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%).