The rise of content marketing, despite well-publicised scepticism, continues — as illustrated by a new report which reveals how marketers view the emerging area. While the hype around content marketing has clearly grown, the study demonstrates that marketers are looking for credible business results that will help them address the specific content challenges they face — a lack of staff resources, budget and expertise.
The headline finding, perhaps, is that almost two out of five marketers (38%) still question whether content marketing can deliver measurable ROI. Set against that, 70% of the 160 marcomms pros polled — across the UK, France, Germany and South Africa — believe that content marketing helps drive sales leads more effectively.
The metrics that are being used for content marketing, critically, suggest a disconnect between goals (eg sales leads) and actual results. Over three quarters (83%) measure the effectiveness of content through web traffic, while 67% measure through media coverage and just over half (56%) through click analysis.
As Waggener Edstrom EMEA CEO Chris Talago points out, this disconnect is likely because of ineffective “goal setting”.
“If you did it to increase sales, why are you measuring web traffic?” asks Talago. “If you undertake content marketing with the intent of increasing sales — and the measurement of your success is web traffic and media coverage — you need to look at the goal setting and measurement.”
Talago thinks that this gap is one factor that explains why a high proportion of marcomms pros question whether content marketing can deliver genuine business results. “Part of it is investing in insight and analytics, understanding the research, setting realistic goals,” he adds.
Ricardo Adame, corporate VP of global communications at AVG Technologies, notes that the “big bet” his company has made on content marketing represents an “exciting breakthrough”, by helping to “increase engagement with our followers.”
“Certainly with analytics, you can see if people really follow your content but you can see easily if these people, after connecting, would immediately go to, for example AVG.com and either download a product or read more,” explains Adame. “That is an exciting breakthrough. You can be extremely clear on which type of generation leads you are generating from the social media outlets.”
Adame is equally surprised that as many as 38% question the effectiveness. “You can definitely get a more clear picture – whether they like it and whether they go from there to another site. Certainly you require a lot of investment to create great content in a digital format. We need to do a better job educating our key stakeholders, and how we can leverage the various tools out there.”
Some of the other headline findings:
A lack of staff resources was identified as the number one challenge in implementing an effective content marketing strategy (63%), closely followed by lack of budget (48%) and lack of content creation expertise (41%).
“Until execs see impact it can make, many are reluctant to release the budget,” says Talago. “But until they release the budget they won’t see the impact. You don’t need additional budget, you just need to think differently about slicing the problem.”
Meanwhile, 18% of marketers still have no plans to implement a content marketing strategy. Of those that do, 85% are using it to promote awareness, closely followed by increasing engagement with customers (79%) and generating sales leads (77%).