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Survey Reveals How Businesses are Currently Using Content Marketing

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The hesitation that many businesses express when deciding whether or not to execute a content marketing campaign is understandable. Content marketing is still a relatively new approach, and it can often be difficult to measure any given campaign's return on investment.

However, more and more research is proving that not only is content marketing valuable for brands right now, it's also a marketing technique that's here to stay for the foreseeable future. A new survey from marketing research firm Ascend2 outlines the overwhelmingly positive content marketing climate.

Content Marketing is Effective For Reaching Goals

The new research involved a survey of 290 business, sales and marketing professionals from around the world. Marketers were asked whether they had had success with content marketing, as well as which goals they are trying to achieve and which types of content worked best. When it came to how well content marketing efforts allow marketers to achieve business goals:

  • 26 percent said content marketing is "very successful."
  • 63 percent said content marketing is "somewhat successful."
  • 9 percent said content marketing is "somewhat unsuccessful."
  • 2 percent said content marketing is "very unsuccessful."

The specific types of goals that marketers typically hope to achieve with a content marketing campaign include:

  • 52 percent - improving customer engagement
  • 52 percent - increasing lead generation
  • 44 percent - increasing brand awareness
  • 38 percent - increasing sales revenue
  • 32 percent - improving lead nurturing
  • 28 percent - increasing website traffic
  • 26 percent - increasing customer retention
  • 19 percent - improving search engine rankings

The fact that SEO was only reported as a goal by 19 percent of those surveyed is somewhat surprising, but there are several possible reasons for this. First, it could be that the vast majority of the professionals in the survey already have good search engine rankings. What's more likely, however, is that content marketing allows for businesses to achieve goals without having to worry about SEO in the first place. If you can use content to directly engage customers, generate leads and increase brand awareness, why bother with the search engines as a middleman?

Most Effective Types of Content

Marketers have to make an important decision at the beginning of any content campaign: what type of content should be used? Will short lists with high entertainment value be more effective than longer, in-depth case studies? What's more relevant to the audience being targeted? As far as these survey respondents were concerned, the most effective types of content are:

  • 54 percent - articles/case studies
  • 46 percent - videos
  • 43 percent - infographics
  • 36 percent - research/white papers
  • 30 percent - webinars/online events
  • 28 percent - eNewsletters
  • 24 percent - photos/illustrations
  • 10 percent - news releases

Unfortunately, 59 percent of those surveyed also said that video content was the most difficult type of content to create. Only 31 percent said the same about articles and case studies, though, which means that articles may still be one of the most effective content types in terms of ROI.

Companies Often Outsource

Only 15 percent of those surveyed create their content in-house. The vast majority - 75 percent - said that they use a combination of outsourced and in-house content creation resources. Also, only 8 percent of professionals said that their content marketing budgets are decreasing. Instead, 48 percent said their content budgets are increasing and 44 percent said they're staying the same.

While the study is slightly limited by it's number of respondents, it clearly outlines some of the most important trends in the current climate: content marketing, especially articles, case studies and videos, is incredibly effective for gaining customers, leads and exposure. At the same time, brands will likely have to outsource to get the level of quality and quantity needed to see the effects.

T.J. Anderson

Posted on 24th March, 2015 by T.J. Anderson

About T.J. Anderson

T.J. Anderson is a Chicago-based content editor and writer, as well as an SEO and marketing specialist.

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