing strategy. Without defining such, you might be missing a lot. Defining content marketing strategy will provide you with an overall brand awareness and engagement, just like what is mentioned in this article. I would compare this with going to an event – let us say an exhibition and a conference, and putting up all the nice and attractive pull up banners and distributing leaflets, but you do not have a clear message of what you are selling, therefore, the content does not say much. With such, you don’t get the desired walk-in traffic in your booth. People would just pass you by. In this kind of situation, there is no clear and defined content marketing strategy.

almost 4 years ago

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Benjamin Lew, personal at personal

Overall this article really is a nice addition . I am especially fond of the survey full of illustrative feedbacks. A bit surprised by some of the results it gathered however, particularly the position of the "raising brand awareness" objective which I would have thought a bit higher. Improvement through SEO spot sounds logical to me though.

over 3 years ago

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